A worrying trend: 'hybrid' minifigs in regular sets
The most anticipated of them was probably 6862 Superman Vs Power Armor Lex in part due to the incusion of the Superman and Wonder Woman minifigs.
Unfortunately I have some bad news for those that can differentiate the quality between normal figs and Chinese-made ones.
Until the release of the Black Pearl last year you could be confident that the minifigs in regular sets (as opposed to collectable minifigs, Ninjago spinners and extended product lines) were high quality, moulded in LEGO's own factories in Europe and Mexico using high quality materials. Then the unthinkable happened: Davy Jones in the Black Pearl was entirely made in China (packed in his own polybag which is always a giveaway) and the quality difference was noticeable.
Now, I'm sorry to say that that wasn't an isolated case: in this set both hair pieces and Wonder Woman's legs are Chinese-made, so we have what I think are our first hybrid minifigs. The hair actually seems pretty good and better than those found in collecable minifigs but the lower quality of WW's legs is definitely noticable. The printing is exceptionally good, but the plastic has that cheaper look and feel, which really is a shame. I suppose this will become the norm for the more expensive-to-produce figs in future which is a worry.
I know I have a 'bee-in-my-bonnet' about this and a lot of you probably don't care but I thought I'd bring it to your attention anyway...
Update: a couple of people have asked in the comments how to tell the difference between regular figs and Chinese-made ones. Here's how:
- Legs: the matt sheen and transparency of the plastic usually gives it away but to be sure turn upside down and look under the foot. If you don't see (c) LEGO they are Chinese-made.
- Torsoes: Look at the inner arms. If they have a recess with numbers in, they are Chinese-made. Also, there is usually a number on the wrist part of the hands of Chinese-made ones.
- Other parts: As far as I can tell all Chinese made parts have an underlined suffix on their mold numbers, for example 'B01'.
I took some photos to illustrate the differences a while ago: