Some of our readers who know that I occasionally collect the highly articulated micro action figures by Mega Construx (formerly Mega Bloks), and that I like the girly sets of both LEGO and Mega, asked me to compare the mini-dolls of the two companies. So let’s take a leisurely stroll to the world of tiny dolls. Please note that I’m writing this article from the perspective of a LEGO fan, and will be comparing quality and features based on LEGO’s standards. 🙂
LEGO introduced the LEGO Friends line in 2012 with a new style of characters called mini-dolls. We have discussed mini-dolls many times before, so I’m not going to go into details, but in summary, mini-dolls are a response by LEGO to the preference of young girls to play with figures that look more like real people. The LEGO Friends line has been hugely successful, and the LEGO Disney Princess, LEGO Elves, and LEGO DC Super Hero Girls collection were added later with more mini-dolls. At the same time, LEGO also increased the number of female characters in traditional minifig-based sets, so both minifig and mini-doll fans can be happy.
As LEGO is very serious about keeping everything they make in a well-defined and well-connected system, all mini-dolls are the same with interchangeable parts. The hair is removable, and hairpieces can be swapped out with regular LEGO minifig headgear. The head is attached to a neck-post (the same size as a standard LEGO rod) and can rotate all around. The torso is one piece with arms that can move up and down, but there are no elbow or wrist joints. The hands are the same size as regular LEGO minifigure hands and can hold the same accessories as minifigs. The leg-assembly is one piece that attaches to the torso by a 0-shaped post. The waist can bend so the mini-doll can sit down, but the legs and feet are a single moulded piece with no separate movement or rotation.
While LEGO mini-dolls all follow the same system, there are some subtle differences between boy and girl figures. Boys have broader and flatter chests, slightly bigger heads, stronger jawlines and larger noses. For characters representing younger boys, LEGO usually uses the girl heads with more boyish face printing. Girls may also wear a one-piece skirt bottom (or mermaid tail) instead of the standard legs.
Speaking of skirts, the only removable clothing LEGO mini-dolls have (at least up to this point) are capes and other accessories that can attach to the neck-post. All other clothing variations are moulded into the part. This is the same system used for standard LEGO minifigures, although with minifigs LEGO has been increasingly using the leg-posts to add hip accessories (skirts, utility-belts, tails, etc.) If you are interested in LEGO’s mini-doll sets, you can find them at the LEGO Friends, LEGO Disney, LEGO Elves, and LEGO DC Super Hero Girls section of the Online LEGO Shop.
Mega Construx doesn’t have such a standardized system for their figures as LEGO. Each of their product-lines comes with characters specific to that collection, and body-parts are most often not compatible. The only constant is the size the hands, which is the same (or very close) to LEGO minifigure hands. Thus, LEGO and Mega Construx accessories are almost always interchangeable.
Mega’s first line of girl-oriented sets included miniature Barbie figures. They are actually quite similar in construction and articulation to LEGO mini-dolls. The hair-pieces are removable, the arms only move up and down, and the legs are a single piece that only bends at the waist. Various skirt pieces could be added between the torso and legs connection, which allowed dressing and accessorizing the figures in different ways. From a LEGO fan’s perspective, the early Barbie mini-dolls were dreadful and were definitely not up to the standard of LEGO mini-dolls in either quality or cuteness. Later versions of the figures were much nicer (see picture above), but were too similar to LEGO’s mini-dolls and have been discontinued.
The currently available Mega Construx collections aimed at girls are Monster High, American Girl, and WellieWishers. All three are significantly better quality than the previous Barbie line. Monster High is a fashion doll franchise created by Mattel and launched in 2010. (As you probably know already, Mega Construx is owned by Mattel.) The characters are inspired by monster movies, sci-fi horror, thriller fiction, and various other creatures. I don’t collect these figures, as I’m not into horror stuff, but they are actually really cute and very good quality. This is the first girly collection with similar articulation and detailing as the Mega Construx Collector series for boys (Call of Duty, Halo, Destiny, Star Trek, etc.).
In 2016 Mega Construx began to collaborate with American Girl, a company that has been making very high quality (and expensive!) 18-inch lifelike dolls since 1986. Originally, the dolls portrayed young girls of a variety of ethnicities from various periods of American history, and they all had their own detailed back-stories. Later, characters from contemporary life were added as well. The dolls come with an amazing variety of clothes, accessories, furniture, food items, pets, and hobbies. Aside from the original American Girl dolls, the company also offers customized dolls to match features of the child who will own them. These dolls are called Truly Me, and you can select eye color, eye shape, skin color, hair color, hair texture, and hair length. You can even purchase matching clothes for the doll and the child!
The Mega Construx American Girl sets feature miniature versions of the well-known original characters from the American Girl collection, as well unnamed characters with a large variety of clothing, hairstyles, and accessories that can be mixed and matched to mimic the Truly Me line. The sets are similar to what you find in the LEGO Friends collection, with settings and hobbies that the girls enjoy. There is also a selection of smaller sets with single collectible figures and a few accessories.
