The LEGO Clone Wars…………

Make no mistake. LEGO is an expensive business. You only have to look at the AFOL aimed LEGO sets to see that these weigh in at over £100 at times. Indeed if you are after the UCS models or Hard to Find exclusives, then knock on the door of £200 upwards. It is a wedge.

Now, some Far East companies have a good knack of copying Western products with a strong resemblance of the original. A car company called Landwind made a vehicle called the X7 which has a uncanny resemblance to the Range Rover Evoque.

And they are doing the same for LEGO type products. In the shopping complex I call ‘Asda’  in Weil am Rhein the toy department had a shelf load of these clones right opposite the LEGO stands.

It looks a bit like LEGO, probably compatible with LEGO, tons of weird and wonderful elements that LEGO have not even thought about yet, and more importantly undercutting LEGO by 1/3. So for the price of one large LEGO City set, you could buy 5 or 6 of these clone sets.

But is it worth it?


TBH, no, not really. Whilst it looks good VFM, the quality is not good. I had one of these knock off sets given to the wee one as entertainment on a flight once and whilst it all looked very LEGO-ish, the quality was lacking in every department. It just felt flimsy and a very poor relation. You could tell the difference in plastic superiority by a mile. (Oh, bloody hell, I am now getting into nerd territory……I will going on about the polymers next…..)

However, in Asian markets LEGO is a premium product and so are the prices. So whilst many families don’t have the standard of living as some of us are lucky to have in the UK and Europe, then why not buy these clone products? The function like LEGO and are a fraction of the cost. Affordability is the key here. And in such markets I can fully appreciate this, not blaming those parents at all.

But what puzzles me is this – in Germany who would trade buying proper LEGO for a replica? And a dodgy copy of that.


Whilst the sets look may look somewhat exciting, it just has inferior written all over it. For those that have been given these sets as their first introduction to construction then they will not know any different. But brand loyalty has a lot to do with influencing purchases so where there may be a huge price point difference, I think that the majority will still buy the pukka product LEGO.

It would be interesting to read your thoughts on the matter – are you a firm LEGO stalwart OR will the cheaper pricing and uniqueness of parts/elements make you succumb to the clone product?


1 comment

  1. suns

    I have mixed feelings about this to be honest.

    My son is now 10 years old and over the years he has accumulated many small sets (usually birthdays from friends etc.). Every so often we’d get a Kreo or a MegaBlocks set and to be fair he played with them and we built some interesting models.
    My mixed feelings come from the fact that these sets for their price are often much bigger so there IS more play value to them. This is important particularly at the £10-£20 price bracket as in my experience kids receive these far more frequently. Comparing these kinds of sets and well, you just don’t get very much with lego, particularly the latest star wars stuff.

    However, the two of us are getting more serious about lego now – we both like reading up on the latest sets and he actively puts money aside for the larger sets. Me, well, I’m seeing this as a fun investment sideline – nothing major, but an interesting pastime.

    As part of this exercise we’ve put all the old lego into sorting drawers by colour (it’s amazing just how much you accumulate), and now the difference is pretty startling. Lego is better – everyone knows this, though the caveat is that it’s still not perfect (the whites especially discolour badly and it’s more obvious when you have a big box of them mixed old and new.) The non lego bricks fit fine but sometimes loosely but they feel oily and soft and often the colours aren’t mixed thoroughly leaving a swirly pattern on some of them.

    Interestingly enough, it was his decision to rake through and remove the the non-lego bricks which we’ve now given to charity. This I’m happy about, in a dad-quality-control kind of way.

    My mixed feelings are largely to do with my own experience. Half my family is from India and after a recent trip where the majority of bricks sold are non-lego (and incidentally, not all are meant to fit the lego standard size either), the price point of lego is simply too high for most people there. Question is; would it have been better for lego to have complete market share of their own invention or is it better that companies have made inferior though workable copies (and therefore avoided much of the RnD and hard work lego puts into it’s product – and let’s be fair, it IS their product essentially) so that children across the world can experience the joy of building things?

    I also happen to be a designer and our policy is never to copy anyone else’s work (and we pursue anyone who copies ours).

    Mine and my son’s minds are made up – we won’t buy anything other than lego. But that’s only because we’re lucky to live in a country where we can afford to make that decision.

    Good article by the way!

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