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    LEGO vs. Mega Bloks and Other Clones


    You are browsing in the construction toys aisle of your local retail or toy store. You carefully look at the three main choices of building blocks: LEGO, Mega Bloks and KRE-O. You can’t decide which one to buy for your children –they all look the same on their boxes. This article outlines the advantages & disadvantages found in both LEGO products and inexpensive alternatives so that you can choose what’s best for you.

    At the moment there are many alternatives to LEGO bricks on the market, the two main ones being Mega Bloks and KRE-O.

    Mega Bloks, a Canadian company, was called “Ritvik Toys” when it started in 1967 and later changed its name to Mega Bloks in 2002. It quickly became one of the main players in the building blocks industry. Mega Bloks, over the years, have created everything from Smurfs to dragons in their products. Mega Brands (includes Mega Bloks, Mega Puzzles, Board Dudes and Rose Art) currently has over 1000 employees. There are four different types of Mega Bloks’ bricks:

    • Maxi size, introduced in 1985, is intended for very young children. The blocks feature slightly rounded corners and edges and have tall rounded studs.
    • Mini size, introduced in 1989, is designed for toddlers and preschoolers. The bricks, like Maxi size, have slightly rounded edges and corners. Mini size bricks are the same size as LEGO DUPLO bricks.
    • Micro size, introduced in 1991, has sharp edges and corners and is for experienced builders. This size is the same size as ordinary LEGO bricks.
    • Nano building system, introduced in 2004, is the smallest of all of the bricks that Mega Bloks have made and is not compatible with any other type of plastic bricks.

    The LEGO Group has filed many lawsuits against Mega Bloks for the use of “their” studs and tubes construction system. LEGO believes that this is a violation of its trademarks, but most of their lawsuits have been unsuccessful.

    Possibly after seeing the success of LEGO's girl orientated theme, Friends, Mega Bloks have decided to launch new “Barbie” and “Hot Wheels” (both by Mattel) themed sets next year (2013).

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    KRE-O is manufactured by Oxford, a Korean company, and marketed by toys and board games company Hasbro. KRE-O, unlike Mega Bloks, is relatively new to the industry and includes sets based on the recently released films Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Battleship, which were both based on Hasbro’s toys. KRE-O, which means “I create” in Latin, keeps growing in popularity ever since it launched in June 2011. KRE-O’s human figures are called Kreons, and look for the most part like LEGO minifigures. A third line of sets have been confirmed and will be based on the 2009 revival of Star Trek and a new 2013 sequel are to be released in the future.

    Although brands such as Mega Bloks and KRE-O are seen as alternatives or copies, people still buy them simply because of the fact that they are the cheaper than good quality LEGO bricks. Plus, if a child has collected a lot of LEGO sets, then the kid’s parents buy him Mega Bloks sets, the bricks from the clone sets will still be compatible with official LEGO bricks. Many young children wouldn’t know the difference between LEGO and clones, so parents usually buy Mega Bloks and other copies, that look like LEGO, but are actually worth much less money.

    Parents buy clones for their children because they are inexpensive, but there are also many disadvantages of buying non-LEGO building blocks/bricks. Many of the bricks that are included in Mega Bloks or KRE-O sets are of poor quality and do not go together well. Some builders combine clone bricks with LEGO bricks in their models; however, their creations are usually mismatched with dull coloured and loosely connected Mega Bloks and LEGO bricks. Mega Bloks is also known for having a substandard website (compared with LEGO.com) and limited support for builders.

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    Official LEGO products, on the other hand, are of great quality and are very durable. The LEGO Group has a team of designers that invent well-designed sets that children will eventually play with. One of the advantages of buying LEGO sets is that they don’t usually devalue in price, as there are many people willing to buy second-hand LEGO on auction websites such as eBay, etc. Another good thing about LEGO is that they have the rights to many exciting themes (such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, DC & Marvel Super Heroes, etc.), which have produce rare bricks and sets. LEGO also have an awesome website (LEGO.com) that boasts downloadable building instructions, games, video, an online shop, and many more exciting things. There are also lots of devoted LEGO fans, who connect with each other through the internet in forums and fan groups. Mega Bloks, unlike LEGO, has little fans and is practically ignored by LEGO enthusiasts.

