Sticker horror

Posted by ,

I've come in for some criticism in the past about my opinions on stickers. My recommendation is not to apply them unless they are printed on clear plastic. These pictures will illustrate why.

As I've been dismantling my old Technic models I've been surprised to see that the stickers on the 1980s and 1990s models are all in good shape, even those printed on white. However, the same cannot be said for later ones.

Around 2001 LEGO changed the material stickers were made from. I am no expert on what exactly changed, but whatever it was has caused them to peel and crack over time.

I stopped applying them to Technic sets about that time, except on Formula 1 cars. Those on my 8458 Silver Champion from 2000 are just about OK, they are showing slight signs of lifting at the edge but they are not cracking up.

Unfortunately that's not the case for 2004's Ferrari 1:10 8386 and 2002's 8461 Williams as you can see below.

As soon as they are touched they break apart and you end up with bits of sticker on your fingers which are hard to remove and easy to get all over the model as you handle it.

Sticker horror

Sticker horror

Sticker horror

Sticker horror

Sticker horror

Sticker horror

It's horrible, isn't it. All I can do is carefully take them apart, trying not to get bits of sticker all over the place, isolate the stickered parts and then hopefully clean them off using this sticky stuff remover.

I don't know whether today's stickers are any better. I'm not going to find out...

What have your experiences with stickers been? Are you still going to apply them after seeing these pictures and hope for the best in 2024?

111 comments on this article

Gravatar
By in Germany,

I got the same problem with quite a new sets (2009). My first bad experience was with the stickers on a Viking shields from 2006. My Viking sets are just on a display and were not played with much, still most of the stickers are either coming off or even cracking up! While those clear plastic stickers on my sets from 80`s and 90`s are still in excellent condition. This is huge decrease in a quality.

There is one thing I noticed. Sets 60000-60002 from 2013 have again the clear plastic type of stickers again, so I hope those will stay in OK condition longer.

Gravatar
By in Romania,

Interesting. Why you say those printed on clear plastic are safe? You mean the transparent background type?

Gravatar
By in Spain,

Poor guys, I feel compassion for you. :{(

Gravatar
By in Germany,

One more comment:

I tried to save the original sticker (and a character of the set) by simply putting a clear scotch tape over the original cracked sticker to preserve it. The results are not excellent but still OK and If done carefully - not easy to see.

Still, I am very upset about the today`s low sticker quality.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

My 2005-2010 sets show "Sticker Horror", but since then, only the 2011-2012 ones show slight peeling. Most of my 2013 sets are fine, and the 2014 sets show nothing bad at all. :-) or :-( ...?

Gravatar
By in Netherlands,

I wonder what will happen to my 8297 Off-Roader...

Gravatar
By in Germany,

@iuliand
Yes those stickers that are made from transparent plastic are considerably better.

@NBJ2002
No wonder that your 2013 and 2014 sets show nothing bad at all since those are fairly new. But I suppose that 3 years later the same problem will show up.

Some of my sets are now around 30 years old with "clear plastic"stickers still in OK condition.

Gravatar
By in Singapore,

The stickers on my football set all disintegrated, causing a mess on the surrounding display sets, now I will not apply the stickers.

For example, my Palace Cinema had see through windows now instead of posters :-)

Gravatar
By in Singapore,

Just to add on that due to the tropical and high humidity climate here, the situation is even worse than in Europe.

Gravatar
By in Australia,

I've currently got the same issue with the stickers that run the full hull length of the boat in 7994 City Harbour. They peel and as soon as you touch them they disintegrate and then reapply to your fingers in small pieces that just go everywhere.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I'll probably keep applying the stickers where they're on a single piece, and hope for the best.

Gravatar
By in Australia,

I experienced the same problem on all of my new sets pre 2012 which were on display.
I complained to Lego, and provided them with a list of sets that were affected.
They later replied, and sent me replacement labels for all sets which they carried stock for.
It's a shame that they don't use the older style labels, as the very old sets on display don't have the issue.

I suggest you do the same as I did, and request replacement labels (but what ever you do Don't apply them!).

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

So it sounds as if it's still a problem, then, which is surprising, and a worry.

Gravatar
By in New Zealand,

^^ I agree, for the price paid, why can't more sets have printed bricks.

A current example is that the classic Space theme had printed bricks but today's SPACESHIP! #70816 has stickers instead.

Lego is truly timeless, except for their stickers.

Gravatar
By in Singapore,

My boy was fixing Benny's Spaceship the other day and I tried to convince him NOT to apply the stickers but failed :(

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

@ChicoCheco: Yes, some of the 2013 stickers are peeling slightly like the 2012 ones, so... Hopefully the quality of next year's stickers will be better and hopefully the parts will have very faint lines, to show you where to position the stickers. It might be a bit easier, and stop people having crooked stickers! Perfect sets at last! ;-)

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I apply them. They make the models look much more finished. If they peel in ten years, they're gone, and I have a set with no stickers - which is exactly what I'd have had if I never applied them.

