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Brick Fatigue (or cracking) when model remains assembled too long?

henrysunsethenrysunset Member Posts: 211
edited November 11 in Collecting
Hey y'all...

I just received a thoughtful comment on my LEGO Storage Guide about potential damage to LEGO bricks by leaving them assembled, or storing unused parts in stacks.


Nathan asked: "I store my common bricks in stacks as a way of color sorting and being able to do quick counts due to the consistent stack size and haven’t noticed any reduction in clutch, but then I’ve only had them in stacks for maybe 5 years... Is [brick fatigue] something there is actual research on or just something everyone knows?"


I do not think there has been a definitive study on this topic, but it there is, please let me know!


I have always believed that LEGO bricks can become fatigued or damaged if they remain assembled for too long. 

In my personal experience, I have seen quite a few relatively new LEGO bricks which cracked after remaining assembled in a model for just a few years.  Specifically, I've seen about 100 cracked bricks in the past three years, most of which were white bricks: mostly 1×1 Cheese, 1×1 Headlight Brick (Erling), and standard 1×1 Bricks. (I have a lot of White bricks, and it's especially easy to see a crack in a white brick.)


Even if there hasn't been a definitive study on this - what have you experienced? 
  • Have you found that bricks which were stacked became weaker than bricks which weren't? 
  • What about cracked bricks - has it happened to you?  

Thanks,
---tom
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Comments

  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UKMember Posts: 2,790
    1x1 cheese slopes are notorious for it. Having said that, I can't say I've noticed it happening recently.

    It happens to other pieces too, but it tends to depend on colour.

    Good job you can't stack cheese slopes to store them! ;)
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 15,242
    It is probably almost impossible to have a definitive study on something like this. As you can see in the main thread on damaged parts, there is huge variability which anecdotally appears to be based on location, so presumably temperature / humidity or source factory of parts. Any test conditions are not likely to be realistic for all users, so any findings will not be definitive.

    The only damaged ones I have (aside from kids play damage) are 1*1 cheese.
    dutchlegofan50
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 1,961
    Let me share my own view on this... But my situation deals with LEGO parts that were built with bricks that were 30 years old.  I had several large buildings (several of which had well over 1000+ pieces each).  After 25 years of being in a built MOC, taking them apart has yielded zero cracks, and no reduction in clutch power.

    But all of the bricks and parts in my MOCs were made of some European LEGO with Bayer supplied and colored ABS pellets.... and mostly American LEGO with (I assume) Borg-Warner  supplied and colored ABS pellets.

    Before the current century.... LEGO cracking, or reduced clutch power, were both unknown to me, and I had 500K+ parts.

    The yellowing of white parts was however always a problem with my collection.
    dutchlegofan50akunthitaFarmer_John
  • beabea Member Posts: 223
    I've experienced cracking in my assembled sets many, many times. 1x1s and cheese slopes are the worst offenders. 1x2x2 is probably next in line. My haunted house had pretty much every single 1x1 piece crack down at least one and often both sides after being assembled for a couple months.

    This is actually one of the main reasons I'm exploring more brands of blocks. So far, I haven't seen them disintegrate like lego does.
    akunthita
  • sid3windrsid3windr BelgiumMember Posts: 890
    My childhood sets have stayed assembled so that's 25+ years now, they're all fine with no cracks. However, when I bought some second hand modulars and the haunted house, which stayed assembled at the previous owner's house, I did notice that the clutch power of those bricks was notably different from the sets I buy brand new. Might just be a feeling, but when I dropped some bricks, they fell right onto the baseplate and stuck there. So the clutch was still good, but they did seem to have 'loosened up' a bit.

