(Written by Chi-bacca)
Today I would like to address a subject that often comes up in comments but we haven’t fully explored in an article as of yet. So here it goes; LEGO vs. Mega Bloks. Mega Bloks is a Canadian company, that is basically looked at as a LEGO rip-off and copycat by LEGO fans, with lower quality products and cheaper prices. They use the same studs-and-tubes design as LEGO, package their sets similarly, and their sole purpose seems to be to trick parents and kids into buying a Mega Blocks set instead of a LEGO one.
However Mega Blocks also has a niche for themselves by owning some unique licenses – something that LEGO fans may find interesting and venture to explore. Mega Bloks have the rights for making Thomas the Tank Engine, Hello Kitty, Need for Speed, Halo, World of Warcraft, Barbie, Hot Wheels, Skylanders Giants, and Call of Duty sets.
Some of you may comment “LEGO is best and all other brands are evil rip-offs that should be burned!” – but hear me through before throwing
stones bricks at me, and perhaps you will gain a different perspective. I own both LEGO and Mega Bloks sets and have fairly extensive experience with both. In addition I’m one of those people who are not afraid to mix the two brands for an extended building experience. As this is a LEGO vs. Mega Bloks post, I will compare the two brands in various categories so you might gain a better understanding of the similarities and differences.
LEGO VS. MEGA BLOKS FIGURES
Of course we are all familiar with LEGO minifigures; they are cute and chubby with a yellow skin (except for the licenses minifigs). LEGO minifigures are all made up of the same, fully compatible body-parts, so you can mix and match them any way you like. They also fit within the LEGO system with multiple attachment points. In recent years there has been a lot of focus on minifigures due to demand by LEGO fans and collectors, which resulted in a greater variety of facial expressions, better quality and more detailed printing, and even a series of collectible minifigures.
Mega Bloks figures are very different from LEGO’s little guys. They have articulated joints for a much wider range of posing. This is their biggest advantage. Most of them have unique moulds – which means they are not as interchangeable and customizable as LEGO minifigs. In fact, trying to pop together the mini ball-joints proves to be quite a challenge and many times impossible. In Mega Bloks sets the figures come fully assembled, whereas in their collectible packets they come in parts and you need to assemble them.
LEGO VS. MEGA BLOKS ACCESSORIES
LEGO has been releasing a wide range of accessories for minifigures; tools, weapons, body-armor, backpacks, and more. The details on the accessories tend to be general in nature, so the same design can fit into many different themes, and even serve different purposes. (For example a minifigure-size dinner-plate can serve as a decoration on a building, or a minifigure tool can become part of an engine.)
As far as Mega Bloks, I only own their HALO line of products, so I can mainly compare guns and backpacks, not everyday tools and other weaponry. In general, Mega Bloks accessories are much more detailed and only serve one purpose. They even come with printed highlights to make them as accurate as possible. They are popular with LEGO customizers who are looking for accuracy and detail. (Mega Bloks accessories are compatible with LEGO minifigures as even though LEGO and Mega Bloks figures are quite different, their size is about the same and they both have claw-like hands.)
LEGO VS. MEGA BLOKS QUALITY & VALUE
LEGO is known to be an expensive toy. Their mid-priced sets are in the $30-$50 range, which is not pocket-change. And not to speak of the larger sets! The advantage though is that LEGO elements are fully compatible and you can re-use them in an unlimited variety of ways. The same piece can be a brick in a castle-wall, or part of an engine. There are no junk-pieces in LEGO that can only be used for one thing. All pieces are used over and over in many different sets for many years, even decades. They can all interconnect in a variety of ways and be part of the full system. If you have just a medium-ish LEGO collection you can reuse the parts again and again without having to buy more and more sets. This variability, and the fact that LEGO elements are very high quality gives them tremendous long-term value. The downside of this is that it is harder to achieve life-like detailing with LEGO. You would need to build in a fairly large scale and use many small elements if you want to be as realistic as possible.
Mega Bloks, although based on the same studs-and-tubes system as LEGO, doesn’t focus as much on compatibility and connectivity, but more on life-like details. Their sets are more like models or maquettes that are fit together as a jig-saw puzzle, reusability of the elements and fitting into a comprehensive system is not the focus. They make a lot of specialized large pieces that are only available in one set. Making your own custom models and landscapes would be significantly difficult. You can also end up with heaps of pieces that you can only use one way and have little long-term value or play-value in general. Mega Bloks is also known for lesser quality and precision, which is reflected in the cheaper prices. But they make things like camo-bricks with different colors fused together, which is very cool.
LEGO VS. MEGABLOKS INSTRUCTIONS
Building instructions for LEGO sets are pretty easy to follow. In fact, there has been a lot of improvement in the last few years; colors are easier to differentiate, trickier assemblies have zoomed-in views, and there is a list of parts added in each step. Also, for larger sets bags are numbered so it is easier to build the set in sections instead of dumping all the parts in one big pile and searching endlessly.
Mega Bloks building instructions take a slightly different approach. I found them to be a bit harder to follow – probably because I’m more familiar with LEGO’s instructions. I like the fact that they highlight the studs were a new piece goes. However they do not include numbered bags, even for their larger sets, which makes them very hard to figure out and put together, wasting a lot of time searching for parts.
Overall, I would say that the LEGO system is a better value because of its connectivity, quality, and by giving you the ability to use and reuse the elements in pretty much unlimited ways. However Mega Bloks have much more unique pieces and accessories that you may consider if you are going after accurate detailing. Also the figures are more detailed and poseable. Since LEGO and Mega Bloks are compatible, you could simply add a few Mega Bloks accessories to your LEGO creations to make them more unique. Just a suggestion for your consideration.
What do you think? Do you own any Mega Bloks sets or figures? What is your opinion on them? Do you mix LEGO and Mega Bloks in your own creations? Feel free to share and discuss in the comment section below. Debating about the brands is allowed, as long as the conversation remains civilized. No brick-throwing please.