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Big LEGO Trouble in Little China?

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Big LEGO Trouble in Little China?

Postby Draykov » Tue Feb 07, 2012 4:12 pm

Criticism of LEGO licensed products manufactured in China

Today the Observer is reporting that the Hong-Kong-based Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior group has conducted an undercover research at the Hung Hing Printing Group, and during the research found several issues in regards to employee safety, working conditions,salaries and more...

“Adhering to the Code of Conduct is something the LEGO Group prioritises in engagement with partners. It appears that in this case the code may have been broken and we are addressing this urgently. Once we have the full facts we will take decisive action,” says Charlotte Simonsen.


This is actually something from back in December, but I just got wind of it. I think it goes without saying that any potential human rights violations are the important thing here, but if this caused LEGO to re-think it's recent trend of outsourcing, I wouldn't be upset by that.
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Re: Big LEGO Trouble in Little China?

Postby Tyrant » Tue Feb 07, 2012 6:12 pm

For a moment I got my hopes up that we might see Jack Burton and David Lo Pan in LEGO form.
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Re: Big LEGO Trouble in Little China?

Postby GrayMattR » Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:59 pm

Everybody hates the quality of the LEGO made in China. Hopefully LEGO will use this as the impetus to take the production back in-house or somewhere more reputable.
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Re: Big LEGO Trouble in Little China?

Postby legodavee123 » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:07 pm

GrayMattR wrote:Everybody hates the quality of the LEGO made in China. Hopefully LEGO will use this as the impetus to take the production back in-house or somewhere more reputable.


Yeah, but everybody cares WAY more about the price than the quality. Everyone's buying up Chinese manufactured items like Collectible Minifigs, and although they're complaining about the quality, they're still buying them in droves.

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Re: Big LEGO Trouble in Little China?

Postby Mister Ed » Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:09 pm

GrayMattR wrote:Everybody hates the quality of the LEGO made in China. Hopefully LEGO will use this as the impetus to take the production back in-house or somewhere more reputable.


I doubt it. I thought, from reading the article, that this wasn't about Chinese facilities that are actually producing bricks or minifigs. This was a company that was printing some LEGO books. Can't imagine this, by itself, is likely to have any effect on the production of any toys in China.
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Re: Big LEGO Trouble in Little China?

Postby Draykov » Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:50 pm

Mister Ed wrote:This was a company that was printing some LEGO books.


You're right about that.

The LEGO Group has asked us to make clear that books are made under licence using the LEGO brand by the Hung Hing Printing Group. None of the LEGO Group's toys are manufactured at the site.


Initially, I thought this was referring to printing of LEGO elements, like minifigs. Where there's smoke, there's fire though...I don't realistically expect an immediate reversal for the reasons DaveE cited, but ya never know what kind of spotlight this might put on other ties the company has to China.
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Re: Big LEGO Trouble in Little China?

Postby Mister Ed » Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:06 pm

legodavee123 wrote:
GrayMattR wrote:Everybody hates the quality of the LEGO made in China. Hopefully LEGO will use this as the impetus to take the production back in-house or somewhere more reputable.


Yeah, but everybody cares WAY more about the price than the quality. Everyone's buying up Chinese manufactured items like Collectible Minifigs, and although they're complaining about the quality, they're still buying them in droves.

DaveE


Well, for me at least, collectible minifigs are a special case. I do know that I passed on the Target giftcard set this year, even though it is essentially FREE LEGO, because the one I got last year had poor quality of bricks. Don't know if they were made in China, but TONS of the bricks in that set were cracking all over the place. I think, if I were noticing that kind of drop in quality in actual bricks in the sets I bought, I'd be less inclined to buy them.
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Re: Big LEGO Trouble in Little China?

Postby Gooker1 » Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:45 pm

Tyrant wrote:For a moment I got my hopes up that we might see Jack Burton and David Lo Pan in LEGO form.


I would have enjoyed that too. :)
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Re: Big LEGO Trouble in Little China?

Postby legodavee123 » Thu Feb 09, 2012 3:13 pm

Mister Ed wrote:Well, for me at least, collectible minifigs are a special case.


That's the problem-- much of the stuff they make is a special case. The coolest stuff (minifigs) is a big chunk of what's being produced in China. But because it's some of the most desirable stuff, naturally AFOLs just buy them anyway, without caring about the quality. Collectible minifigures, minifig battle-packs, vintage minifigs? All fantastic products that AFOLs want in HUGE quantities. ... And all made in China.

