What Has Happened at Lastolite?

I am really disappointed.  I have been recommending Lastolite products for many years because they are well designed, work great and are very reliable.

Or they used to be.

I seriously wonder what has happened.  I know that Manfrotto has acquired the company, which should be a good thing because Manfrotto has built great gear for a long time.  Yet in the last week alone, I have encountered four situations where gear that I recommended has arrived defective, become defective on first use, or broken under normal use.  

In many cases, Lastolite has built gear using a flexible steel frame that pops into shape and can be folded up into a case for transport.  The Ezybox II Octas and the Triflip reflectors are good examples.  I received an Octa this week.  Not only was the weld completely broken on arrival, there was barely and evidence of the weld at all and the sharp edges had then ripped through the fabric sheath making the Octa useless.  To add insult to injury, the website said the unit included the mounting bracket.  It didn't and doesn't  You need to spend more money on the LS2701, which my local distributor says is discontinued.  So I am out of pocket for the Octa and the Grid and my reseller says because they are special order, they're mine even though I cannot use them at all since no mounting bracket is available.  I am told that I can get the defective Octa replaced. I am happy to hear that, but what's the point if I cannot use it.

I was talking to a friend at a store that sells Lastolite.  He showed me a TriFlip that was less than a week old.  Broken at the weld.  He knows that I have been recommending Lastolite for years.  Literally two hours later, I was having lunch with a group that I coach, and two of the four told me that their Triflip reflectors had broken inside the first six months.

What the heck has happened at Lastolite?

I have Triflips, EZYboxes and Hot Rod soft boxes that have literally been set up and torn down weekly and transported all over the place.  They are all older units.  It looks to me like quality control is gone from Lastolite and so is my propensity for recommending their products.

For many photographers, this is a hobby, not a job and spending good money on gear that will break quickly is a complete and utter waste..

I will keep using my existing gear.  When and if it breaks, I will replace it, but unless a see a major change, it will not be with more Lastolite gear