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OXFORD – Overview

by admin on July 26, 2011

in Oxford / Kre-O

WEBSITE: OXFORD
LOCATION: South Korea
AVAILABLE VIA: see below
PRICE: reasonable (see below)

OXFORD Toys is a South-Korean company that sells building-toys similar to and fully compatible with LEGO. LEGO-fans refer to such companies as “clone-brands” and often avoid them in their own creations. However I believe that some of these brands are worth mentioning due to their high quality, compatibility with LEGO and interesting elements.

I’m not planning to review every LEGO clone-brand in detail, nor will I review crappy clones with no appeal to LEGO-fans. However I will highlight unique sets and elements from clone-brands that I believe LEGO-fans might find interesting and useful. And if you have further interest in clone-brands I will list some resources that would give you more information on each reviewed brand. Now back to OXFORD Toys… ;)

OXFORD Castle Minifigs

QUALITY: From all clone-brands OXFORD has the reputation of being the highest quality. In fact, the brand is often referred to as “Korean LEGO”. If you mix OXFORD with your LEGO-bricks you will have an extremely hard time distinguishing them!

The quality of the plastic, the vibrancy of the colors, the weight and feel of the bricks, the precision and clutch-power of the pieces is exactly the same as that of LEGO-bricks. Pretty much the only way you can distinguish them is that OXFORD-bricks have no logo on the studs. However parts with no studs – good luck!  :|

COLORS: The colors of OXFORD elements are either the same or extremely close to LEGO colors. Please note that the OXFORD brown is the same as LEGO’s old-brown, and the OXFORD gray is the same as LEGO’s old-gray. OXFORD Toys also has some really sweet unique colors especially in the tan/earthen color-range.

ELEMENTS: OXFORD parts are fully compatible with LEGO elements. OXFORD has the same brick-size and plate-size as LEGO bricks and plates. Arches, windows and roof-pieces are also the same and/or are fully compatible with LEGO. OXFORD also has some special elements not made by LEGO – this being the main draw for LEGO-fans.

Most OXFORD-sets have the same building style as LEGO-sets; vehicles, buildings, etc. are constructed from smaller bricks and elements.

However there are some OXFORD-sets that have Mega Bloks-like large pieces that simply snap together to serve one purpose only. I assume these sets are geared towards younger children and are less of an interest to adult LEGO-fans due to the “juniorized” parts. You can especially see sets like this in their fantasy and castle line.

THEMES: OXFORD Toys carries the same or very similar themes as LEGO; city, police, fire-station, construction, airplanes, ships, trains…they have them all!

In addition they don’t shy away from modern military sets – filling a gap for LEGO-fans. In fact the OXFORD military-helmets and firearms have been a perennial favorite of LEGO-fans!

OXFORD also has some very unique fantasy-themed sets, as well as themes from Korean history.

MINIFIGURES: The OXFORD minifigures are quite similar to LEGO figs, although there are some distinct differences as well. Overall the OXFORD figs are very nice; reminiscent of the older-style LEGO minifigs with their somewhat simpler print. They are also the same height as LEGO-minifigs.

OXFORD minifig-heads are fully compatible and interchangeable with LEGO heads. In addition LEGO-headgear fits perfectly fine on OXFORD heads. However please note that OXFORD headgear (at least the ones I have) have a stem that fits inside the hole on the minifigs head. The stem is a tad too long to fit the hole on LEGO minifig heads. This can be remedied easily with a little modification, but I just wanted to warn you so there are no disappointments.

OXFORD minifig torsos fit well on LEGO minifig leg-assemblies, however OXFORD minifigs legs don’t look good on LEGO minifigs, due to the somewhat different design; with OXFORD leg-assemblies the hip area actually slips inside the torso, whereas on LEGO minifigs the torso sits on top of the hips.

OXFORD Toys minifig hands and arms are fully interchangeable with LEGO hands and arms, although OXFORD arms are slightly longer.

In fact, if you like OXFORD minifigs, you may want to change their arms to LEGO minifig-arms, as the OXFORD arms get loose fairly quickly (pretty much their only fault). As you can see on the picture I have changed the OXFORD minifig’s arms to gray LEGO arms. This combination creates a very nice and tight fit.

