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LEGO trademark ruling in China & more

by admin on November 13, 2017

in Community News

At the beginning of the month, LEGO published an interesting press-release, titled The LEGO Trademark Recognized as a Well-Known Trademark in China. Initially, this was viewed by LEGO fans as a positive step towards fighting LEGO cloners like Lepin, however it turns out that this case was about an entirely different matter. Still, it may indirectly help fighting Lepin as well, or at least that’s what LEGO fans are hoping for. So, let’s discuss this a bit. 🙂

In case you are not familiar with the world of LEGO compatible brands, imitators, and cloners, here is a bit of introduction. LEGO is undisputedly the most well-known construction-toy brand, however there are also other brands that use either the same or similar building elements and methods for their own construction-toy lines. Most of these brands keep their products compatible with LEGO (same brick sizes, similar figures, etc.), and basically ride on the coattail of LEGO’s popularity. Because these brands have their own product lines and licenses, and enough uniqueness to differentiate them from LEGO, they are completely legitimate construction-toy companies. Many LEGO fans (including myself) collect sets and characters from some of these competitors. Healthy competition is a good thing, as it offers variety for fans, and it also keeps LEGO on their toes. Good examples are Mega Construx, Kre-O, Oxford, etc.

In terms of LEGO imitators and clones, there is everything from the not-so-legal to the outright illegal. The not-so-legal ones are usually pitiful attempts to imitate LEGO sets, mostly created for a market that can’t afford, or don’t have access to, real LEGO. Most of these imitations are very poor quality, but they at least try to put some effort into differentiating their products from LEGO. Make no mistake, they are still shady, and they often steal LEGO’s designs, but they may do things like mix up LEGO themes and characters to stay away from too much legal trouble. On the other end of the spectrum are the shameless thieves, who take official LEGO sets and replicate them entirely, including instructions, box design, minifigs, parts, and everything else. The prime example of this is Lepin, recreating every single large collectible LEGO set (both retired and new) with frightening speed and accuracy. It is interesting to note that due the seeming inaction and/or inability of LEGO to fight cloners, they are getting bigger and bolder. Lepin almost exclusively markets their products to LEGO’s own audience in Europe and North America, and recently they also started stealing designs shared by LEGO fans. If you would like to learn more about clone brands, I highly recommend checking out Anthony Tomkins’ very detailed and humorous Communist LEGO review series, that you can download as PDFs from Brickset: Communist LEGO – 2015 Edition, Communist LEGO – 2016 Edition, and Communist LEGO – 2017 Edition

Long-time LEGO fans have been watching with concern as younger fans, and even their peers, are turning to Lepin to buy replicas of retired LEGO sets (which is somewhat understandable, as retired sets can be very expensive on the secondary market), and even copies of brand new LEGO sets that were just released. What draws people to Lepin is the cheaper prices, which is usually about half of real LEGO sets. Quality is questionable, there are missing or incorrect parts in pretty much all Lepin sets, and Lepin has very little resale value. Still, a growing number of people are willing to sacrifice quality to own a set that looks almost like LEGO’s original version.

LEGO hasn’t made a public statement about what they are doing about all of this, which is understandable, as legal matters can be quite drawn out and complicated, and it is also sometimes better not to say anything than say something that can be misinterpreted. But fans are concerned, and they would like to know what’s going on. So, when the recent press-release came out, LEGO fans immediately took it as a sign that LEGO is making some headways in fighting cloners. Below is the full press-release:

The Beijing Higher Court passed a ruling earlier this year [July 22, 2017] that recognizes the LEGO® logo and the LEGO name in Chinese as ’well-known’ trademarks in China. The well-known trademark recognition is an important milestone in getting broader protection for LEGO trademarks in China. This means that the LEGO Group is now in a better position to act against infringement of LEGO trademarks, also outside the toy category.

Peter Thorslund Kjær, Vice President, Legal Affairs in the LEGO Group, said: “The ruling by the Beijing Higher Court is very important for the LEGO Group. It reflects the significant effort and investment put into marketing the LEGO brand and products towards the Chinese consumers, and it further reduces the risk that consumers in China are misled when they see the LEGO logo or the LEGO name in future. We are now in a better legal position acting against infringement of LEGO trademarks and defending our trademark portfolio.”