It is better to have stickered and lost than never to have stickered at all.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I believe there are two 'safe' kinds of sticker, the clear backed one which Huw mentioned and the one where you can see the design on both sides.

The clear backed stickers occasionally get a bit of dust behind them which is visible when applied, so my favourites are certainly those which are printed with a solid design which is visible on both sides. I think LEGO is moving towards those since they often seem to appear in sets today.

I can forgive it to an extent though as LEGO is a plastics producer, and has relatively little experience with stickers, so it is perhaps surprising that they produce them in-house (as I believe they do). With time, LEGO seem to be improving, and hopefully that will continue.

Gravatar
By in Netherlands,

Only my 2002 and 2008 Republic Gunships have peeling stickers. The most recent set that has stickers that start to peel is my 2011 Imperial V-wing. All of my other sets are fine, I guess it doesn't have to do with a time period (or at least, not much). It just depends on a specific set, how you received the stickers, how well they are applied and where the set resides. But that's just what I think.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

To be honest I don't mind stickers, as long as I put them on right they stay on fine.:P

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I don't understand why we get stickers. Many of the friends sets come with printed details yet the classic remake of the 1980s space set (bennys spaceship spaceship SPACESHIP #70816) to my horror didn't come with printed brick but STICKERS! Why why why! My precision on getting them on is no where near the quality of a printed brick. It makes me sad.

Gravatar
By in Ireland,

I'm in the middle of re-sorting my lego (an epic task it has to be said) but ended up spending 5 minutes with a nail brush cleaning my hands after picking up the remains of the coastguard set (7739) and finding I had been attacked by little flakes of stickers which had attached themselves to every available piece of skin. These days unless absolutely critical the stickers remain on the sheets and I just make do without (which is useful for re-using the bricks anyway)

Gravatar
By in Ireland,

I remember this happening to my early Harry potter sets, the western sets, certain early batman and Spider-Man sets too, and my batman tumbler has a lot of peeling stickers too... All in all, it makes me sad to look at them and I hate them, stickers suck IMO. :( Would much prefer printed pieces, purposed specifically for the model sets, and I'd be prepared to pay a premium for them. If I wanted blank generic pieces for custom/moc/original designs, I'd just buy the pieces separately.

Gravatar
By in Germany,

I just noticed Stickers peeling on my Hoth Echo Base from 2011 earlier this month. That is mighty disappointing.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I wonder what the real cost of printing on is for lego. What annoys me about even 2014 sets is having to apply stickers... especially clear on clear as the first touch of sticker to plastic produces a sticky blur that stays. Unless you get it perfect first go it doesnt look right, and then there are air bubbles etc which is another one. I would pay a premium for printed parts (as long as they were all level etc) Its such a shame buying a set with stickers and not sticking, they are not complete. I didnt apply any stickers to my 2013 technic sets, and spent ages on Benny's spaceship (not technic I know) but they didnt even bother to make a sticker the same shape as the part..... two roundish logo stickers on a tail fin.....which didnt fit one way............

Gravatar
By in United States,

I've had issues with stickers too. For a while my opinion was the same as yours, Huw... don't apply them. Some models, though, just don't look the same without them... formula 1 cars, ship hulls, cinema windows. I now apply them and enjoy them while they last. "Tis better to have loved and lost," after all:

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I've got a big bag of Lego set stickers - never apply them. Lego models are dust magnets so my bricks get a gentle soak and dry off now and again - the stickers wouldn't last long getting washed.

Gravatar
By in Germany,

Lego doesn't get tired to promote the quality of their products. As we all know, most sets aren't bargains.
Producing cheap and rubbishy stickers, doesn't fit to this "high quality" advertising messages. Lego should produce printed parts instead.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

This, combined with the recent rise in third-party brick printing companies, makes me wonder if there's a market for someone to start selling printed "close-enough" replacement bricks for sets with stickers. They might work out expensive but I think I'd be prepared to pay the premium, at least for some of my favourite sets.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I have the same issue with 8386- it looks terrible. For some reason the ones on 8272 Snowmobile have shown no signs or wear, while the 8291 Dirt Bike I have right next to it is peeling. 8671 and 8682 have terrible peeling on the stickers. One of the worst is 7739 Coast Guard Patrol Boat and Tower. The stickers are peeling on one side of the ship only, but there appears to be no hope of saving them. Yet I have a copy of 6373 Motorcycle Shop from 1984 on display, and the stickers look as good as they did over 30 years ago.

