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Stickers! Ugh!!

saturncoupe1999saturncoupe1999 Member Posts: 4
edited April 2011 in Building and Techniques
As we all know, stickers are the most disliked feature of Lego sets. But they are also a necessary evil so, in case I might be able to help, I'd like to offer some thoughts.

First, all stickers are not created equal. If your sticker sheet is the type that uses a clear film you are doing well. These sheets, as are found in the older train sets, seem to be wonderful. These stickers STICK, and do not ever seem to lift. However, if the sticker sheet is printed on a white film, you may or may not have good luck. Some work fine, while others are a nightmare. I had to rebuild my Tiny Turbos "Tuner Garage" twice because the stickers lifted and cracked. But the most recent application is doing well, some three years after the stickers were applied. Why?

At any rate, I have found this application technique quite useful. I first cut a small strip of the sticker backing paper, from an unprinted section of the sheet, to use as an application tool. Remove any sticker film from the strip. Next, gently bend the sticker that you want to apply at one end. This will cause the sticker to pop up from the sheet at that one point. Now slide your application strip under the edge of the sticker with its glossy side up. Your sticker should now be resting on a part of the original backing sheet, just as it was printed. Now grab the sticker/strip sandwich and lift the sticker from the sheet. Now you have a sticker with a "handle" so you can avoid touching any of the glue with your fingers. Also, the "handle" greatly aids in positioning the sticker which, in turn, helps to eliminate the dreaded air bubbles that can ruin the entire operation. I use a magnifying lens with a built in light to help in positioning and centering. Once you are satisfied with the placement, slowly press the sticker to the surface working towards your handle. The gently roll the handle from under the sticker and continue to press the sticker in place. DO NOT PULL the handle from the sticker or you will pull some of the glue from the sticker. Not good.

Presto. Sticker perfection.
Also, though I use cotton gloves to assemble my sets ( my fingers are too oily ) I NEVER use them while applying stickers. You would be surprised how easily the sticker glue attracts fibers from the gloves.

Now then, if anybody out there knows how to prevent the "white background" stickers from lifting, please let me know. I have read about the lifting/cracking phenomenon in the 7163 Star Wars set. I don't have that set yet, but I don't want to buy it if I can't apply the stickers without worry.

Could the problem be low humidity? And "Thank you"!


  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    Excellent technique. I myself do something similar if less meticulous. I use another brick element as the handle, usually a smooth tile one. I also think it is important to apply stickers on a clean surface, which means avoiding depositing oils from your skin on the target surface. Which is why I am careful to hold the target brick by the sides.
  • EricEric Member Posts: 376
    Great tip, will remember that. I thought it was the high humidity that caused the stickers to peel, cause I live in Brisbane, Australia (where humdity is usually around the 90% mark, all year round. :/ ) and all of my white background stickers from my Shell service station (1256), Enzo Ferrari 1:10 (8653) and Red Baron are all peeling off. :( I paid AU$200 for the Ferrari back in 2006 and it's only been 5 years and the stickers are beginning to peel off, pretty poor I think). It's going to be impossible to find these sets in another 5 years time, with the stickers in tact I fear. I'm just hoping that this 'peeling trend' doesn't continue thought to the rest of my collection. :(
  • GalactusGalactus Member Posts: 260
    As we all know, stickers are the most disliked feature of Lego sets.
    Not for everyone. A lot of MOCers like the unprinted bricks better than the printed, so stickers are a welcome solution for them. I myself am not sure what I like better yet, sometimes I prefer printed bricks, sometimes the stickers. Anyway thanks for the tip!
  • ThornmaskThornmask Member Posts: 9
    That's a great guide. I'll try it with the next set I purchase. I also tend to thoroughly clean the lego surface first before applying the sticker, so with any luck this technique mixed with my own should mean that the stickers will stick for much longer.
  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,716
    What do I do with stickers? I leave them on the sticker sheet & hide them in a draw so I never have to see them again ;-)
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Administrator Posts: 6,756
    edited April 2011
    What do I do with stickers? I leave them on the sticker sheet & hide them in a draw so I never have to see them again ;-)
    I would be very happy to take all those unused sticker sheets off your hands so they are out of your way.....the older they are the better. I live in mortal dread of the stickers on my models perishing and falling off, and the sets thus being theoretically incomplete (yes, sad I know)

  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,716
    If I ever wanted to sell my sets, not that I ever would, they wouldn't be complete anymore ... hang on, I'm starting to sound like someone else I know ...
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Administrator Posts: 6,756
    edited April 2011
    If I ever wanted to sell my sets, not that I ever would, they wouldn't be complete anymore ... hang on, I'm starting to sound like someone else I know ...
    Careful - it's obviously catching !

    Talking of stickers, I don't suppose by any ridiculous twist of fate you have an unused sticker sheet from Set 3723, the giant LEGO minifigure ?
  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,716
    No, I don't think I ever actually saw one for sale; I think Darren bought them all ...
  • MatthewMatthew Administrator Posts: 3,714
    I moan on about stickers, but sometimes, [like I've just bought another of this year's Prisoner Transport, left the stickers off, swapped the blue for lime green, filled in the window, taken out the partition, applied a custom sticker and hey presto, a Home Delivery Network van!] it can be useful that the parts aren't printed. (For those of you outside the UK, Home Delivery Network have the delivery contract for Amazon)
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Administrator Posts: 6,756
    No, I don't think I ever actually saw one for sale; I think Darren bought them all ...
    Oh well, bit of a long shot really. After almost 4 years of looking I finally found one complete with box and instructions recently for a vaguely reasonable sum. All that's lacking is the DSS....
  • GalactusGalactus Member Posts: 260
    @Matthew you can also put stickers over printed bricks... But I get the idea.
  • jgadgetjgadget Member Posts: 192
    @Dave: I bought a giant fig back in 2000 and paid full price for it, just under £120.
    Looking back, that seems quite a lot.
    Especially since, in the same order, I bought a Statue of Liberty and an Ollie, also at full price.

    Unfortunately, I can't find the sticker sheet for the Fig, which is annoying me. I don't think I'd have applied them, since they would span multiple bricks/plates, which is something I try to avoid.

    Don't get your hopes up though, I will simply file the stickers somewhere safe, if / when they turn up. :-P
  • 50missioncap50missioncap Member Posts: 96
    Hate em. I just sold the 05 Ferrari truck at a small loss b/c there are so many stickers in the set. I'm okay with placing them on the model, which is tricky, but what I hate is how they peel / curl over time. I would have loved to keep that set, but I hate how the stickers look over time. So that's my big issue with them.
  • fox171171fox171171 Member Posts: 45
    I use the same technique, but use a knife for the handle. Helps a lot. Just put the sticker on the point, barely attached to the knife, and move it into position.

    Sometimes static charge sucks the sticker down prematurely. Grrr! I hate stickers!
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Member Posts: 10,834
    edited April 2011
    @Fox171171: Good point. I do the same with an xacto knife (just be careful of course to not cut the sticker) just also make sure the blade is clean of oil and other gunk before using it. I also find an xacto knife is good to use to take a sticker up off of a part (good for times when a sticker is on a yellowed brick) (but again you have to be careful not to cut it,yourself, or the brick it is on)

    Also, a note for those who save their sticker sheet.
    Be SURE to Put the sheets in a ziplock baggie, or some other airtight container to help ensure they do not dry out, or peel, lose adhesive, etc. on you in case you want to sell the set, or apply the stickers, later.

    Sadly I have not done much application of the new stickers so I am not aware of these difficulties but it is good to know. I dread looking in some boxes that I have not gotten a chance to open to see the condition of the stickers themselves...
  • CrackseedCrackseed Member Posts: 90
    This is an awesome thread - thank you for the posted suggestions guys. I've been unfortunately doing it the old fashioned way with my fingers and even with hand washing right before application a couple of my newer sets that I've worked hard on have some stickers with fingerprints showing. Pondering actually buying spare pieces and sticker sheets to redo them!

