While I have been a LEGO fan all my life, my introduction to building toys similar to LEGO is quite recent. I originally started paying attention to other brands about eight years ago when I was working on some customized minifigures. At that time LEGO didn’t have such an extensive selection of minifig accessories, so I looked for products from LEGO customizers and LEGO compatible brands. One such brand that caught my attention was Mega Bloks. And here I’m going to narrate to you my journey to the dark side of flirting with LEGO’s main competitor… 🙄
Although there are some really high quality LEGO compatible brands, they are usually difficult to find in the USA, and when imported from overseas prices are just as expensive as LEGO, if not more. On the other hand, Mega Bloks is readily available at most department stores and toy stores, and they are helpfully (or sneakily) placed right next to LEGO boxes. So I kept running into Mega Bloks sets on my LEGO shopping trips.
I was especially eyeing Mega Bloks’ castle and fantasy lines, like the Dragons, King Arthur, Chronicles of Narnia and Word of Warcraft sets. The artwork on the boxes always looked awesome with great castles, beautiful ships, and armored warriors. Mega Bloks boxes usually have at least one main character exposed via a clear window, and unfortunately the real figures compared to the box-art didn’t look nearly as impressive. In addition, I also read that Mega Bloks was inferior quality, they are a LEGO clone brand, and LEGO fans suppose to hate them. So I shied away from buying any of the sets.
Around this time I had a young friend named Julien who used to come over to our house to play with my LEGO collection from time to time. He was a really talented young builder who had good eyes for both design and color, and I was impressed by his creations. His family eventually moved away, and later when I talked with him on the phone he said he switched over to Mega Bloks because he liked their figures better. I was quite surprised that one of my young LEGO buddies would join the dark side of building toys. But I also knew he had good taste and appreciated good quality, so I started looking at Mega Bloks again with more interest.
My first Mega Bloks purchase was a couple of years ago when I got all four of the Halo Metallic Series ODST Drop Pods that were available at that time. I was at the LEGO isle (of course) at Wal-Mart, and I came across some opened packages (probably by curious kids) of the Mega Bloks Halo Drop Pods, so I had a chance to take a look at some of the figures outside the packaging. I thought that they looked quite good, so I bought all four of them from the collection. I wanted to examine them more, and maybe review them for our readers. I ended up really liking these figures. They are basically small, 2-inch tall action-figures, with excellent articulation, great details, and really good quality.
Shortly after I got the Call of Duty Desert Troopers set with five figures and a bunch of accessories. These figures were also excellent quality, but the tiny pieces really tested my patience. Basically every little accessory you see on the figures is a separate piece you need to attach. The weapons are also made up of tiny pieces that you assemble yourself. On the positive side, this makes the set extremely versatile and customizable, on the negative side dealing with so many small parts is tedious to say the least. Later I learned that the Call of Duty sets are unique in this regard, but at that point, even though I liked the figures, I stopped buying Mega Bloks for a while.
The next sets I got were from the Hot Wheels line. Three little vehicles with a driver for each. They looked good on the boxes, but what I found inside was just terrible. The parts had ugly colors and not at all what was displayed on the boxes, and the pieces had such bad clutch-power that they were constantly falling off. The figures were ugly too. My budding faith in the Mega Bloks brand was shaken, and I stopped even looking at them.
After some time however, I discovered that my favorite LEGO reviewer, JANGBRiCKS, was also doing reviews on Mega Bloks sets. I learned that Mega Bloks actually have what they call the Collectors line, with much higher quality than their standard sets. The Halo and Call of Duty sets I got from them previously were from the Collectors line, whereas the Hot Wheels cars were standard Mega Bloks sets. Ahhh! That made sense! I also found out that Mega Bloks has a separate dedicated website for their Collectors line, and the first products they carried for collectors was from Halo back in 2009. Then they later added Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Terminator, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And this year Destiny and Star Trek was also added. The website looks tasteful and very well organized, so I spent some time studying what they had, and I also watched pretty much all of JANGBRiCKS reviews on the Collectors sets (below are some samples).
I was back fully flirting with LEGO’s competitor. However even within the Collectors line I didn’t have an interest in the sets. Most of them depict modern military scenes and vehicles, which I don’t care about. Plus I much prefer LEGO’s refined building system and consistent color-palette for actual building. At the same time, I was definitely interested in the high quality and highly detailed figures, as I always liked small action figures. (Mega Bloks calls them Micro Action Figures.)