Gravatar
By in Malaysia,

The same thing happened to a number of stickers for some of my City Police sets... Damn it.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Smart thing to do is buy a few sheets of spare stickers off Bricklink now to avoid paying $50 in 20 years time if you suddenly find you want fresh stickers. I did so for my Sopwith Camel and will do so for my 42000 Grand Prix Racer, Benny's Spaceship and any other large or special kit. You'll spend less than $10 per set even if you buy three spare sheets.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I've never had this problem. I have LEGO passed down to me from the 1970s which has long since lost any stickers applied, if any, and Sets from about 2008 up that use stickers. I take the stickers off parts (Unless it's some control panel or something; those I can use) once I part the set out, so the stickers aren't there for general MOCing. I have stickers applied from 2011 sets still in fine shape.

I agree, the ones that are like clear-backed but solid color are great. Clear stickers' ability to attract dust and get fingerprinted is very irritating, and those ones are far stickier than my stickers from, say, 2009.

Great article!

Gravatar
By in Netherlands,

The majority of my sets is from before 1996, the stickers are still perfect. Only a lot of white bricks are yellowed really terrible.
Every single sticker on my Maersk-Ship 10155 has gone to powder though. I must have applied them four years ago.

But more positive is that on my 8043 Excavator the stickers are still perfect, after three years. So my hope is they wil stay that way...
Is there anyone who has a similar positive experience with other Technic sets from that period?

Gravatar
By in Canada,

I guess I've been pretty lucky as this is only happened on a few of the 100s of stickers I've applied. Where the sticker is peeling I find it happens on smooth curved surfaces of my Tiny Trubos. When applying stickers I also try and ensure that there are no air bubbles; not sure if this has an impact on peeling or not.

I have a habit of applying stickers as some sets loose their appeal without them; I guess only time will tell if this happens to more of my sets.

Do we know the reasoning for stickers? Yes it probably costs more but there are lots of printed pieces that are unique to only certain sets.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I tried to take some stickers off a model and noticed this just 5 minutes ago! Weird...

Gravatar
By in China,

I don't have any set that's too old but my 2008's police helicopter got stickers loose just a few days after I built it.The later sets do have better stickers but you have to stick them properly at first or they will get loose very easily.

Gravatar
By in United States,

My UCS Corellian Corvette has the sticker peel, along with the old WW1 planes pair. Not happy. I need to see if they have the sticker sheet pdfs online. If they do I know a guy who works at a print shop and can probably print me up a set to reapply.

I'm sure there are others experiencing the same thing in my collection -- those are just the ones I know about. Light and heat are probably a factor in the decay.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Huw,
It is obvious that this problem exists everywhere. Can you use your contacts at Lego to ask for reprints on stickers?

I was feeling lucky until someone mentioned the Harry Potter sets. Mine are in the boxes, with the stickered items in separate plastic zip bags...... Now I need to pull them out, and check the status of the stickers. ....

Gravatar
By in United States,

The stickers on the 8448 from 1999 also seem to have this same problem...

Gravatar
By in Hungary,

I have also the same problem by many sets. I always wash my hands before I build a new set, so they are completely clean. I apply the stickers very carefully and I do not play with the sets. Just make some photos and put it in the vitrine.
After a while when I take the set out I see on some that the stickers are wrong.
I noticed this to Lego before and asked them to send me new ones but due to the age of the sets they could not send me and wrote me to buy new sticker from Bricklink.

It is maybe a same quality issue as yellowing and different colour versions from the "same colour" in one set. But I think this sticker issue should be solved by Lego by sending the collectors new, better made quality stickers.

Till then I can advise You only to store the Sets in vitrine, if it is makeable than in air-sealed vitrine and the vitrines' glasses should be dark or smoke and the complete room or shelf should not get direct contact with sunshine.

Gravatar
By in United States,

@Darth Brickus: The Hoth Base is the first set I had where I noticed the stickers peeling back. They are the ones on the control center.... the display screens.

The stickers from the SSD bridge, which I believe came out around the same time, are still intact (fingers crossed).

The set where stickers peeled back the worst and don't stick at all anymore are on the Sith Infiltrator 7921.

This is all very disappointing.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Maybe the expected life of a LEGO set isn't supposed to be more than 10 years and this isn't an issue for LEGO.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Hmmm, I've not been applying stickers to a lot of my sets, with the exceptions being my Galaxy Squad and new Ultra Agents sets, so I'm not sure how those will turn out. I haven't applied any of the stickers to my Chima sets, as I usually get those for parts, but those are mostly clear anyways.

I do know that all of the stickers from my two Batman sets 7781-1 and 7783-1 never peeled in the slightest, and I very recently removed them all from their pieces. They all came off cleanly without leaving residue, and I swear I could've re-applied them to the pieces then and there if I had wanted to. I was pretty impressed.