Another unique feature of some OXFORD minifigs is a special wrap-around paper clothing. I have only seen these in the castle-line of products. The paper is sturdy, with brilliant colors and a nice shine. It would hold up to at least as much use as any LEGO stickered piece, if not longer.

MINIFIGURE ACCESSORIES: To LEGO-fans this is one of the biggest draw of OXFORD; they have some really unique weapons, armor-pieces, and other accessories that a LEGO minifig-customizer may be interested in.

OXFORD Weapons

AVALABILITY: If you have friends who travel to South Korea, you should have no problem getting some OXFORD sets. In addition, OXFORD is frequently available on eBay. OXFORD sets have better price than comparable LEGO sets, if you can get them directly from South Korea. If you get them on eBay, the prices are going to be compatible with LEGO – not cheap – but if you are looking for something unique, they are worth the price.

RESOURCES: I highly recommend browsing OXFORD’s website! You might just find something that you like from their amazing selection! Also check out these excellent reviews on various OXFORD Toys sets (lots of pictures!):

OXFORD Police Chase

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

YTjedi July 26, 2011 at 2:42 PM

Great post. I hadn’t realized that OXFORD matched against LEGO so well. Especially nice seeing as how the recent Mario Kart K’NEX aren’t nearly as compatible with LEGO as I was hoping they’d be. I like the figs, but they draw normal LEGO minifigs and they’re hands are too big to hold LEGO items.

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admin July 26, 2011 at 3:33 PM

YTjedi, yes, sometimes it takes some trial and error to find LEGO-compatible brands! I’m sorry to hear that the Mario-figs dind’t work out the way you wanted! :(

I highly recommend OXFORD for its full compatibility with LEGO, for the quality, and for the unique elements it offers. I really like those curved up corner roof-pieces for Asian-style buildings, and the minifig accessories are super sweet! Oh, and I forgot to mention; some of the accessories come in chrome-gold! :D

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Sarah July 27, 2011 at 12:26 AM

You are really tempting a purist to break out! lol!

I love the castle/historical elements, especially the weapons and shields. They look awesome. I wouldn’t mind some of those historical sets, too. Something I wish LEGO would do. I’d love historically accurate buildings and locations.

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admin July 27, 2011 at 9:43 AM

He-he, Sarah, I knew I would get you with those castle sets! Those are my favorites from OXFORD! It is really worth getting just a small set, and see how it looks. ;)

BTW, I forgot to mention; with OXFORD sets all minifig weapons and tools come on full sprues, so you always get a whole bunch of extras! :P

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Sarah July 30, 2011 at 1:14 PM

oooh, that’s nice! I love extras. :-D

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Maxx July 27, 2011 at 6:41 AM

Nice read and @ Sarah, don’t be a purist, clone lovers have more fun:)

But really, there is nothing I find more fun than building with bricks, not only LEGO, but other brands too.
I have a large collection of “clone” bricks, some utterly bad, some very good.

Remember, old LEGO parts also suck due to warping……

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admin July 27, 2011 at 9:54 AM

Maxx, let me know if there are other clone-brands worth revewing in your opinion. Right now I’m looking for brands that have quality as good as LEGO and offer some interesting variety for LEGO-fans (not just a copy-cat), but later I may also add reviews about brands to stay away from. I’m not sure yet. Also if you would like to write a review yourself about the brands you have let me know. ;)

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Maxx August 18, 2011 at 3:55 AM

Anna and Sarah, clone brands are usually cheaper than LEGO, so going over budget is harder to do(c:

I will check my clone collection on compatibility and quality.
But non come up right now.
There are newer brands like Sluban and Banbao, that do have good quality and very great prices (1/3 the price of LEGO).

I would love to write more, but I have limited time between work, my kids and my free time, I need to put time in my 2×4 collection and catalog everything.
I get asked a lot about it, but I haven’t catalogged/photographed everything yet (can anyone say perfectionist…).

