Before we start to talk about Lego alternative brands, you must first know the difference between Lego alternative brands and knock off brands, copies, replicas, fakes etc. Alternative means that these brands ( they are mentioned in this post) use the same type of bricks but they have their own themes going on, knock offs, copies, replicas, clones, fakes mean are just pure clone sets from Lego.
I already wrote an article about clone brands, and you can read it here.
I have my no.1 clone brand, and I made a review about a particular set, you are welcome to read it!
OK so being a huge fan of a Lego, I search for alternative brands, because Lego doesn’t have everything covered ( of course not – there are too many ideas ).
And I did a big research ( but only on Chinese market) about Lego alternative brands, and I must say there are some good ideas being realized in these brands.
So in this post “Lego alternative brands – the best guide” I will present you brands that are producing some good ideas, and before you start to read – there are a lot of different brands mentioned and described, therefore this article is rather long, so please take your time, maybe you will find something for yourself.
Just before I start, you should know, that considering buying an alternative Lego brand set is not immoral – Lego’s patents expired in 2011, so if you think about it, it is like someone would try to stop you from eating a pizza in USA, because the original comes from Italy – it is a nonsense, but, a big But – alternatives are OK, copies is something we shouldn’t practice, at least not too much.
Sluban is one of the biggest brands in China. Now their specialty sets are army – war sets. They offer a lot of different types of tanks, helicopters, and overall soldiers with arms. And to be honest – they look pretty promising.
There are of course other themes, that are actually quite nice. One of them is a “wedding”. I pointed out wedding theme, because sets are amazing. The first thing you notice are colors – just to look at them is relaxing. And they offer a wedding chapel with some extra accessories like grand piano, beautiful limo for newlyweds, some sort of house, which I really don’t understand, but very beautiful and a double-decker intimate bus with open roof for a party.
I had some Sluban sets ( war theme), and they are very good, except minifigures are not as good as Lego’s are, but good enough.
Oenas brand as well offers military sets – but not Sluban copies if you will. They are doing in their own way, and their military vehicles are awesome.
Second thing that Oenas offers is their own city theme with their own sets. To be honest, their sets are not so detailed as Lego’s are, but they are still great deal.
Oenas also has architecture theme, but they have other buildings and architecture offering than Lego, their architecture theme offers: Brandenburg gate, Burj al Arab hotel, China’s new year, Singapore Merlin statue and more.
One more thing I would like to expose, that is very cute is mini street, and mini street offers small shops like McDonald, KFC, Hotdog stands and more little shops, really cute.
So kazi is bigger company than most of Chinese brands. They have some themes, common like Lego, but they do it in their own way. Of course sets are less detailed than Lego’s are, but still they are worth to try them. They have themes like military ( totally their own theme), police theme, city theme, fire theme. They also have Girls theme ( Lego has Friends theme), but more or less they are bad copies of original Friends theme, so I really don’t recommend reaching Girls theme.
I tried to know more about Wangao, since I bought one set from them when my family was on vacation, and my son wanted to
have this set with a robot and a car ( 2 in 1 set), so of course I bought him one. Looks like, after exhausting research, that Wangao produces only 2 in 1 sets, 5 to be more accurate, and they are all a robot or a car. I bought my son gray Porsche or a gray robot with a huge sword. I believe I paid about 10 Euros ( 80 kunas in Croatia), and it is very good set.
Porsche looks awesome and is very detailed and big, a robot is
less attractive, but still a big deal for my son, and he just loved it. if you are looking in that way I recommend it to you.
I wrote a review about Wangao brand, and you are welcome to read it.
Gudi is as well as Kazi one of the bigger Chinese brands with their ow sets, but themes are more or less Lego’s. But like I said, beside mocking Lego’s themes, they develop their own sets. Of course, they have military sets as well as police, fire rescuers, city and more.
I can not compliment their minifigures – about two years ago I bought Gudi’s set, it was a mech, not a Lego copy, and everything was OK, except minifigure was truly honestly bad. Not worth mentioning it, bu beside minifigure it was an OK set overall.
The North E Home
It is a very strange brand name ” North E Home” but it is one of my favorite Chinese brands. And why is that so? Well I love sports, soccer and basketball to be more accurate, and they have a theme with stadiums! Now how cool is that? I always wanted to build a stadium with building blocks like Lego, and now, unfortunately bit too late for me, you can build a stadium.
And those stadiums are playing a big role in soccer, like Camp Nou, Old Trafford and more.