Gravatar
By in Ireland,

I keep the stickers with the instructions. I think the only ones of late I've applied are to sets specifically for my son and the reflective pieces for the creator lighthouse. I love when you get huge sets and no stickers - like the fire temple.

Stickers are probably easier and less expensive to produce than printed bricks which are specific to sets but I'd sooner pay a few pence/cents more for printed ones.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I posted a question on the StackExchange site, Lego Answers, a couple years ago about this exact same problem as the stickers on my Williams look just as horrible, if not worse.

I was asking about replacement stickers and I even posted my response from Lego (they don't make them).

http://bricks.stackexchange.com/questions/3/where-or-how-do-i-get-replacement-stickers-for-my-lego-set

I have to agree, I don't put stickers on my new sets because of this.

Gravatar
By in United States,

What drives me crazy is when stickers are intended to be put on curved pieces. My kids and I love the SpongeBob sets, and have built all of them. Set 4981 The Chum Bucket has a brick built robot that has 2 stickers placed on round 2 x 2 bricks. They were peeling off THE NEXT MORNING after being put on display. I contacted Lego customer service at the time and they sent a new sheet, but it obviously doesn't solve the problem of weak adhesive.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Thanks for all your comments. Clearly this is an emotive subject! I have asked Kim in LEGO CEE team about the issue and he has contacted someone in the quality department. I'll post the reply if I get one.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Guess what? I have a set from 2009 that has a peeling sticker right now!

Gravatar
By in Netherlands,

I just removed the stickers off my LEGO sets :D

Gravatar
By in United States,

Instead of paper stickers, maybe they could switch to the vinyl stickers, which seem to be more durable.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I first experienced the peeling sticker issue with the Viking sets. I bought extra sheets from BrickLink and applied a very thing layer of naipolish top-coat to them. Haven't experienced any peeling or curling since then. I now apply top-coat to all paper stickers and also buy extra sticker sheets and keep them in a ziplock bag. The clear stickers haven't been a problem, as others have mentioned, but I buy extras of those too. I figure 3-5 extra sticker sheets for each set should last at least my lifetime...(c;

Gravatar
By in United States,

Hmm. I have never really had an issue with stickers cracking or pealing of any age. Perhaps the semi-arid high desert of Eastern Oregon is a benefit here?

Gravatar
By in United States,

@Huw:
Thank you, Huw. I remember when the Ghostbusters instructions issue was posted on Brickset, Lego recognized the quality issue. I've got my fingers crossed.

Gravatar
By in United States,

The other day I discovered to my own horror that the stickers on my Vestas Wind Turbine (of all sets) had actually dry-rotted. I've had this set sitting by my window for a few years now and I noticed that the stickers were peeling. Just pressing lightly on them to re-adhere caused them to literally crack and flake apart. Oh and on top of that, the sun bleached the white pieces, which is pretty much the entire turbine. Yea.....

Gravatar
By in United States,

Another thought: Lego seems to be paying a lot of attention to minifigures these days (Printing on almost all body areas, new molded accessories, new molded printed accessories). I don't know how much this is costing Lego, but I'm guessing it's not cheap. Could this be why there are so many stickered bricks nowadays?

I have never experienced any of the sticker horrors mentioned here, I guess I've been lucky. I wonder if my location in Alabama is helping...

Gravatar
By in United States,

The only old sets of mine that still have stickers are the Exploriens (from '99?), and then only the holographic ones. Their lustre has long since passed, but they aren't messy or peeling.

Interestingly, the red/blue "fossil" stickers from the same sets were ruined long ago with scrapes and scratches that I assume were just from being stored with other pieces and raked through occasionally. Now, however, I don't apply stickers to official models at all anymore, and any pieces that do have stickers are stored separately.

I agree on the vinyl vs. paper stickers issue; in some cases I even prefer vinyl to printed parts (unless the printing is fairly generic), as they can be repurposed for MOCs.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I've never had this problem with stickers. Personally, I hope I never do. I prefer paper-backed stickers to clear-backed ones in most situations. There are no issues with fingerprints or dust showing between the part and the sticker, and I just generally think they look better in many situations.

Gravatar
By in United States,

As said above, the Hoth Base control stickers are already peeling off, and we have had that set built for less than a year.
The other problem I have with stickers is that they are so hard to place properly. They don't cover the whole surface, just a majority, so centering them is very difficult for me, and nearly impossible for my boys, who find it very frustrating.
If it were only in the sets that were under $50 or so, I could understand the sticker preference. But a $100 set like Benny's Spaceship? A $200 set like the UCS X-Wing? A $400 set like the Death Star? Really?! That's like putting vinyl seats in a Ferrari. I would rather have printed bricks any day. There will always be more to MOC with later, but once the sticker is peeled or torn or falls off, it's gone for good.

