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should Lego change the design of their instruction books to use photographs?

interesting topic.
 The other evening i was in the middle of building on of my Lego sets and noticed that some of the current pictures used can sometimes be a little confusing and you are not always sure if you have done it right and so i wondered if perhaps Lego would consider using actual photographs as this may make it easier to see exactly where things go and hopefully lower the chances of making mistakes ( which i do quite often) has anybody else got any thoughts on this?


Comments

  • The_WerebrickThe_Werebrick EreborMember Posts: 17
    I believe the digital format is better. The reason for this is that in photography, odd shadows and highlights can be even more confusing. But, I agree with you HaleAFOL.
    tedward
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 14,345
    No. I prefer the regular ones. Some  people do sell photo based ones, they aren't always so easy to follow
  • binaryeyebinaryeye USMember Posts: 1,725
    Even if photographs are desirable, they would be extremely impractical from a production perspective and would likely necessitate a price increase.

    Professional photography and post-production (even if done in-house) is not cheap. Consider how many steps are in even the smallest models and then consider how many sets are produced each year. There would be thousands of hours involved. Beyond that, there is the issue of consistency from photo to photo and from set to set. Photographs would also require more lead time in finalizing instructions.

    Rendering has an advantage over photography in every relevant aspect. That said, I think they could improve the quality of their renders (though improved printing could help some of this).
    madforLEGOTheLoneTensor
  • ecmo47ecmo47 North CarolinaMember Posts: 1,786
    I have no problems with the current format. I just wish they would stop using a glossy format and go with more of a matte finish. Many times it's difficult to see the instructions due to normal light glare pages.
    madforLEGOTheLoneTensoroldtodd33
  • GalactusGalactus NLMember Posts: 250
    I think that with photographs the depth perspective would/could become a handicap. Especially with larger models.
  • OldfanOldfan Chicagoland, IL, USAMember Posts: 554
    The only issue I have with the current instructions, is how to differentiate between the various similar-looking colors (i.e. black, dark stone, and medium stone might all look the same in some pictures).  All the various new reds and dark-orange-y colors (flesh varieties, etc.) are also a little troublesome.  I'd hate to have to determine which is the proper color based solely on the provided instructions nowadays.
    klatu003madforLEGOMrJ_NYpreverericecake
  • klatu003klatu003 Hobbiton, Shire, Middle EarthMember Posts: 706
    ^yes, a little help with the color would save those situations when you get two thirds through the build and don't have the pieces in the right color (black or dark bley), because you mistakenly used them for the other color earlier.  
    HaleAFOLOldfannatro220MrJ_NYprevereJern92
  • TarDomoTarDomo FinlandMember Posts: 515

    The black bricks look a bit grey but u get used to it while u build a lot. I cannot think of any other problems so I´m happy with these instructions we have today. I´ve not faced any custom instructions that would have used photograps so not sure but why change a working thing?

  • LordofLegoLordofLego Member Posts: 311
    They should have color labels for the really dark ones.
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,159
    Photographs? No. There are some instruction manuals from back in the day where alternate model instructions would use photographs, and needless to say a simplified look makes things much more legible. The outlined edges and bright, smooth colors (without too many distracting shadows and reflections) make it much easier to tell where one piece ends and the next begins.

    Even photorealistic renders generally do not feel as professional as the illustrations LEGO uses in their instruction manuals, and if you pay attention to, say, BIONICLE manuals over the years, you'll see that LEGO actually used more realistic renders for some sets in the early days and then switched back to a more simplified look.

    These days even the issue of telling black and dark stone grey apart has mostly been fixed, because around 2012 LEGO went back to using white outlines for black parts and black outlines for grey parts, just like they did in the 80s and early 90s. This way they no longer have to artificially lighten the color of black parts just so the outlines show up.

    The digital instructions on LEGO.com can still be extremely frustrating due to their tendency to make Dark Brown parts into one blackish mess, Dark Green (classic green) parts into an eye-searing bright green, etc. But the physical instructions don't have a lot of issues like this from my experience.
  • klatu003klatu003 Hobbiton, Shire, Middle EarthMember Posts: 706
    " These days even the issue of telling black and dark stone grey apart has mostly been fixed, because around 2012 LEGO went back to using white outlines for black parts and black outlines for grey parts, just like they did in the 80s and early 90s. This way they no longer have to artificially lighten the color of black parts just so the outlines show up."  

    I did not know this!  Thanks @Aanchir. I went back and looked at some instructions and now it jumps out at me. *slaps forehead*  Sometimes I can spot the bling added to 1x1 round plates to show metallic.  Are there any other subtle indicators for colors that we can look for?  
    HaleAFOL
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 7,350
    I'd prefer the sets not to cost another 25% because of the increased cost of instruction manuals...
    Pitfall69AdzbadboyLordofLego
  • AdzbadboyAdzbadboy London, UKMember Posts: 2,240
    How about not including the manuals at all with all the tech taking over you could just go and get the instructions from their website? This way the costs of sets can be decreased and be environmentally free.
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    ^ That sounds great in practice, but I remember putting together an old Black Seas Barracuda using instructions on an ipad.  Holy crap, never again.

    A dozen thumbs up for unglossy paper though.

