LEGO STAR WARS         LEGO SUPER HEROES         LEGO NINJAGO         LEGO FRIENDS         LEGO DISNEY         LEGO ELVES         LEGO MINIFIGURES         LEGO GAMES         LEGO BOOKS

Nanoblock – micro-size building bricks

by admin on September 6, 2014

in Other Large Brands

(Written by Ernest)

Have you ever struggled with displaying or putting away your LEGO creations because they were too big and you didn’t have enough space for them? I myself have had experienced this a lot! In fact I have often thought about that it would be great if there was a way to shrink LEGO bricks when it was time to store them. I thought tiny LEGO bricks were just in my imagination, but then I discovered the Japanese toy-brand called Nanoblock.

Nanoblock

Nanoblock is a line of construction toys manufactured by Kawada Co. Ltd, a toy company based in Tokyo, Japan. Right now you might be rolling your eyes and saying, “Here we go, another LEGO knock-off brand!” But actually while Nanoblock is indeed a construction toy, it is quite different from LEGO, and in fact LEGO fans may find it interesting. Here’s why. Despite the fact that both LEGO and Nanoblock attaches with studs, the size of the studs, and the shape and ratios of the elements are different from LEGO. Also, Nanoblock elements are very-very small; about 1/4th of the size of regular LEGO plates. That’s why Nanoblock is referred to as the smallest bricks in the world. Below is a picture comparing a Nanoblock 2×4 plate and a regular LEGO 2×4 plate. Yes, they are very tiny! 🙂

Nanoblock Size

Although Nanoblock elements are small, they are fun to build with. And in my experience they are actually more time-consuming to build with than regular LEGO bricks. So let’s look at the package of a typical Nanoblock set (picture below). Unlike for LEGO sets, the packaging won’t indicate the number of pieces included, but it does show you the level of difficulty for each set. This can be a very handy indicator because in the world of Nanoblock, having more pieces does not mean the set is more difficult to build.

Nanoblock X-mas House

The Nanoblock brand has quite a lot of interesting sets and themes, probably the most well-known being the “Sites to See” series, which is similar to the LEGO Architecture line. However while LEGO Architecture sets mostly contain realistic colors and earth-tones, similar Nanoblock sets use a vibrant color-palette – as you can see in the comparison picture below.

LEGO vs. Nanoblock

When you finish building a Nanoblock set you will find a lot of extra pieces, which is great for making up your own creations, or building alternate models. Although the real reason of including them is probably because Nanoblock pieces are so tiny it is very easy to loose some – therefore the extra pieces come handy. Nanoblock sets can be categorized into three types, and we will talk about them below.

NANOBLOCK MINI COLLECTION SETS: These sets usually include a small model of an animal. They usually come in a black packet and are pretty realistic for their small size. Prices range between $10 and $15.

Nanoblock Mini Collection

NANOBLOCK SITES TO SEE SETS: These are medium-sized sets packed in a small white box. Almost all of them are models of tourist attractions. Prices range between $25-$30.

Nanoblock Site Sets

NANOBLOCK ADVANCED HOBBY SETS: These are the largest sets and are very challenging to build. There are some interesting sets in this range, like the Titanic, the Statue of Liberty, and the White House (pictured below). Prices range between $45-$140.

Nanoblock Deluxe Sets

Nanoblock also has some licensed sets like The Adventures of Tintin, Pokémon and Sanrio characters including Cinnamoroll, Hello Kitty, KeroKeroKeroppi and My Melody. A series of sets based on Disney characters is sold exclusively at the Tokyo DISNEYLAND Park.

Nanoblock White House

I own seven Nanoblock sets, but so far I built only six of them. (The one that I haven’t built is called the X’mas House (pictured above) and I wanted to save it up for Christmas! One thing to note is that the Nanoblock products are recommended for ages 12 and up so they are more suitable for teens (like myself) and adult builders.

Nanoblock Collection

Althoug I like Nanoblock products there are some things that I find frustrating. Firstly, the building instructions are complicated and unclear. Maybe I am just too used to LEGO’s neat and easy-to-follow instructions. Below is an example of what a typical Nanoblock instruction looks like. The second thing I find frustrating is that the final models are not very sturdy due to the lack of tubes at the bottom of the bricks, so sometimes the set will just fall apart and you have to rebuild the whole thing.

Nanoblock Instructions

Other than these issues I find Nanoblock models to be very nice and they also provide an interesting challenge with their tiny size and different style elements. If you are a LEGO fan and would like to try out something new and different, you might want to pick up a Nanoblock set. They are available at Toys’R’Us and some specialty toy stores and gift-shops, and you can also find them on Amazon: NANOBLOCK SETS ON AMAZON

So what do you think? Have you ever built a Nanoblock set? How did you like it? Or did my article make you curious and perhaps you will give Nanoblock a try? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below! Also, I’m a TFOL (Teen-Fan-of-LEGO), and this is my second article here at theBrickBlogger. Your feedback is welcome! Thanks for reading! 😉

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Xi ninja September 6, 2014 at 10:30 AM

First comment! I built the Empire State Building. It was very time consuming, but the finished product looks nice! :mrgreen: Very nice article!

