(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 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! 🙂
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.
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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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! 😉
First comment! I built the Empire State Building. It was very time consuming, but the finished product looks nice! Very nice article!
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. 😆
nice! adding it to my collection too.
I recently purchased a nanoblock kit at a yard sale, and to my dismay, found out there were some pieces missing. Do you have any suggestions as to how I might purchase a variety of nanoblock pieces that I may be able to complete my model?
Hm… the only way I can think of is to purchase extra sets/parts on eBay. I would also check Facebook if there are any Nanoblock fan groups or marketplaces. It’s just not a big enough brand to have a dedicated database/marketplace run by fans.
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.
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.)
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? 😉
Not really a collector. I have no idea where the bricks are from, actually. I found them at the family’s country house.
That’s cool. Unlikely something like that would ever happen in the USA! 😛
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…
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.
Why is the giant minifig looking queasy?
someone I know has one of these, they said it was hard to put together. but they are cool, and convenient for space!
Ha ha is that man standing next to the White House with a the barf face a political statement LOL?
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
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. 🙂
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.)
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: https://www.bricklink.com/catalogList.asp?catType=P&catString=727
Modulex Bricks: https://www.bricklink.com/v2/error_404.page
Modulex Decorated Tiles: https://www.bricklink.com/catalogList.asp?catType=P&catString=728
Modulex Windows: https://www.bricklink.com/catalogList.asp?catType=P&catString=730
All Modulex Colors (scroll down to the Modulex section – they are at the bottom): https://www.bricklink.com/catalogColors.asp
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.
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.
Chris, nice to hear that there are other LEGO fans who tried out this brand. Looking forward to your review! 🙂
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.
That is very interesting! Thanks for sharing! Do you know the name of the mini series?
Those are very interesting. The LOZ blocks look quite similar to Nanoblocks.
There’s also this LOZ Diamond which also produces nano-scale brick sets.
These small bricks sets have a kind of “pixelated” look to them.
Yes, that’s true, probably because they only use basic blocks.
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.
That’s a really good observation about the angle.
I did the shuttle, bricks are too small, tired my eyes (82) we also did the eagle (g0ood) and violin. Love LEGO more.
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…
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! 😛
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!!
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. 😉
Nice write up on nanoblocks and your collection is awesome! I collect nanoblock buildings as a hobby too. Favorite is pisa and effiel tower. 😀
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 🤗
Nice! Yes, Nanoblock is mostly for hobbyists. Some of the larger models can actually be quite challenging. Glad to hear you enjoy them. 🙂
I forgot to mention that you can buy small clear boxes to display Nanobloks in. Cheers 🙂
I loved your article and now I know why I had 37 extra pieces :p
I built my first nanoblock set, sydney harbour bridge and I loved it… and you’re right, it is easier to display them because you don’t need lot of space..
Nanoblocks and Lego are awesome!
Mirna, it’s awesome that you are having fun with the sets! Enjoy your collection! 🙂
I love building with nano blocks. My favourite are cartoons and Star Wars
Does anyone have the instructions for the titanic set??? I moved and lost the instructions I’m desperate!!!
Hm… David, that’s a tough one. I think your best bet would be the Nanoblock subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/nanoblock/
Thanks for this well written and very informative article!!
I recently suffered a stroke and thought some type of kit would be beneficial to my recovery. I am also visually impaired, although I see well enough to have a driver’s license.
I bought a level two, 310 piece kit of Buckingham Palace. I am about halfway done. The instructions are much clearer than the image in your article. I am really enjoying this.
The bricks came in four separate bags, making locating a particular brick quite easy.
One person wrote that the process was tedious. Well, what can be said? That’s what a kit is! For me, the longer it takes, the better!
I will purchase more nanoblock product.
There is a company that makes micro brick replicas of (American) football stadiums and basketball arenas. I would love to build this, but the reviews are awful, citing poor design of some of them, and missing parts. Plus, all 3000+ pieces come in one bag! 🙄
Do you know where I can get generic lots of nanoblocks please? I want to build something different but I am short of 8x2s and the 2x1s with just the one dot on the top? Would really appreciate some help here, not really something I can substitute.
Hm… I would suggest checking for used lots on eBay to get extra parts. That’s what I would do in your situation. 🙂
Thank you Thita, I might have to, the only problem is I need about 250 of the 2×1 with 1 dot, that might take a lot of doing. Will have to start building and see if I can substitute with 2×2 with 1 dot! I imagine I can get round the 2×8 as it uses no 2×10 and I have a lot, those combined with 2×3 x 2 will do the job in a lot of instances, it is mainly the pesky 2×1 with 1 dot ones!!!
Jane, I know it’s not going to be easy. Sometimes creativity can solve at least some of the problems (using different pieces, as you mentioned, etc.). And then maybe combined with some eBay lots. You can set up alert on eBay, so as soon as an item is available, you get alerted. I lucked out on some nice LEGO lots with rare parts doing this. Good luck! 🙂