    No cracked pieces at all in my household [as far as I know], though...
    catwrangler
  • LittleLoriLittleLori CanadaMember Posts: 54
    I am currently rebuilding all my sets. The ones from the 70's and 80's are fine except for the odd broken plate which I believe is just from use and abuse as kids but a lot of my new sets have cracked bricks. My two worse sets are #853195-1 Brick-Calendar which I rebuild every month and leave built and #7639-1 Camper which gets built and disassemble again. Mostly white bricks for me too, in particular #609101 and #4518575 but also 1x1, 2x2 (including printed ones in my calendar), and yellow 3x2. I have had cheeseslopes and other grey pieces crack on my modulars but 
  • catwranglercatwrangler Northern IrelandMember Posts: 1,577
    I'm glad we're having this discussion, because I've been trying to store tiny pieces like 1x1 bricks and studs stacked, to maximise space in my Lunar Boxes... seems like I get around the climate thing by being in the UK, but I'm open to more data. 
  • canon03canon03 USAMember Posts: 295
    I had a 1x3 light pink unikitty head crack fairly quickly after assembly.
    DanGP
  • dutchlegofan50dutchlegofan50 Zwolle, NetherlandsMember Posts: 138
    edited November 11
    cracked bricks: never experienced this but I'm in Europe and most complaints seem to come from the USA. Cheese slopes: never had seen a cracked one here. I also sell on BL and BO and never had a complaint...
    bricks that became weaker or lost clutch power: as a child I built many ships and put them into water. I experienced that clutch power became significantly less. But this is a memory from about 1973.
    Having said this: I feel that red bricks (2x4) always have and had less clutch power than other colours.
  • AstrobricksAstrobricks Minnesota, USMember Posts: 536
    I've bought a lot of secondhand LEGO and some previous owners had stacked parts. I'd say most of the parts were less than 20 years old. I haven't noticed much severe cracking, but in transparent 1x1 round plates, many or most of the stacked ones showed "crazing" which is not seen in new parts. The clutch still seemed ok, and I don't recall seeing cracks that had actually opened up, but I decided not to store anything stacked anymore.
  • Addicted2OxygenAddicted2Oxygen Walking the plankMember Posts: 149
    I left my Star Wars lego from first and second wave on a shelf for 15 years during my grey age. Only deterioration I saw was rubber bands perishing. All bricks were fine under a thick layer of dust. Were mostly greys and browns. No cheese slopes. 

    The couple of sets I have from the 80s are also fine, apart from white discolouration. 

    Not seen any issues with sets from the last few years, but probably too soon to tell. 

    My paranoia is that I won’t buy lego from the US, as it seems most complaints about bricks are from there. 
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 1,961
    The problem with "crazing" or cracks showing on the interior of trans-clear parts is not unusual.  I have noticed it on 1x1 round bricks from the 1970s-1990s.  I do believe that issue is because trans-clear parts are made of Polycarbonate... .which I assume is a more brittle plastic than ABS, and thus will show interior stresses (not quite cracking) than will opaque ABS parts.
    Addicted2Oxygen
  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Maryland, U.S.AMember Posts: 89
    I've had Mega Bloks bricks crack and chip, but rarely LEGO that I can remember.
  • AstrobricksAstrobricks Minnesota, USMember Posts: 536
    Istokg said:
    The problem with "crazing" or cracks showing on the interior of trans-clear parts is not unusual.  I have noticed it on 1x1 round bricks from the 1970s-1990s.  I do believe that issue is because trans-clear parts are made of Polycarbonate... .which I assume is a more brittle plastic than ABS, and thus will show interior stresses (not quite cracking) than will opaque ABS parts.
    When you say trans-clear, do you mean all transparent colors or just clear? The 1x1 round plates where I’ve seen crazing were many colors. 
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 1,961
    No.... I was just using about 100 of the 1x1 trans-clear (colorless clear) round bricks in a large construction (never other trans parts).... and I noticed that many had stress cracks around the thin tapered base of the rounds.  I never used the colored trans pieces in any construction, so I wouldn't know about those... I would go check them... but my LEGO was all recently all moved and I can't find anything at the moment.
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Denver 4800 miles to BillundMember Posts: 1,963
    @Astrobricks ; I know what you are talking about and I have seen all trans colored parts craze and chip over time.  That is one part that I would not store stacked. 
  • alaskaguyalaskaguy Member Posts: 198
    edited November 13
    Could probably just put some Bondo on there and apply some colour-matched paint. Make it look as good as new. That's not going to work for translucent pieces though.
  • thecrea1orthecrea1or Maine, USAMember Posts: 2
    A while back I was dusting off my 76023 tumbler and I noticed that a significant number of bricks had cracked, including a 2x2 brick.  I only built the model once and have never taken it apart.  I keep it in my room which is always at about 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit.  It is not humid either.  I recently had the chance to chat with Bali Padda and he told me that he hadn't heard anything about this.  Is LEGO forgetting their motto? Only the best is good enough.
  • alaskaguyalaskaguy Member Posts: 198
    I'm sitting here sorting bulk lego I got recently. I dunno how long these things are, but they seem OOOOOOOOOOOOLD. Many of them have virtually NO clutch - and they were not sitting assembled either. So.....clutch loss may simply be age-related, not necessarily "built-related".
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 1,961
    Pre 1970 USA LEGO will contain a lot of Cellulose Acetate parts (pre 1963 for Europe)... and Cellulose Acetate is easy enough to identify... Put it on a flat surface... and if the brick "wobbles"... it is likely Cellulose Acetate, which has lost its' clutch power, and has warped.
    Addicted2Oxygenoldtodd33
  • AustinPowersAustinPowers GermanyMember Posts: 258

    My earliest Lego pieces are from 1976. I have some MOCs on display with pieces from the late 1970s and early to mid 1980s, and none of them show cracks, even those where the Models have been on constant display for several decades.