“We see this as a recognition of our status in China as a known and loved brand by parents and children, and we appreciate the support from the Chinese government and authorities to ensure the continued protection of millions of Chinese consumers as well as our unique trademark and logo.”

The LEGO Group actively protects its trademarks globally and each year brings relevant cases to courts to ensure that consumers can always trust that a product carrying the LEGO logo or featuring the characteristic LEGO design is genuine.

“Since 1932 the LEGO name and the LEGO logo have been a guarantee of the highest safety and quality standards. We are committed to doing what it takes to protect children and assure parents that when a product features a LEGO logo it will offer the best quality, as well as be great fun to play with. We will continue to take action globally when we see attempts to mislead consumers and infringement of our trademarks and copyrights,” said Thorslund Kjær.

What consumers can do to ensure they get a genuine LEGO experience:

  • Look for the LEGO logo and LEGO name on the product
  • Look for the LEGO name on the bricks inside the box. Every genuine LEGO element has the LEGO name on it.

What makes LEGO products unique:

  • All LEGO elements made since 1958 fit together.
  • Each element has to pass thorough tests to ensure the durability and clutch power as well as physical safety requirements.
  • All raw materials used to manufacture LEGO bricks are thoroughly tested to ensure they meet the strictest global requirements for safety.

When reading this press-release, it does sound like good news, and in some ways it is. However, when a LEGO fan who runs a blog reviewing Chinese clone brands looked deeper into it, they discovered that this case has nothing to do with Lepin or other LEGO clone brands. It’s about fighting an optical shop in Shanghai who also called themselves LEGO. Even though LEGO disputed the trademark registration of the optical shop, they kept loosing the case because the shop is in a completely different business. Until finally, the Beijing Higher Court recently ruled in favor of LEGO. By the way, it’s worth mentioning that LEGO has been fighting this particular case since 2012. Just to show you how long these things take. And that just one shop that’s not even a real competitor as far as products go. You can read the full article with all the details here: Toys vs. Spectacles – The Truth Behind the Recent LEGO Court Case

Unfortunately, it seems like LEGO opened up a real can of worms when they built a factory in China, and they are going to have to fight a very long battle to protect their name and products in an area of the world where there is very little respect for intellectual property and trademarks. In the meantime, there is a real danger of LEGO continuing to loose fans in their already established markets, as Lepin and similar brands are becoming more well known as cheaper alternatives to LEGO’s own sets…

What do you think? Do you have any concerns, insights, questions, or comments about LEGO fighting cloners? And what do you think of the recent ruling? Do you own, or have you thought about buying any LEGO clone sets? What’s your view on them? Feel free to share your thoughts and discuss in the comment section below. 😉

And you might also like to check out the following related posts:

{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

jabber-baby-wocky November 13, 2017 at 11:56 AM

I’m really curious to see how this will unfold. I see Lepin advertised on facebook all the time. And there are facebook groups and youtube channels where people are reviewing sets. It seems like they perfected copying Lego, and sometimes they even release new sets before Lego does.

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admin November 13, 2017 at 12:45 PM

Yes, Lepin doesn’t even have to advertise. People do it for them for free via social media. Their quality is not on par with LEGO, but close enough that casual LEGO fans, who just want to display an impressive set, don’t care.

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brickmaster November 13, 2017 at 12:12 PM

I don’t understand why Lego is not fighting Lepin more aggressively, instead of wasting time fighting with an optical shop. That shop is not a competitor taking over Lego’s market. Lepin is.

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admin November 13, 2017 at 12:43 PM

That is a question many people asked on the Ambassador Forum, and I haven’t seen a clear and definite answer yet. All we get is that “our legal department is on top of it”. But since this has been going on for years, and Lepin is getting better and bolder, it does make LEGO fans to wonder. It’s definitely confusing, but legal matters usually are…

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Håkan November 14, 2017 at 6:57 AM

Apparently, in general, Chinese courts are way more lax and loose with trademark concerns, than their counterparts in USA and Europe.

