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A couple of years ago (around 2010 I think), I bought a number of the Star Wars magnet sets, as they looked like a (slightly) economical way of buying a number of specialist characters (including the likes of Admiral Ackbar) without having to purchase the full (and often very expensive) sets:

Representative Magnet Set

However when I purchased the LEGO City Burglars Magnet Set in 2011 I was rather disappointed to discover that the legs were glued to the studs on the magnet block (but the accessories aren't glued on, etc.) - is this now standard across the range?

LEGO City Burglars Magnets

I was able to remove the legs from the stand with a knife, but haven't yet managed to remove the remnants of the studs from the legs - how should I go about this if this is a standard feature?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 18 down vote accepted

All new magnet sets introduced by LEGO will have the figures glued, as will any re-makes of existing sets.

History

In 2009 LEGO started producing sets of minifigures standing on magnetic bricks. At that time, the figures were removable, although some felt that they were of lower quality than the figs in regular LEGO sets.

In early 2011, however, LEGO started to produce Star Wars magnet sets where the minifigures were glued to the magnet. The problem was that LEGO Star Wars magnet sets violated a licensing agreement which said that LEGO could produce sets that contained Star Wars characters, but that they couldn't produce stand-alone figures. Apparently, one of the other big-name toy brands who was licences to produce stand-alone figures objected to the LEGO magnet products because they felt that the availability of LEGO Star Wars figures on magnets harmed their own sales figures. LEGO recognised that fans would be unhappy, but felt that it was in everyone's best interests to comply with requests to change their products.

To promote "a consistent consumer experience", all new LEGO minifigure magnet sets have had the minifigures permanently fixed on the magnet since that time, including the Pharaoh’s Quest sets launched the previous December.

This means that:

  1. All sets that are new since January 2011 are glued.
  2. Some sets that existed before January 2011 come in two versions - a glued version and a non-glued version. Confusingly, the sets have the same number and have been sold from LEGO shops simultaneously, and have similar packaging. Glued sets do have a note on the back saying that they are glued (in rather small print).
  3. Any re-releases will be glued.
  4. It might still be possible to buy non-glued sets. In December 2011 I was still able to buy certain non-glued sets from the online LEGO store in the UK. I assume that they were old stock.
  5. Some parts are never glued - typically accessories like light sabres.

Some details for specific sets are available on TheBrickBlogger.com.

Incidentally, it is widely believed that one of the reasons that LEGO introduced the "Battle Packs" is to provide a way to buy minifigures that gets around the licensing issues.

Removing Minifigures

The most effective way to remove minifigures from the magnets is the "hot water process".

It turns out that LEGO does not actually "glue" the bricks, but uses a solvent that loosens the surface of the ABS plastic and allows the molecules to combine. The solvents are water soluble at certain temperatures, so hot water can weaken the seal between the bricks. Care must be taken not to overheat the water, however, as the melting point of ABS plastic is somewhat below boiling point.

Although the removal process does no damage to the LEGO, the places where the bricks were fused won't be smooth due to the fusion process itself.

Again, more details are to be found at TheBrickBlogger.com.

Disclaimer: I have not tried this myself.

Obtaining Minifigures

All this leaves us with several options for obtaining the minifigures we want:

  • Buy the sets that contain them (or figures that others have removed these sets). Battle packs and (for Star Wars) Advent Calendars are a good place to start.
  • Obtain old magnet sets that are not glued
  • Accept the rough edges left by the hot water method
  • Use parts from a combination of the above.

Response

The other thing we need to decide is how we respond to this change. My suggestions are:

  1. Be happy that some sets were produced unglued.
  2. Encourage LEGO to produce more battle packs by buying existing ones.
  3. STOP buying the glued sets, and make LEGO aware that we don't like them.
  4. Lobby LEGO to produce unglued magnet sets where licence restrictions don't exist.
  5. Encourage LEGO to make statements about gluing more prominent on the glued sets.
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That is wonderfully thorough, many thanks Kramii :) –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Jan 11 '12 at 15:04
7  
Also: yes buying more battle packs/small sets is a good way forward, however TLG need to produce more variety so I can bick up these odd characters. Seriously though, I'm not going to not buy a Hasbro version of Ackbar (even in the "Vintage Collection") because I can get a LEGO one, I'm just not collecting the Hasbro figures any more - they won't fit with my LEGO sets ;) –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Jan 11 '12 at 15:17
    
@Zhaph-BenDuguid: I quite agree with you regarding the Hasbro figures. Unfortunately, TLG's hands are tied in that respect :-(. –  Kramii Jan 11 '12 at 16:38
    
Yep, I realise that. –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Jan 11 '12 at 17:42
1  
I thought that the elements were glued to the studs and therefore tried using acetone to dissolve the bond of the glue, this didn't work at all and now I know why. Thanks for the info on the ABS bond process TLG used –  user2381 Feb 27 '13 at 1:06

One way to remove them would be to carefully drill out the studs.

You would need to put the legs in a vise of some sort (covering the metal jaws with something that won't damage the plastic) and use a drill bit just slightly smaller than the studs. You would probably then need to cut out the remnants of the studs and glue, or at least cut out enough so a stud will fit in the legs again.

Another possibility is to just replace the legs. It looks like there are several other minifigs with gray legs.

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Seems my memory may be faulty - the bodies are glued to the legs :( –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Jan 11 '12 at 15:20

Just put them in boiling hot water and leave them for 5 minutes then take them out, straiten the torso and it should come off. If it doesn't come off then get a knife and wobble it a bit and there will be no studs in the legs and you can take the whole body apart - I have successfully used this method.

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Cheers zac, good to know - I'll give it a go next time :) –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Jan 21 '13 at 12:48

Here are some links to a really good explanation to what happened and some ways to remove the magnets. Oh also a pretty comprehensive list of magnets sets that are surely not glued, surely glued, and somewhere in between:

Explanation and Removal: http://thebrickblogger.com/2011/01/lego-glued-magnet-removal/

Guide to glued and unglued magnets: http://thebrickblogger.com/2011/06/glued-and-non-glued-lego-magnets/

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Hi Fikko, thanks for those - although they are already (buried) in Kramii's answer ;) –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Sep 26 '13 at 8:17

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