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admin August 18, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Maxx, it is your perfectionist-self that makes you such an expert! So keep it up! ;)

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Francesco April 16, 2012 at 3:18 PM

Hi,
Could you help? I am looking to contact Oxford Toy by email in order to purchase inventory to sell in the UK. Do you have a contact email address to pass please.

I will much appreciate your help

Thank you.

FQ

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admin April 16, 2012 at 11:47 PM

Francesco, they used to have an email address, but since they updated their website I can’t locate it. The only thing I find are phone and fax numbers. I don’t see another way to contact them at this point. :(

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Sarah July 30, 2011 at 1:17 PM

lol, Maxx! I think the main reason I stick to LEGO-only made pieces is because it helps me control my spending. I’m afraid that as soon as I break out, I’ll be more than broke, but in debt lots of money.

But I know that one of these days, I will buy customized pieces. I’ll just get too fed-up with LEGO not making what I want. And I’m sure it will start with centaurs and then move on to other castle-themed arms & armors.

And if I see anyone making really cool Castle-themed female minifigures, I know my resistance will shatter immediately. LEGO just does not make enough females of any line.

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YTjedi July 27, 2011 at 8:54 AM

I do have to say that growing up I did have a good number of clone bricks. Not so much figures or sets, but 2×2 and 2×4 bricks. Megablocks and Tyco would sell buckets of bricks in the 300+ pieces range for really cheap. The best thing about it was the color selection, because they had buckets of neon colors, pastel colors, and kinda earthy colors. It greatly expanded the colors in my creations as a kid and even though LEGO has more colors now than back then, they’re still missing some shades that I had as a kid.

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admin July 27, 2011 at 9:49 AM

Hm….you got my interest there! 2×2 bricks in non-LEGO colors???!!! I collect 2x2s! And Maxx collects 2x4s, so if you have any left and you no longer want them let us know! :mrgreen:

Also, if you ever like to write a review about a clone-brand, colors, or any other LEGO-related topic, just let me know. theBrickBlogger is also here to give LEGO-writers space and a chance to express themselves. ;)

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Maxx August 18, 2011 at 3:46 AM

Hahaha, whatch it there Anna, but I have those allready.
I too love the color range of Megablocks.

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admin August 18, 2011 at 10:28 AM

Oh, dear, sliding down the slippery slope of clones-brands! :twisted:

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Inger July 30, 2011 at 2:20 AM

I…just…can’t …do ..it….
I can’t go there, I can’t buy non-Lego sets.
Introducing non-official Lego would be like putting an impurity into my collection….
It would feel…dirty.
:0(
Am I a snob?

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admin July 30, 2011 at 11:25 AM

Inger, I appreciate your honesty. As far as your question, you are the only one who can answer that. Personally I do not analize so much how and why adults enjoy their hobbies. If they are habby with it, I’m happy. However there is a saying; “How we do anything is how we do everything.” - so I’m sure our hobby-habits could be connected with various personality traits; both empowering and limiting.

If you feel fine and happy with your current way of enjoying the LEGO-hobby, there is nothing to worry about. Some people are collectors of one brand or another, some people are builders, some people are customizers…
There are LEGO-fans who just collect the sets, but never open them or build them. There are also LEGO-fans who do build the sets but only according to instructions – they feel building your own way is impure. There are also LEGO-fans who would never mix sets, and consider mixing sets is contaminating. So there is really a wide scale. ;)

Personally I look at building-toys as a medium of artistic expression; just like clay, paint or any other material. I prefer the LEGO-brand – just like I have a favorite paint-brand – but if something is not available from my favorite company I have no problem buying it from someone else, or even making my own. But there are also people who would only buy a certain brand of cereal or laundry-soap, and they stick with it no matter what.

Is that a character-fault? I believe it depends. If the person feels good about it, if it empowers them and inspires them, I don’t think so. However if the habit feels limiting and stiffling, or if it makes the person judgemental, critical or intolerant of others – it might be a good idea to look at the underlying cause and try to become more open to other possibilities.

