The Ultimate Guide to LEGO Minifigure Misprints
19th September 2023
LEGO is renowned for its stringent quality control, but mistakes do happen in its production line. They're rare occurrences but when minifigures are involved it can lead to wrongly coloured body parts, wonky printing, or printing that is missing completely.
A defect is usually thought of as worthless, but due to the highly collectible nature of LEGO and the rarity of misprints, minifigures that aren't quite perfect can fetch big sums.
There are several different types of misprint, that vary from being subtle to being downright bizarre. Those falling into the former category include prints that are slightly off-kilter or prints lacking sharpness. These are typically not worth much more than standard minifigures, if they're worth more at all.
In this article we run through each of the more extreme types in turn, as these are the most valuable. We've included some recently sold examples to give you an idea of the kind of prices they can go for. We also give you some pointers on what to look out for when buying one.
One of the more frequently seen printing errors are those typically referred to as shift prints. This is where the printing is shifted away from its normal position. You almost always see this mistake happen with the head, where the printing is usually lower than it should be and can also be skewed to either the left or right.
Prints are applied to minifigure heads whilst they are attached to the torso, so a shift print would be the result of the head not being perfectly aligned or fully connected with the torso during printing.
There are several examples of recently sold minifigures with shifted printing.
This 501st Clone Trooper (sw1094) from the 501st Legion Clone Troopers (75280) battlepack has the blue helmet detail skewed down and to the right. This defect has created a unique Clone Trooper, which stands out in any collector\'s army, which will be why it sold for £100 (approx. $125).
Less common are minifigures which have part of their printing missing. This can happen as LEGO applies each colour within a minifigure print separately, so you will sometimes see a certain colour missing.
Looking at the example above comparing a misprinted Mr. Krabs (bob023) (left) and the normal version (right), you can see that the black printing is missing. The result is a toothless and pupil-less minifigure! This one sold with an asking price of $120 (approx. £95).
Reserve (180) Prints
A more extreme example type of misprint are reverse or 180 prints. This is where the printing is on the wrong side of the body part.
This Chewbacca (sw0532) from the Yavin 4 Rebel Base (75365) has its face printed on its back instead of its front, which makes for a very odd looking minifigure. This one sold with an asking price of £150 (approx. $185), while an AT-AT Driver (sw1104) with a reverse print sold for around £110 (approx. $135).
Prints on the Wrong Colour Part
This type of misprint can create the best minifigure variants in my opinion and is one of the rarest. They happen when the print has been placed on the wrong colour part.
This Deadpool minifigure (sh032) has a grey head instead of red and the effect is a unique and very collectible figure. Because Deadpool is also a popular character, it\'s no surprise that this set sold for £300 (approx. $370).
This is where the same print is printed twice. Sometimes this is in the exact same location, effectively making the print details bolder. Where they are printing in different locations, this can give rise to some cool effects, like the same face being printed on both the front and back of the head
Photo Credit: @lsw_misprint_collector
Probably the rarest of all are combined prints, where components of prints from two different minifigures are placed on a single piece. Due to their rarity these are typically the most expensive.
The nature of the two different minifigures determines how interesting and appealing this looks, but most often it creates a chaotic effect.
In the example above we can see what looks like a Clone Arc Trooper that has been printed with a dress belonging to a female City minifigure. What's actually happened here is that the City minifigure has received the black printing belonging to a Clone Arc Trooper, rather than the black printing of her dress.
When you're considering buying a misprint (and especially one with an asking price of $600), it's important to determine exactly what's happened. In the example above you are buying a misprinted City minifigure, rather than a misprinted Clone Arc Trooper. This has a big bearing on the perceived value of the misprint as a misprint on a more desirable minifigure, such as one from Star Wars, is going to be a lot more valuable than one on your average City minifigure.
There will also undoubtedly be fake misprints out there, so do your research before splashing out. The easiest to fake are missing misprints, as these could be manually removed.
If you're buying a minifigure that has its printing on the wrong colour piece, use resources, such as Bricklink, to check that that piece isn't in fact from another minifigure.
Hopefully this article has armed you with the information needed to make your first misprint purchase. Happy collecting!
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