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With recent and current sets, I noticed that some contain parts of a totally different colour than the rest of the set. An example is 8200-1: Radiator Springs Lightning McQueen, which contains a blue 2x6 plate, 3 yellow 1x2 plates, 2 white 1x2/1x4 angle plates, and 2 grey 1x4 plates, while Lightning McQueen is obviously red.

Parts like these aren't usually visible in the finished model.

Why are they used?

These are parts that should be available in most colours, including red. Did they have an overstock in these colours? Is it to make for easier building? Since this way both the model and the instructions aren't a big blob of red.

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I believe the main reason is so that the pieces are easy to identify in the instructions - as many LEGO sets don't have the Technic style "List of elements used in this step" it's always a fun game of "Spot the difference" to see what's changed:

Multi-coloured interior

If those pieces were all red, then the target audience (5+ on those sets for example) might find it very frustrating to build.

(Even with the list of elements to use in a step it can often be quite an effort to find where a particular part goes.)

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One thing I've noticed is that many models go one step further: not only are certain parts in unrelated colours, but sometimes all the parts of that size/shape are the same colour, making it easier to find the part in the pile of unused parts. –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Jun 10 at 20:14

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