Gravatar
By in Slovakia,

Oh, I do have a bad experience with stickers. It happened to my http://brickset.com/sets/8654-1/Scuderia-Ferrari-Truck which I got in 2005? and to couple of my other sets as well- for instance, my football stadium from early 2000s looks horrible because of that. I was always under impression that I simply carelessly applied the stickers (I was still a child back in 2005); it seems like I was wrong.

Nowadays, I barely have any problems with stickers, though that doesn't change the fact that I hate them. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw new Junior sets- particulary Junior Batcave (a big Batman fan here). They contained no stickers and lots of nice printed pieces which I will most likely use for MOCs or something else. They are awesome; does anyone else like them too? :)

Gravatar
By in United States,

I remember when stickers used to do this. But I personally haven't seen this in quite a number of years. I actually thought LEGO had already fixed the issue.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I rarely apply stickers but do on occasion if they don't spread across more than one piece. I recently applied stickers to the new and old versions of Sopwith Camel. It made a big difference in how the set looked. Hope the stickers don't turn to mush.

I did buy a used 3723 Lego Mini Fig. It had a big lego sign on the chest. It cracked and peeled and became a mess when I tried to remove it. Had to scrape it all off with goo gone. It was a mess!. Luckily the sticker is just a large Lego logo so could be found pretty easily and printed.

after this article I think I will go back to applying stickers only when I have to see it on the model.

Gravatar
By in United States,

This definitely is not a problem anymore. Hasn't been for the past few years. It was the early/mid-2000s where it was a problem. I always apply stickers and no longer notice this on sets from the past few years.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I cave a couple City sets that I pulled apart recently that had this problem, but it only seemed to happen with the white of the stickers. I would take off the cracked/peeling part of the sticker, but any colored part would stay on fine, thought those bits were still cracked.

Gravatar
By in Netherlands,

funny, my little brother and I both have LEGO. His lego had all stickers peeled, mine only for the 30 year old 7824 train station set(which was stuck to multiple bricks anyway). I always throught it was my brother being careless with his bricks.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

@Huw: Thanks! I'd love to hear LEGO's say in this matter! What an awkward question for them! :-) Mua-ha-ha-ha! >:-) ;-)

Gravatar
By in United States,

The horror! :P

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

@Benjet6464: Yes. :-P

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Worst example of this for me, being the UCS Naboo Starfighter and Technic Crane Mk1 (the 8-wheeler).

Gravatar
By in Canada,

The only stickers I have noticed peeling are the ones placed on bricks with certain textures. I know my Lambda shuttle interior control panel is peeling off.

I would suggest we form a sticker data bank of scanned sticker sheets. I have been scanning all of my stickers for the last 4 or so years. I am sad to say I only have a 600 dpi resolution printer which I assume will not print satisfactory replicas however...

Perhaps Lego can help as I know Huw is going to find out.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I don't get all you people going on and on about how Lego should be printing every single part for a higher quality product. Stickers give you the freedom to be applied if you want it, and not if you don't, and you can also apply them to different bricks to be more creative. Plus, if a kid wants to have a plain brick again, they can simply peel the sticker off. I know we know how to remove printing, but I doubt parents will want their kids slinging harsh chemicals around just to play with their Lego.

Gravatar
By in Germany,

The same thing happened to a used set I bought (8147 Bullet Run). These stickers are horrible!

It took a lot of time (and a lot of Windex) to clean the bricks.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

After applying stickers to parts, would having the stickers laminated onto the parts solve this problem, perhaps?

Alternatively, when you buy a set with stickers, make a high quality scan of the stickers, make your own stickers from the scan, and keep the original stickers safe somewhere, away from heat, light, dust and anything else that could cause them to degrade. Then, when the reproduction stickers you made peel and crack, simply produce new stickers from the scans - and the original stickers will still be somewhere safe in perfect condition.

Gravatar
By in Czech Republic,

The only issue with scanning and printing of stickers is to print white color on transparent sheets. It is completely unreasonable under home conditions :( I keep 600 dpi scans of my stickers as well. According to my experience 600 dpi is enough to produce a satisfactory print.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I bought the Millennium Falcon (7965) in May this year, even when I was building it, the stickers for the 2x2 round tiles kept peeling off - I suspect with a little time that they'll disintegrate too :(

I suspect that there may be a market for 3rd party brick (re)printing services... Pity LEGO didn't print them the first time around...

As for the disintegration itself, I strongly suspect that the plastic film used is simply bi-degrading in UV light, a bit like old shopping bags tend to these days.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I have very few stickered sets as a kid that are peeling now. I just dug out my old LEGO a few weeks ago. The Bank sticker from the Wild West line is peeling, but I suspect only because somehow one of the 1x6 bricks isn't there anymore. Otherwise it is still firm to the top 1x6 brick.

