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Dear Lego, the quality of your collectable figures...

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Dear Lego, the quality of your collectable figures...

Postby Athos » Sun Jun 27, 2010 1:57 am

... SUCKS. And sucks big time.

I've been playing with Lego for 25+ years and recently had a daughter, who got her first Duplo set (we'll have to save it until she gets older, but the point is, I have been a loyal customer for a long time and am hoping to continue in the same and new ways) and I spend upwards of USD $1,000 every year on Lego. I stuck it out through the grey & brown colors changing and the mismatched purple from the Knight's Bus set.

I recently got a complete set of these figures. I was very excited... until I opened the first few bags...

I was horribly disappointed with the quality of the plastic in these figures. I haven't been one to complain about the figure quality in the past (I thought people were overreacting) but these figures are the worst quality I have ever encountered. The legs feel loose, like they're going to break off if I move them at all. The plastic also isn't up to your usual standards; if I didn't know better, I'd think I'd been swindled into buying a cheap knock-off brand from China (shifty-bricks, anyone?). The color looks wrong too...

The cowboy hat looks nearly transparent in places. As does Robin Hood's cap. The bow and quiver feel cheap and poorly made.

For paying $2 per figure, I am very disappointed. This is a horrible step in the complete wrong direction for Lego. I loved the idea of this line and loved the design of the figures and was very excited about the whole line. But now I am very very disappointed. I was seeking multiples of many of the figures, but think I'll have to pass, given their poor quality. I hope this issue can be resolved before the 2nd wave of these figures, or I may, regretably, have to pass on those too. I can only hope this shoddy work doesn't spread to the usual sets.

Thank you,

Steve

P.S. Please everyone, don't just respond; email Lego about this as well... People with blogs, take up this issue too! Let's innundate Lego customer service with complaint calls, letters and emails!
Last edited by Athos on Sun Jun 27, 2010 2:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dear Lego, the quality of your collectable figures...

Postby porschecm2 » Sun Jun 27, 2010 2:07 am

Hear hear!

The lowering quality of the plastic, which has cropped up here and there in various sets, is understandable as production facilities shift and quality control gets its bearings. These issues have always been corrected relatively quickly. This has previously mostly been seen in regular System sets, which, while having an adult market, are mostly targeted to children, who will likely not notice the difference. The collectors sets, however, are at least as much targeted to adult collectors as to children, and we do notice--everything. The designs are amazing, the new pieces are great, but I don't feel that I can integrate these figures into my regular collection because the quality difference is so noticeable. So please, Lego, don't sell us short. We'll buy the collectors figures by the truckload--just please make them up to your usual high standards. Many thanks.

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Re: Dear Lego, the quality of your collectable figures...

Postby Blueandwhite » Sun Jun 27, 2010 3:05 pm

The idea that you should expect a figure sold for between $2 and $3 to be sup-par seems seems a bit strange to me. In years past, bagged figures used to be sold with a few bricks for these prices and the figures themselves were at LEGO's usual standards. I don't blame the Chinese factory (many parts from China have been excellent), but I do think that LEGO needs to crack down on the QC a bit more. These figures simply aren't to the same standard we've come to expect from LEGO. Other minifig packs (Town essentials, impulse sets) and older figure packs from the past never suffered from sub-standard figures either.

Why was I able to buy this:

Image

for $2.00, or this:

Image

for $6.75 without having to worry about part quality?

Yes; I am aware that these sets are 11 and 21 years old and that LEGO prices have gone up considerably since then. That being said, the first set includes a number of bricks and the second one features six figures; something you would easily pay over $12.00 for today. Like most longtime AFOLs, I'm willing to pay a premium for a premium product. I just don't want to see the quality suffer. The lower-quality figures we're seeing pop up in magnet sets, and other exclusives set a dangerous precedent IMO. I just hope that lose figures and semi-translucent plastic don't become a standard in the future as too many fans stand idly by as LEGO continues to cut costs.

I know that speaking out against anything LEGO does is often seen as being overtly negative but I definitely agree with Athos on this one.
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Re: Dear Lego, the quality of your collectable figures...

Postby RichardAM » Sun Jun 27, 2010 5:14 pm

I thought the figures were great both in design and production.

Granted, they're not as good as their counterparts of the 1980s, but here's something for you, find me any Lego brick released nowadays that is.
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Re: Dear Lego, the quality of your collectable figures...

Postby architect » Mon Jun 28, 2010 1:58 am

I think that $2 is incredibly affordable for the figures and accessories we are receiving. That being said, I would not be opposed to a higher msrp (3-3.50) for higher quality figures.

I agree that the quality of the figures is not great, but they are slightly better than some recent minifigure collections and battle packs.

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Re: Dear Lego, the quality of your collectable figures...

