Although our main focus here is LEGO brand products, from time to time I like to show you other brands that are compatible with LEGO that may enhance the LEGO hobby. We regularly review LEGO customizers (these are usually small companies run by LEGO fans who make LEGO compatible accessories) and also look at larger brands that offer interesting products that LEGO fans may take advantage of.
Today I would like to show you a new product-line by KRE-O called CityVille Invasion that I recently had a chance to try out myself. Please note that I review non-LEGO brands solely from the perspective of a LEGO fan, and not on their own merit. This perspective of course come plusses and minuses, but since most of us here are LEGO fans, I believe this is what will be the most beneficial to our readership. What I’m looking for is if a brand can offer anything interesting or unique to a LEGO fan in the form of minifigure accessories (tools, weapons, headgear, etc.), interesting building elements, colors, building-techniques, etc.
KRE-O is a line of construction-toys manufactured by South Korea-based Oxford and marketed by Hasbro. I’m very fond of the Oxford brand as their products are fully compatible with LEGO and are very high quality. Also, they are not just LEGO copycats, but have their own very unique lines. Their fantasy themed sets (similar to LEGO Castle but with heroes and villains from Asian culture) and historic sets are particularly nice. You can see my review on Oxford here: OXFORD – Overview
The first KRE-O products were released back in 2011 with the highly popular and very interesting Transformers sets, followed by Battleship, G.I Joe and Star Trek based sets. This year they have launched KRE-O CityVille Invasion (the line we will focus on here), and next year their sixth product-line will be released based on Dungeons & Dragons.
KRE-O minifigures are called Kreons. They are different from the traditional Oxford minifigures (which are very similar to LEGO minifigs). Kreons have more joint movement and more possibilities for transformation, however their head (a bit weird with those hardened jaw-lines), headgear and accessories remain fully compatible with LEGO.
Now let’s talk about KRE-O CityVille Invasion. This line is based on the popular CityVille online game series, and introduces what they call “Sonic Motion Technology”, which triggers specific movements in special KREO elements referred to as “Motion Bricks”. Here we are basically talking about a box with batteries that gets attached to a set built on a baseplate, and when the battery-box gets turned on make the entire set vibrate. The vibration is very slight, so you won’t notice it, but the Motion Bricks all have tiny rubbery “hair” at the bottom that picks up the vibration and makes them move. Which of course means that whatever you put on top of the Motion Bricks (minifigs, weapons, small vehicles, etc.) will move too. The battery-box has a controller that allows faster or slower vibration (resulting on faster or slower movement), and also comes with sound-effects.
I’m not particularly interested in the whole Sonic Motion Technology feature, but I think it could be fun for kids. One thing to note is that the Sonic Motion battery-box as well as the Motion Bricks are fully compatible with LEGO. In otherworlds you can incorporate the same movement to a LEGO set that is built on a baseplate (it has to be a large LEGO plate, not the thin waffle-plate). You attach tiny rubber “feet” (they look like 1×1 round LEGO plates with a rubbery bottom) at the bottom of the baseplate to allow vibration (included with KRE-O CityVille Invasion sets), add the battery-box in your creation (fully compatible with LEGO with studs on top and tubes at the bottom), and use the Motion Bricks to make things move around. I can see some interesting LEGO creations happening with these!
The KRE-O CityVille Invasion sets introduce a line of micro Kreons that are unique to this theme. These midgety Kreons have the same heads and hands as regular Kreons, but tiny bodies. Which, from a LEGO fan’s perspective means that the heads, headgear and accessories of the micro Kreons are fully compatible with LEGO. This is important and provides many interesting opportunities. The CityVille Invasion is based on an attack by the evil Dr. Mayhem and his supernatural squad to aid him in world domination (including aliens, skeletons and zombies), so many of the micro Kreons have distorted faces with zombified expressions. If you are into zombies and such, you will find a great variety amongst the micro Kreons! KRE-O sets also have a really nice variety of weapons and tools and they are generously added to CityVille Invasion sets.