I remember some high-profile case some years ago, where a car, considered by many as a blatant copy to a Western original, got away scot-free. (I could see if I could pick up more details.)

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admin November 14, 2017 at 11:10 AM

So many businesses died because of Chinese counterfeits. I particularly know this about the bicycle industry, because I’m an avid biker. So many great brands moved their manufacturing to China, only to get copied to death. It really is very sad… 🙁

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Håkan November 14, 2017 at 11:54 AM

Hmmm, yeah, there should be a big market for bikes in China, but maybe the majority would just buy the cheapest one on the market as a disposable… =(

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admin November 14, 2017 at 12:16 PM

I meant that the Chinese copycat brands replaced all bike brands sold in the West. When was the last time you have seen a non-Chinese made bike? 🙄

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Håkan November 14, 2017 at 12:32 PM

Are you referring to Chinese brands, or brands where the bikes are constructed in China?

Here in Stockholm, I believe there are many urban hipsters biking, and they’re probably more into high-profile identity-building brands. (Although I rarely look at the brand when I see a bike…)

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Håkan November 14, 2017 at 12:39 PM

My own bike now is a Rex, which started out as a local Swedish brand, although apparently the final manufacturing for the last years is performed in Taiwan.

Then, it’s some second hand dumpstered bike which my family had fixed at a repair shop, so I’m not sure if that’d count.

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Håkan November 14, 2017 at 12:43 PM

Although the Taiwanese manufacturing probably isn’t as much due to copycat brands, than outsourcing of labor…

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admin November 14, 2017 at 12:51 PM

Yes, Taiwan is usually for outsourcing. Most bike parts of even name-brands are made in Asia these days. Although for really good brands the frame is made in the home country. How a frame is designed, assembled and finished is a signature feature of quality bikes.

admin November 14, 2017 at 12:48 PM

I was mainly referring to the Chinese stealing bicycle designs from name-brands and creating their own, identical looking brands. Of course these days most (if not all) of the components of name-brand bikes are also made in Asia, but as long as the quality is up to the name of the brand, those are legit. What I’m referring to is that most bike stores sell Chinese imitator brands rather than quality name-brands. The bikes look pretty much identical to name-brands, but they are much cheaper. They are made of cheap parts and are basically garbage. Components will fall apart and rust in no time. But the bikes look fancy, and people don’t know any better. So they keep buying cheap bikes, and they think it’s normal for a bike to fall apart within a year. In the meantime, name-brands are struggling and going out of business because they don’t have money for lawyers to protect their brand from Chinese copycats.

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Håkan November 14, 2017 at 12:58 PM

Okay. I guess most specialized stores in Sweden wouldn’t import these low-quality knock-offs…

They might be sold on cheaper supermarkets, though, such as Swedish equivalents to Wal-Mart and similar…

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admin November 14, 2017 at 1:03 PM

Yes, you are from a country with a strong bike culture, so people are probably more familiar with bike brands and manufacturing processes. You guys respect yourselves more then getting caught on a cheap Chinese bike. 🙄

Legostuff71 November 13, 2017 at 12:23 PM

Unbelievable, it’s a shame that something great as Lego has to be cheated like that. Some parents can’t always tell the differents between the two brands ( of course now a days , parents are little more educated on that due to there involvement in the hobby) but, the parents are also looking for the cheaper buy. That might be why Lego sales are down this year. Maybe? Another thought maybe Lego should start dropping there prices . Fight fire with fire.

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admin November 13, 2017 at 12:41 PM

Yeah, it’s pretty bad. Lowering prices won’t solve anything though. A race to the bottom never works. Lepin can charge less because they don’t have to pay for research/development, designers, packaging, IP partners, infrastructure and much-much more. They simply steal LEGO’s designs and sell them online. It really is a shame. 🙁

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PrashBricks III November 13, 2017 at 3:07 PM

In that case, I wouldn’t not even understand how these people even get a tiny bit of attention from ‘LEGO’ Fans…. It is… terrible…. 🙁

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admin November 13, 2017 at 3:16 PM

