Identifying Collectable LEGO Minifigures by their weight

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LEGO Minifigures Series 7 - Sealed Box

Here's an interesting article by Christoph Bartneck about weighing CMFs to determine their content without opening them.

A lot of scientific analysis has gone into it but it lacks a conclusion so I will draw my own: the differences are so miniscule that unless you have a highly sensitive set of scales and use them in a controlled environment you are unlikely to be able to use the method successfully...

29 comments on this article

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By in United Kingdom,

Seems pointless. The only advantage in weighing them would be if it sped up the identification process. By the time you've done this you could have felt what fig it is. It's an interesting approach, but doesn't really help the common collector.

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By in United States,

Not to mention that you would have to find a way to carry the scale into your local store without raising eyebrows or suspicion.

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By in Philippines,

He just has too much time on his hands...

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By in Netherlands,

Nothing new to me. I weigh my minifigures since the very beginning, obviously in combination with bar/dot code and feeling. I use a digital spoon scale that measures very precisely from 0.5 to 300 gram. Additionally you can carry the digital spoon scale in your pocket and it did never raise any eyebrows or suspicion. On the contrary the stores where I have been were happy to see people determined to find the right minifigures and make a sale.

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By in Philippines,

I still like the touch and feel method. All you need is some visualization of the item unique to the pack. It would also help to see directly the reference material so that you have visual and palpable cues while your mind sorts it out. I don't believe that it's a talent.

What I do notice nowadays is that they are packed with less air so that trying to free up the parts in the bag becomes difficult. I just feel sorry for the least favored sets, since these will get most of the effects of having to be groped and for the parts to rub against each other.

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By in United States,

This is not a very good method. It takes too much time and money (scale), and what's worse is that the standard deviations sometimes "bleed" into another minifigure.

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By in United Kingdom,

I have tried shining a light through the packaging and it does produce a shadow from which you can judge what is inside, but the feeling method is easier and a little less odd looking in a store!

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By in Philippines,

He he, the touch and feel method will work in the dark and in space.

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By in United Kingdom,

I tried this with the Team GB minifigs (just for fun!) and even with scales accurate to the nearest 0.01g, there seemed to be too much variation in the weights of the middle ones to make it possible to identify them accurately using this approach alone.

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By in Switzerland,

I really just stopped caring since it was just too much trouble and now I just buy a whole box and sort out the ones I do not want and sell them on.

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By in Belgium,

I also stopped caring at season 3 because i couldn't feel the ones i wanted. so i have bought none since then.

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By in United States,

Haha Mickitat, I just started doing the same thing.

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By in United Kingdom,

Only ''touch and feel'' give me 100% sure. It's the best method.

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By in United States,

@Mickitat: I feel the same way.. It is really pointless for me to stand at a store, attracting all kinds of stares and trying to feel out figures, especially if someone already felt through them all and cherry picked the rare ones and basically wasting your time trying to get a complete set.
And regardless of how someone reportedly used a scale and the store was 'happy' about it I doubt many stores are going to see it that way.
And the sort method kinda works.. It appears that LEGO has added more air into the bags to try to thwart people from feeling the figures.

Ultimately, if you have that time and energy to waste, more power to you. Some of us do not.
Now I will say that buying a box is not always an option for everyone but the key is getting 3 people (as there are usually three complete sets) in on the action, and split the box three ways and maybe divvy up the remainders somehow.... Or get your set then sell the rest.
OR some do, what I believe is, a questionable act: buy a box sort the figures out at home and then return the rest, but I believe that is just a nice way for someone to get a box, cherry pick all the rares, and return all the leftovers to the store, which I believe is wrong (yes yes I know it technically isn't and people love to live in that technical place and I will not change their minds).

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By in United States,

I love doing the "touch and feel" method because it really helps with my fine motor control, spatial orienting, and 3D visualization. It's fun to teach kids how to do it and watch their faces light up when they realize they know which minifig they are holding just based on what they felt. It's also fun to help families/parents pick out "just the right one" for their son or daughter waiting at home.

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By in United Kingdom,

I tried the buy a whole box method with series 4 but I still haven't sold on my leftovers - they just don't seem to be doing too well on eBay :(

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By in United Kingdom,

This sounds interesting, now I just have to sneak in to my school's science department xD

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By in United States,

I was always a little nervous about "feeling up" the CMFs in the stores, but now can do it very quickly. In fact, it actually makes it more fun to shop for and find a particular figure. Last time I was at a Lego B&M store, one of the Lego employees was helping me find what I wanted to purchase using the feel method. Now I don't worry about it any more...

