Let me tell you a joke: God created an Earth and universe, everything else is made in China. Supposedly China has a clone of everything that exist in the world, and of course with that fact they have Lego copies as well. I don’t support that kinds of companies, but they do exist. And as I searched there are good and cheap Lego clones.
I didn’t know that there are Lego clone companies out there ( well in China ). Just 2 months ago I was searching for a Lego set elves- themed, I was looking that white dragon really big one that costs about 100 euros ( $113 ). I think I was searching on EBay or Ali express, I can’t remember. So as I was scrolling down all of a sudden I see “Lego” sets that are three or for times cheaper than real Legos. I looked closer there was “Lepin” logo there. Instantly I knew that those are copies of real Legos.
My article isn’t about promoting Lego clones, far from that, I’m a real Lego fan and I support them heavily, but you know, Legos are not that cheap, they’re expensive, and now and then you have to search for cheap alternatives. So I dug into this and I will describe below how are things with Lego clones.
That was the first thing that came to my mind. How is it possible that you can buy fake Legos and everything is OK. Apparently Lego has or had a lot of cases in court suing a lot of clone companies. I think in 2011 all patents have expired for Lego and of course a lot of companies went for factoring building bricks that are compatible with Legos.
Not all companies duplicate Lego sets. Mega blocks brand, existing in Canada, they don’t duplicate Lego. The have their own sources, branding, their own development, sets, marketing, etc. So basically they’re building their own authority. Which is OK because they have nothing in common with Lego except bricks that are compatible.
China companies on the other hand don’t have own authority, they rely on Lego buyers, offering them same sets as Lego, only difference is that box sets have another name on them and other theme name. Here are two examples:
- Lego has Star Wars theme, clone factories have Star Wnrs or Star Fights
- Lego has Elves, other company has Fairy
And there are other factors that separates clone companies from Lego. As I was telling you about legal grounds, when it comes to China, there is nothing companies can do to prevent those clone factories to stop making building bricks. And that is because China doesn’t do anything about it because they are protecting their ( Chinese ) companies because they pay taxes and fees and China supports them.
Is Lepin Worth To Try?
This the first company in my opinion that I need to tell you about. So Lepin is a “brand” in China. Lepin is basically Chinese Lego. They copy everything that Lego does except Disney-themed ones, because Disney is a big fish in the World and they do not want to step in their way. None of those clone does Disney-themed copies of Lego.
I have to admit that I purchased one Lepin set because I was curious. And of course I bought “Star Wnrs” x-wing star fighter. I was on YouTube videos and x-wing came across and I decided I need to have one of x-wings. Now the original Lego set cost about 60-70 euros ( Europe ), but this Lepin box set cost about 25 euros and I bought it.
So when I received it was like I bought a Lego. Then I built an x-wing star fighter. So this is what I had to tell you: they aren’t as bad as I expected. Building blocks/bricks are the same as Lego, main difference is that blocks don’t have logo on them like Lego does. I compared mini figures and they’re slightly bigger than original Lego mini figures.
Instructions are shorter than Lego’s, but they have a lot of stuff on each page, at least two. Three times more and it gets quite hard to understand everything in that mess of instructions.
Final product is good, but it lacks of being perfect. Window where pilots sit can’t close, and bullets or missile doesn’t shoot like in original Legos.
Quality of plastic on first sight is the same. But when I got through reading and searching, of course they are not the same standard quality like Legos.
There is one question left- how come they are so cheap? So the answer is simple. Legos does marketing, development, engineering, licensing and everything that needs company to be successful. Lepin does not do marketing, branding, development, they just rely on that these “legos” are three or four times cheaper than an actual Lego, and because they’re cheaper, they know that there is big audience that support cheap legos and they will buy from them.
My opinion is that Lepin is a good alternative to Legos, and occasionally you can buy from them, but true Lego fans will never agree and support them.
I was in one store in my home city, buying groceries and came across a stand with Gudi building blocks “compatible with the leading building blocks company”. As I was looking them their price was really low. I said what the hell, I need to buy them and check them.
So I bought this robot like on the picture on your right. As I was building it, I remembered times when I was a kid and building Legos. Literally this box set had old Lego bricks/blocks form times when I was a child. So the final product was not so sophisticated like Lego.
Plastic of gudi is supposedly an OK standard for Europe, but it is quite awful. You could tell while making this robot it’s just bad plastic.
So as alternative Gudi is OK, but far from Legos. They’re truly just compatible with Legos and nothing else. Old school Building bricks/blocks, cheap plastic, unsophisticated final products, and mini figures are simply awful.
LELE has a lot of LEGO-clone sets, like STAR WARS or NINJAGO, and they are like “real” LEGOs, only that you can spot with your eyes that minifigures are really just fakes, and not good quality, but structures you build on the other hand, are actually quite good actually – I bought LELE ninjago set two weeks ago, and I must admit, that it is not that bad, quite good actually, well you can tell the difference between LEGO and LELE, but as alternative – it is O.K.
Another chinese “Lego” compatible brand, but it doesn’t produce copy Lego sets, they have thier own themes going on – and the biggest theme they own is – military. They offer a lot of different sets with military note, such as tanks, war helicopter, soldiers, fire arms and the list goes on.
I saw couple of their sets, and I must say that the are doing excellent job with aesthetic designs with their military sets.
I wrote an article about Bela, and it is my number chinese brand that copies Lego sets.
So beside the fact that they produce fake sets of a Lego, they make them actually very good.
I bought fake Elves lava cave set, and I was actually very very surprised! Bela named theme “Fairy” instead of Elves.
Instructions were easy to follow ( a lot of chinese knock offs have instructions completely chaotic), and assembly didn’t take me more than 2 hours – and you must be aware of the fact that you get the set wrapped in plastic bag and there are not different numbered bags for building in sequence – you just tore a bag apart, throw building blocks on the table, and start to pick proper blocks.
Final product was awesome! It looked like an original one (assembled set is in the picture above). Everything works fine, nothing to complain about, except for joints on the dragon – they are a little loose, therefore they are a bit to movable, but overall perfect fake set!
Oh, not to forget – the price was just about 20$, the original one from Lego was, I think, about 60$, or maybe even more. So Bela is in my opinion the best company that makes fake Lefo sets!
Other Lego-Compatible Brands
So there are many other companies that produce Lego-compatible bricks:
HINT!! – Must Read
If you want to search/browse for Lego clones, just sign into AliExpress.com, find the search bar and type in Lego, or Lego and a theme ( like Lego cits ), press enter and it will show you everything except original Lego, and there are literally thousands of Lego duplicate sets.
Are Lego Clones Worth It?
That depends on how you look at it. For developmental sake of Lego we shouldn’t support those clone companies, because if we stop buying Legos, that means that Lego wouldn’t stop manufacturing and progress will be lost , what basically means that everything would stagnate.
But I think if we buy now and then some unoriginal box set is nothing wrong and beside that they’re cheaper.
If you have any comments please write them I will be happiy to reply.