    On a related, recently putting together the Ecto-1, it was a terrible decision to use the rigid binding that they did.  You can't lay the instructions flat, and instead I had to use the box to hold them open.  Really annoying.
    klatu003
  • LordofLegoLordofLego Member Posts: 311
    Adzbadboy said:
    How about not including the manuals at all with all the tech taking over you could just go and get the instructions from their website? This way the costs of sets can be decreased and be environmentally free.
    That would raise all kinds of problems. My family and I think some other people as well had a huge problem this year with the library's summer reading program going digital. Not because we don't have a computer, obviously we do, but we just didn't like it. Some people don't have computers but do buy Legos. What do they do? Go to the library and print out the instructions or take their Lego sets along and build them there? It's a great idea, but it wouldn't work out. They already tried it a while back with the Technic sets and no one liked that, at least no one who writes reviews on Lego blogs and Brickset.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,255
    I use downloaded .pdf instructions for 98% of my Lego builds. That way, my instructions stay in pristine condition :)

    A bit off topic, but I wish there was a way to just order a Lego set without the box and instructions. How much does the box and instructions add to the cost of the set? To me, it is more about waste than cost. There are plenty of people that throw away their boxes.
    SumoLego
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 1,844
    edited June 2015
    One of the chapters of my Unofficial LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide is about the evolution of LEGO Set instructions, since the very first ones of 1955.  At one point TLG was using photography, and was using a felt tipped marker type image to show the different bricks, since photography often doesn't delineate between separate parts.

    There were some pretty ghastly trials and errors in the last 60 years of LEGO instructions.  Some early instructions gave you absolutely no clue how the back of buildings looked like!  :#
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,159
    Pitfall69 said:
    I use downloaded .pdf instructions for 98% of my Lego builds. That way, my instructions stay in pristine condition :)

    A bit off topic, but I wish there was a way to just order a Lego set without the box and instructions. How much does the box and instructions add to the cost of the set? To me, it is more about waste than cost. There are plenty of people that throw away their boxes.
    Well, packaging plays a big role in helping to actually sell the set. Not only does it show pictures of the set and its features, but it helps protect the set from damage and helps it stand out on a store shelf. Even among people who do throw away the boxes, I don't think you'd find many people as enthusiastic to buy the set in the first place if it didn't come in a flashy, eye-catching box.

    Also, for some people, the sturdier and more solid the package, the higher the product's perceived quality. Nowhere is this more apparent than among BIONICLE fans, who often criticize the resealable foil pouches of Hero Factory and Legends of Chima constraction sets even though, from a storage standpoint, they're a lot more practical than rigid plastic canisters (the preferred alternative for many fans) could ever be. Perhaps the association of resealable pouches with consumable food products is part of what leads some people to think of them as cheap trash rather than as a reusable storage option.

    Other than things like hard plastic canisters or metal tins, LEGO packaging is generally really cheap to produce, so even if you bought the set in an unmarked plastic bag, I doubt it'd shave much off the retail price. The building instructions are definitely somewhat costly, but a lot of their cost is in actually WRITING the instructions, not printing them, so again, I doubt you'd save too much if they weren't included with the parts.

    If the price went down measurably, it'd be because taking away the packaging and instructions takes a huge bite out of the set's perceived quality and value. Just look at how much more people pay for a set with its original package and instructions on the aftermarket.
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 7,350
    edited June 2015
    Pitfall69 said:
    I use downloaded .pdf instructions for 98% of my Lego builds. That way, my instructions stay in pristine condition :)

    A bit off topic, but I wish there was a way to just order a Lego set without the box and instructions. How much does the box and instructions add to the cost of the set? To me, it is more about waste than cost. There are plenty of people that throw away their boxes.
    That's an interesting proposition!

    I don't want to buy a bag of soup - even though it is probably cheaper and environmentally favorable.  I'm used to completely impractical cans.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,255
    Oh, I totally understand what the boxes are for :) I was just wondering how much the box and instructions and additional packaging adds to the cost of the set? 
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 14,345
    Aanchir said:
    Pitfall69 said:
    I use downloaded .pdf instructions for 98% of my Lego builds. That way, my instructions stay in pristine condition :)

    A bit off topic, but I wish there was a way to just order a Lego set without the box and instructions. How much does the box and instructions add to the cost of the set? To me, it is more about waste than cost. There are plenty of people that throw away their boxes.
    Well, packaging plays a big role in helping to actually sell the set. Not only does it show pictures of the set and its features, but it helps protect the set from damage and helps it stand out on a store shelf. Even among people who do throw away the boxes, I don't think you'd find many people as enthusiastic to buy the set in the first place if it didn't come in a flashy, eye-catching box.

    It depends on the buyer and the purpose. If I was buying 10x a set for MOCing, I couldn't care less about the packaging and the instructions. If I could save $2 per set, then that's $20 there. Of course, that is not lego's intention for the set. They don't expect people to buy 10x and not build what they designed.

    Also, boxes mean it is much easier to keep track of stock. Having bulk bags with a barcode on would be much less efficient when trying to pick something off a shelf.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,255
    ^That was what I was thinking. I already bought Pet Shop, but I want to buy 7 more to make a block of Brownstones, I wouldn't want to be bothered with the boxes and instructions. 
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 4,088
    edited June 2015
    Due to the fact that it would need a second packaging process set up for an existing set, and would appeal to a smaller demographic than the existing set, it probably wouldn't save enough to make it worth while. You could always sell the instructions and boxes from any additional ones on bricklink, no idea what the market's like for them but likely to get you back just as much as you might save.
  • klatu003klatu003 Hobbiton, Shire, Middle EarthMember Posts: 706
    My preference has gone back and forth on using printed instructions vs PDFs.  There is a certain tactile pleasure in the booklets and they make it easier to interpret color.  I don't like the bound books.  They require something to weight them down.  The spiral bound book for #21005 Fallingwater was perfect. 

    It didn't occur to me why some sets have a booklet for each sub-build of a set, until a poster here mentioned family building.  Mini-booklets make a lot a sense now.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 14,345
    ^^ boxes and instructions for almost all retail sets are almost worthless, as most people parting the set out want to be rid of them. The sales volumes are very low. Exclusives such as Orthanc are more valuable, but only about £5 for the instructions.

    I let the kids cut up my old instruction booklets and use them for craft.
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