As far as quality and design, the American Girl mini-dolls are excellent. I have been collecting the figures from the first time they came out, and have been really happy with them. They are quite a bit taller than LEGO mini-dolls (see first picture), and the articulation is also very different. However, their hands are the same size, so Mega and LEGO handheld accessories are interchangeable (although they don’t always look good because of the size difference of the dolls).
Mega’s American Girl mini-doll hairpieces are removable and come in at least five different (slightly shimmery) colors and numerous hairstyles. The material of the hairpieces is somewhat rubbery, similar to what we get with LEGO mini-dolls. There are no holes to accessorize the hairpieces. All the mini-dolls in this line are girls representing the same age-group (no adults, boys, or younger children).
The American Girl mini-dolls are the most articulated figures for girls the company ever released. The head is on a ball-joint, so it doesn’t just rotate, but can also tilt (only limited by the shaping of the hair). The arms are also attached with ball-joints to the torso, so they can rotate up and down and also swing out. The hands/wrists clip into the arms with a short post (similar to LEGO minifig hands), and can fully rotate. There is no joint at the elbow, however this is an authentic limitation that the full-size American Girl dolls also have. The hips are attached by a post, so the upper and lower body can rotate independently, and the connection can also be used to attach skirts, belts, etc. The legs are on ball-joints for full articulation, and the knees bend. The footwear is removable and interchangeable. All the articulation is done exceptionally well. None of the joints are loose or connected poorly. Mega really did a superb job with these figures.
As far as clothing and accessories, the girls come with interchangeable skirts, belts, footwear, purses, handbags, hats, and even glasses that nicely wrap around their faces. The skirts are made of a really nice rubbery plastic and come with several different styles and prints. The only negative thing I could say is that the hats don’t really fit over the hairpieces, but just sort of perch on top and can easily fall off. But this is a minor issue that can be easily forgiven. All in all, the Mega Construx mini-dolls match the quality American Girl is known for in style, construction, and cuteness. I would not hesitate to recommend them even to people who are used to LEGO’s high standards.
In mid-2016, American Girl unveiled a separate doll line named WellieWishers. This new collection is aimed at children five and up, who may be too young for handling the mainline American Girl dolls we talked about above, but are too mature for the preschool line called Bitty Baby. WellieWishers are a bit smaller and are more durable than the dolls made for older girls. The line is named after Wellington boots (rubber rain boots that were first popularized in the UK) that the WellieWishers girls wear during their outdoor adventures.
In the spring of 2017, a mini-doll version of the American Girl WellieWishers was released by Mega Construx. The collection includes regular sets with mini-dolls in various garden/outdoors settings, and individual collectible figures with only accessories. I got all five of the collectible figures the day they came out.
Just like how the full-size WellieWishers dolls are smaller and simpler than the main American Girl dolls, the mini-doll WellieWishers are also smaller with simpler articulation than the American Girl mini-dolls. While the head is still on a ball-joint, the arms and legs can only turn up and down, the wrists don’t move, and the knees can’t bend. The torso however can still rotate separately from the hip, the legs move independently, and the footwear is still removable.
It is interesting to note that in spite the difference in size, the regular American Girl and WellieWishers mini-dolls are compatible in more than one way. The heads and the neck ball-joint are the same sizes, so the heads and hairpieces are interchangeable. The hip/torso connection is also the same, and the mini-dolls wear the exact same skirt pieces and footwear, so those can be swapped out as well.
WellieWishers mini-dolls are somewhere between LEGO mini-dolls and American Girl mini-dolls in size, and are definitely very cute. Unfortunately, Mega Construx design and quality control team made a pretty major mistake. While all the body-part and joints of the regular American Girl mini-dolls fit and move flawlessly, WellieWishers have a very loose torso-to-hip connection. The post that connects the hip to the torso was made shorter than on the American Girl mini-dolls due to the slightly smaller body of WellieWishers. The connection works fine with no clothing, however when you put a skirt between the torso and the hips, the post is not long enough to lock everything together properly. While WellieWishers won’t fall apart, you have to constantly adjust the skirt and lower body as they spin around quite freely. Such a shame, as otherwise I really like these figures. I hope the issue is going to get fixed if they plan to continue the WellieWishers collection.
I hope this gave you a bit of insight into the world of mini-dolls in two of the most well-known construction toy lines. The quality and cuteness of LEGO mini-dolls are unquestionable, however their articulation is quite limited. The recently released Mega Construx Monster High, American Girl and WellieWishers figures have better articulation, and are very close to the quality LEGO fans are used to. Please note however that I’m only talking about the mini-dolls, not the Mega Construx sets, which are still made of lower quality plastic and with inferior precision compared to LEGO.
If you are interested in LEGO’s mini-doll sets, you can find them at the LEGO Friends, LEGO Disney, LEGO Elves, and LEGO DC Super Hero Girls section of the Online LEGO Shop. If you would like to try out the Mega Construx Monster High, American Girl, and WellieWishers sets, they are available at various toy-retailers, on eBay (good for retired sets) or Amazon (good for new releases): MEGA CONSTRUX SHOP ON AMAZON
What do you think? Have you ever tried out any of the Mega Construx (Mega Bloks) sets for girls? How did you like the figures? Do you have any favorite collections? And how do you think they compare to LEGO mini-doll sets? Feel free to share and discuss in the comment section below! 😉
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