The North E home also offers lots of other sets and they are not Lego copies. I recommend it to everyone!
Now Ditmogf is basically a Lego fake brand, but they have a theme, that Lego doesn’t have – sets from How to train your dragon! They offer couple of sets with Toothless and other dragons. So if you ever wanted to have Lego compatible bricks with train your dragon theme, than this is it.
Feleph offers military theme, like some other Chinese brands, in their own specific manner, but they also have some sets that are based on some Chinese fairy tale. I was searching and noticed this beautiful ice dragon, well it is more Chinese dragon, but looks very promising, and the fact that is made after a Chinese fairy tale, must be amazing.
Feleph is no 100% alternative brand, it has some fake Lego sets as well, so heads up.
Qunlong is a mystery brand, I mean I don’t know everything they offer, but I do know that military theme is covered, as well other sets, with technic sets as well. But there is one set I must show you ( the in the picture on your right): a Gatling gun! And seems legit, I mean just look at it, it looks scary realistic. But that is not all – it also shoots “Lego” bullets and it is run by Technic motor. Honestly it looks stunning!
Cada is more “Technic” alternative brand. They have some Technic sets, and they look like engineers from Cada are doing a good job.
One other thing that I would like to point out, they have something mutual with Qunlong brand – weaponry. But Cada has made a great effort in gun business made from technic pieces. They offer various types of guns like sniper, Ak47,MK23, Uzi, M4 AND MORE, and they all shoot “Lego” bullets, how cool is that? But they shouldn’t count as dangerous toys, because missiles can’t hurt anyone, but you still need to be careful.
Xingbao is quite a big brand, that offers a lot of sets, all alternatives. There is military theme, of course, with a lot of tanks fleet to offer ( very cool ). You can buy technic sets as well, they also have planes, ships, and a lot of different sets. I recommend buying Xingbao, because they are truly a brand with their own sets and themes.
First to be honest – I don’t know if QWKZ is brand, company or a store, I just don’t know. But I must talk about it, you know why? Did you watch Pacific rim movies? Or more known Predator or Aliens? Well you know now what I’m talking about – QWKZ has robots or mechs from Pacific rim: Gypsy avenger, Bracer Phoenix, Guardian Bravo and Saber Athena. And they all look amazing, in fact my son told I need to order one as soon as possible.
Beside Pacific rim, there is also a Predator, very authentic looks and Alien, looks good as well.
Another Chinese brand that offers a lot like sluban and kazi, but they also added an alternative Duplo sets.
You can choose between police, war, military, ww2, Technic, city and different themes, there is a lot to choose from.
enlighten does have a lot of Lego copies, but they also have their own sets, mainly military sets.
Like Enlighten Kacuu has a lot of Lego copies, with their own military theme as well.
What are brands to look after?
So this where I stop presenting you alternative Lego brands, more or less they are alternatives, but some of them produce Lego copies as well. So what are my top picks to look after?
Well Cada would one of my top picks, with their Technic and guns sets going on. They have their style, and their style is very cool. I wouldn’t recommend it for smaller children.
The other brand/store I would recommend is QWKZ. I loved pacific rim, not story, no content, just pure giant mech fights! And you can get them in ricks, why not?
The 3rd option, I would recommend is either Kati or Sluban. They are one of the biggest Lego alternative brands in China, and as much as I know everything, they are legit and have some integrity, so buying either Kazi or Sluban sets is a safe choice.
The biggest con for all alternative brands are mini figures – from my experiences so far, they are not very good, I mean either you can see bad quality, or their hands and arms are to lose, or they are not even Lego minifigure copies, but other brand style minifigures. Overall, don’t be surprised if mini figures are not as good as you were expecting them to be.
What should you be aware of?
If you are a Lego fan and don’t support Lego clone brands, than I advise you not to go after Lepin ( Lepin is basically Chinese Lego with a lot of Lego clone sets) and Bela ( Bela is as well Lego clone brand, although their replicas are very good). But if you are looking for clone sets, than I advise you to go after Bela!
No matter what, every brand mentioned in this post is OK, and I believe you shouldn’t be afraid to buy some sets form these brands. I must admit, I have a Wangao set ( 2 in 1 robot/car – alternative ) and a Bela set ( Lego elves clone set), and to be honest, I’m not even sorry. I support Lego, and can tell you I ( well my son ) have at least 40 original Lego sets, and buying a couple of alternative or fake sets shouldn’t be a moral question, whether to buy or not to buy it.
If you have a question, or a comment, please write me in the comment section below, and I will be happy to reply.