Postby Rogue Shadow » Mon Jun 28, 2010 3:14 am

I would like to know the exact difference in quality (a.k.a. What makes it different? The amount of X ingredient in the plastic?). My brother got more figs today, and the plastic/paint on the ninja is definately different than my original ninja.
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Re: Dear Lego, the quality of your collectable figures...

Postby Blaze Ryder » Mon Jun 28, 2010 7:25 pm

Rogue Shadow wrote:I would like to know the exact difference in quality (a.k.a. What makes it different? The amount of X ingredient in the plastic?). My brother got more figs today, and the plastic/paint on the ninja is definately different than my original ninja.


I know what you mean. I have two of the Collectible Forestmen sitting on my desk as I'm typing this, as well as a Caveman and a Wrestler. On both of my Forestmen, the printing looks raised, as if I coud peel or scratch it off by just running a fingernail over it. The Forestmen plumes are transparent in places, and do not match up with my other red pieces, making them very agitating to use. What I find the most apalling about quality issues though, is that the printing on my Caveman's legs doesn't even make an attempt to be even. There's about a 1 or 2 millimetre difference, which isn't a lot, but it is enough to be noticable. I have yet to find any problems with the Wrestler, besides his ugliness as a figure.
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Re: Dear Lego, the quality of your collectable figures...

Postby davee123 » Tue Jun 29, 2010 10:05 pm

Blueandwhite wrote:Like most longtime AFOLs, I'm willing to pay a premium for a premium product. I just don't want to see the quality suffer.


Unfortunately, longtime AFOLs are in the minority. I'm repeatedly shocked when I see AFOLs demand lower prices left and right. US-resident AFOLs, nonetheless. I think it's been shown (sadly) that LEGO either can't compete or doesn't think it can compete if it ups the price level, regardless of whether or not the quality increases.

Rogue Shadow wrote:I would like to know the exact difference in quality (a.k.a. What makes it different? The amount of X ingredient in the plastic?).


Quite a lot, actually! Pretty much any subtle change can create a difference in the resulting plastic. For example:

- Ambient temperature/moisture in the production facility
- The amount of time allowed for a mold left to cool
- The pressure level/speed of injection of plastic into the mold
- The way the surface of the mold is treated
- The exact mixture of the ABS (which contains other plastics for various features)
- The timing of the dye being injected into the ABS
- The concentration/mixture of the dye

And, keep in mind, for each part, there may be multiple injection points, all of which have to be timed differently. A simple part like a 1x1 brick may have only 1 injection point, but other bricks like BURPs may have many, each of which need to be calibrated and timed accordingly.

As I understand it, it takes a good deal of time to prepare a production run-- when they produce (say) a run of 2x4 bricks in blue, they might start with the settings that they used the LAST time they made 2x4 blue bricks, but they'll likely have to tweak the settings a bit, so they do practice runs and check the resulting bricks to make sure they're up to snuff, and tweak the settings repeatedly until everything's just right. THEN they start the real production run.

I think the issue with the Chinese facilities is probably not related to the equipment on hand or the materials used. It MIGHT be-- but I think the real issue is that the people RUNNING the facility either are inexperienced, less organized, or don't care as much about the details. Or some combination therein. And the suits back in Denmark are willing to sacrifice some quality while they wait for it to get up to snuff. They're not about to let their massive investment in Chinese production sit idle, just because they're up to 80% quality instead of the typical 90% quality that we see these days from other LEGO facilities.

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Re: Dear Lego, the quality of your collectable figures...

Postby Kev » Tue Jun 29, 2010 11:04 pm

The move to Chinese production for some minifig-centric parts/sets was explicitly about lowering cost, so it should be no real surprise that the ultimate product reflects this. And the fact that this has gone on for *years* now with Lego being made perfectly aware of it, makes it very clear that they don't care about the quality of their products and brand as much as one would have thought they did.
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Re: Dear Lego, the quality of your collectable figures...

Postby OverLoad » Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:23 am

Kev wrote:And the fact that this has gone on for *years* now with Lego being made perfectly aware of it, makes it very clear that they don't care about the quality of their products and brand as much as one would have thought they did.


I wouldn't go so far as to say they "don't care" anymore. They just have taken a different path than one would assume. They still care about the quality of true sets, and the while the quality of these minifigures is far less than what one is accustomed to, it's not as bad as it can be.

It's tough in the current economic world, and some companies, such as LEGO, have had to cut back in order to stay afloat. I'm sure if the market was better, more time and effort would be put into these figs.
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Re: Dear Lego, the quality of your collectable figures...

Postby Kev » Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:04 am

OverLoad wrote:
Kev wrote:And the fact that this has gone on for *years* now with Lego being made perfectly aware of it, makes it very clear that they don't care about the quality of their products and brand as much as one would have thought they did.


