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Why Does LEGO Use Stickers?

Lego figurines against a gray block.

LEGO uses stickers for its printed sets to provide more customization while also allowing for flexibility when it comes to an individual’s preference while building a set.

There are also manufacturing reasons why LEGO uses stickers in some of its newer sets, including:

  • Optimized manufacturing: By using stickers for the LEGO sets that are created, LEGO can optimize the manufacturing of the actual LEGO bricks, which then become much more universally compatible with all modern LEGO sets on the market.
  • Fewer printing machines: Using stickers instead of printing blocks allows for fewer printing machines and, ultimately, waste.
  • Warehouse storage: Another reason LEGO has transitioned to using stickers instead of printing on individual LEGO bricks is to save on warehouse storage space. Storing LEGO bricks that are printed on can quickly add up in space, especially if a set is not as popular as projected, ultimately leading to even more unnecessary waste.
  • Saving on costs: LEGO ultimately saves on costs when using stickers instead of printing on individual blocks. Printing on LEGO blocks individually requires additional machines, ink, and ultimately, more money to complete. 

Related: Can Lego Break? | Can Lego Boats Float? | Can LEGO be recycled? | Can You Order Missing LEGO Pieces?

How is a LEGO Set Created?

Top view of a Lego set.

A LEGO set is created in a traditional manufacturing plant. While in the past, LEGO did not use stickers, LEGO now uses stickers to focus on printing universally compatible LEGOs in a variety of colors in bulk. Printing universal LEGO pieces provides for more creativity and customization for those who enjoy freestyle building or for those who prefer to customize the sets they purchase from LEGO as well. 

Has LEGO Always Used Stickers?

Vintage Lego sets at at Brighton Toy and Model Museum..

No. LEGO has not always used stickers. Before the use of stickers in LEGO sets, LEGO was known for printing on individual blocks to help complete sets. These sets are still available today, but are no longer printed and must be purchased as pre-owned or as a resale item.

When did LEGO Begin Using Stickers?

LEGO began using stickers on the sets they printed throughout the 1970s. There are also some LEGO sets printed in modern times that do not use stickers but are, in fact, still printed on instead. 

Are there LEGO Sets without Stickers? 

Colorful Lego monochrome minifigures

Yes, there are LEGO sets without stickers, although they are not always easy to find. Many LEGO sets that come without stickers are older LEGO sets and may be considered vintage or even collectible. Most of the LEGO sets that are printed on them and those that do not use stickers are considered high-ticket items today. Additionally, the LEGO sets that are printed and do not include any stickers whatsoever are likely to be older and from an era that predates the 1970s. 

Benefits of Using Stickers with LEGO Sets

Lego family set

Using stickers with LEGO sets is extremely versatile, as the stickers provide you with the ability to unleash your own imagination if you are uninterested in following the standard instructions included for your LEGO set.

Using stickers on the LEGO sets you own today is a way for you to get creative with your sets while personalizing them to your liking. If you are not a collector and do not wish to keep your LEGO sets originally as intended, you can place or remove stickers wherever you would like with the pieces included in your set. It is also possible to use your LEGO stickers on different sets or bricks of LEGO you already own and have in your collection.

How to Use LEGO Stickers with Your LEGO Sets?

Ultimate Sticker Collection: LEGO Minifigure: Mash-up! (Ultimate Sticker Collections)

LEGO stickers can be shaped like characters, signage, or even pieces of vehicles or robots your LEGO set is intended to create. Whenever you obtain a LEGO kit or set that includes stickers, there are a few ways you can put them to use, such as:

  • Following instructions: One way to use LEGO stickers is to place them according to the instructions that were included with your LEGO set. Following the instructions exactly will allow you to render the original build shown on the box of your LEGO set.
  • Place stickers as you please: You can also use the included stickers on your LEGO set as you please, leave stickers off of sections that you would like to leave bare or blank. 
  • Swapping stickers: If you own more than one LEGO set or if you collect stickers, you are also free to add your own custom stickers or to customize the placement of the included LEGO stickers as you wish.

Do I Have to Use the Stickers in My LEGO Set?

It is up to you as the owner of the LEGO set to determine if you will use the included stickers with the set or not. While some prefer to use the included LEGO stickers with each set they purchase, others may prefer to use their very own custom stickers or build the set without any stickers at all. 

How Can I Identify Stickers for a LEGO Set? 

LEGO Store Lego Movie Stickers Set - Bundle with 6 Lego Movie Sticker Sheets Including Over 135 Stickers and More for Kids, Boys, Girls (Lego Movie Party Supplies)

If you stumble upon a sheet of LEGO stickers in your collection but you are unsure of where they belong, you may think you are out of luck. However, in some cases, it is possible to identify stickers for a LEGO set, depending on the sticker sheet you have in your possession and whether or not there are labels included with the sheet itself. To identify stickers of a LEGO set, use the following tips:

  • Locate a part number or a LEGO sheet ID. This will be visible on a full LEGO sticker sheet. Note: You must have the full sheet available. The number should appear at the bottom of the sheet, along with a LEGO GROUP or LEGO title. 
  • Locate the SET ID, which is a number used in more modern LEGO sets, especially those with printed stickers instead of printed bricks. 
  • Use an identifying platform such as Bricklink to search for your LEGO sticker set.

If you are unable to locate a number or a SET ID for the LEGO sticker set you have in your possession, you can also head online and search for the sticker(s) using the following tips:

  • Use Google’s “Search by Image” function or seek out a reverse image service that you prefer. Keep in mind that it is likely that Google will render the most results for images added to the reverse search feature, as Google is the largest search engine used worldwide.
  • Browse for LEGO sticker sets using descriptive words and specific phrases that describe the images in your current sticker pack.
  • Join online LEGO groups using social media and online forums to inquire about the stickers and the sticker pages you currently have in your possession. Many individuals who are avid LEGO collectors will be happy to assist you in identifying and locating the proper LEGO set for your sticker sheets and any LEGO stickers you have in your collection. 
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