I applied stickers to the 2010 HP line. They are still doing okay as far as I can tell.

I have only applied stickers to the VW Van, only because I felt it needed them to complete the look. But all other stickers have been put into a stack with cardboard backing with my instructions.

The nice thing is, most sets don't need them. They may add some detail, but nothing too critical.

I'm sure LEGO doesn't produce everything printed due to the cost. They already stated they are trying to keep costs down as it is. If everything was printed, can you imagine the jump in price? People already complain about how expensive they are. Kind of a lose-lose situation for TLG.

Gravatar
By in Canada,

I have that same problem as well. Most notably on the 2008 V-19 Torrent and 2010 Droid Tri-Fighter. I haven't been applying stickers in 3 years and don't plan on applying them again any time soon lol

Gravatar
By in United States,

I have had sets from 2005 with stickers peel off it's horrible like 8654-1: Scuderia Ferrari Truck. Most recently my 7734: Cargo Plane is peeling! it's a horrible mess to try and clean up they crack and break into smaller pieces.

I avoid applying any 'white' stickers. Clear seem to hold up better; but even then I worry.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Nope. Never used a LEGO sticker either. Don't care if the model looks incomplete - it still looks better than curling and sticky residue.

Gravatar
By in Australia,

My stickers crack. I first noticed it on the 4999 vestas wind turbine set. I believe the problem is the white stock of the stickers. If you feel it, it's not that thick. Next time you feel a sticker sheet from lego, feel it against, say, the mac apple sticker.

Gravatar
By in Hungary,

The biggest sticker issue I have run into so far was with set 7915 Imperial V-wing starfighter from 2011.
The stickers started peeling off right after I applied them. As far as I remeber it was even peeling off the sticker sheet already, so it must have been the worst quality LEGO sticker ever.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Personally, I haven't had many issues with stickers, but the one that came to mind for me was #79102 Shredder's Dragon Bike from just last year. When I opened up that one it was clear the stickers had been peeling while they were INSIDE the box! Some of the flag stickers had peeled off the sticker sheet completely even and some had attached to the instructions or the bags. I couldn't believe it. I tried to attach them as normal, but they were peeling and curling within hours of building. I now only apply stickers where they have a clear background as a consequence.

Gravatar
By in Netherlands,

It is also possible for stickers to peel because of the horrible way they are stored inside brand new boxes. Does anyone else think this is getting out of hand? In the last two weeks I bought 3 sets and all of the sticker sheets were folded up. (I was able to apply them correctly, but I don't know how long they will last). LEGO has solved this problem in the more expensive sets by putting a piece of cardboard and some plastic around the instructions and the sheet, but it should be applied to all sets. The cheaper sets cost something too.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I don't have any old stickers to comment, however my sticker horror concerns crumpled and damaged sheets in new boxed sets.

I only just discovered that my Republic Dropship even had the stickers in the cardboard protective sleeve with the instructions but were still damaged beyond use :-( I should complain about that one..

More serious and unrelated was the two different shades of 'white' bricks throughout the set: some were pinkish, others greyish, not simply white!! (This applies to multiples of the same type of brick too)

Gravatar
By in United States,

Ugh, after reading through the comments here, I am regretting applying stickers to all of my sets. I have hundreds of sets on display and the knowledge that the stickers are going to peel off, crack and/or turn to powder just makes me want to sell off any set with a sticker and be done with it. Perhaps it's time to switch from being a buyer to being a seller. Ugh (again). Most disturbing for me is the the comment above about the Maersk ship -- I'm gonna be one unhappy camper if the stickers on any of my Maersk ships start to fall apart.

Gravatar
By in Denmark,

I think that there are different issues being discussed here.
1) Some stickers peel of - i.e. they lose contact with the brick they are applied onto
2) Some stickers crack and desintegrate, often by themselves.

Peeling has always occured - I have some sets from the 1970s where the stickers are peeling of. Just clean them in warm water, add some spray-on adhesive, and they are good as new!
Some newer stickers don't stick to well. Again, cleaning often helps, but bricks with uneven surfaces, like slopes (that was one of the reasons that the slopes were changed to smooth surfaces, to get stickers to stick better) often lose the contact after some time. Only thing that works is more glue!

Cracks and desintegrating stickers only seem to happen with sets from around 2000 to around 2008. I only started collecting in 2010, so I haven't bought any new sets before that, but I do have sets from as late as 2008 with cracking stickers, and as early as 2000, but not before.

Power Miners from 2009 and onwards have lots of stickers, and I see no problems. Exo-Force also seems to be free from problems, but most of the stickers were printed on transparent plastic, which doesn't seem to have the same problems.

