For my current project I've used a lot of Dark Bluish Grey elements - bricks, plates and tiles, as well as a few others. When I say 'a lot', I mean thousands upon thousands of pieces - probably approaching 10k. Using this amount of bricks, I've noticed minor colour variations here and there, but nothing that has overly concerned me.
However, I recently placed an order with Lego's Bricks and Pieces service, which included 200 1x4 Dark Bluish Grey tiles. Yesterday I came to use them, and was quite shocked to discover that they were significantly lighter than any other DBG parts I have. The difference is so noticable that I've had to take apart part of my project to 'hide' these lighter pieces where they will be least noticed.
I've included below some comparison photos. In the first one, I'm sure you can see what I mean. However, it's not a great photo (a bit blurred).
The second photo shows two of the darker tiles and two of the lighter tiles. From this, it's obvious it's not a trick of the light or anything like that.
The third photo shows a Light Bluish Grey tile (left), with a normal DBG tile on the far right, and a lighter DBG tile in the middle. The difference in colour is so much that it could almost be an entirely new colour - a 'Medium Bluish Grey', if you like.
Has anyone else had this problem with DBG? I'm not talking slight variations in colour (we've all had those), but serious variations, where it could almost be a new colour.
I'm sorry, but Lego is turning to utter crap. Soon, they'll be no better than the cheap Chinese knock-offs.
Profits are higher than ever. Now we know why. The 49th version of the same Star Wars set, and cheap as hell materials and manufacturing processes.
In my experience, Medium Stone Gray, White, and Yellow are the worst for color variation. Many of my large-ish (e.g. 6x6 or larger) MSG gray plates don't match; some are darker, some are lighter, some are more blue, and some are more yellow. There is variation in my basic bricks, as well, though not to the degree I've seen in plates. The variation in white is very noticeable. As with MSG, it ranges from a blue tint to a yellow tint. I have Yellow pieces that range from a light "canary" yellow to a darker, more orange "goldenrod" yellow.
I originally thought colors were consistent within a set, but this is not always the case. I have two copies of #75003, each bought at a different store. In both, the left wedge plates and bows are one tint (e.g. yellowish) while the right wedge plates and bows a different tint (e.g. bluish).
I understand LEGO is now coloring the ABS themselves rather than using pre-colored ABS. This could have something to do with the variation. But when it comes down to it, this is a quality control issue, which is unfortunate. It seems obvious to have a spectrophotometer on the production line to reject any coloration outside tolerances, but perhaps they don't do this (or their tolerances are too high).
LEGO can only do something about it if they know about, so it makes sense to tell them.
TLG has been having issues with color batch variations since they've brought pellet coloration inhouse.... and long before that, but to a lesser degree. In fact over the last 60 years there have been so many LEGO part and color anomalies, I could write a book about it.... oh wait.... I already have..... ;-)
TLG has never thrown away any parts... and aren't about to do so now. They know that bringing the color process inhouse causes issues. But it's cheaper for them to continue doing so and make things right for the small percentage of FOLs that complain... and leave the status quo for the large percentage of kids that don't make a fuss.
It's cheaper for TLG to make things right for those who complain... than it is to fix the source of the problem.... the inhouse mixing of colors. I remember that was an issue with violet LEGO bricks with the first Harry Potter Knight Bus set 4755 back in 2004.... and it's still an issue with some parts today.
Heal the patient? Why bother when a cheaper route is to pass out a lot of Band Aids... :-(
There was the same problem with the BTTF "sheild" piece. I dread to think how many incorrect spelling replacements they sent out when people complained about the incorrect spelling.
As for colours, the real point is that it was a lot more consistent when they used pre-coloured ABS - it can be done, just not by TLG.
But it didn't seem to cause any problems for 40 years or so. Perhaps TLG just didn't like the fact that the LANXESS has become independent of Bayer and perceived that as a bigger risk.
Remember the motto :
"Only the biggest profit is good enough"
(Also in the danish news today ; The LEGO family now has a fortune north of £10billion)