If someone does feel limited one thing that might help is adjusting the perception. As the saying goes; “Give the dog a bad name and hang it”. Rather than referring to other building toys as non-LEGO sets, clones, non-official LEGO they are just what they are; other building-toys.
LEGO does not have exclusive rights to building-toy designs, nor was it the first one. In fact, if you want to get very technical about it, LEGO is a clone itself. The first interlocking building-toys were made by a British company named KiddieCraft, not LEGO. LEGO copied KiddieCraft’s self-locking-brick design without their knowledge and permission. Yep, that is LEGO’s own shady past. 8)

Inger, I hope this helps some. Enjoy the LEGO-hobby your way and be happy! And if you have any other thoughts on the matter let me know. :)

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Sarah July 30, 2011 at 1:23 PM

You’re not a snob. You do what you do because that’s how you do it. And as long as you enjoy, no one can tell you that you’re doing it wrong.

I agree with Anna on everything she said (good lengthy post, by the way).

I certainly feel the same way you do. I think if/when I get to buying customized pieces, I’ll still keep them separate and not mix them in with LEGO. I doubt I’ll ever buy any of the commercially available clone brands, but I could be wrong. Maybe one of these days, they’ll produce something that I really really want and I won’t be able to resist. Still, I’m pretty sure I’d keep it separate.

And that’s how I roll. And I may change, I may not. It all comes down to what you want out of your hobby and what you want can change over time. And that’s okay.

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Maxx November 21, 2011 at 11:58 AM

Same here, I also have a good number of non-LEGO brands.
But I keep them seperate, not out of purism, but because I like to keep them complete.

Next to complete (mostly old sets) I also have a very large collection of clone 2×4 bricks.
It is after all one of those bricks found in nearly all brands (together with the 2×2).

Collecting is very personal, no one else can really tell you what to do.
So you can’t go wrong(c:

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admin October 15, 2011 at 10:05 PM

UPDATE: The website address of OXFORD has changed. I updated the post as well. Here is the new address: OXFORD Toy Website

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admin November 8, 2011 at 10:40 PM

UPDATE: Oxford’s website is either down or have changed again. I will wait a couple of days to see if it comes back up. :(

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Marilee Boothe December 21, 2011 at 1:47 PM

Trying to get information on buying Oxford toys wholesale..Cannot get onto website….
Marilee Boothe

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admin December 21, 2011 at 1:48 PM

Let me check on that…

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admin December 21, 2011 at 1:57 PM

Marilee, it looks like their website is down. Here is the actual address: http://www.oxfordtoy.co.kr
I have tried it several times directly and through Google search but the website won’t come up. I was not able to pull up the catched version either. I would suggest to wait a couple of days and see if it shows up. The site could be under maintenance, or changing servers, or something like that. If you can’t find the site after a couple of days let me know. I do have some contacts I could ask to see what’s going on. :|

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legodoughnut June 16, 2012 at 12:10 AM

wow! this look good for quality and pieces

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Gavin December 16, 2012 at 6:55 PM

Thanks for the really useful info, a medium-big toy retailer in the UK has picked these up and I was worried about compatibility issues with the other Lego sets I was planning to buy – that’s not the case now.

Unfortunately the retailer hasn’t picked up the fantasy sets but the Military and usual Emergency services kits are available…

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admin December 16, 2012 at 8:35 PM

Gavin, maybe you could convince your trailer to add the fantasy sets. They are really gorgeous! :D

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susan reed January 7, 2013 at 5:16 AM

i got my son for christmas the oxford police set number NPA35000 and there is a piece missing how do i get a replacement piece

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admin January 7, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Susan, I would suggest that you contact the retail location you bought it from and ask them what to do. They could probably exchange the set for you, or give you a phone number for Oxford’s Customer Service. :)

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xian January 9, 2013 at 5:25 PM
admin January 9, 2013 at 7:41 PM

Very useful information. Thanks for sharing! :)

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chromedigi October 25, 2013 at 1:28 AM

I’ve only recently – in the past month – started to explore the world of post-LEGO clones (LEGO itself being, of course, the first clone… of Kiddiecraft… itself similar in concept, though not design, to the earlier Minibrix). I have to agree that, in my experience to date, Oxford is pretty nice. I have also had quite good experiences so far with Cobi (and Character Building, who are made by them), been astounded by the quality of the parts from a new line by the upstart Spin Master: Tenkai Knights, and grown to respect the different aesthetic choices made by Mega Bloks. None of the brands (including LEGO) is perfect. Each has its respective strengths and weaknesses, and if looked at fairly, is a world unto itself.

