Life isn’t easy for AFOL collectors. Crinkled capes, stiff arms, exclusive book minifigures, large LEGO boxes and low-quality printing can all be extremely frustrating. What do you do when your LEGO minifigures’ capes begin to crinkle and discolour with age? Can you stiffen loose minifigure arms without permanently damaging the minifigure? Can you justify collecting LEGO boxes when they take up so much space? If any of these questions keep you at night then this is the article for you. This is my third (and probably final) article examining conundrums collectors face and offering some possible solutions.
The Cape Calamity
Capes have caused AFOLs no end of trouble. Old LEGO capes were somewhat notorious for creasing with age. The lighter coloured capes were also somewhat susceptible to colour deterioration (several of my old white cape pieces have faded yellow over time, perhaps due to sun exposure). In 2015 LEGO introduced a new cape piece that would resolve many of these problems. The new element was softer and slightly stretchier. The new cape piece wouldn’t crinkle!
However, the introduction of a new cape piece caused conundrums for collectors and LEGO alike. The new capes couldn’t be printed on, meaning LEGO often reverted back to using the older style cape piece. The new cape piece still only comes in a limited range of colours and sizes. This is particularly problematic for the Lord of the Rings fans as AFOL’s can’t use the newer capes with Hobbit or Dwarf minifigures.
Fortunately, I have some possible solutions to the Cape Calamity.
- Replace crinkled and discoloured capes – FireStar Toys sells a wide variety of printed and non-printed cape pieces meaning it’s easy to replace old or damaged minifigure capes.
- Contact LEGO customer service – it’s possible they might provide you with a replacement cape piece. However, it is vitally important that you message them sparingly. Abusing LEGO customer service could have negative repercussions for all LEGO fans.
- Protect your minifigures – Cape pieces won’t need replacing if they are looked after properly. Consider purchasing some minifigure blister packs or display cases to keep your minifigures safe.
- Buy custom cape parts – Arealight produces some flexible plastic cape parts that are much less likely to get damaged.
- Remove the capes entirely – This solution isn’t ideal but there some benefits. Firstly, it’s free. Secondly, minifigures are normally extremely detailed. Removing cape pieces can show back prints that you never would see otherwise.
The Stiff-Arm Situation
LEGO minifigure arms can change over time. If left untouched and exposed to dust they will likely become extremely stiff and hard to move. Conversely, if minifigures are routinely played with and constantly posed their arms can become extremely loose. The same is true of leg pieces.
After a great deal of research, I have some suggestions that may resolve this problem. Please bear in mind that I haven’t tried these solutions myself and there’s always the risk of permanently damaging your minifigures if you aren’t careful.
- Buy an entirely new torso piece – This is the safest option if you want to ensure your minifigures aren’t damaged.
- Play with your minifigures – Stiff arms can often be loosened by moving them about.
- Replace the arms – buy new arms to replace old loose arms – you could even upgrade the appearance of your figure by purchasing some of FireStar Toys custom printed arm pieces.
- Put a tiny amount of nail polish on the part of the arm that connects to the torso – this technique will tighten the joint but must be used sparingly, otherwise you risk cracking the torso.
- Soaking the torso piece in salt water for a few hours can apparently tighten the minifigure’s joints.
The Visual Dictionary Dilemma
The Visual Dictionary Dilemma is when LEGO includes an exclusive minifigure with one of their books. This causes collectors all sorts of conundrums. Firstly, AFOLs are forced to buy a book when they only want the minifigure. Visual Dictionaries aren’t cheap! It can be expensive to buy the book just for the minifigure. It may be possible to justify one LEGO Visual Dictionary, however LEGO releases an updated version every other year or so meaning AFOLs need to buy several books if they want all the exclusive minifigures. What should you do with all the excess books?
Luckily, there are several obvious solutions to the Visual Dictionary Dilemma.
- Keep the minifigure but donate the Visual Dictionary to a second hand bookshop – young children would really enjoy reading it.
- Buy the minifigure separately – FireStar Toys sometimes sells exclusive book minifigures. For example Bacta Suit Finn can be bought here.
- Wait for a significant discount before buying the book – this should make the purchase easier to stomach.
- Sell the book without the minifigure – you might be able to recoup some of the costs.
- Buy the book and read it – You might actually enjoy it and want to keep it in your collection.
The Battle with Boxes
If you live in Britain you’ve probably watched a programme called “The Antiques Roadshow”. Every couple of episodes someone brings their toy collection on the show to be valued by one of the program’s experts. The professionals examine the toys for a while before saying they would be worth thousands, if only they had kept the original boxes.
Some LEGO collectors keep their boxes, either to retain the resale value of their sets or as part of their collection. This is problematic because boxes take up a lot of space. Unless you have a warehouse, it can become extremely difficult to store them all.
Here are some potential ways to battle your box collection:
- Put the boxes in one another – this can save a remarkable amount of space if done efficiently.
- Collapse the boxes – although they will no longer be in mint condition, they will take up much less space and could be easily reassembled if you wanted to.
- Recycle them – If you’re reading FireStar Toys blogs, the likelihood is you’re a huge LEGO fan who could never part with their LEGO sets. If you know in your heart of hearts that you could never sell any LEGO then there’s probably little point in keeping boxes.
- Recycle a couple of boxes and see how you feel about it in a years’ time – If you don’t regret it recycle all your boxes. If you do regret it you could always buy some of the boxes back on eBay.
- Give them to kids to play with – you have no idea how much joy a good cardboard box can give.
Recently LEGO has had trouble with the opacity of their prints. This can be most clearly seen in set 75945 Expecto Patronum. The Sirius Black minifigure print shows some skin underneath his unbuttoned shirt. Unfortunately, the prints opacity isn’t strong enough. The colour appears watered down and doesn’t match the flesh tone used for the figure’s head and hands.
There aren’t really solutions to this problem although I do have a few tips.
- Write to LEGO customer service and complain – if enough people write in, they might improve the quality of their printing
- Ask LEGO to send you another – If it really bothers you LEGO may send you another piece. However, the opacity of the print may well be exactly the same as the old piece.
- If it’s a popular minifigure, like Mercy from Overwatch, you may find a certain custom printing company who can help you replace the part.
I also have some set specific advice. If you own set 75953 Whomping Willow you may have noticed that the white print on the Ford Anglia’s car doors doesn’t match LEGO’s white bricks. To solve this, I recommend cutting the borders of a LEGO sticker sheet to create two long white sticker strips. Then stick these over the print.
Thanks for reading. I hope you’ve found this article helpful. If you enjoyed it, keep reading FireStar Toys blogs. Also consider checking out my previous two articles on Conundrums that LEGO Collectors face.
Images taken from Brickset