I wouldn't go so far as to say they "don't care" anymore. They just have taken a different path than one would assume. They still care about the quality of true sets, and the while the quality of these minifigures is far less than what one is accustomed to, it's not as bad as it can be.

It's tough in the current economic world, and some companies, such as LEGO, have had to cut back in order to stay afloat. I'm sure if the market was better, more time and effort would be put into these figs.


Well, obviously they care about their reputation, so maybe I should say they don't care *enough* to go through the work and expense to fix the problem. I'm sure they've tested this carefully and found that 95% of their market haven't noticed or don't care about any variance in quality, which makes it a pretty easy problem to ignore.
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Re: Dear Lego, the quality of your collectable figures...

Postby Athos » Wed Jun 30, 2010 2:58 am

Kev wrote:I'm sure they've tested this carefully and found that 95% of their market haven't noticed or don't care about any variance in quality, which makes it a pretty easy problem to ignore.


Which is why everyone who doesn't like this needs to write Lego about it.

Here is the response I got from customer service:

Dear Stephen Thank you for your inquiry about production in China. The LEGO Group's own production sites are located in Denmark, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Mexico. Further to our own production we source approximately 8% of the parts for our construction toys from China. The parts we source from China include a smaller portion of our LEGO and DUPLO elements as well as the majority of our electronic components and textile elements. Please let me assure you that the focus of the LEGO Group has always been and will remain on quality. No matter where our products are produced, they must comply with our high standards. Prior to being accepted as a LEGO supplier all companies must be audited by the LEGO Group to ensure they have the agreed methods of operating and traceability. All our suppliers including those in China must adhere to our strict Code of Conduct and meet the high quality standards we have in our own factories. You can find our Code of Conduct in the "About Us" section of www.LEGO.com. The LEGO Group maintains a Global Quality Assurance Department in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China whose only task is to secure safe, high quality products and good working conditions. As a responsible toy manufacturer, children's safe and enjoyable use of our products is of the utmost importance to us, and we make every effort to ensure this. All LEGO brand toys are tested by independent third party labs and meet or exceed all mandatory toy safety requirements in the 130 countries where they are sold. Our continuing commitment and efforts to make our products safe and fun for children is inside every toy we produce. Working together with caring parents like yourself, our shared reward is the unlimited hours of safe and happy playtime children enjoy. SteveLEGO Direct Consumer Services


Sounds like a form letter, prompted by the lead scare a few years back, especially with the references to safety.

:?

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Re: Dear Lego, the quality of your collectable figures...

Postby Blaze Ryder » Wed Jun 30, 2010 6:52 pm

Athos wrote:
Kev wrote:I'm sure they've tested this carefully and found that 95% of their market haven't noticed or don't care about any variance in quality, which makes it a pretty easy problem to ignore.


Which is why everyone who doesn't like this needs to write Lego about it.

Here is the response I got from customer service:

Dear Stephen Thank you for your inquiry about production in China. The LEGO Group's own production sites are located in Denmark, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Mexico. Further to our own production we source approximately 8% of the parts for our construction toys from China. The parts we source from China include a smaller portion of our LEGO and DUPLO elements as well as the majority of our electronic components and textile elements. Please let me assure you that the focus of the LEGO Group has always been and will remain on quality. No matter where our products are produced, they must comply with our high standards. Prior to being accepted as a LEGO supplier all companies must be audited by the LEGO Group to ensure they have the agreed methods of operating and traceability. All our suppliers including those in China must adhere to our strict Code of Conduct and meet the high quality standards we have in our own factories. You can find our Code of Conduct in the "About Us" section of http://www.LEGO.com. The LEGO Group maintains a Global Quality Assurance Department in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China whose only task is to secure safe, high quality products and good working conditions. As a responsible toy manufacturer, children's safe and enjoyable use of our products is of the utmost importance to us, and we make every effort to ensure this. All LEGO brand toys are tested by independent third party labs and meet or exceed all mandatory toy safety requirements in the 130 countries where they are sold. Our continuing commitment and efforts to make our products safe and fun for children is inside every toy we produce. Working together with caring parents like yourself, our shared reward is the unlimited hours of safe and happy playtime children enjoy. SteveLEGO Direct Consumer Services


Sounds like a form letter, prompted by the lead scare a few years back, especially with the references to safety.

:?

Steve


I would send another email to LEGO customer service in your case, letting them know that the first response you got was irrelevant to the issue. I mean, the response you got speaks only of the quality of the safety of the items produced in China. It mentions nothing of the poor quality of the plastic (which after looking at some of my neighbour's old Mega Bloks, I find them easily comparable) and whether or not anything is being done to correct it.

I must say I was looking forward to the LEGO Store opening in Calgary this July, so I could buy a bunch of these, but as of where the quality stands right now, I'll have about $100 CAD more to spend on the Pick-A-Brick wall.
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