So either the 2) problem was solved in 2008 - or it takes at least five years (after production) before the stickers break apart.

The 1) problem can't be solved.

Gravatar
By in United States,

My Galactic Enforcer, and my 2007 Coast Guard helicopter have the same problem. I've had to tape over the stickers to stop them from peeling.

Gravatar
By in United States,

@StorzN: Do you mean the Space Police 3 Galactic Enforcer? If so, I have the same set and haven't had any trouble with the stickers on it. My little brother, though, does have that same Coast Guard chopper, and the stickers on it are peeling like crazy.

I do have a few sets with stickers that have that problem, but it seems like they've gotten better recently (the white stickers, I mean). I have both a 2008 Republic Gunship and a 2013 A-Wing, and the white stickers on them show no signs of wear or tear, though maybe it's a little too early to tell for the A-Wing...

In any case, though, might I humbly suggest changing the name of this article to "Sticker Shock"? Just a thought. :P

EDIT: I think a more disturbing trend is one that I've noticed in LEGO minifigures. It seems that the hand and shoulder joints get very loose, very quickly, with little to no use. This has happened on several of my minifigs from "An Unexpected Gathering," and has also occurred to a large number of my brother's NinjaGo minifigs. Has this happened to anyone else?

Gravatar
By in Canada,

Stickers that I applied on my Star Wars sets prior to 2009 have disintegrated and cracked. After having that happen I refused to put stickers on my sets until I can make some reuseable stickers that won't leave residue and whatnot. For now my stickers are in a ziplock bag tucked away.

Someone mentioned in a post about a sticker bank. I think that is a worthwhile effort. The lego community could benefit greatly from doing so as long as there are no copyright issues with TLG.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Except for a few case where I pulled stickers back off after not getting them applied properly, I have not noticed any sticker peeling, and I have sets from the late 80s on....of course now I've probably jinxed myself. *knock on wood*

Gravatar
By in United States,

Hmm. Big whoop. It's just the sticker. More and more AFOLs don't even apply the stickers anyway. Either side of the door is broken. :)
Just glad the parts hold up. :))

Gravatar
By in United States,

Oh dang, never thought it would be that bad. Time to start removing stickers before they can do any harm...

My issue with stickers is less that they are annoying to put on/don't last on (as evidenced by this post), but rather that they're generally only good for the sets they are made for (with the major exception of control panel-ly things). Like if you have a Ferrari set, if and when you dismantle it what are you going to do with all those logos and stuff? They're useless unless on the original set.

Gravatar
By in Germany,

I'm not sure if it solves most of the problems....but I don't touch the stickers with my fingers when I apply them to my Lego Sets. Use a tweezer or one of those cheap cutter knives and peel the stickers from the sheet with those tools! It really works great and it's way easier to place the sticker at the right position instead of using your fingers and putting the gluey sticker from your left fingers to the right fingers and back again - we all know that. Sure, you can forget this method when you add one of those x-large UCS-stickers but for example for most of those larger Technic stickers it works just fine.
Trans-clear stickers on trans-clear pieces were my horror. But with the method someone posted my Benny's Spaceship looks perfect! Use a dish of cold water, throw in a drop or two of washing-up liquid, throw your lego piece in it when it's time to add a sticker (and hold it off again!), peel the sticker of the sheet using a tweezer, hold it in the water too and add it to your Lego, wet as they both are. You can fix the sticker for a few seconds and then dry it with a tissue. Really works excellent. Never again milky trans-clear stickers on a trans-clear Lego piece!
I hope I could really help....and SORRY for the long read! :-)

Gravatar
By in United States,

@Routemaster - I'll have to try that! I had given up on my Red 5 X-Wing canopy. I can understand stickers in a $20 city set, but for $200, the least they can do is print the canopy. Yeesh.

My experience with stickers:

8448 1999 Super Car (peeled and cracked)
7181 2000 UCS TIE Int (peeled and cracked)
3451 2001 Sopwith Camel (peeled and cracked)
10024 2002 Red Baron (fine)
10026 2002 UCS naboo (peeled and cracked)
10175 2006 UCS TIE Adv (fine)
[anything newer] fine

Anything from about 1999-2002 is pretty much guaranteed to be disintegrating. I have plenty of older sets (the little Shell stock car from the mid-80s comes to mind) which are fine, and anything newer is also fine (perhaps they just haven't been out in the elements long enough). Oddly, my Red Baron is perfectly fine despite being on display with my Sopwith Camel for pretty much the same amount of time. The Camel is a wreck, and in fact is what inspired me to start scanning.

I've started scanning any sticker sheet at 600 dpi before applying (any set I own from pretty much 2006 on up--I'm happy to share if it'd be any help). I'm still working out the color management and what material to print to.