It all started with Lepin releasing the earliest Modulars that are otherwise selling for thousands of dollars on eBay. So many people wanted these sets who got into the Modulars later, but the prices on the secondary market are just crazy. Then, Lepin came in and sold these early Modulars for less than a $100, which was even less than the original price of the sets. And they were pretty good quality. Then later they added the newer Modulars for half price, and then all the large and exclusive sets. That’s pretty much the history…

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Legostuff71 November 13, 2017 at 1:21 PM

So, it’s up to the loyal Lego fans to fight and simple support Lego . After all Lego has been and still is loyal to us. It’s time for us to return the favor. I for one thing will tell people that I meet at any store that sales Lego sets to watch out and don’t buy Lepin.

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admin November 13, 2017 at 1:38 PM

Yes, that’s something we can do. LEGO actually asked fans to help with this. One good thing is that Lepin can’t be legally imported to the US as their are counterfeit LEGO, so physical stores can’t sell them. The sets are mostly sold through eBay, Ali Express (the Chinese version of eBay), and flee markets. So, basically parents who are just casually buying LEGO at Toys’R’Us, won’t ever see Lepin, but they may run into some friends on Facebook who buys them and recommends them as a LEGO alternative.

In my experience, most people who buy Lepin are not parents, but adults who want the big and impressive sets for cheaper. They are not AFOLs enough to be loyal to LEGO or really care about quality, they just want the bragging rights in front of their friends who don’t know any better. (Lepin sets are actually pretty obvious, as they have no logo on their studs). Anyhow, it’s a battle, and LEGO does appreciate any help from fans. Fighting copyright issues in China is a very difficult and often unsuccessful battle.

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Legostuff71 November 13, 2017 at 2:59 PM

Bragging rights, it’s like comparing a Dung heap to a beautiful garden. Sorry, just a little frustrated on how ignorant people can be.

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admin November 13, 2017 at 3:06 PM

Yeah, people have different standards. Lepin is like fake Gucci bags and Rolex watches. 😀

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Laurie November 13, 2017 at 3:17 PM

build a Lego factory in China was the dumbest move by Lego Ever. The smart move would be to bail out on China and build factories in Countries with Strict Trademark Laws exist only. These fakes popped up after they started up the Lego factory in China. they shot themselves in the foot with that move. There is a Dam good reason why people bought Lego. because they were not made in china. I feel the reason Lego set prices are up is to help pay legal fees fighting fakes. would not have been an issue if Lego was wise and set up factories in Strict Trademark countries. Duh 😉

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admin November 13, 2017 at 3:27 PM

Yep, and so many LEGO fans pointed this out at the very beginning, when LEGO just started flirting with manufacturing some parts in China (Collectible Minifigs, magnets, keychains, etc.). Opening a major factory in China was a particularly bad mistake as it happened when other companies already had terrible experiences with Chinese counterfeiting. It’s not like LEGO didn’t know what will happen. And of course, now it’s happening, and they are scrambling. There are so many countries that would be happy to have a LEGO factory and would honor trademarks. Even just expanding the factories they already have in Eastern Europe would have been a much better move. A few leaked images from East European factories are nothing compared to their entire product line being ripped off. But I don’t run the company and they didn’t ask me. 🙄

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Joe Zilch November 13, 2017 at 4:20 PM

When Lego is charging $4.79 for a single minifigure in the newest series (Ninjago Movie) which is their own IP it begs the question of how loyal the fans can be expected to stay.

I remember when the Simpsons figures came out and they jumped from $2.99 – $3.99 and the argument was made that it was licensed so it made sense. Now they run $4.79 regardless of IP (Ninjago, Batman and normal at Target) and MORE are being sold each series so it’s not a supply/demand argument. They should have logically been more expensive when fewer people were buying them in the earlier series’.

So when I see new Modulars coming out at $270 (Assembly Square) or “Hard to Find” sets constantly at $350 (Helicarrier) and now up to $700+ (USC Millennium Falcon) at some point you either dial back the hobby (I have three kids who like different IPs) OR you find cheaper alternatives.

I understand the premium argument but Lego looks to be shifting into gouging territory while asking fans to be loyal to their ever increasing prices hoping people ignore those much, MUCH cheaper options ripping off their trademarks.

