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I bought an advent calendar, with a minifig or part of a scene behind each door. Each piece is sealed in a plastic bag and needs to be assembled. Almost every bag has an extra piece in it. Is this a mistake when the pieces are being wrapped, a little bonus (yay, 2 crowbars!) or sloppy counting?

(It's extremely Christmassy - a police station, burglars with a crowbar and axe, police officers with handcuffs - oh, and a tree with presents.)

  • 3
    I'm sure it's just a bonus. – LegoSonicBoy Dec 18 '11 at 7:36
  • 1
    Some of the pieces are so easy to lose or break, and they give you an extra just in case. – RandomParticle9 Feb 8 '17 at 14:37
40

It isn't a mistake.

Lego weighs the bricks in each bag to ensure that the right components are present. However, it is difficult to weigh the smallest pieces accurately. (This is also why small bits tend to share one bag). If Lego tried to get the component count spot-on there is the danger that they would miss the very rare occasions when one of these small pieces was left out of a box. It would be bad for Lego if there were pieces missing - it would both damage their reputation and lead to expensive support calls. So rather than risk that they intentionally include more of the smallest pieces. That way, if the extra one is missing, nobody minds too much. At the same time, Lego knows that a couple of extra bits will make customers happy, especially as the small pieces are prone to getting lost.

So, you're right to consider the extra pieces as a little bonus.

  • 10
    Although that makes sense, I think that's not totally correct, as I've never heard of an extra part missing, or of an extra extra part. I think the rationale is more than certain parts (1x1 round, cheese slope, technic pins...) are more likely to end up lost, and thus you get a replacement part right from the start. But it's always small parts, yes. – Joubarc Dec 18 '11 at 8:20
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    A number of sets are known to have extra bits (the smallest usually) - at least according to their peeron inventory. Doing so to save on possible returns/support calls or reputation hits makes very good sense to me. – Danny Staple Dec 18 '11 at 16:51
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LEGO sets usually have a number of extra pieces. In most cases they are small bricks, that are easier to lose like 1x1 plates/tiles/studs, cheese slopes, levers/antennas and flower petals.

I know some people would throw the extra bricks away, never do this! Like loose change they will add up over time and can be used to add extra details to your models.

  • 19
    Throw the extra bits away? Never! – NiceOrc Dec 18 '11 at 20:36
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As part of this answer to the question: Does Toy 'R Us (or more expensive-than-average) retailers have more extra parts than average?, user Ambo100 posted a reply from LEGO Customer Services which also has relevance to this question.

When it comes to spare parts, it is random what pieces are included in which sets. We always want to make sure our fans have a little extra to go with their awesome imaginations.

LEGO Direct Consumer Services

2

One nice thing about the extra parts is that it forces you to think about what you're doing to make sure you did not forget to install one of the small pieces. With larger pieces it's nearly always obvious because things won't fit together properly or look right or be symmetrical.

Tiny pieces can sometimes be forgotten and not affect anything.

Yes, if the count were exact every time you would not have any parts to consider that may have been missed if none were left, but then again if you run short how do you know you didn't put a tiny piece in a place that was not needed and left a tiny piece from where it was needed?

All sorts of scenarios. I think defaulting to extra parts is very wise of Lego to do. It's being very pound-wise and penny-foolish which is the correct way to be.

1

The answers here from Lego are nice, but the most likely explanation is it's harder to dispense the smaller pieces accurately and so occasionally an extra one falls out. It's better to suffer the loss of one cheap bit of lego than to slow the process down to make it more accurate. And as others have said, Lego knows people will be happy with extra bits but angry with missing ones. So things are left as they are.

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