    My newer sets on display are from 2009 onwards, and none of them show cracks either.

    The only Lego pieces I have ever had that displayed cracks or that broke were those that I used to force apart as a child in the pre-Brick Separator days, where every means was used (teeth, forks, knives, other bricks or various "tools").

  • dragologerdragologer U.S.AMember Posts: 125
    As Cyberdragon linked, I have had over 200 minifigure torsos crack like this among countless other bricks. all just from being displayed.
    there are countless explanations and excusses but there are a few undeniable facts,
    This problem is most frequent in the USA for some reason AND LEGO has now become the worst quality toy on the market in the US.
    no toy from Hasbro, Mattel, Fisherprice ect, has EVER crubled to dust like LEGO does. 
  • alaskaguyalaskaguy Member Posts: 198
    edited November 13
    I dunno....if someone pays $50 (for example) for a toy and gets 20 years (for example) of utility out of it, I'd say they more than got their money's worth. I wish I were getting that kind of value out of electronics.

    Hell, I'd say that $100 and 5 years more than meets the "got your money's worth" standard.

  • M1J0EM1J0E Calgary, ABMember Posts: 88
    Glad somebody mentioned the trans parts.  Those are the only ones I’ve ever had cracking on, with virtually all of them broken from my childhood sets (of course other broken pieces were typical kid abuse).  Thankfully 1x1 plats & tiles, and 1x1 rounds in all sorts of colors aren’t hard to replace.  But while I’d have thought the cracks would occur in the middle of the sides, the 1x1 trans plates seemed to crack corner to corner across the square into 4 triangles.  Here’s hoping I don’t find the same issue y’all are having in modern sets!
  • datsunrobbiedatsunrobbie West Haven , CTMember Posts: 964
    As Cyberdragon linked, I have had over 200 minifigure torsos crack like this among countless other bricks. all just from being displayed.
    there are countless explanations and excusses but there are a few undeniable facts,
    This problem is most frequent in the USA for some reason AND LEGO has now become the worst quality toy on the market in the US.
    no toy from Hasbro, Mattel, Fisherprice ect, has EVER crubled to dust like LEGO does. 
    Meanwhile, I've been checking minifigures closely for cracks since you posted pics back on November 1. No cracks found so far, but I've only checked about 300 of approximately 1000 owned. I've checked minifigures from the late 70s through Ninjago Movie CMFs.

    How many minifigures do you own? I understand that one cracked torso is one too many, just wondering how many cracked figures you have as a percentage of the total you own, since it seems you have a lot more cracked figures than most other people are reporting.
  • ricecakericecake Maryland, USAMember Posts: 773
    no toy from Hasbro, Mattel, Fisherprice ect, has EVER crubled to dust like LEGO does. 
    I take it you've not heard of Gold Plastic Syndrome then?
    http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Gold_Plastic_Syndrome



  • FauchFauch FranceMember Posts: 1,802
    I wonder if the person manipulating the brick could be a factor, like by just touching it you make it weaker.
  • alaskaguyalaskaguy Member Posts: 198
    Fauch said:
    I wonder if the person manipulating the brick could be a factor, like by just touching it you make it weaker.
    Seems more likely that in such a case, the weakness was always there.  The person just served to demonstrate it.
  • dragologerdragologer U.S.AMember Posts: 125
    edited November 15
    Meanwhile, I've been checking minifigures closely for cracks since you posted pics back on November 1. No cracks found so far, but I've only checked about 300 of approximately 1000 owned. I've checked minifigures from the late 70s through Ninjago Movie CMFs.

    How many minifigures do you own? I understand that one cracked torso is one too many, just wondering how many cracked figures you have as a percentage of the total you own, since it seems you have a lot more cracked figures than most other people are reporting.
    at the time i found these "200" torsos, that was literally ever figure i owned. that was in 2014. since THEN...i have about 500 and have only had about 12 do it again. i believe it is because i moved everything to a more controlled environment. it does not change the fact that LEGO states they should never do that. i have NO idea why i have SO many more broken torsos than anyone else. i am at least glad that you haven't had to deal with this. its a nightmare!

    ricecake said:
    no toy from Hasbro, Mattel, Fisherprice ect, has EVER crubled to dust like LEGO does. 
    I take it you've not heard of Gold Plastic Syndrome then?