    Another great advantage of buying the different kinds of LEGO bricks (Quatro, DUPLO, Normal Bricks, TECHNIC, etc.) is that they all click into each other. DUPLO bricks slot nicely into Quatro bricks, Normal Bricks click on underneath DUPLO bricks and so on.

    There are also two things that LEGO has, but Mega Bloks doesn’t. These two things are the TECHNIC building system and Mindstorms. TECHNIC uses beams and pins (instead of bricks) to build models. Some TECHNIC sets even come with electronic motors, lights and remote controls. These electronics are part of a sub-theme called “Power Functions” and they make TECHNIC vehicles & machines run. One other thing that Mega Bloks and KRE-O don’t have is a robotics system. The LEGO Group has created Mindstorms, a theme in which builders create a model out of LEGO TECHNIC elements then add the Mindstorms NXT brick (the robot’s “control centre”), three motors, and four sensors (which can provide information about obstructions, different colours, etc.). This makes a fully-fledged robot that can be programmed by using the included software on a computer. You can even make it move in the direction you want using an app on your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone.

    The main drawback with LEGO products is the cost. The LEGO Group prides itself on having strict product control, which generates exceptional products. With good quality comes higher prices, and that’s generally why numerous parents go for the less expensive option(s) when it comes to construction bricks/blocks for their kids. But as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for. It doesn't take long for children to get frustrated with inferior quality bricks from KRE-O or Mega Bloks and toss them in the trash.

    If you are planning on buying some construction toys for your children, my recommendation is to find out (if you haven’t already) what suits your child and buy that product. If you don’t know what is best for your kids, then I suggest going with good quality LEGO –even though it may cost more, it’ll last longer and is (in my opinion) better overall. Also, from the standpoint of collecting and investing, the LEGO brick is far and away the brick to pick. LEGO investing has exploded over the past several years has become the toy of choice for not only children, but adult collectors and investors as well. All in all, LEGO is the way to go in my opinion.

    What kind of building toy do you and your children prefer? What type do you have the most of in your home? Share your opinion in the comments below.

    This is a guest post by Nathan (a.k.a. Yodaman5556), who is a blogger, a Star Wars and LOTR fan, KFOL (kid fan of LEGO) and all-round LEGO fanatic. He enjoys spending afternoons experimenting (and building) with LEGO bricks. He blogs about LEGO news, information and rumours on his website, BrickExtra.

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    We Thank Nathan for taking the time to write this excellent article and have also awarded him 500 BrickPoints! Please check out his website BrickExtra, he does a great job covering LEGO.

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    Lego is like any other toy, or any other product for that matter. It only gets better with more competition. Imagine if you could only buy one make of car or TV by the company that first created it decades ago because competition wasn't allowed. There would be no such thing as an iphone or a samsung galaxy if blackberry had permanent exclusivity from creating the smartphone. Patents are designed to be a short term reward for all the time and money spent innovating products. Nobody would innovate if they couldn't capitalize on it, but we would all lose if it meant they could keep exclusivity. This is why there are laws against monopolies and why patents expire and why Disney fights so hard to extend the laws that keep its characters out of the public domain. 

     

    I say let the other companies go at Lego. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all. Even if you don't like other companies' products, you still win by the efforts Lego goes to to stay on top with their own products.

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    Dont talk to me about mega blocs, spent the last three nights picking them out of a huge joblot of lego I bought.   Enough to send me round the bend!

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    I am looking forward to see the STAR TREK theme from KRE-O. I'm hoping for a Bird Of Prey set of instructions that I can convert into LEGO bricks.

    oooh, good idea!

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    I am looking forward to see the STAR TREK theme from KRE-O. I'm hoping for a Bird Of Prey set of instructions that I can convert into LEGO bricks.

    Just googled it and found it.  Wow, they look stupid!  I can't even take it seriously.  The Star Trek sets that Kre-o has look nothing like the shows or movies.  At least Lego makes things look a lot nicer.  God I wish Lego had the license instead.  Stupid Paramount.

