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Thank You for The Plumes

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Re: Thank You for The Plumes

Postby Aliencat » Wed Aug 26, 2009 5:49 pm

Black_Walnut wrote:While I no doubt appreciate the new plumes, a return of the old three plume wheel would have been preferred. The new "plume" piece is equal parts flame, plume and bird tail. The mold is a great jack of all trades, so I understand it from the Lego Groups economic perspective, but i find it lacking as a pure "plume" piece.

This also means you as a builder can use the piece for more purposes (i.e. more creatively).
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Re: Thank You for The Plumes

Postby davee123 » Wed Aug 26, 2009 10:17 pm

Black_Walnut wrote:The fact that the latest vintage figure collection comes with one of the old ones really makes me suspect of some of the comments I've heard from the Lego Group in the past. Weren't we told that the mold was lost so we would never see them again? Or it wasn't economically feasible to make a new mold? I cant imagine that Lego can make a new mold for a somewhat limited "collectors set" that I'm sure will sell less then other products in the current castle line.

Don't believe it when Lego says "You'll never see X again". What they mean is: "I, as someone who has only a limited knowledge of my personal area within the company, with my limited amount of asking other people here and there, have not been able to determine that we have any current plans to produce X again". Plans change, technologies change, costs change, markets change, everything is volatile. In 20 years, maybe they'll switch away from injection molding and create their elements from something akin to rapid prototyping, and they'll be able to produce any color Lego element in any shape for next-to-nothing cost, and let you churn out monorail track in old gray. Or maybe there will be a surge in vintage-style toy buying and they'll figure out some cool niche for producing classic castle figures and visors again. Who knows?

Time and again, we've heard "we have no plans to do X", and then a few years later, "X" comes out. Remember Brad Justus telling us that we would never in a million years see minifigs with modernized weaponry? And now we've got tommy-guns, laser rifles, machine pistols, etc. We were told it would be our last chance *ever* to get Maersk blue, but that turned into a *second* "last chance" to get Maersk blue when Maersk gave Lego more funding for more special-colored ABS pellets. And "Sorry, the Castle Advent calendar won't be coming to S@H in the US" turned into a limited supply that made it to the US. They're all perfectly understandable, and at the time when these statements were made, they were true. But the circumstances changed in each case so that whatever it was that wasn't supposed to happen wound up happening anyway.

What Lego probably means in this instance is that it's unlikely that you'll see the old plume wheels again. It's quite possible that they've trashed the mold for the old plume wheel, or that the old mold is too worn out for use in any large quantity. So it's not just going to start showing up again just because you asked for it. But they could up and make a new one if they wanted to-- they'd just have to have sufficient reason.

In the case of the collector pack, I wouldn't be surprised if it's a low-quality mold. IIRC, Lego has different quality molds that they use to make brick. For standard elements like 1x2 plates, they have high-quality molds that are VERY expensive, and might last for a few million mold injections. But they've also got lower-quality molds that are less expensive, but they've got worse tolerances, lower life expectancies, and are generally used for elements that will only be used in one or two sets. So it's possible that they just threw this one together with a lower quality mold so they could complete this set (some other alternatives being perhaps to not include the plume, or to choose a different minifig). The collector packs are also (extremely likely) produced in China, where we've seen evidence that the elements are of poorer quality (translucent ABS, different molds, mismatched printing, differing colors, etc). So again, it probably makes it more feasible to make 'vintage' parts more cheaply this way. If it weren't cheaper, perhaps you wouldn't even see these collector's packs at all, who knows?

Anyway, I expect that it's likely that the "new" plume element was designed explicitly to be multi-functional, and so that they could produce it in lots of sets across their ranges, whereas the old plume wheel was more wasteful (it was MUCH more stubstantial plastic-wise), possibly more error prone when molding (remember that the molding process has changed quite a bit), and wasn't quite as flexible in terms of use (the new one doubles as fire a bit more easily, IMHO). The only way I'd expect a comeback of the old plume wheel is for sets like these collector sets-- vintage elements for collectors (assuming there's a sufficient market for it).

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