    .....WOW...i stand corrected. i have never heard of that...and YET!..i have had LEGO gold plastic crumble the same way. i actualy sent that part to them so they could study it....I never got a replacement. 

    Fauch said:
    I wonder if the person manipulating the brick could be a factor, like by just touching it you make it weaker.
    Thats the only explanation i have! lol! its only because I touched them that they broke. 
  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Maryland, U.S.AMember Posts: 89
    Touching them actually broke them, but something still weakened the plastic. Maybe you should do an air quality test as there may be some chemical in the air that's reacting with the ABS.
  • dutchlegofan50dutchlegofan50 Zwolle, NetherlandsMember Posts: 138
    So many people from the USA here reporting cracks and other failures to bricks and yet I haven't seen any pictures which clearly demonstrates this 'problem'.
    Actually I'm getting rather annoyed by this discussion. Please send proof and also mention how the affected parts were stored: temperature, humidity and so on. If you can not post clear pictures, please stop complaining......
    (Send in your down votes.) 
  • dragologerdragologer U.S.AMember Posts: 125
    Touching them actually broke them, but something still weakened the plastic. Maybe you should do an air quality test as there may be some chemical in the air that's reacting with the ABS.
    there are never any chemicals of any kind in the room i have now...
    i cant say the same for the old room..

      

    So many people from the USA here reporting cracks and other failures to bricks and yet I haven't seen any pictures which clearly demonstrates this 'problem'.
    Actually I'm getting rather annoyed by this discussion. Please send proof and also mention how the affected parts were stored: temperature, humidity and so on. If you can not post clear pictures, please stop complaining......
    (Send in your down votes.) 



    (check the link)  Pictures of this "problem" .....have been posted multiple times on multiple threads.
    I myself have already stated,  "how the affected parts were stored: temperature, humidity and so on." 
    If you are "Annoyed by this discussion" I suggest you quit reading it and prevent any more "annoyance"
    as you stated, this affects people from the USA only.
    I'm very glad you don't have to deal with this problem, or maybe you wouldn't be concerned with it anyway but its attitudes like that that make it so nothing gets any better. 
    pretending the problem isn't there just because YOU haven't seen photographic proof does not deem it  "complaining about a nonexistent problem".   


     
    oldtodd33Istokg
  • MrShinyAndNewMrShinyAndNew Member Posts: 216
    I've had the "gold plastic syndrome" on my pearly bluish super battle droids from the first iteration Attack of the Clones sets. Every one of those pieces has completely broken. The battle droids were assembled for a few years then put away for a few years... it's about 15 years old now? ish? And they're super brittle now. It's a bit disappointing as I imagine the entire line of them must be brittle by now so there's no point in bricklinking replacements... at least not era-accurate ones. (Also the stickers from that set have all cracked... I haven't noticed that on other stickers before... I have some that are older and some newer and they're all fine).

    Anecdotally my experience with other bricks from the era is that stacked/unstacked doesn't seem to matter. 15ish years ago I stacked all my tan bricks and stored them; last summer I took them all out and built with them; they were fine. I didn't notice any issues whatsoever. I've noticed that minifig hands get accustomed to what they're holding... if there's an object in the hand the hand gets loose, if there's an element attached around it (via an anti-stud connection) the hand gets tight. This happens over a period of months and goes away if you just let the minifig put down its items.
  • dragologerdragologer U.S.AMember Posts: 125
    I've had the "gold plastic syndrome" on my pearly bluish super battle droids from the first iteration Attack of the Clones sets. Every one of those pieces has completely broken. The battle droids were assembled for a few years then put away for a few years... it's about 15 years old now? ish? And they're super brittle now. It's a bit disappointing as I imagine the entire line of them must be brittle by now so there's no point in bricklinking replacements... at least not era-accurate ones. (Also the stickers from that set have all cracked... I haven't noticed that on other stickers before... I have some that are older and some newer and they're all fine).

    that would be my point about LEGO plastics vs Hasbro. while back in the early 2000s Hasbro may have been using a very brittle GOLD plastic that crumbles as soon as you touch it, that is isolated to one plastic.
    I have had 15 Different colors of plastic all crack the same way without any use.
    all from  LEGO......thats sad.....
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Denver 4800 miles to BillundMember Posts: 1,963
    edited November 15
    @dragologer ; Can you tell us the set numbers these came from. I would like to look at mine and see if mine are doing it also. 
  • dragologerdragologer U.S.AMember Posts: 125
    oldtodd33 said:
    @dragologer ; Can you tell us the set numbers these came from. I would like to look at mine and see if mine are doing it also. 
    no problem. it will take me a bit to compile them all but I will get them up shortly.