Reply

Ernest September 6, 2014 at 11:10 AM

Yeah, the Nanoblock version of the Empire State Building is very good! I personally wanted to buy one but I couldn’t find any as they were all sold out. And btw thanks for complimenting my article. 😆

Reply

Steve March 13, 2015 at 11:46 AM

nice! adding it to my collection too.

Reply

David September 6, 2014 at 10:44 AM

They’re everywhere here in Japan (well, they’re a Japanese brand after all). I bought a set, and I was far from convinced.
The size of the bricks doesn’t bother me as much as the building process which is not as interesting and fun as building with Lego; it was just about stacking up bricks from bottom to top until it looks like something basically (maybe not all sets build like that), as you mentioned, instructions are extremely unclear, and they’re not sturdy at all.

Reply

Håkan September 6, 2014 at 11:29 AM

I’ve seen these sold at the Technical Museum of Stockholm, and some other places. The scope of bricks seem more limited than Lego, so everything looks even blockier.

Btw. Lego produced their own micro-brand in the 60’s called Modulex. (I own a few bricks, nothings substantial.)

http://www.brickfetish.com/timeline/1963.html

http://www.swebrick.se/index.php?topic=3311.0

http://www.dagsbricks.com/2013/08/lego-techniques-modulex-bricks.html

Reply

admin September 6, 2014 at 12:56 PM

I’m a big fan of Modulex. Nice to meet another collector! I own all colors and shapes made. Will probably write an article about Modulex at some point. Also, did you know that Modulex is coming back? 😉

Reply

Håkan September 6, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Not really a collector. I have no idea where the bricks are from, actually. I found them at the family’s country house.

Reply

admin September 6, 2014 at 2:22 PM

That’s cool. Unlikely something like that would ever happen in the USA! 😛

Reply

LegoUniverse Bob September 6, 2014 at 11:40 AM

They look quite annoying, but I also saw REALLY how small they were when the LEGO minifig was standing on them! 😛 I thought that they were LEGO Bricks and that he was some giant LEGO guy…

Reply

Ernest September 6, 2014 at 12:11 PM

Ha Ha! Nanoblocks are quite fun and easy to build. They are just a bit more time-consuming to assemble when compared to average LEGO sets.

Reply

Håkan September 6, 2014 at 12:52 PM

Why is the giant minifig looking queasy?

Reply

ninja of stealth September 6, 2014 at 1:11 PM

someone I know has one of these, they said it was hard to put together. but they are cool, and convenient for space!

Reply

Kim September 6, 2014 at 1:26 PM

Ha ha is that man standing next to the White House with a the barf face a political statement LOL?

Reply

flappie001 September 6, 2014 at 2:26 PM

My mother bought one for me a few days ago, the giant tree thing from the “sites to see” series. I have spend quite some time at it.
Funny that you wrote an article about it, just when I got one.

Is it true that Modulex is coming back? I’ve got some bricks too

Reply

admin September 6, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Yes, there is a company that bought the Modulex moulds and are planning to produce the bricks again. I’m in touch with them. Right now they are just deciding what colors to produce. I’m in touch with them, so whenever they get closer to production I will probably write an article about it. 🙂

Reply

Håkan September 6, 2014 at 4:02 PM

Haven’t they been bought from Lego already? Or have they been cancelled between that?

Will they be in the same traditional subdued Modulex colors, or more modern and brighter? (There’s some Modulex sold at Bricklink, but it looks poorly indexed.)

Reply

admin September 6, 2014 at 6:47 PM

Modulex was originally produced by LEGO, then it was split off as a separate company, then it was bought, then it was discontinued. Now the moulds have been bought by another company, and I believe they also have the rights to keep the name.

Modulex had three distinct generations of colors. The original earthy tones – these have the regular LEGO logo on the studs. The second generation added a good number of pastel colors, and they come with the M logo on the studs – this is when Modulex split off, but was still making kits for architects. The third generation introduced some bright colors – by this time Modulex was sold, and the company was making time-management products. Basically the bricks were used on visual boards. The logos are still M on the studs.

My most favorites are generation one elements, because they come with the LEGO logo, and they are basically tiny LEGO bricks. They always confuse people when I show them. I also like the second generation because of the pretty colors. The third generation is nice too, but the colors are quite different. You can find all Modulex elements and colors on BrickLink. They are very carefully categorized.

Modulex Parts: http://www.bricklink.com/catalogList.asp?catType=P&catString=727

Modulex Bricks: http://www.bricklink.com/catalogList.asp?catType=P&catString=729

Modulex Decorated Tiles: http://www.bricklink.com/catalogList.asp?catType=P&catString=728

Modulex Windows: http://www.bricklink.com/catalogList.asp?catType=P&catString=730

All Modulex Colors (scroll down to the Modulex section – they are at the bottom): http://www.bricklink.com/catalogColors.asp

Reply

Lorca Strand September 6, 2014 at 4:10 PM

Hello everyone! This is unrelated to this post, but remember that LEGO collection I was selling? I relisted it, for a lower price, if you’re interested.
http://pages.ebay.com/link/?nav=item.view&alt=web&id=111452345557

Reply

Chris of Yoda Archives September 6, 2014 at 7:40 PM

I have one Nanoblok set. I built it and am writing a review of it for my site. I like nanobloks and hope to get more. They are more display pieces than toys. I considered them more like model kits or puzzles than playable toys.