The next thing I bought were all four Ninja Turtles from the Mega Blocks TMNT Collectors line. I have reviewed these separately here: Mega Bloks Treasures for LEGO TMNT Fans. I’m not going to repeat what I wrote previously, but in summary, I was very impressed and very happy with the figures, and I also really liked the accessories and beautifully printed tiles (all fully LEGO compatible). I’m looking forward to the black-and-white early comic book version of the characters coming out later this year.
Then, I got all six of the Halo Heroes Series 1 figures that were recently released. As I mentioned previously, the Halo franchise is the oldest in the Mega Bloks Collectors line, so there are a huge amount of sets and characters. I already had the four I got previously, but Mega Bloks refined the articulation of the shoulders since then, and I wanted to get some of the newer figures as well. Halo Heroes Series 1 (and later this year Series 2 will be released as well) make a nice collection and are good examples of the entire line. While very nicely detailed, the Halo figures are not so heavily accessorized as in Call of Duty. You don’t have to worry about loosing small pieces, or having to manually assemble tiny accessories. While the armor pieces can be exchanged, the only external accessories are one-piece weapons. Much more favorable for play.
Around the same time I also picked up the Mega Bloks Call of Duty Icarus Troopers set with five astronauts. I know I said I don’t like the Call of Duty sets as much because – while the figures are excellent – there are too many tiny accessories. But I really liked these astronauts, and in this case only the weapons are made up of small parts. I didn’t really care about arming my astronauts, and only needed them for peaceful space exploration.
Two more figures that I got are from the Mega Bloks Assassin’s Creed line. Even if you are not into the video-game this is an excellent collection of Red Coats, Blue Coat, pirates and other history/fantasy figures. The only two that I picked up are these two gorgeous looking knights in beautifully detailed medieval armor! These are my most favorite Mega Bloks figures. The designers really outdid themselves! I really hope that Mega Bloks will bring back more medieval/fantasy sets under their Collectors line.
Now that I know the difference between the Collectors line and regular Mega Bloks sets, I have been consistently happy with my purchases. Having said that, there are some standard Mega Bloks sets that I think are worth checking out. Particularly the Smurfs and Minions. The sets are inferior quality, but the figures are very cute. You can get them in small packets with a few accessories, so you don’t have to bother with buying entire sets. And you can incorporate both the figures and accessories into your LEGO creations.
So far I only bought boyish Mega Bloks sets. So do they have anything nice for girls? I do remember seeing some Mega Bloks Barbie sets, but the figures looked dreadful. However the recently released Monster High characters are pretty cute – if you are into teenage girls in ghoulish outfits.
The collection that really caught my attention in the girly department is the new Mega Bloks American Girl sets. They are not within the Collectors line, but it is clear that Mega Bloks put serious effort into making these sets as nice as possible. I don’t have any of the full sets, however I did get all eight of the Series 1 Collectible Figures Assortment. The figures are fully articulated tiny versions of the classic American Girl dolls. They can be completely taken apart and all parts can be exchanged, so you can basically mix and match all their clothing. The hair pieces can be exchanged as well. The skirts and hats are made of a rubbery element that is quite nice. The figures are high quality and look cute – maybe not as sweet looking as the LEGO Friends mini-dolls, but definitely cuter that the old LEGO Belville dolls. In size they are somewhere in between LEGO Friends and LEGO Belville. LEGO Friends mini-dolls are less than 2 inches high, whereas the American Girl dolls are 2.5 inches, so their hair and clothing pieces are not compatible. However their handheld accessories can be used by LEGO minifigures (and vice versa).
Mega Bloks is sort of a mix between traditional toy soldiers and miniature dolls displayed on terrain pieces, and construction toys like LEGO. This means that their figures are more realistic, but because pretty much every Mega Bloks product-line has its own style and scale of characters, their parts can’t be switched as easily (if at all) as for LEGO minifigures. There is one feature of Mega Bloks figures however that is systematically the same; their hands can hold the same accessories, and their feet can stand on studs – and both of these features are compatible with LEGO’s system. In other words, all handheld Mega Bloks figure accessories are compatible with LEGO minifigures, and Mega Bloks figures can stand on LEGO studs.