  • alaskaguyalaskaguy Member Posts: 198
    Take a brand new car, put it in a garage for 20 years. Then check all of the seals, o-rings, rubberized parts, etc. See if they are in mint condition, even though they have been “unused”.

    Time ages things. That’s it’s role in the universe.
  • dragologerdragologer U.S.AMember Posts: 125
    edited November 15
    Ok. here are some of them.

    Every Minifigure torso (and several bricks) cracked in the following:

    Cloud Cuckoo Palace
    70803

    Escape from Mirkwood Spiders
    79001

    Gandalf Arrives

    Garmatron
    70504


    Ice Cream Machine

    Jay's Storm Fighter

    Lord Business' Evil Lair
    70809

    MetalBeard's Duel
    70807
    Millennium Falcon
    7965

    NinjaCopter
    70724

    Rancor Pit
    75005

    Riddles for The Ring

    Shelob Attacks

    Spider-Helicopter Rescue
    76016

    Spider-Trike vs. Electro
    76014


    The DeLorean Time Machine
    21103

    Trash Chomper
    70805

    Warrior Bike
    70501
    New

    like I said, that's only some of them.
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Denver 4800 miles to BillundMember Posts: 1,963
    Thank you, I will have a look at them, I have most. 
  • dragologerdragologer U.S.AMember Posts: 125
  • HanzoHanzo VAMember Posts: 414
    So to ease my worry a bit and clear things up, most people only see infrequent failures/cracks, but if you improperly display/store them you are likely to see a very high rate of failures/cracks.
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Denver 4800 miles to BillundMember Posts: 1,963
    ^ We haven't determined anything yet. 
  • HanzoHanzo VAMember Posts: 414
    oldtodd33 said:
    ^ We haven't determined anything yet. 
    Ok, assuming someone isn't going to start a multi year scientific study anytime soon I have to go by the anecdotal evidence in this thread. So far, that's what I've gathered.  Is there anything I'm missing that shows a systemic issue with cracks (outside of the one poster that had an extremely high crack rate due to environmental conditions).
  • dragologerdragologer U.S.AMember Posts: 125
    Hanzo said:
    oldtodd33 said:
    ^ We haven't determined anything yet. 
    Ok, assuming someone isn't going to start a multi year scientific study anytime soon I have to go by the anecdotal evidence in this thread. So far, that's what I've gathered.  Is there anything I'm missing that shows a systemic issue with cracks (outside of the one poster that had an extremely high crack rate due to environmental conditions).
    that is actually what I'm doing right now.
    I'm spending some money to further study this problem and actually try to help some folks by doing something about it. 
    I'm exposing brand new parts to different conditions to isolate just what the deal is.
    I really could use some help doing this though if we want to get anywhere.  
    HanzoMaffyDcatwrangler
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Denver 4800 miles to BillundMember Posts: 1,963
    @Hanzo ; We need to figure out just what improperly stored/displayed means. So far I haven't read anything that would be out of the normal display/storage that we all do anyway. 
  • dragologerdragologer U.S.AMember Posts: 125
    oldtodd33 said:  We need to figure out just what improperly stored/displayed means. So far I haven't read anything that would be out of the normal display/storage that we all do anyway. 
    I agree. I'm starting to test some conditions. 
    to prevent torsos from cracking, since 2015 I have left my figures with their legs off when I'm not using them. 
    right now I'm going to leave a brand new figure together through the month of December and see how it reacts. 
  • HanzoHanzo VAMember Posts: 414
    I'm certainly interested in the results, but what are the conditions of the test?  Is the area temperature and humidity controlled? Direct/partial sunlight? 
  • BobflipBobflip Member Posts: 377
    So many people from the USA here reporting cracks and other failures to bricks and yet I haven't seen any pictures which clearly demonstrates this 'problem'.
    Actually I'm getting rather annoyed by this discussion. Please send proof and also mention how the affected parts were stored: temperature, humidity and so on. If you can not post clear pictures, please stop complaining......
    (Send in your down votes.) 
    Found the troll...
  • BobflipBobflip Member Posts: 377
    I will add that I'm based in the UK and I've found this issue a few times. I mainly buy second hand though, so I can't verify where they came from or what kind of life they lived before I got hold of them. The two that I remember I found a 7639 which had many of the white elements cracked from the base up, and one of the games had a few of the brown bricks and corner bricks cracked in the same way. Actually, a couple of weeks ago I found another game where several of the 1x1 bricks of different colours were cracked.
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