    I've pondered using gloves for assembling and I noticed the OP posted cotton gloves - I had initially thought the thin, sterile medical type gloves might work too even for stickers, but not sure if anyone has tried those.
  • HuwHuw Administrator Posts: 7,116
    edited April 2011
    ^ It is, I'm a bit late reading it. I don't normally apply stickers these days but I have put them on my Maersk train. I use tweezers to apply small ones and as others have said it's paramount that the brick is clean and clear of bits of fluff and dirt before you apply.

    I don't bother applying those printed on white plastic, they just don't last, they peel and crack and are difficult to remove when they have done so. Luckily the Maersk ones are printed on the clear film.
  • simonskluksimonskluk Member Posts: 5
    I collect (amongst other things) 80's town and i am amazed how long most of mine have lasted, many of them have white background. I have noticed with the city stuff that i have that the stickers are much poorer quality. Interestingly though i have managed to get a lot of stickers from lego directly, some from old discontinued sets - so it is worth giving them a call even if the set is 10 years old, you never know....
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Member Posts: 10,834
    Oh Also, get the xacto blade with the little 'notch' in it (not sure what it is called now) I used to use those when working on Toshiba Laptop decals that used to cover screws on their old models, that is how I got the idea to use an exacto knife.
    Although does anyone have a good idea as to how to get the stickers sticky again without ruining them in the process, or causing lumps in them due to the glue?
    I tried a lint roler to remove the hair and gunk off of the stick and while it kind works on stickers not too bad it does not clean the really nasty ones.. Seeing as I have some decently rare 80's stickers Id rather not just toss them.. any thoughts?
  • LuciusMalfoy7LuciusMalfoy7 Member Posts: 107
    I hate how some of the stickers, after application, look like there are small air bubbles or something inside them, even when you are precise in your placement.
  • JasenJasen Member Posts: 283
    I have all my stickers in ziplock bags, I never apply any :D I have pretty much all the stickers from the last 2 years :)
  • madaboutlegomadaboutlego Member Posts: 6
    We sometimes use stickers as the set looks better with them but I think stickers would be ok if there was TWO full sheets in a set then you would have some for ron.
    Thats "later on"
  • YpresYpres Member Posts: 200
    I'm very nervous when it comes to stickers... though I'm not bad at placing them. Some sets however seem to have the worst stickers. The ones on my Imperial Gunship and Rebel Blockade Runner dry up, crack, and peel. No idea what causes this, but somehow I feel it's either the past owner's fault or Lego's fault. No way of knowing since there's evidence to support both cases.
  • levi_ursel23levi_ursel23 Member Posts: 2
    Stickers are a huge pain, I've never liked applying them. I have noticed its important to make sure there is no dust on the piece or that your hands are wet. Both of these can lead to the stickers peeling off after a short period of time.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Member Posts: 10,834
    ^--AS silly as it sounds just wipe the part with an alcohol wipe and let dry. I usually use some kind of cloth to take off any oils or other residue before applying... But Id say the most nerve racking was the Super Chief Sticker for the front of the loco
  • CrackseedCrackseed Member Posts: 90
    I'm solid with placement, especially when using something to apply it, but I still struggle with getting the sticker perfect w/o some kind of mark/bubble/noticeable glue shift from the paper I was using to apply it in general. Oh well, practice makes perfect. Darn stickers >.>
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Member Posts: 10,834
    Yeah..not looking forward to the Maersk
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,366
    edited May 2011
    When I was a kid... we didn't have LEGO sticker sheets (alright we didn't have cable TV either).... but we had something better... printed bricks... or as some of the British and Australian catalogs of the 1960s would call them "named beams"...image

    Unfortunately most named beams were discontinued by the mid 1970s... after the early 1970s introduction of sticker sheets... :(
  • clundsbergclundsberg Member Posts: 44
    Great guide! I don't mind the stickers so much (I do appreciate printed better) and I think it's neat that sometimes a set (such as Police Helicoptor) will come with bi-lingual stickers. Have issues with the stickers on curved parts such as the Camper however.
  • wander099wander099 Member Posts: 114
    Some sets really do have worse stickers. The Slave I (8097) has stickers that are already peeling and I bought it this February!
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