There are plenty of lego knockoffs in the world. Here’s a little backstory explaining why: In the late 50’s, The Lego Group filed an original patent for their now iconic construction bricks. In the 70’s, the patent expired, allowing a surge of clone manufacturers to enter the scene. The Lego Group has since grown frustrated, and in the early 2000’s, filed a number of copyright lawsuits against a number of brands knocking off their building bricks. The lawsuits failed to grant Lego a trademark on its product because its eight-peg interlocking design “merely performs a technical function” and therefore is ineligible for trademark.
The irony in all this is that Lego is itself a knockoff brand. Years before Lego took the world by storm as this seemingly revolutionary invention, the Kiddicraft Self-Locking Bricks had been in existence. Lego, as its archrival company Tyco points out, is essentially an enhancement of Kiddicraft’s design.
Tyco famously argued that Lego’s toys were expensive. This Tyco did via a print ad, asking the readers if they could tell the difference between a Tyco and a Lego brick. If they couldn’t, the ad reads: “Why pay more?”
The same is still true today. Lego is at the center of a seemingly endless stream of knockoff brands that promise compatibility with Lego’s bricks but sell at a much lower price. On this post, we’re listing 10 of the best Lego knock-offs that prove to be incredible alternatives to Lego.
One of the first to jump the gun against Lego is the Canadian company, Mega Bloks. Its main pull, as is with most Lego knockoffs, is its compatibility with Lego bricks. The promise is that it fits well with Legos, but take that with a grain of salt, as users point that this isn’t always the case. It’s also worth noting that Mega Blocks has carved for itself a niche in the toddler market.
If you simply want more blocks and bricks, you’ll be glad to know that Sluban is sold at a low price. It’s important to note, however, that quality is a bit inconsistent, as is expected of a Lego knock-off that sells at a quarter price.
Wange challenges Sluban’s already affordable pricing. A two-piece kit is usually priced at 50 pesos, which is crazy considering its quality, which is for the most part at par with Sluban.
Star Diamond sell at dirt-cheap prices. There’s a whole battalion of them in Divisoria, where it’s being sold for 15 pesos apiece if you get a dozen of them.
Hailing from Japan, Nanoblock is indeed the most interesting in this bunch. Instead of bandwagoning on Legos, it chooses to directly compete with it. And this is for good reason, too. Nanoblock’s bricks are drastically smaller, making for more intricate and dynamic designs. It’s also worth noting that Nanoblock is significantly less expensive than Legos.
Kre-O’s construction toys pull the mech-droid card, pushing forth models from the Transformers universe and Battleship. It’s manufactured in South Korea under the Oxford brand. It also has ties with Hasbro, hence its use of the characters from said properties.
While not a “brick” toy per se, Playmobil’s iconic mini-figurines are generally of decent quality. It is, of course, marketed similarly to Legos. You’re encouraged to build designs, scenes, and models. Something of a setback, however, is that because it isn’t strictly a “brick” construction toy, you’re limited to the figure’s character designs.
Enlighten’s clone production date back to the 60’s. Its themes consist of military men, knighthood, and westerners. It’s relatively less expensive than Legos and is based out of Hong Kong, rivaling aforementioned companies such as Sluban.
Indonesian Lego clone Emco stands out with its surprisingly high-quality bricks sold at an affordable price. A vehicle kit goes out for around 200 pesos.
Kazi Bricks’ models are focused heavily on rescue vehicles, weaponry, and military fleets. For its price (which is far from conservative), you’re getting what you’re paying for: a construction toy that’s robust in quality and gorgeous in design.