Also, the CityVille Invasion micro Kreons work really well as children in LEGO sets (or midgets). You can replace the Kreon heads with regular heads to make them even more compatible. They are very cute. KRE-O also came out with a line of micro Kreon blind bags, called KRE-O CityVille Invasion Population. These are similar to the LEGO Collectible Minifigure bags, and come with two micro Kreons with accessories. So if you don’t want to pick up a whole KRE-O CityVille Invasion set, but you are interested in the micro Kreons, look out for these little baggies at your local toy-store.
There are several larger and many smaller sets in the KRE-O CityVille Invasion line. I had a chance to build the #A3250 Police Station Zombie Defense, and the #A3251 Skyscraper Mayhem – these are both larger sets ad give you a good idea about the quality of KRE-O sets. Below are some thoughts from a LEGO fan’s perspective.
The quality of KRE-O elements is pretty much the same as LEGO’s. The clutch power is good; not too tight, not too loose – although I have found that some of the 1×1 plates and round plates are sometimes a bit loose, but other than that I have no complaints. These are high quality elements you would have trouble distinguishing from LEGO.
In general the colors are nice. Similar to the LEGO color palette, and in fact most colors are the same as LEGO’s. The grays are closer to LEGO’s old gray and the brown to LEGO’s old brown. The only colors I didn’t like are the translucent ones. They look dull and don’t have the shine and brilliance of LEGO’s translucent elements. They also have at least one unique color; bronze, which is quite nice.
The stickers are bad. Like somebody printed them on their home printer when the ink was running low. At least in the sets I got only the minifigs are printed, all other elements are stickered. The printing on the minifigs however is very nice.
Although most building elements are the same as what you would find in LEGO sets, KRE-O also has a whole range of unique parts. Again; these are fully compatible with LEGO and can provide some interesting possibilities. I particularly like their selection of bars, clips and small bits. And as I have mentioned; the weapons and accessories are really nice. Take a look at the picture below to see what I mean:
As far as the quality and building experience of the sets, don’t expect much. I had a feeling that they were designed by people who were rejected by LEGO as designers. There was nothing interesting in the building experience and some of the details are aesthetically plain ugly. The color-selection (especially in the Skyscraper Mayhem) is awful – with colors clashing all over the place. The final sets do have play-value for children, and the part selection is nice with lots of useful elements, but the sets themselves won’t satisfy the needs of older kids and adults who are looking for quality design and interesting building techniques.
In summary I would say that from a LEGO fan’s perspective it is worth checking out the KRE-O CityVille Invasion sets for the micro-figures, for the minifig tools and weapons, and other unique elements LEGO doesn’t make. You will not be disappointed with the quality. As a LEGO fan I would not spend money on the larger sets, but would focus on the smaller sets and Kreon baggies to get the most unique parts. It may also be worth to try out the Sonic Motion Technology and incorporate it into LEGO creations, if this is something that interest you. If you would like to learn more about KRE-O brand products, here are some useful links:
- KRE-O main website: here you can see all KRE-O products, including Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Star Trek – link
- KRE-O CityVille Invasion product line: see all the CityVille Invasion sets, Kreons, etc. – link
- KRE-O Videos: commercials, product details, tutorials, mini-movies, etc. I particularly recommend looking at the tutorials for the Sonic Motion Technology – link
- KRE-O CityVille Invasion Population blind bags: this is a YouTube video showing off all the micro Kreon figures as well as the codes to get specific ones – link
I hope this review helped you to get a feel for KRE-O products. I recommend that next time you go to Toys’R'Us or another toy-shop you check them out personally. KRE-O CityVille Invasion set are also available on Amazon (just follow the link). And if you have any questions feel free to ask. I have been playing with my own KRE-O sets in the past few weeks, so have some personal experience. Also, if you already got some KRE-O sets I would love to hear your opinion; what you like, what you don’t like. So feel free to share in the comment section below!