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Part Number Confusion - PDFs vs. Inventory

The_IveysThe_Iveys USA::Florida::ValricoMember Posts: 64
Hi folks. I can't find any reference to this in the forum using search, so I hope it's not a repeat question. Here goes...

I am in the midst of a complete inventory of my daughter's smallish collection of Lego. Primarily, I am trying to identify which bricks are "loose" so I can create my loose bricks list over at rebrickable. So as I'm going through the step of comparing PDF part numbers with set exports to find missing pieces from the export, I have noticed quite a few instances where the PDF part list and the inventory export don't list the same part number for the same part. For instance, in set 60018 I have the following in my spreadsheet:

Inventory Export: 6022452 (Mini Upper Part No. 1160)
Instructions PDF: 4275841 (Picture of bright blue mini figure upper part)

Or, for a more clear example, set 5508 has a White 2X8 Brick listed as part number 300701 in the instructions PDF, but the inventory export shows the part number as 6033776.

To me, this makes no sense at all. Why the discrepancy? Did Lego update their part number for this mini upper after the PDF was produced? Can someone help me understand this one, please?

Thank you in advance!

The_Iveys

Comments

  • The_IveysThe_Iveys USA::Florida::ValricoMember Posts: 64
    Anyone have any thoughts? This is really snarking up my inventory efforts...

    Thank you!!

    The_Iveys
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,529
    There's no discrepancy.

    Each LEGO element has a number of different numerical identifiers; some just code for the actual part, others code for the part/colour combination.

    Both numbers are correct for the element you quote - search for 6022452 and 4275841 in the Bricklink catalogue (www.bricklink.com) if you need confirmation.
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,725
    The higher number will indicate a newer part, probably just a minor mold or painting change. As far as we are concerned they are identical as Dave suggests.
  • The_IveysThe_Iveys USA::Florida::ValricoMember Posts: 64
    Thanks folks. The problem I'm having with this is when I search for the old part number, many times nothing shows up. For instance, 6011436 is a Friends head per the instruction PDF (set 3937), but when I search that part # I get no results. Maybe we could add a new field to the parts DB like "Alt. Part Number" that would then be included in the parts search, and displayed when a part is brought up? Would that be a lot of work, Huw? Something like this: http://brickowl.com/catalog/lego-light-flesh-friends-head-olivia-11815-95514

    Thank you for the info!!

    The_Iveys
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,725
    When the new site has been launched I will be working more closely with Rebrickable and Brickowl on parts info, so chances are I will be able to display that sort of data.
  • The_IveysThe_Iveys USA::Florida::ValricoMember Posts: 64
    Awesome! :)
  • ljames28ljames28 Member Posts: 88
    Lego regularly create new part numbers for the exact same part, often when it is reused in a new batch of sets. The part number in the online inventory will sometimes get updated, but the instructions tend to have an old one, which is obviously never updated.

    We try to match them up at Brick Owl, so that friends head for example has four part numbers and two design ids http://brickowl.com/catalog/lego-light-flesh-friends-head-olivia-11815-95514
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    The whole issue here is what "exact same part" actually means. All too often, two parts look identical - until you look at them with a magnifying glass. Whether that slight difference means that one part can or cannot be substituted with another therefore depends on precisely the manner it is to be used. Calling them "identical" is therefore subjective.

    The original question related to 4275841 and 6022452. According to TLG's own images, the former has flat "fingertips" and the latter has round ones and a black band on the throat. Does that make a difference to anyone? Probably not. However, the black band is rumoured to be so that minifig assembly machines can work out which is the front and which is the back; if you were building such a machine using Mindstorms, it could be critical.

    Many bricks have different types of stud. Most of the time, a stud is used to attach another part to the top, so the actual design is unimportant. Sometimes, however, it's necessary to place something in or through the stud and the actual design is, once again, crucial.

    When the instructions are produced, it's likely that the current part number is used. If that part is redesigned, then the instructions and the replacement parts site and may be updated to reflect the new part number - assuming it can be substituted in that particular application. It is fairly common for a replacement part to be shown for a set that didn't even exist at the time the set was produced.

    TLG's policy has evolved. Now, tiny changes seem to trigger new Design IDs and part number whereas, in the past, relatively more significant ones haven't. In addition, whilst some websites generally simplify things by describing alternative numbers, as I've said, that's subjective and actually sometimes makes the issue more complicated. In short, it's a minefield

    I suspect a change in part number now always indicates some change - albeit possibly tiny. As the part number (and usually the Design ID) changes for different materials, I even wonder whether (some) Chinese-made components, with what is rumoured to be a slightly different ABS formulation could end up with different numbers.
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,884
    TigerMoth said:

    The whole issue here is what "exact same part" actually means. All too often, two parts look identical - until you look at them with a magnifying glass. Whether that slight difference means that one part can or cannot be substituted with another therefore depends on precisely the manner it is to be used. Calling them "identical" is therefore subjective.