As for removing them, I scraped them with a finger nail (messy, but soft enough to not damage the parts) and then remove the goo with ordinary WD-40. Then just follow up with soap and water otherwise you're trading goo for "eau de WD-40." (I've found most goo-removers are some derivative of WD-40 anyway--goo gone, for instance, smells identical to it)

An anti-UV coat might help, but I hesitate to spray anything on my Lego.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Man, I don't know what kind of a place you guys live in, but I've never even HEARD of a sticker Crumbling apart, let alone 'disintegrating'. The only trouble I've had with stickers is when I touch it to much, or when I peel it off after hastily applying it. Now from what I've read here I can only assume you get dirt on your hands before touching the whole underside of the sticker after which you take a hairdryer to the bottom and watch as the sticker falls of the brick you tried to put it on. But that may be my imagination kicking in. ;)

Gravatar
By in Sweden,

I've had this start to happen with the specs sticker on my UCS Super Star Destroyer set, which is particularly unacceptable. I really wish Lego would just stick with printed stuff instead of stickers.

Gravatar
By in Australia,

Just a note: always make sure to apply stickers with freshly cleaned hands, and wipe the surface of the brick with a dry, lint free cloth prior to application. This will ensure that there won't be any issues with adhesion. I've never once had a sticker peel up on my sets.

Luckily I don't own any sets from the timeframe where everyone seems to have trouble (2000-2010)

Gravatar
By in Australia,

My corellian corvette is in a particular state of disrepair.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

@Routemaster: Brilliant suggestion! What an idea! I'll do that from now on! Goodbye peeling! :-D

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

@Cmdr_Roy: Is that a Racers set? I can't remember a Corvette (but that might just be me). Can you give me the set number? ;-)

Gravatar
By in Netherlands,

The cracking, peeling off and warping of the stickers happened sadly already in 1999. Set 8448 was bought new in October 1999 and I had this problem within a few weeks after building it. Like always I clean all surfaces thoroughly before I apply stickers (thanks to building Revell and Bburago kits), but with that set of stickers it did not help. With hindsight I should have called customer services, but forgot to do this.

Strangely enough I have no problems with the stickers of my City and Star Wars sets.

Gravatar
By in United States,

we'll I found the toys r us truck and little fire truck stickers coming off

Gravatar
By in United States,

I have never been and never will be a fan of the stickers. They have always peeled off too easy and just don't look as good as the printed bricks IMO. I really wish LEGO would go back to printing images on the bricks as it would make the sets/pieces that much more exclusive. I would gladly pay $5 extra per set just to get rid of the stickers.

Of the many sets I own, I've only used stickers on 3 of the sets, and on all of them, they began peeling within weeks, so I just stopped applying stickers on other models I've built.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I actually had a similar problem on my 7754. All the stickers on it are breaking and peeling. I do greatly hope that they've fixed it.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I haven't applied stickers to any of my sets for the last 3 years because of this. It is depressing to look at older models that I have on display and see the stickers curling up or flaking. I just won't take the risk these days.

Gravatar
By in Germany,

I am not applying stickers any more. At all. Ever since my Sopwith Camel (first version) looked like it was shot down over the Somme after no time at all, I am through with them. I put the sheets away and that is it.

Gravatar
By in United States,

The biggest issue with stickers always seems to be the texture and geometry of the parts they are being applied to. Pretty much anything curved will become an issue in time. And something about the texture of some technic panels seems to worsen this. This is above and beyond the tendency of certain vintage stickers to crack or dry out, which may also have local environmental causes. (Besides I don't think any of us expect Lego to test or certify stickers for 10-20 year lifespans.)

Gravatar
By in United States,

As several others have mentioned, I would ABSOLUTELY be willing to pay a premium if Lego did away with stickers and started including more printed bricks. No question.

That said, I do apply stickers. I don't really see the point of not applying them. If they fall off in 10 years, I'll end up with non-stickered model anyway.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Clear stickers or otherwise, it may help some to apply your stickers to clean surfaces. I use a bit of rubbing alcohol to remove fingerprint oil and also make sure the area is free of dust. I also use tweezers to apply them more often that not.

Still, a lot of my sets from the time periods mention above have disintegrating stickers. My Speed Racer Mach Five and Racer X cars looks terrible but the other Speed Racer cars still look okay. Hit or miss!

Gravatar
By in United States,

I've had this problem with my Sports sets (soccer fields, snowboarding hill...). Older stickers are just fine, and the generously-stickered Exo-Force sets don't have a problem, even after much abuse. :P

Gravatar
By in United States,

Jeez.

Even IF you saved the stickers, the quality is probably so bad they'll be useless years from now.

Return to home page ยป