Why Are Collectible Minifigures Lower Quality?

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Why Are Collectible Minifigures Lower Quality?

Postby TheVengefulOne » Sat Mar 18, 2017 9:28 pm

So as doubtless some of you have heard, the Collectible Minifigures made by Lego (along with certain other figs and parts, like those in the Ninjago spinners) are made in China and depending on who you ask are either a different plastic or made in a different way. This results in lower quality; colors are more transparent and look cheap, some parts don't fit together right, and pieces are more brittle.

The question is, why? I can go to Target and buy a set with four normal ABS non-China Minifigures for $10USD, so obviously they are not that expensive to produce. Is it beacause of the new molds? Many of the new pieces introduced have later come out in real ABS, and besides, even the figs with no new molds are made of this cheaper plastic. Yet despite the Collectible Minifigure's higher prices (around $5USD each), they are still made of a cheaper-feeling, cheaper-looking plastic. I honestly can't fathom why TLG would do this, especially when some of these parts have been around for years. It gets even worse when you have the same part in both ABS and whatever plastic the Chinese use. Buying a bunch of white legs on Bricklink? Some of them may look like cheap knockoffs when you get them and there's no way to tell before you order.

Why would a company whose motto is "Only the Best is Good Enough." do this? New molds are expensive and require cheaper plastic to balance it out? Chinese labor is cheaper? Maybe Mike or someone else would care to weigh in on this?
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Re: Why Are Collectible Minifigures Lower Quality?

Postby stubby » Sat Mar 18, 2017 11:47 pm

I don't know the actual answer, but my guess is that Lego doesn't want China to have access to their proprietary high-quality molding technology. It's one of the most closely guarded secrets in the toy industry, and one of the biggest advantages Lego has over all the copycat brands - none of them know how to duplicate Lego's parts precision. But anything that goes to China is stolen and counterfeited instantly, so Lego can't do any high precision molding there.
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Re: Why Are Collectible Minifigures Lower Quality?

Postby TheVengefulOne » Sun Mar 19, 2017 12:16 am

But why go to China in the first place? I'm guessing labor costs is the most likely answer.
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Re: Why Are Collectible Minifigures Lower Quality?

Postby RedRover » Sun Mar 19, 2017 2:38 am

Gina*
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Re: Why Are Collectible Minifigures Lower Quality?

Postby sahasrahla » Sun Mar 19, 2017 9:18 am

i honestly have not noticed any difference in quality between the collectible minifigs and other sets, so this is all news to me
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Re: Why Are Collectible Minifigures Lower Quality?

Postby stubby » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:21 am

TheVengefulOne wrote:But why go to China in the first place? I'm guessing labor costs is the most likely answer.

Hard to say. A whole lot of things are cheaper / easier in China. Warehousing, distribution, manufacturing, logistics, etc. If I had to guess, I'd say it has more to do with a need for flexible production capacity than for low labor costs. Because of the way the Chinese manufacturing infrastructure works, it's way, way easier to ramp production upwards and downwards on short notice in China than in the rest of the world.

If I need somebody to produce a million of something in the Americas or Europe then I have to build or buy dedicated factories and warehouse space, hire a bunch of people as dedicated employees, etc., and then if I don't have to produce a million of something anymore I either have to keep paying for all that stuff as dead weight or else I have to go through layoffs and liquidations at brutal losses - and good luck re-hiring any of those people I burned this year if I need to produce a million of something next year.

In China the setup is just way easier. You find factories with extra production capacity, rent them out for a couple of months, they make your million of whatever item, and then when you're done you release them to whoever else has things they want to make a million of.

Labor / manufacturing costs are a lot more likely to be the answer for the company-owned factories in Mexico, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. But now that I'm googling about it, it looks like they're building a permanent facility in China as well pretty soon to start marketing directly to Chinese consumers: https://www.lego.com/en-us/aboutus/news ... y-in-china
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Re: Why Are Collectible Minifigures Lower Quality?

Postby TheVengefulOne » Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:17 pm

sahasrahla wrote:i honestly have not noticed any difference in quality between the collectible minifigs and other sets, so this is all news to me


If you want to see it, try comparing a yellow hand off a CMF vs a normal yellow hand.
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Re: Why Are Collectible Minifigures Lower Quality?

Postby Zupponn » Mon Mar 20, 2017 4:54 pm

Make Lego Great Again

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Re: Why Are Collectible Minifigures Lower Quality?

Postby Tzan » Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:37 pm

Why does he have a cape?
Is he a super hero?
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Re: Why Are Collectible Minifigures Lower Quality?

Postby Zupponn » Wed Mar 22, 2017 6:21 pm

Tzan wrote:Why does he have a cape?
Is he a super hero?

Obviously.
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