Xingbao: If LEGO is Apple, we are…

Clone brick company Xingbao’s 2017 Product Manual offers an insight into how the Chinese company position themselves, with particular reference to the LEGO Group

Xingbao emerged in late 2016 as a Chinese-based initiative to bring LEGO-inspired designs from notable builders in the LEGO fan community to the mass market, via sets produced using clone bricks. They are a company under scrutiny, due a shared location of Shantou, Guangzhou with – and strongly speculated business links to – Lepin, the Chinese company currently the target of legal action from the LEGO Group in China for illegally producing knock-off copies of LEGO brand sets. These are links that Xingbao deny to Brick Fanatics.

Whilst the LEGO Group were not at the 2018 Toy Fair in London, the company that produces Xingbao – Shantou Pengrui Electronic Technology Co., Ltd – was, as were several other clone brick-based construction toy ventures. Alongside a number of models on display (some with minifigure and mini-doll trademark infringements, in spite of a prototype original figure design), Shantou Pengrui Electronic Technology Co., Ltd’s stand had a catalogue and a handful of leaflets showcasing products, as well as written material on how they see themselves in the market, in particular in relation to the LEGO Group.

These were available for anyone attending the 2018 London Toy Fair to pick up, including prospective retailers who use the event as an opportunity to line up and organise what products to run with for the forthcoming year.

Alongside three leaflets highlighting Xingbao’s City Girl, Across the Battlefield and Chinese Zodiac lines, was the 2017 Product Manual, a 60-page booklet that offers an insight into how Xingbao see themselves, with references in its written material to the LEGO Group.

This booklet opens with a single page introducing Xingbao and its brand concept, positioning, vision and advantage. What follows are one-page profiles on the select LEGO fan builders who are working with the company, accompanied by low quality images of their builds, making it hard to tell if these are renders, photographs of the original LEGO models, or photographs of the Xingbao clone brick version.

There’s then reproduction of WeChat article that apparently appeared online (though quick searches on the author aren’t successful) which has presumably been translated from Chinese to English and that makes particular reference to the LEGO Group:

‘If LEGO Is Compared to “Apple” in the Brick Industry, China’s “Android” in This Field May Make Presence This Time.’

This transitions by the end of the second page into profiles on the previously mentioned builders’ projects that have been turned into Xingbao sets, followed by a summary from the author, and a second reference to the LEGO Group:

‘If LEGO is compared to Apple in the brick industry, which is the pearl in the crown while enclosing itself, then China is likely to create its “Android” in this field, providing a brand-new and open platform.’

Screenshots and crude translations of positive online comments reacting to the original article’s posting are then followed by Xingbao pointing the reader to other positive articles including the title of one that again references the LEGO Group (‘If LEGO is Rolls-Royce in the Brick Industry, Porsche Has Already Emerged’), as well as the fact that ‘foreign websites’ are reporting on them, seeing their company become ‘increasingly popular’ online.

The catalogue concludes with pages dedicated to what products the company are currently offering, with information for retailers. Such products include Block World, which at the very least are sets that are heavily based on LEGO Minecraft sets, if not in some cases including clear copies of minifigures and particular models.

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Rob Paton

As one half of Tiro Media Ltd, I mix a passion for print and digital media production with a deep love of LEGO and can often be found on these pages eulogising about LEGO Batman, digging deeper into the LEGO Group’s inner workings, or just complaining about the price of the latest LEGO Star Wars set. Make a great impression when you meet me in person by praising EXO-FORCE as the greatest LEGO theme of all time. Follow me on Twitter @RobPaton or drop me an email at [email protected]

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