Cobi, for instance, is superior to LEGO in its approach to slope geometry, its spectrum of tile sizes and shapes, and its generally generous supply of polarity-reversing plates in a variety of sizes. They also cover themes, such as Romans & Barbarians, Tannenberg 1410, and Small Army (modern military), that LEGO don’t touch. Clutch is about the same as LEGO, too. And they are another source for interesting detail parts: plants, flame, weapons and other fig accoutrements, and whatnot. Stud design is visually identical to LEGO’s: “COBI” appears on top. On the other hand, their stickers seem crummy; I never apply stickers, but these look like they would be disappointing if I did. Instructions are mostly pretty clear, but it can be hard to distinguish colors, and sometimes a given sequence of moves could well have been presented more rationally. And strangely, parts in the Character Building sets seem to have had better QA than those in the Cobi-branded ones I’ve acquired, though that may be because the latter are older, and their processes probably have improved: the “problem” pieces in the earlier sets seem to have gotten scuffed a bit in handling. (I found a source with an inventory that hasn’t been moving, and I’ve been chipping away at it, whereas the Character Building sets I have are brand new, from Toys R Us.)

Oxford also handles slope geometry better than LEGO. Their strengths overall are not terribly unlike Cobi’s. Interestingly, I got the impression that the Imex/Oxford parts are better than the Kre-O/Oxford, though, to be fair, I need to build more of both to be sure of this. As for weaknesses, I’ve found pages of instructions with missing piece counts, steps with incorrect piece counts, and so on. I suspect that it is more challenging to internationalize a Korean source into a Western language, so these documents suffer sometimes. Pieces are mostly very good, though one set had a slightly warped hinge, and it’s not uncommon to have sprue residue, especially on their hubcaps, or to have to remove hard ABS parts (like a vehicle door) from a sprue, which is just lazy on their part. This type of construction toy really shouldn’t require the use of an X-Acto blade. I also don’t especially like the look of the sometimes-flat, sometimes-hollow stud tops, but these things are a small price to pay for entrée to the Oxford world, which is, like Cobi, rich and interesting overall.

What I like about Mega Bloks, aside from Halo purple, is that they totally go their own way. They produce visual texture by doing a couple of things that the others I’ve explored to date do not: brick colors are not always solid, but are sometimes mixed, which can be a nice effect, for ice, for instance. They also paint things, which is a different approach from printing, yielding a very different aesthetic: like it or not, it’s their own look. Their figs are fully articulated, which is a strength; but they are made out of a soft, rubbery material, which makes it harder to keep them positioned on a baseplate – a weakness. Also, many of their part shapes are unique. As for themes, Mega Bloks, unlike LEGO, is not afraid of the dark, and has therefore licenced properties like Halo, Call of Duty and so on. This makes them something like the Stones to LEGO’s Beatles. I just wish they would improve their engineering. Clutch is variable from too-tight to too-loose. I have had parts that required so much force to insert that a tool was required, because mere fingers aren’t hard enough to do the job. Also, a female part with sprue residue inside that prevented the male part from fitting correctly until it had been removed, which was a tricky, difficult, and frustrating process. You would think, being as significant brand as they are, that they could do these things better, if they would only try a little harder.

On the other hand, the engineering of the Spin Master Tenkai Knights set I built was impeccable. Their parts were the best-molded I’ve seen… including LEGO. And their white was bright and consistent, making LEGO’s sometimes-yellowy, sometimes-reddish, but never really white look like someone plainly in need of a better dentist. They also have an interesting and original transforming fig/brick concept which I haven’t quite wrapped my head around yet (no doubt because I haven’t seen the cartoon), though I feel like once I do “get it,” a whole new world in fig building will open up. One thing that can feel like a downside to this new line is that the clutch is tighter than LEGO enthusiasts are used to, so you have to push harder to fit parts together, which eventually gets to your fingertips.