Reply

admin September 7, 2014 at 9:38 AM

Chris, nice to hear that there are other LEGO fans who tried out this brand. Looking forward to your review! 🙂

Reply

BuilderFox September 7, 2014 at 5:36 PM

Did you know that Megabloks has their own series of mini-bricks, which I think are compatible with Nanoblock. As a young child, my parents bought me one of the sets. The tiny size of the bricks made them extremely tedious to build with. Now I just use regular sized bricks.

Reply

admin September 7, 2014 at 5:40 PM

That is very interesting! Thanks for sharing! Do you know the name of the mini series?

Reply

BuilderFox September 7, 2014 at 5:43 PM
admin September 7, 2014 at 8:08 PM

Those are very interesting. The LOZ blocks look quite similar to Nanoblocks.

Reply

BuilderFox September 7, 2014 at 5:40 PM

There’s also this LOZ Diamond which also produces nano-scale brick sets.

Reply

BuilderFox September 7, 2014 at 5:51 PM

These small bricks sets have a kind of “pixelated” look to them.

Reply

admin September 7, 2014 at 8:09 PM

Yes, that’s true, probably because they only use basic blocks.

Reply

BLProductions September 8, 2014 at 4:50 PM

I’ve seen Nanoblocks at my local B&N, and find them quite interesting. However, I probably won’t get any of the sets as I don’t even have enough money to get my top Lego sets. 😕
I note how those instructions are top-view. I tried making instructions on Microsoft Word like that, and it was really frustrating to comprehend. 😡 I find that the angle in Lego instruction books are perfect for showing the build.

Reply

admin September 8, 2014 at 5:06 PM

That’s a really good observation about the angle.

Reply

lew September 9, 2014 at 7:27 PM

I did the shuttle, bricks are too small, tired my eyes (82) we also did the eagle (g0ood) and violin. Love LEGO more.

Reply

Stephanie November 9, 2014 at 1:59 AM

There is a typo on this page. “Amagingly” under the green blocks with dimensions. At least it doesn’t seem like they were trying to come up with a new word…

Reply

admin November 9, 2014 at 10:24 AM

LOL! That’s funny! Never noticed that! Unfortuntely there is nothing I can do about it as it is an image directly from Nanoblock. Good eyes! 😛

Reply

XH February 11, 2015 at 5:06 AM

hi! I stumbled upon your site and was wondering if you can help me on this. I’ve recently became an avid fan of nanoblocks and went into a craze of purchasing them. I’ve so far built four only, and there’s probably about 12 more to go.. As i’m doing some renovations at home, i was thinking of customizing some shelves for nanoblock display. I’ve been looking for the actual dimensions (esp the height..) of these nanoblocks but all i’ve found are the box dimensions. Do you think you can point me in the right direction/site where i can find such info? TIA!!

Reply

admin February 11, 2015 at 10:53 AM

Hm… good question. I checked the Nanoblock website and I couldn’t find any information on the sets about the size. I’m more familiar with LEGO, but even LEGO only provides size information on their larges collector series sets. However I do have an idea on how you could estimate the size as this is the technique I use when I plan on displaying LEGO sets. Since you have already built some of the Nanoblock sets, you should be able to estimate the size of all of the other sets you haven’t built yet. Check the box-art of the tallest Nanoblock set you are planning to build. Then see which elements it is made of and how many of those are stacked on top of each other. This should be very easy with Nanoblock as they have so few different size elements. Using your already loose elements and stacking them up to the same height you should get an accurate estimation of the size of any non-opened set. 😉

Reply

Steve March 13, 2015 at 11:44 AM

Nice write up on nanoblocks and your collection is awesome! I collect nanoblock buildings as a hobby too. Favorite is pisa and effiel tower. 😀

Reply

Nanofan December 27, 2015 at 1:30 AM

Great article. I was searching online for any unofficial build instructions for all my spare blocks and came across your article. I agree that Nanobloks are more hobby pieces rather than toys. Lego is great but it does take up a lot of space and can be really expensive. I have a couple of the LOZ kits but they aren’t made to the same standard and are mostly character based.
My collection is mostly the animals which mostly look very realistic. The vehicles and buildings are by far my favourites. The red pick up is fantastic. Now I’m just needing out. Lol. I got a few kits for xmas and have already done three of them. Two days after xmas 🤗

Reply

admin December 27, 2015 at 2:16 PM

Nice! Yes, Nanoblock is mostly for hobbyists. Some of the larger models can actually be quite challenging. Glad to hear you enjoy them. 🙂

Reply

Nanofan December 27, 2015 at 1:32 AM

I forgot to mention that you can buy small clear boxes to display Nanobloks in. Cheers 🙂

Reply

Leave a Comment

Subscribe to Comments Feed

Previous post:

Next post: