LEGO explains change to instruction manuals in summer 2022 sets

The LEGO Group has explained a recent change to its building instructions, which is apparently linked to its sustainability efforts – but maybe not in the way you think.

When you pick up your new sets on June 1, you’ll probably notice something unusual about the instruction manuals: for many products, the paper is now a blanket white, while the cover depicts a plain render of the set, letterboxed by a simple border decorated with a faint brick design. It’s a stripped-back approach to presenting sets that sits in stark contrast to current instruction manuals, which have typically mirrored a given product’s box art.

According to a statement shared on the LEGO Ambassador Network, the change has come alongside the LEGO Group’s sustainability initiatives, including replacing plastic bags in boxes with paper bags. But the explanation makes it sound like it hasn’t been driven by that goal directly: instead, the change has simply been made to keep things ‘visually consistent’ with the new paper bags.

“The LEGO Group is on a journey to make its packaging more sustainable by 2025,” the statement reads. “As we are gradually replacing single-use plastic bags with paper-based bags in our boxes, other in-box materials such as the cover of building instructions have also been redesigned for a visually consistent unboxing experience.”

We’re yet to see the long-awaited paper bags in wide release sets, but they originally debuted in the employee-exclusive 4002021 The Temple of Celebrations at the end of last year. A first look at those bags revealed that they’re white, with the same faint brick pattern that we’re now seeing on instruction manuals. Technically, then, the new design is indeed visually consistent. What’s less consistent is the LEGO Group’s messaging.

Earlier this week, the company shared via Twitter that the ‘simpler look’ is intended to give ‘more focus on the model about to be built’, which is an entirely different reason to the one shared here. That same tweet also conflated the change with the LEGO Group’s environmental efforts, mentioning that ‘some booklets will also come in an envelope’ (presumably referring to those that previously came in their own plastic bag, rather than every booklet getting its own envelope – that would be a lot of trees).

LEGO moves the goalposts for its new paper bags
Leaflet in LEGO set suggests switch to paper bags is imminent

What neither of those statements does is directly mention the fact that using white paper for the instruction manuals will presumably mean using less ink, which is surely better for the environment, and an easy win for the LEGO Group to point to. (It will probably also mean reduced costs for the company, but it’s unlikely to shout that from the rooftops.)

The change has already drawn criticism from certain corners of the internet, with the general sentiment being that the LEGO Group is – as one Twitter user succinctly summarised – ‘cheaping out’. Aligning the design between booklets and bags probably isn’t a strong enough reason to change that reaction, but let us know what you think of the new instruction manual approach in the comments below.

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Chris Wharfe

I like to think of myself as a journalist first, LEGO fan second, but we all know that’s not really the case. Journalism does run through my veins, though, like some kind of weird literary blood – the sort that will no doubt one day lead to a stress-induced heart malfunction. It’s like smoking, only worse. Thankfully, I get to write about LEGO until then. You can follow me on Twitter at @brfa_chris.

13 thoughts on “LEGO explains change to instruction manuals in summer 2022 sets

  • 31/05/2022 at 01:22
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    1. I will quit buying LEGO if I can only get my instructions digitally. Call me old-fashioned, but I still prefer a booklet.
    2. Having said that, I do not like the glare of the pages in the booklets, and I definitely don’t like the booklets with an all black background… much too difficult to see.
    3. While I understand the need to save the planet, cutting down trees to make paper bags is not the way to go… unless… LEGO can prove that for every tree chopped down, one is planted in return, then sustainability makes more sense and is legitimized. Although plastic takes much longer to decompose, the use of a resealing bag makes more sense, and is most likely going to get reused by a builder.

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  • 30/05/2022 at 18:11
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    Paper bags cost trees….just as important as oil. Zip lock bags are the sustainable answer as they can, and would be, reused.
    Moreover the packaging and manual are part of the heritage and have huge collector value. Take away that and investors will not so readily invest.

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  • 30/05/2022 at 08:10
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    What’s next? Paper bricks?

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  • 29/05/2022 at 01:18
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    Not a fan of cutting more trees down, but if you follow the ‘environmental’ agenda, you to will go broke! I think ziplock bags are the go because they ARE reusable unlike paper, Why not go down that train of thought? I am already planning on not buying any more LEGO.

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  • 29/05/2022 at 00:44
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    As long as they are still functional, does it matter why?

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  • 28/05/2022 at 23:56
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    They already do this with their Super Mario sets with instructions accessible only via phone app or online. Terribly dumb. I had to print out my own set using my own printer and ink so that my 6 year old could build without having to use my phone. Yeah…didn’t sustain anything there Lego!

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  • 28/05/2022 at 23:52
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    Yeah…sustainability? Maybe. However, any cost savings will be pocketed by Lego. Meanwhile, they’ll keep on charging their inflated pricing to the consumers. They think we’re dumb. At least they’re not doing what their Super Mario sets have with their online/app only instructions. Unbelievably moronic move on thise sets.

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  • 28/05/2022 at 23:08
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    With paper bags you will not be able to see what parts are on them. I maybe making my models wrong but I find the bag number does not necessarily contain all the parts referred to in the appropriate manual section. Having plastic bags enables me to easily find the necessary part(s) in another bag
    I hope Lego do NOT go down the route of digital instructions for the primary model as well as the secondary model.

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  • 28/05/2022 at 09:10
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    I think this is a horrific idea to make the build books even more difficult for collectors to use it…the models cost an absolute fortune…they are raking in the cash but are treating loyal customers appallingly but cheapening the the very thing we need… simple to follow instructions with detailed depictions…if they continue down this path I’ll finish the £2000 of models I have yet to start and then I’ll be done

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  • 28/05/2022 at 01:15
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    Hopefully they are also getting rid of the black background in the manuals. Besides using a lot less ink, a white background will make many of the diagrams much easier for these mature eyes to figure out!

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  • 27/05/2022 at 22:45
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    What nonsense of an excuse from TLG for cheaping out on artwork design costs, which is the same reason why the bland 18+ black box redesign came to exist in the first place. If all this was really about sustainability, why not first reduce the oversized cardboard box sizes so less air is shipped through the whole world, the harder to recycle black ink on them, the number of buildings steps and pages and generally reduce the number of bags?
    The next step in the grand scheme is pretty obvious: lose the paper instructions completely and switch to app only. That way QC can be less rigorous and mistakes easily fixed by an update instead of printing a whole new batch.

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  • 27/05/2022 at 20:16
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    In todays world every company is looking at cutting cost of their product. It’s always good to put the World environment first so the public will Applaud your efforts. But May times the under lying is Financial so is the world of today. I’m Definitely not 100% sure of Lego’s decisions but we have to take all things into consideration of the decisions that they are making. Surly an interesting world we live in today. No going to have some fun and build a Lego.

    Reply

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