I have yet to buy a knockoff item but it’s tempting when my son wants the bat cave or something and I have to explain why we can’t afford such an expensive hobby. He throws the boxes away and doesn’t care if the toys say “Lego” on each brick. Hell, if he’s going to let the dog chew on them maybe I’m better off buying the knockoffs.

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admin November 13, 2017 at 5:29 PM

Joe, good arguments. Yes, the number of large and expensive sets have been increasing, which put parents at a dilemma. But there are still a great selection of small to medium sets. However I do understand that kids may not make choices based on price, but what sets and themes they like. The recent LEGO Ninjago Movie sets have been exceptionally well priced, so hopefully it will become trend.

One issue with the knockoffs compared to real LEGO, is that knockoffs have very little, if any, resale value. So while LEGO may be more expensive to begin with, once your kids are no longer interested, you can resell them for a good sum of money. Often even more than what you bought them for in the first place (depends on condition, of course). LEGO is also a good way to teach kids about money management, investing, and appreciating and taking care of their belongings. Of course, if they are too young for that yet, then some alternative brands might be an option.

I would still suggest buying comparable but cheaper legitimate brands, or buying LEGO second hand, rather than outright illegal products. LEGO (and other legit brands) spend time and effort to make sure their products are safe for children. If your kid puts a LEGO brick in their mouth, you know they are not going to get poisoned by the plastic or the printing on minifigs and other parts. Knockoffs are flyby companies who are only in it for the money. They don’t care about the health of your kids. So it’s another thing to consider.

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Håkan November 14, 2017 at 7:02 AM

Well, you shouldn’t buy Lego to kids that would regularly put them in their mouth, anyway…

(I guess Duplo clones could be a different matter…)

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admin November 14, 2017 at 11:15 AM

Speaking of which, the $100+ sets are not made for kids who are still putting LEGO in their mouths, or feeding to the family dog anyway. Often times, when adults complain about the price of LEGO, they are really not looking at the sets meant for their kids, but the sets they would like as adults. I don’t know any kid that wouldn’t be bored to death with the Assembly Square or the UCS Falcon. It’s a completely different audience. Sets for kids are still priced very reasonably, as it has been proven many times by people who actually look at the pricing date through the decades. In fact, standard LEGO sets got cheaper, if you also include inflation.

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Seth B. November 13, 2017 at 11:43 PM

Those communist lego volumes are hilarious! And scary too! Never knew so many horrible lego imitators existed!

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admin November 14, 2017 at 10:52 AM

Yeah, it’s an eye-opener, isn’t it? 🙄

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jjava November 14, 2017 at 5:31 AM

I hate counterfeit/clones/replica, whatever you want to call it. This is not just about LEGO, it is about all merchandise. Music, movies, handbags etc. It makes me sick to my stomach when I see people parade their supports for these products. If people stop buying them, there will be no market for it. Thus I think the root of the problem are the buyers. They, IMO, are disrespectful to the creator of the item.

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Håkan November 14, 2017 at 7:05 AM

Well, although I often feel that it’s the brand itself warrants a premium, rather than the quality of the product, and I’m not that much into status, in itself. Of course, I’d still semi-collect Lego, so it is somewhat dependable…

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Håkan November 14, 2017 at 7:23 AM

And yeah, those direct copies don’t really strike me as particularly interesting. I prefer third party customizers, or brands that would offer any optional additions to the product, such as new molds or colors. For instance, I almost bought a Cobi Winx Club set due to its teal bricks, but in the end, I never got around to it…

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admin November 14, 2017 at 11:17 AM

Yes, I do the same. Interesting colors, interesting pieces, interesting minifig accessories from other brands that are legal are pretty fun to collect. And LEGO should definitely bring back teal. 😀

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Håkan November 18, 2017 at 1:02 PM
Håkan November 18, 2017 at 1:03 PM

Next on my wishlist… Reddish orange/ vermillion… Tertiary colors for the win!…

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admin November 18, 2017 at 1:31 PM

Sweet! Teal was definitely a nice color. Too bad Mark Stafford killed it. But then purple is nice too, and he had to kill one, so… 🙄

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Håkan November 18, 2017 at 2:12 PM

And then they did the purple Harry Potter bus, either way, so his killing was all in vain…

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Håkan November 18, 2017 at 2:14 PM

There also seemed to be some teal in the next modular, from a leaked image I saw, although it’s from a Chinese source and might not be credible.

