LEGO doesn’t make life easy for AFOL collectors. New moulds, stickers, stud shooters, obtrusive action features and stacks of LEGO separators can all be extremely frustrating. What do you do when LEGO releases a new helmet mould, making your old stormtrooper army redundant? What can you do to ensure your stickers are aligned just right? How can you possibly use a stack of 20 LEGO separators? Do any of these scenarios sound scarily familiar? Don’t worry. You are not alone. In this article, I will examine another 5 problems LEGO collectors face and offer some possible solutions that could resolve your LEGO collecting dilemmas.
The New Mould Manifestation
If you’re at all like me you probably loved Rogue One. The Star Wars war film was nonstop action from start to end. The battle of Scarif quickly grew to become your one of your favourite Star Wars battle scenes. You couldn’t handle your delight when you saw pictures of Set 75165, Imperial Trooper Battle Pack. An affordable way to amass a minifigure military. You heavily invested in the Battle Pack, buying box after box to create the ultimate stormtrooper army. Its only 2 years later you discover the extent of your mistake!
In 2019 LEGO releases Set 75229, Death Star Escape. A new helmet. Dual moulded. All of a sudden, your Stormtrooper army feels redundant. You can’t display the new stormtrooper next to the old stormtrooper. You could start from scratch and begin collecting the new stormtrooper variant but that would be expensive. Or you could ignore the new stormtrooper helmet, pretending it doesn’t exist (meaning any new stormtrooper minifigures you get are totally useless).
Fortunately, if this is you, I have some possible solutions.
- Sell your old stormtroopers – you could use the profits to buy the new stormtrooper minifigures
- Sell your new stormtroopers – use the profits to replace them with old stormtrooper minifigures
- Buy the dual moulded helmets to upgrade your old stormtrooper minifigures (this is my preferred solution)
- Buy more of the old helmets to put on your new stormtrooper minifigures
- Appreciate the evolution of LEGO – things change and you can’t stop it. Embrace the change by displaying both minifigure types together. Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of your ever-evolving hobby (this got strangely philosophical).
The Stud Shooter Dilemma
The LEGO Star Wars landscape changed dramatically in 2014. After years of standard blaster pieces LEGO pushed the boat out, introducing the stud shooter. LEGO’s intentions were good. The stud shooter enabled better play. Children could gleefully ping studs across the room and create dynamic battle scenes. However, to many LEGO collectors stud shooters are considered an abomination. Their bulk makes them look out of proportion with the minifigures who carry them. They don’t resemble any blaster in the Star Wars universe. They launch with minimal pressure. Thousands of studs have been lost, never to be found again!
Describing stud shooters as an abomination was perhaps an exaggeration, however many fans do wish to replace their stud shooters. Luckily, I have some possible solutions to the stud shooter dilemma.
- Buy replacement blasters – FireStar Toys sells small, medium and large LEGO blaster pieces if this is a solution that interests you.
- Start collecting movie accurate blaster pieces – FireStar Toys sells a whole host of movie accurate weapons. A couple of the bloggers at FireStar Toys have made guides so you know which blasters goes with which minifigures. My article on equipping the Empire Strikes Back bounty hunters and Tom’s article on making the best clone troopers are both good starting points if you are considering this option.
- Embrace the stud shooters – LEGO is meant to be fun. It’s not the end of the world if all your minifigures aren’t equipped with boring blaster pieces. Make the most of a creative action feature.
- Buy sets with extra blaster pieces – sets such as the LEGO AT-Hauler and Kanan’s speeder bike include plenty of extra blaster pieces, enabling you to switch out the stud shooters.
- Write to LEGO – If stud shooters really bother you give LEGO feedback. Ask them to include regular blaster pieces as well as stud shooters. They could take your suggestions on board.
The Sticky Sticker Situation
There are several problems with stickers. Firstly, the prospect of placing stickers is extremely daunting as getting it slightly wrong could ruin the appearance of your set. Secondly, stickers peel. LEGO collectors watch in horror as stickers slowly fall off their sets one by one.
Despite struggling with this problem myself, I do have some possible solutions that may help resolve some of these sticky sticker situations.
- Buy replacement sticker sheets online. That way you can switch out stickers when they start to peel.
- Use Kragle – using some form of super glue on the back of stickers should prevent them from peeling (if you have the courage to attempt this you are far braver than me)
- Get a free replacement sticker sheet from LEGO’s missing pieces service. I’ve been led to believe LEGO will send extra stickers if requested – however this opinion is limited. Firstly, if you abuse this power LEGO could ban you from using its missing pieces service. Secondly, LEGO only sends sticker sheets if they have spare sheets in stock. They probably won’t be able to send sticker sheets for older sets
- Delegate – When there’s a particularly difficult sticker placement I get another family member to do it for me – unfortunately this strategy is only effective if your family members have steady hands!
- Acquire similar printed pieces – FireStar Toys sells some custom printed parts that are very similar to some of LEGO’s stickers. For example, the printed wood parts would be a good substitute to some stickers that can be found in older LEGO Hobbit sets.
Obtrusive Action Feature Fiasco
LEGO collectors have mixed feelings about action features. When integrated well, they add play value to creative models. Children can have fun with the feature whilst adults can appreciate the set as an impressive display model. However, when executed poorly, play features can ruin the appearance of a set. Spring loaded shooters are particularly egregious offenders. In some cases they are built in to the model and are hardly visible (e.g. the Kessel Run Millennium Falcon). Yet, in other sets they stand out and detract from the appearance of the model (Luke’s X-Wing).
Here are five possible solutions to the obtrusive action feature fiasco.
- Remove the action feature. Most spring-loaded shooters can be removed entirely from a set build with relative ease.
- Change part colours. Sometimes LEGO makes action features obvious with bright red parts – switching out these parts can greatly improve the appearance of a LEGO set.
- Just take out the spring-loaded shooter bolts – sometimes this can greatly improve the appearance of a model.
- Look for alternate builds on Rebrickable. Fans often modify LEGO sets by removing action features. You may be able to find instructions for how to do this yourself on Rebrickable.
The Excessive Separator Stash
One LEGO separator is all you need. A second separator is handy. Three separators are plenty. Four separators ample. Five separators are just excessive. Turns out I own 45 LEGO separators. This is getting out of hand! Besides separating bricks what are brick separators useful for?
Here are some ideas to make use of excess LEGO separators.
- Build a tower or large stack.
- Give them away to anyone who will take them.
- Sell them – this option isn’t the greatest as they aren’t worth much but you may still get some money for them.
- Use them as door stops – if you use enough of them, they are somewhat effective.
- Make a full circle – @let_them_fly_lego on Instagram created this really cool full circle using 77 LEGO separators. If you think this idea is cool you should follow them on Instagram.
- Create a frame for a picture or mirror – why not glue together LEGO separator to create a frame to hang on your wall.
- Make a LEGO Spinosaurus MOC – use the brick separators to create the dinosaur’s back fins.
- Line then up to create a cool corrugated pattern.
- Brick separator earrings – not my thing but I’m sure somebody could pull it off.
Thanks for reading. I hope you’ve found this article helpful or at least mildly amusing. Do you think LEGO separator earrings could be the greatest innovation in LEGO jewelry since DOTS? Let me know in the comments section.
If you enjoyed this article keep reading FireStar toys blogs. I can think of enough conundrums to warrant one last follow up article about problems LEGO collectors face so stay tuned.
Set images from Brickset