I have been building Lego "models" since the mid 1970s. About every other model build, I run into a problem where I am missing a piece. Each time this happens, it turns out to be I didn't see the piece, but it either fell on the floor, got stuck in the box, I used the wrong piece a few instructions back, it's under the instruction book, or whatever. The end result is the same; Lego did not skimp anything. In fact, as most of you know (unless I'm special), they actually leave extra pieces. This is due, according to a "Howto" book I read once, to the fact that they check those little baggies by weight. Each cluster of Legos in a bag weighs so many grams, and the scales are so sensitive they can detect minute changes, and will reject a package if it doesn't weigh the combined weight of those pieces, the baggies, and the air in the baggie. The err on being slightly over rather than being slightly under.
Well, today, I actually ran into a set missing a piece. It's hard to miss, too, it's a big piece compared to the small set. It's Set #7771, Aquaraiders: Angler Ambush. According to the catalog I got in the mail, it wasn't due out until January of 2007, so finding it in the "exclusive" shelf at the Tysons Lego store was a bonus. I liked it because it had a big fish with glow-in-the-dark teeth.
It was missing a 2 x 6 black flat plate, which leaves the fish missing a good chunk of his side.
I am not going to create a fuss with Lego, because this is the second most rare thing I have ever encountered with Lego, the first being a mis-stamped Lego. Ad it's not like I can't get a 2 x 6 flat black plate at home; I must have hundreds.