    The original question related to 4275841 and 6022452. According to TLG's own images, the former has flat "fingertips" and the latter has round ones and a black band on the throat. Does that make a difference to anyone? Probably not. However, the black band is rumoured to be so that minifig assembly machines can work out which is the front and which is the back; if you were building such a machine using Mindstorms, it could be critical.

    In some cases, you are correct, there are subtle differences between old and new part numbers. But in that particular case, the differences in physical shape only affect the renders The renders LEGO Customer Service has been using for modern parts on their site tend to be less refined than the incredibly crisp ones they used to use — so, for instance, recent minifigure leg renders have solid "studs" instead of hollow ones, something that does not apply for modern minifigure legs no matter what the country of their manufacture.
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    Unfortunately, you can't prove a negative. That's relevant on two levels. Firstly, even when there are no discernible differences, it doesn't mean there aren't any. Secondly, whilst TLG's part renditions may not appear to match the parts in the wild, it doesn't mean that that those slightly different parts aren't just around the corner.

    Round fingertips? Clips have had their profiles changed several times, so it wouldn't be particularly surprising if hands followed suit. If the render has changed, particularly as "round" is more complicated than "flat", there's probably a reason. Even if that doesn't explain the part number change, we come back to the principle that just because we can't spot the difference, it doesn't mean there isn't one.
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,884
    TigerMoth said:

    Unfortunately, you can't prove a negative. That's relevant on two levels. Firstly, even when there are no discernible differences, it doesn't mean there aren't any. Secondly, whilst TLG's part renditions may not appear to match the parts in the wild, it doesn't mean that that those slightly different parts aren't just around the corner.

    Round fingertips? Clips have had their profiles changed several times, so it wouldn't be particularly surprising if hands followed suit. If the render has changed, particularly as "round" is more complicated than "flat", there's probably a reason. Even if that doesn't explain the part number change, we come back to the principle that just because we can't spot the difference, it doesn't mean there isn't one.

    I still don't think renders are reliable forecasters in this case. Round is more complicated than flat... except when the software used to create the render has an option for automatically rounding or beveling sharp corners to save time for the person drawing the part. Note that EVERY corner on the newer render is rounded, including the top edge of the neck stud, the point where the neck stud meets the torso, the "wrist" of the arm piece, the bend in the elbow, and the corners at the top of the torso. Even the LEGO logo from the top of the piece has disappeared. This seems like nothing more than a place where in the earlier version, the rounded edges were drawn out one-by-one, and on the newer version, a software shortcut was used.

    And furthermore, the LEGO renders have been wrong plenty of times in the past, with or without a reason. The old walkie-talkie piece showed up with a hollow back in both instruction booklet renders and renders from the Customer Service site for years, but no such piece ever surfaced and the renders in instruction manuals have since been corrected to show the piece as it has always been.

    When a part gets a new render AND a new Design ID, then you have reason to believe that there might be a new mold for that piece in the near future. For instance, the new LEGO shark appeared not only in the instruction booklets but also on LEGO Digital Designer with a new design ID and many significant and deliberate changes. It wasn't simply a matter of the render going from a precise match to an imprecise match.

    So no, you can't prove a negative. But that doesn't mean you can't take a good look at how reliable the information is that leads you to your conclusion. Digital renders, even those that the LEGO Group uses for official product photos and instruction booklets, are not really reliable when it comes to identifying differences this subtle.
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    "Conclusion" is too strong a word. Unless an actual difference can be identified, it's just speculation, and even when a change is found, it's still speculation that there aren't other undetected changes.

    The principle behind why different inventories use different part numbers for is speculation, but one that makes sense and seems to be reliable.

    At the other end of the spectrum, my earlier suggestion that parts manufactured in different plants might sometimes have different numbers is pure speculation, but one that might be worth considering when looking at this sort of thing.

    It does seem that renders are of variable accuracy. However, the creation of a new one requires effort, even if it is just running a new version of the rendering software on an existing model, and that suggests there is likely to be a reason for doing so. Likewise, allocating a new number (part or design) involves work, and a similar likelihood that there is a reason. In the absence of comprehensive official information, such hints are just about all we have.
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