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admin November 18, 2017 at 3:26 PM

You saw a leaked image??? Are you going to tell us about it? :roll?

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Håkan November 18, 2017 at 5:34 PM
jjava November 15, 2017 at 6:10 AM

I don’t mind compatible that much. An example would be those baseplates that comes in a variety of colors that Jangbricks featured in one his videos awhile back. Fun minifig prints are great also.

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Håkan November 15, 2017 at 7:54 AM

Strictly Briks…

Yeah, they look pretty good.

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admin November 15, 2017 at 8:08 PM

Those baseplates are by Strictly Bricks. I have reviewed them also and use them myself for my minifig display wall. I’m also a big supporter of LEGO customizers and love their work. That’s a totally different thing than ripping off LEGO by copying their sets.

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admin November 14, 2017 at 11:01 AM

Yes, they are basically ripping off the artists/original creators. It really is sad. Unfortunately, this trend will unlikely to change. Some people, especially those who never made anything of value in their life, just don’t care. 🙁

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jjava November 15, 2017 at 6:12 AM

Yes I know. It is horrible. It is even worse when someone claim they are a fan of “the products” (whatever that product might be), but they choose to buy the replica instead of the real thing.

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admin November 15, 2017 at 8:08 PM

Yeah… 🙁

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Josh November 15, 2017 at 8:26 PM

I havnt purchased any of the non-LEGO sets, but I have to say it’s very tempting. My kids love playing with LEGO and I’m an AFOL and I could care less about the resale value of LEGO. I mean how often do people resell their sets? I display and re-display mine. And my kids play with theirs (and mine). There’s never been a thought to resell it.

But the cost of some of these sets gets ridiculous. If I want to get the Millennium Falcon these days it’ll have to be through nonLEGO because of the price tag. And if I did it, it would be for me. Not to fool anyone, it would be so I could have my mini-replica in brick form and the enjoyment of building it.

What I have purchased in nonLEGO form is Minifigs. Either the ones I want don’t exist, or they are some sort of special that costs over $100. Or even the blind packs keep going up in price. Can’t build my Justice League if Martian Manhunter or Captain Marvel is going to cost an arm and a leg.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still a LEGO fan, and I support LEGO. But in the past couple years I’m starting see the $$$$ just keep rising and it’s getting harder to justify. If it means to be a true AFOL, and LEGO keeps raising the prices and I’m supposed to say “I’m a true AFOL so it’s ok LEGO” that doesn’t seem right.

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admin November 15, 2017 at 8:47 PM

Josh, good points, and thanks for sharing. I would like to add though that LEGO is actually not raising prices. They have been steadily between the 7-10 cents per piece range for many years now. In fact, if you consider inflation, their prices are actually lower then they were a decade ago.

What has been happening is that in the last couple of years, LEGO released a greater number of ultra-large sets, which gives the impression that the prices are higher. Basically, LEGO is testing how far they can go in piece-count and price, and what is the largest set the market will accept. There is clearly a demand for large sets from AFOLs with disposable income. LEGO thought the Falcon was really the upper limit, and that’s why they didn’t make that many. But they were clearly wrong, and now can’t keep up with demand. Which means, we might see even bigger sets.

As far as minifigs, yes, for some of them it definitely makes sense to go the custom route. I would still suggest to buy from LEGO customizers who print directly on genuine LEGO pieces, rather than Chinese knockoffs. But this is definitely an area LEGO could improve. They are encouraging people to collect LEGO Star Wars and Super Heroes characters, but if they miss releasing important figures, they are pushing their own customers to go elsewhere.

In the end, you do as you please, and what you feel is right for you and your family. At the same time, it is worth paying attention to what’s happening with the company you love, because bad things can and will happen. Just because we think LEGO is awesome, doesn’t mean it’s immune to troubles. This whole Chinese knockoff business could very well topple LEGO, which would mean both LEGO and the parasitic knockoffs will be killed.