Prior to Chinese production, minifigs were one of the gigantic bottlenecks for the company. They were enormously in demand, but LEGO couldn't produce them quickly enough. ... But China could. Or, I should say, China could do the job cheaply. They could've done the job in Billund or wherever, but it would've cost them FAR more to expand those facilities than it would have to do the same job in China.

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Re: Big LEGO Trouble in Little China?

Postby Mister Ed » Thu Feb 09, 2012 4:06 pm

legodavee123 wrote:
Mister Ed wrote:Well, for me at least, collectible minifigs are a special case.


That's the problem-- much of the stuff they make is a special case. The coolest stuff (minifigs) is a big chunk of what's being produced in China. But because it's some of the most desirable stuff, naturally AFOLs just buy them anyway, without caring about the quality. Collectible minifigures, minifig battle-packs, vintage minifigs? All fantastic products that AFOLs want in HUGE quantities. ... And all made in China.

Prior to Chinese production, minifigs were one of the gigantic bottlenecks for the company. They were enormously in demand, but LEGO couldn't produce them quickly enough. ... But China could. Or, I should say, China could do the job cheaply. They could've done the job in Billund or wherever, but it would've cost them FAR more to expand those facilities than it would have to do the same job in China.

DaveE


But here's the thing. I've never had any problems with the quality on the collectible minifigs. I can tell the difference, sure, but I've never had stuff seem translucent like some people complain of, nor have I had minifig parts cracking or fading, or anything that causes an actual difficulty. Maybe that's because they don't see heavy use, I dunno, but for me, it is a difference that makes no difference. However, actual bricks are a different story. If I start seeing the kinds of problems with bricks that I saw in the Target Giftcard set, with cracking galore, I'm not going to care if it is keeping the costs down. I won't buy it. So it isn't just a matter of people dealing with it because they like the lower prices, at least in my case. I'm dealing with it because there isn't much TO "deal with".
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Re: Big LEGO Trouble in Little China?

Postby legodavee123 » Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:43 pm

Mister Ed wrote:But here's the thing. I've never had any problems with the quality on the collectible minifigs. [...] However, actual bricks are a different story. If I start seeing the kinds of problems with bricks that I saw in the Target Giftcard set, with cracking galore, I'm not going to care if it is keeping the costs down. I won't buy it.


I certainly notice the difference with the Collectible Minifigs, battlepacks, and vintage minifigs. That's why I haven't bought up a kajillion of them-- but others have.

As for the bricks-- I think that's a pretty small portion of what's manufactured in China. They *do* make some select bricks, plates, etc, but I think mostly the stuff they specialize in is minifigs, fancy new molds, and specially printed elements (often the ones that come in little plastic baggies on their own, or so I'm told).

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Re: Big LEGO Trouble in Little China?

Postby bobalego » Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:23 am

Is there a list of products and where they were made? I see the packaging says a lot. Collectable mini's are made in China. However, the recent program on MegaFactories on National Geographic showed all bricks are made in Denmark, the printing (painting of faces, etc.) packaging and shipping is done in the Czech Rep (Including LEGO's very own worlds largest DHL shipping service, and some minor packaging work in Turkey. The new plastic injection molding plant in Mexico will eventually be the sole provider to the U.S. That is sad, but I have done extensive research and have found that the most of what is made in China is things like the McDonald's happy meal LEGO crap and the printing of books. Mostly non-brick products like, storage bins, clocks, towels, clothing and flashlights etc...are made there...just look on the products. My pack of pirate playing cards, and "The LEGO Book" are made in China. My LEGO board games are not, for a simple example. So aside from these things and the collectable minifigures...anything major?
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Re: Big LEGO Trouble in Little China?

Postby legodavee123 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:46 am

bobalego wrote:So aside from these things and the collectable minifigures...anything major?


My understanding is that for the "standard" product line, many of the new custom molds (the ones that come in the non-crinkley clear baggies) are made and printed in China. But that doesn't usually include standard building elements-- usually it's things like POTC special hair pieces, the new Dino dinosaurs, etc. Not things like technic connectors or plates or what-have-you.

Also, to the best of my knowledge, the Collectible Minifigs and blister-style battlepacks are the only *major* product that's made almost entirely (possibly completely?) in China.

Otherwise, I believe a lot of "gear" sets are made in China, like the refrigerator magnets, vintage minifigs, and (I'm guessing) the "Brick Calendar", aforementioned Target Gift cards, maybe keychains?, and other small "fringe" sets.

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