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By in United Kingdom,

Just got back from Legoland Windsor, waiting in the pharoh area by the shop & noticed the 2 staff sorting through the Team GB minifigs, asked them what they were doing, they now sort them into sets for you to buy!!

So i thought while my son was waiting to get on the ride i'd help out, they were amazed at how fast I could do them, think it was 3 to 1 of what they were doing, they sold 3 complete sets while I was there, they also have all of the previous sets labelled so you know which one you are buying, takes the guess work out & show's that even Lego know people don't want to spend £00's on trying to find one figure.

I asked a member of staff at the Milton Keynes store one day, If Lego put every set they make in the same sized plain white box & made them all the same weight, how many would they sell?, response was "point taken"

It's a great idea for the kids to find the ones they want & the surprise is great, but the look of disapointment when they realize they already have it must be awful.

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By in United States,

Scaling: Not just for Yugioh anymore.

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By in Canada,

I went to the scale on series 3 when the barcodes no longer matched. I found however like the comments above that the weights can be all to similar depending on what accessories the figure comes with.

Over all if shooting for 100% accuracy, I use dots for quick ID, then feel to confirm, then weigh for peace of mind ( but to be honest I will only weigh if planning on selling the figs).

The scale will never come to the store with me :)

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By in Canada,

Scales?! Are you kidding me!? Wow I guess people have never heard of patience. For every series since the CM's began, I have felt my way through all 16 of each (plus doubles I wanted) with 100% accuracy. I don't understand how some people say this method does not work. Heck for series 7 it took me all of 15 minutes to get all 16!

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By in United States,

there's nothing more satisfying than quickly picking out a minifig for some poor kid trying his hardest to get their favorite minifig. touch and feel method works every time. they think its magic or you're psychic :) i tried teaching some others how its done but some people just cant do it no matter how hard they try. its a gift i guess. my wife always asks me why cant i do the same for scratch lotto tickets!

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By in United States,

^Sounds great...you're the hero of the day doin' that! Kids must love ya' in the store. I see kids all the time struggling to find out what is what.

I think I'm the only one that loves the randomness and surprise of the blind pull. My son and I have fun and if we get doubles, we use them to customize other figs, give 'em to his friends in school or trade 'em. If there's a couple we don't get....there's always eBay or Bricklink to complete a set.

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By in Australia,

@energyarrow there is no need for a "giant weighing machine", accurate digital scales can easily fit in your pocket. personally to me, weighing combined with touch and feel seems to be a great idea!

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By in Netherlands,

Fully agree with "Deathpreacher" from Australia. Weighing combined with touch and feel, and dotcode reading provides an easy and fast way of identifying minifigures. My digital spoon scale cost around € 10 and measures 0.01 gram accurately. The scale is not much bigger than a large pen (plus the spoon itself).

I hate the fact that some bags in the shops are so heavily touched and felt, that the edges of the LEGO pieces nearly stick out. Furthermore some collectors feel so rough that after opening a minifig bag the LEGO appear to have been heavily used!

Further on an earlier remark from "madforlegos". Perhaps it is different in the US. However here in The Netherlands the sales of minifigures is not doing so well. Retailers complain that after the introduction of the dotcodes sales dropped drastically. In some shops you can still find boxes with minifigures from the first dotcode series 3. Therefore many retailers in my area of greater Amsterdam are indeed happy to see enthusiastic collectors find all kind of creative ways to get a complete collection. While the smaller shops consider to stop selling the minifigures series completely.

Those who appreciate to weigh their minifigures, just one point of advice. Most of Team GB Olympic minifigures do not have any accessories and therefore weigh the same. Nevertheless touch and feel them, combine the dot codes, and you will find a complete set of 9 very fast.

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By in United States,

I've stopped buying CM after purchasing and feeling ten minifigs, and getting stuck with little red riding hood :/ And I was trying to get the space marine...

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By in United States,

Am I the only one who just buys them? I occasionally feel for the ones I really want, and then just use the rest as random openings for my youtube channel. Works out pretty well for the hype of new series.

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By in United Kingdom,

pretty stupid to me and a bit ridiculous

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