When I first got into Lego's, my wife was a little resistant. She thought they were cool, but just didn't really see anything about them that made her want them. Then she say a couple of themes she liked, for instance Harry Potter, and all of a sudden my obsession was understandable.
Two of her favorite movie themes of all time are Star Trek and the Transformers series and so she immediately asked me if Lego had any of these themes. She was very disappointing to find out that Lego did not have anything from those themes.
However, a while later, we were in Walmart and she walked by an isle near the Legos that had an off-brand called "Kre-o's", and behold, there was Transformers and Star Trek. I told her they were NOTHING compared to Lego. My wife wanted to try them out anyway. So we found several sets in the coming weeks that she liked for really cheap (I didn't want to take a chance since I knew they weren't the real thing) and she built them all. I helped her to a certain extent and then took some pictures of the different sets. I thought I would do short reviews of them and then talk about Kre-o as a brand and how it compares to Lego and why Lego is so much better.
Be advised, this is just for purchase. I would not for any reason invest in these. A lot of them didn't sell particularly well, which is a bit surprising, but they were all incredibly discounted and still are. I don't think there is any reason to think they will be a good investment - so this is particularly for the builders, the bulk lovers, and the players out there. Plus, if you like Transformers or the Star Trek series, this is a way to get your kicks! Obviously, if Lego ever comes out with either of these themes, don't waste your time on these.
The reviews are just of the sets we own since I have first hand knowledge of them:
Tranformers Series - BumbleBee
This set retails for $24.99 and comes with 335 pieces. On the outside, that is a really good PPP value at $.07. This set was recently discounted by most retailers like Target and Walmart and can be found for $15 or less. At that price (which is where we got it), it is a pretty cool set. See the pictures below:
These are a lot like the creator sets in that they have two different ways to be set up: in the vehicle and the actual transformer character. My wife likes leaving them in the transformer so we have not built the actually vehicles though they look pretty cool. I can't help but think that Lego would have been able to make them actually transform though.
This set comes with 3 small Kreons, which are the supposed to be the equivalent of Lego minifigures, but are not near as cool. The set itself is pretty detailed. Most of the pieces were pretty easy to put together and look pretty good. The yellow color is not too bad, but it is not quite as bright and vibrant as Lego yellows.
I do really like the back of the bumblebee with the actual wheels still on. Makes it at least look like it transformed. Overall, for 335 pieces (which is less for this since we didn't use them all), you get quite a bit. A lot of the pieces are larger pieces wheres I think Lego sometimes splits pieces up smaller. Because of this, it really feels like a 500 piece Lego set.
Anyway, it is a pretty good rendition of Bumblebee and I think is worth it if you can get it at a discount. Luckily you can find these off Ebay for as low as $15, so I would suggest picking it up if you like transformers.
This set is $29.99 retail and has 316 pieces. The PPP ratio is $.09 which is still pretty good. I was able to pick this set up for my wife for $15, and at that price it is tremendous:
This one is really my favorite of all the transformers sets. The large missiles on top and all the missiles on his hands are really cool. This one has quite a bit of play-ability because of that. Unfortunately, they don't really shoot like flick missiles (Lego still wins by a lot).
The grey and red is a little duller than Lego's greys and reds. This is a recurring theme with the brand as I will talk about below. All in all, the set was very easy to build and came with a lot of cool pieces, including all the missiles.
Again, for the piece count, there is quite a lot here. The wings, missiles and feet are all single pieces, so they are rather large and make up the bulk of the weight of the set.
This set can be picked up on Ebay for less than $20 and is a steal at that price (again, don't invest in it though )
This set is 310 pieces and is $29.99 retail for another $.09 PPP ratio. It is definitely worth it. This set has some of the best detail of all the sets, and has 4 Kreon figures. Most of them are no-name figures, but this is true for every set. Here it is below:
We got our set for $15 at a discount/damages store, but unfortunately it only had 3 of the Kreons. We don't really care for the Kreons anyway, so it was still a good deal. This set is probably the closest to an actual Lego set. It has quite a bit of intricate little details like Megatron's fingers and the grill from the trunk that is on his chest. I really like the tanker barrels at the top as well. It also has the steering wheel from the truck right behind his head. Man, if this transformed, it would be really sweet (Do it Lego!). You can find it on Ebay for under $20 which is not bad.