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    There is nothing even close to Lego.  Kre-o is absolute junk!  They look and feel very cheap.  To me, there is absolutely no comparison.  

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    I would agree that the Megablocks are of a lesser physical quality, but the Kree-o bricks seem to be just as good as the lego ones in my experience. Whereas the Megablocks Halo sets look far more realistic to me than either lego or kree-o. Both the sets and the figures. 

     

    I love the Kree-o Transformers stuff. Fortunately no one else does so I have been able to buy all of them for 50% off or better. I've even bought 2 of some of them so I can have both the robot and vehicle mode at the same time. This is what it is to have your cake and eat it too. I thought I'd be excited about Kree-o's GI Joe and Star Trek lines but those don't do it for me. I think what it is is that I like the robot kree-ons, but not the human ones. Plus the Transformers are bigger sets than the other ones so far.

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    Just add some experience of both lego and "bricks" from Enlighten.  I have a number of sets of my own (separate from investing) and in the case of Lego trains wanted additional trucks to go with my existing lego. You cannot buy separate stock so easily (yes I use brinklink).  The Enlighten brick quality is very close, and in fact the friction is slightly greater, some parts are not as good quality (ie wheels).  Overall this provides a way of adding to existing lego trains easily and they look, run and build just as well as Lego.  I don't buy any other Lego clone as they are too poor quality.

     

    I have also noticed that some of the recent Lego sets (ie 42009) the quality has been a little off with the colour match of some of the parts way off - and the slightly translucent; I provided feedback to Lego.  There is no question the Lego quality is the best, and their customer support second to none - but they must not let this slip as this will hurt them very badly

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    Great article!  I used to be Lego all the way until one of my favorite youtube Lego reviewers (Jangbricks) started reviewing Mega Blok stuff like Halo.  Being a Halo fan anyway, I have started to dable in it.  I actually really like the mini figs and I do like a lot of the vehicles.  The COD stuff they have started doing has really blown me away.  The figs are outstanding!  They are basically like mini G.I.Joes and I love how you can customize the rifles, put equpiment on the guys, and the articulation of the figs.  Plus the actual sets are really nice too.  With that being said, I almost ALWAYS have something wrong with the set.  Either parts are missing, wrong, or they are made wrong.  I think I have had only one set that has not had something wrong with it.  Although I have had missing pieces on Lego sets before, it is no where near as bad as my experience with MB.  Plus, it takes forever and a day to get a replacement.  Personally, I think competetion is good.  It enables sets to get better and it is great for the consumer.  It all comes down to taste and what you are willing to put up with.

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    You guys are toO radical. Looking at one Side of thingsratuer than the other. All talking about the bricks and their quality when your missing out the point. Thing is, megabloks are not known for their bricks, their known for their FIGURES. Their figures are usually more articulated and more highly detailed than LEGO, although the quality may not nearly be compared to Lego. Lego is known for their bricks. Their figures are just classic and can attract people because of their originality and quality. Megabloks infrastructure are cheaper but their figures are more expensive. Lego figures are cheaper but their sets are more expensive. In terms of quality, LEGO beats kreo and megabloks by a mile. Their bricks just never BREAKS. Peace out.

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    Our organization teaches kids engineering using LEGO. We have been struggling recently to decide whether to continue to teach with LEGO or switch to Mega Bloks. What do you think? Here is what we decided: http://bit.ly/LEGOorMegaBloksWhichOneIsBetter

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    This is a great list! I think the best part about KRE-O is that they have Hasbro licenses like Transformers. Other than that, I usually stick to LEGO for brick-building toys since they have awesome QA (and some of their own great licenses like Harry Potter and, more recently, Star Wars. I came across this list of other great LEGO alternatives for kids that like open-ended building but want more options than just LEGO style bricks.  

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    This is a great writeup! I've always thought Kre-O and MegaBloks were pretty decent LEGO Alternatives. Cool to learn more about the different clones that are out there. These days, there are so many other building toys besides your classic brick style, too. 

     

    I had no idea MegaBloks were once called Ritvik Toys... good thing they changed their name. 

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