Xingbao look to be taking steps to move away from the LEGO Group’s trademarked minifigure, with a design of their own. However…
Whilst the LEGO Group was notable for their absence at this year’s London Toy Fair, a number of prospective rival enterprises making use of clone bricks identical to the LEGO Group’s designs – barring their trademark logo – were present.
One of those to have a stand at the event was Xingbao – under the company name Shantou Pengrui Electronic Technology Co., Ltd – which has split opinion for its work with notable designers from the LEGO fan community, and struggled to distance itself from purported links to Lepin, currently the subject of the LEGO Group’s legal battles in China.
Speaking with Brick Fanatics on that latter issue, Xingbao’s marketing representative at the London Toy Fair did push to clarify that whilst they ‘are aware of Lepin’, they are ‘another brick factory…we have nothing to do with them’.
Alongside a number of products on display at Xingbao’s stand this week – including at least two of Paul J Boartko’s Technic designed cars; the Arvo brothers’ Vespa P200; a range of Chinese Zodiac builds; an Across the Battlefield line of war-based builds; and a City Girl range designed by Firas Abu-Jaber – was a first step by the company to intentionally move away from trademarked territory.
While all the sets are constructed with clone bricks and some of those sets are most likely still infringing on other licenses (the models based on Aliens, Akira and various car and motorbike licenses are a big part of their retailers’ catalogue) also on display was a prototype figure.
Described as having been designed ‘due to copyright issues we have faced’, as told to Brick Fanatics, the Xingbao figure is the same height and width as a LEGO minifigure, but with subtle changes to it.
These include an octagonal stud on top of the head; rounded shoulders that reshape the torso; arms that are hinged as well as rotate at the shoulder; and reshaped legs with different connection points to the torso.
Even so, the figure maintains striking similarities to and the same compatibility with LEGO products as an official LEGO minifigure, with the hand design looking unchanged, whilst the display models we looked at were all wearing direct copies of LEGO Group properties, such as the X-wing pilot helmet, the Captain Cold hood, and the Wolverine hairpiece.
It also worth noting that whilst the new figure design represents a notable first step away from direct conflict with the LEGO Group and a first acknowledgement of where the trademark rests, the prototypes were still on display alongside clear copies of LEGO minifigures and mini-dolls, both of which were included in a number of the Xingbao sets on show (in spite of the prototype design being pictured on some of the same sets’ box art).
Shantou Pengrui Electronic Technology Co., Ltd was one of six similarly-named companies showing at the 2018 London Toy Fair, all presumably originating from the same Chinese city, with the others being Shangtou Chenghai Hanye Toys Factory; Shantou Changhai Kunyang Trade Co. Ltd; Shantou City Bld Toys Industrial Co. Ltd; Shantou MZ Model Co. Ltd; and Shantou Shengying Plastic Toys Co. Ltd.
Also available on Shantou Pengrui Electronic Technology Co., Ltd’s stand was a 2017 Product Manual of Xingbao products, for retailers, which offers an interesting insight into how the company see themselves in the market. We will look at this in a separate article.