This set is one of the bigger ones in Kreo's collection, which makes sense because it is a truck rig. It retails for $59.99 and has 542 pieces for a PPP ratio of $.11 which is not near as good as the others. I think it is a little over-priced, but we got it at $30 from Walmart on clearance and for that price, I think it's not too bad.
This set does come with some extras. Optimus Prime actually comes with a little stand and an attached command center. It also has 3 Kreons and two small motor bikes for them to ride that are shown in the bottom of the picture. This is the most flashy of all the sets with the different colors. It is also slightly larger obviously.
Again, I really like the detail, especially on the back of the piece with all the wheels and the exhaust pipes from the Truck. I have seen this one on Clearance a lot and on Ebay for $30. At that price, it is really a steal. It's funny though, even the most detailed sets don't come close to Lego sets.
Star Trek - The Enterpris
This is the only one of the Star trek series we have so far, but it is really impressive. It is HUGE for only 432 pieces and it comes with 5 Kreons, these being the actual Enterprise workers. They look a lot better than the Kreons in the Transformer series. It has 432 pieces and retails for $49.99 for a PPP ratio of $.11. Unfortunately, we did not check before and saw it in TRU for $60. I had a 20% off coupon, so we paid $48, but that really wasn't that great a deal. However, because of the sheer size of the set, it is worth it:
If you look at the top of the round part of the ship, you can tell most of those are large single pieces, which is why the piece count is so low. This set is bigger than the Jabba's Palace I have which is over 800 pieces. Really the detail on the ship is pretty good, although I don't feel like it comes close to the type of time and detail Lego would put into it. For $48, this was a great set. Having the big pieces does have a downside - bigger sets aren't as fun to build without smaller pieces. Almost more like a model.
The inside of it is pretty nice too with the command center and places for all the Kre-o's. As you can see on the right, it even has a little fold up screen for driving the ship. My wife likes this one the best out of all of them.
Since Lego doesn't have these two themes and we have to live with Kre-o for now, what are the big differences and what makes Lego so much better?
Differences and Pros/Cons
- First off, you would only want to buy Kre-o if Lego doesn't have the theme. They don't come close to Lego sets. After building some of them, they are cool but not anything like Lego. Smaller Lego sets we have look way better and more impressive then the biggest Kre-o sets.
- Kre-o colors aren't near as vibrant. However, they do have some shades of colors that Lego doesn't have like some shades of green and the larger white pieces in the Enterprise set. All in all though, don't display them next to Lego sets because Lego destroys them color-wise.
- Kre-o doesn't have numbered bags. This seems simple, but it is a huge downside. You don't know how much easier it is to find Lego pieces. Lego gets a huge win in ease of build.
- The Kre-o pieces are considerably lighter. All of these sets were way lighter than the smaller 250 piece Star Wars Lego sets I have. May lend to the fact that the pieces are cheaper and may not hold up over time the same way if played with. If you feel the pieces, you can tell the difference between Kre-o and Lego in a second.
- The Kre-o's don't stay together as well and some parts don't fit. They may be able to warp, although the ones we have gotten together have been fine.
- Kre-o does detail really well. It is not to the level Lego does, but it is better than pretty much every other Lego impersonator.
- Kreons are not near as good as minifigures. For one, they are usually all one piece. They are way lighter and don't move as freely as well. I think this is the biggest difference between the two. The legs on Kreons move alright, but they don't stand up as well on display.
- If you love bulk, buy a bunch of these on clearance. They come with tons of extra pieces - I think our Bumblebee has close to 400 pieces in it. You can get tons of Lego compatible and different pieces by picking up one of these sets and dumping it in your bin for way less than any Lego set that is comparable.
- Since we don't play with our sets, I don't really know about how they would hold up being played with. Lego's almost can't be destroyed, but I have a feeling these are better just left alone after building.
Anyone else have any of these? Do you like any other sets? I thought these two themes were the only ones we would consider buying from Kre-o since Lego doesn't have them. If Lego ever makes them, I would imagine these would not be anywhere near relevant anymore.