At the moment, I’m finding the world of “clones” more fascinating than LEGO, in part because it’s not the same-old-same-old, but also because, approached with an open mind, at least the leading ones are genuinely interesting, and not mere “knockoffs.” I am looking forward to exploring the Chinese brands, though it will admittedly be difficult for a westerner to sort them out. I plan to start with Star Diamond, Wange, and Enlighten, and see how it goes. I’m sure it will be an interesting ride.

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admin October 25, 2013 at 11:38 AM

Yes, looking into LEGO compatible brands can be a very interesting journey. I don’t know if you have seen this yet, but there is a great, fun and very useful article comparing all the Chinese LEGO knockoffs titled “Communist LEGO”. You can find the article here (it is a PDF): http://www.1000steine.com/brickset/miscellaneous/clonebrands.pdf

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chromedigi October 25, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Yes, I’ve read that piece. It was posted to Brickset a little after I had begun my quest into the forbidden zone. I found it somewhat informative, certainly amusing, but biased. I hope at some point to write my own version, from a more objective viewpoint. I have also found the plethora of reviews on Youtube to be a somewhat helpful resource. But nothing beats actually handling the pieces, and building a model. I’m already collecting parts from some of these lines, and wish there were something like Bricklink that was more catholic in its approach to brands, since at this moment there’s no workable alternative to buying sets in multiple. Yes, LEGO is the market leader, but I don’t think the insularity that has resulted in its fan community is helpful. Get off the block and see the world, folks!

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admin October 25, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Yes, the absense of being able to find elements from non-LEGO brands is very much absent. Besides eBay, there is really no alternative. Kind of sad as although I don’t collect other brands, I’m very much interested in their minifig accessories and use them frequently.

If you ever want to write an article on other brands, you are welcome to publish them here. I’m open to all other brands as long as the quality is excellent. As you said, there is no comparison to actually feeling and touching these pieces, but a good review can help. ;)

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chromedigi October 25, 2013 at 12:31 PM

I began my quest not long after the fracas over LEGO cancelling discounts on their exclusive line, which irritated me to the point that I felt I should make good on my questioning of AFOL brand loyalty in the face of the increasingly improving reputation of the other brands, and see for myself. TLG themselves made me into a customer of these other companies, for which I am now actually grateful, as I am very much enjoying what I have found lying outside the LEGO ghetto.

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Håkan February 17, 2014 at 9:26 AM

I got a bunch of cheap Cobi on a flea market, and I agree that they’re of high quality. One interesting part they have is the log piece, as well as enormous black plates (20×20 or something similar). The log piece could probably be used for making a log cabin or similar with the help of brackets. One disadvantage is that Cobi, unlike Lego and Mega Bloks, won’t put out instructions online. There was a Cobi military tank included in my bulk, and I’ve been wary of deconstructing it. My friend suggested I should try “reverse-engineering”, by deconstructing it while photographing every set in the process. I might try it, despite it being time-consuming.

I’d agree about the usefulness of a Bricklink for clone brands, as a way of bulking up on Mega Bloks Halo Purple, interesting bracket parts and other things.

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admin February 17, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Hakan, yeah, these other brands don’t have the kind of support for fans LEGO does. And that is largely because LEGO is responding to the passion of LEGO fans. I guess these other brands just don’t have the kind of fanbase as LEGO who demand the best of the best, gives ideas, arranges huge conventions to showcase the brand, demand first-class support, etc. This kind of fan passion cannot be underestimated. Even if some of the other toy-brands are close in quality without that fan passion behind it they will simply remain a toy.

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Namuunbolor January 20, 2014 at 11:58 AM

I am mongolia man oxford nice nice

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Kristoff February 26, 2014 at 4:11 PM

I tried to contact Oxford Tony’s by mail, but that part is not translated. Can somebody give me an email adress from Oxford Toy. Oxford is not sold in Belgium.

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admin February 26, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Kristoff, I don’t have a direct contact email for Oxford, but I had good luck finding Oxford resellers on eBay. Also, they do have a website that should have some kind of contact info.

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