LEGO has to pay for designers, infrastructure, testing products, quality materials, etc. – something knockoff companies don’t have to do. If you want talented designers like Jamie Berard and Mark Stafford to continue designing beautiful and inspiring sets, then you might consider buying the sets they designed within your budget, rather than some cheap imitation by a rogue company that has no respect for either the designers or the fans. Just some things to consider…

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Josh November 15, 2017 at 9:32 PM

I just wanted to come back and say that you are correct about the pricing. Quite honestly I probably don’t know enough on pricing to really argue it (I’ll be honest) Per brick might be consistent I guess it’s that sets are also getting bigger which is another reason for the price increase?
But perhaps even more bigger sets are not the way to go. Perhaps LEGO should start doing more smaller / modular sets instead of more larger sets. Maybe I don’t want that whole massive set but only want the car from it.
I’ve had to reverse engineer a few directions so that I could make just a couple smaller things originally in a larger set. But when I’ve done that (ie:SDCC Batmobile) I’ve spent many (many) hours on Bricklink.

Minifigs…. well…. it’s an interesting sub-market let’s say. I do tend to get a well made Minifigs if I’m looking for one. One day I will get my Green Lantern Guy Gardner

But you are right about needing to keep our designers paid. It’s no different than the music/movie industry and that is really the bigger picture.
And I agree with you completely there. But just for arguments sake, does LEGO not hurt itself in that respect. They freely give out the instructions for any model. Now I personally take that to Bricklink and do my thing so you could say that I stick to LEGO and in some way they still get money (?)But does LEGO lose out (or their designers) because I do that?

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admin November 15, 2017 at 10:02 PM

Josh, I do the same thing when I only want a partial set. Just like you, I may not want the whole thing, but I really like a car or small detail from it, so I just download the instructions to build them myself. And yes, I also spend many hours (and too much money) on BrickLink. 😀

BrickLink sellers don’t hurt the market, as they buy LEGO legally, like you and me, and they just sell the extra parts they don’t care for. So for example, you could buy that set you are only interested in because of a car, and then sell the extra parts on BrickLink or eBay to other LEGO fans. This is a great way to recoup some of the expenses of the hobby. Many LEGO fans do the same thing with minifigs. They are builders, so they don’t care for the minifigs, but selling the minifigs can often offset the entire cost of the set. This makes the hobby much more sustainable. So, BrickLink is basically just bartering between LEGO fans.

The Chinese knockoff companies like Lepin, don’t just repackage LEGO sets, like a LEGO fan would do when selling a partial or custom kit. Lepin actually stole the designs of the parts themselves, and they are moulding their own pieces. In addition they also steal the set designs, instructions, box design, minifig designs, and everything else. Making everything with cheaper parts and lesser quality, then, marketing their imitation sets to LEGO fans who don’t know any better, or don’t care. Just like you said, it’s like in the music and movie industry, where artists are not respected or compensated for their work.

Personally, I deal with all of this by keeping a strict LEGO budget, and sticking to it, and staying away from fakes. I actually don’t care for the really large sets, as I don’t have the patience to put them together, or the space to display them. I’m happy to just enjoy them from a distance, and happy that other LEGO fans are happy with them. I find that my favorite sets are mostly in the $100-$150 range, big enough to be interesting and look good, but not too big to put together and display. I do get the Modular Buildings, but that’s only once a year, so it’s manageable.

Speaking of the Modulars, LEGO actually did release a series of smaller buildings in the LEGO Creator 3-in-1 line. They are really sweet, and look good on display. Plus, they are 3-in-1, so you can configure them in several different ways. Many people with smaller budgets and less space use them as alternatives to the full size Modulars. LEGO themselves calls them the little brothers of the Modular Buildings. I wrote about them here: http://thebrickblogger.com/2015/09/the-little-brother-of-lego-modular-buildings/

Wishing you the best with finding your Green Lantern! 🙂

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admin November 18, 2017 at 6:36 PM

That actually looks pretty legit. 😀

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