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White Bricks

vonlanivonlani Member Posts: 21
edited March 2012 in Collecting
hi there,

don't know if this is the right place to ask but i'll do it anyways;-)

i recently started buying lego sets again after 15 years or something like that and i am somehow wondering about the white bricks. they just don't look really plain white to me. especially with the imperial shuttle, which is almost completely white. i bought the set at a lego store, brand new, factory sealed about 4 weeks ago. but when i look at it in normal light, it looks a little yellow, as do all the white pieces in my other sets. when i take it to the window and look at it in the sun light, it looks better but still not as white as i would expect it to.
i even took out my old lego pieces to compare them to the new ones, but since those are about 20 years old, they have yellowed a lot...

so is this me, my eyes, my "strange" room light or are white lego bricks just not as white as a piece of paper?


  • fyrmedhattfyrmedhatt Member Posts: 128
    You are right that white Lego bricks are not totally white, I'm not sure what causes it, but I wonder if it could be that the pre-dyed ABS plastic is not completely clear, which shines through the plastic when it's dyed.

    Lego has for the last eight years or so dyed their own ABS plastic, and so there are more color discrepancies than when they bought pre-dyed pellets from Bayer. This could give some discrepancies in their white bricks, but it's most noticeable in yellow, brown and some shades of blue.

    Another side effect of the dye used today is that it's color has not permeated the plastic as well as it did with the pre-dyed pellets, this causes light to shine through the bricks more easily and is very noticeable with red bricks, but should also be possible to be noticed when comparing older white bricks and newer white bricks when you hold them up to the light.
  • vonlanivonlani Member Posts: 21
    thanks for the answer. that's what i thought too, a problem of the manufacturing process. i am not a chemist or something like that, but i assume it's just not as easy to produce perfectly colored bricks, especially white ones. better coloring would probably increase the price beyond reasonable levels...
  • fyrmedhattfyrmedhatt Member Posts: 128
    White is probably the hardest color to produce perfectly due to small impurities will change the color slightly, and I agree with you the price for doing so is pretty high. White paper is generally bleached to achieve whiteness, but one cannot do so with ABS plastic without significantly damaging them.

    Overall I'm pretty happy with Lego as long as they continue to produce a consistent white color, although I'd be ecstatic if they could finally get rid of the yellowing problem...
  • vonlanivonlani Member Posts: 21
    you're right, the quality in general is really good. it's a toy after all and not a 100k car or something like that.

    but getting rid of the yellowing problem is probably too much to wish for. plastic pieces just don't get along with uv radiation.
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