Because Mega Bloks is not a systemized construction toy like LEGO, their building elements are not always compatible with each other, nor can they be easily mixed to build your custom creations. They do have some basic building blocks that are copied from LEGO that can be used for free-building, but they also have a lot of specialized large pieces that only serve one purpose. In addition, their colors are not standardized, and can be all over the place, which further makes Mega Bloks a bad choice for custom models. Having said that, you can find some interesting small pieces in Mega Bloks sets that LEGO doesn’t make.
The quality of the pieces however is not nearly as good as LEGO. Even in the Collectors line, it is only the figures that are high quality. The rest of the parts feel cheap, and are very inconsistent in both color and clutch-power. Some are way too tight, others are too lose. Their size tolerance is also much worse than LEGO. Pieces next to each other have weird and inconsistent gaps in between. I have only been focusing on getting the Micro Action Figures, but because some of them came in regular sets, I had a chance to try out the quality of standard pieces as well. If you are a LEGO fan and used to LEGO’s quality, I wouldn’t recommend them. However if you are interested in any of the sets, I would suggest that you first pick up a small set in the same line to see how you like the quality.
While Mega Bloks does have a website where all their current products, product descriptions, and prices are listed, they do not directly sell online like LEGO does via the Online LEGO Shop. You have to buy all their sets through third-party retailers. Prices are usually slightly lower than LEGO’s, although they have been creping up. I have found that Toys’R’Us has the best selection of Mega Bloks sets, and it is a good place to check out their selection. Wal-Mart also has a decent selection, although not nearly as extensive as Toys’R’Us. However now that I know what I like, I pretty much just use the Mega Bloks website for researching new sets, check out JANGBRiCKS reviews on them, and then buy what I want on eBay or Amazon. Prices are often better than at retail stores, and you can also buy the figures individually. Here are some of the listings I have been using. You can find them here:
In summary, I would say that while Mega Bloks as a building system doesn’t come near the quality of LEGO, their Micro Action Figures in the Collectors line are excellent. The characters do look really good, are a pleasure to collect and display, and durable enough for regular play. And the fact that they are compatible with LEGO studs and accessories could make them attractive even for LEGO fans. It seems like Mega Bloks finally found a niche for themselves where they stand out – instead of just being a LEGO wannabe. If they could get the quality of their regular building elements at least near the quality of LEGO, maybe they would even gain the respect of more LEGO fans. But at least their Micro Action Figure packs are already making collectors happy.
Anyhow, that’s my story with Mega Bloks. What about you? Have you ever gotten any of their sets or figures? How do you like them? How would you compare their quality to LEGO? Feel free to share your thoughts and own review in the comment section below! 😉
And you might also like to check out the following related posts:
That’s a really interesting story. I have been looking at MB for some time now too, but I was worried about their reputation of bad quality. Now that I know about their collectors line I will revisit them again. Those knights look amazing! Are they still available?
I actually got both knights fairly recently, so yeah, they are available. I got them both on eBay. The silver armored knight comes in a small set with just a few accessories. The gold knight comes in a bit larger set with another figure and a raft type of thing. The raft has some pretty gold-printed tiles and a catapult. It is the most pathetic brick-built catapult I have ever encountered in my life. The design is just horrible and it doesn’t work. A five-year-old could build something better than that. It’s the largest actual set I have ever built from Mega Bloks, and their designer skils didn’t exactly impress me. But I’m very happy with the knights. 🙂
Thanks for the comparison picture at the end. Very helpful to put the size of the figures into perspective for those of us who are not familiar with Megabloks. Their collectors action figures do look good. Are the joints nice and tight? Or do they fall apart easily, or after regular use?
Yes, the joints are all good. They are tight and move smoothly. One thing I had to adjust to is how much longer it takes to pose small action figures versus minifigs. Minifigs have few simple joints, so it is easy to manipulate them in the few limited poses they can do, and then stick them on a baseplate or into a MOC. Action figures are a whole other matter. They are very poseable – which means they can look quite lifelike – but it takes a lot of fiddling around to get them right.
It was nice to read this article and finally get the full scoop on Mega Bloks. At least, it seems, they’re putting the most effort into their most original asset, being the micro figures. While the Lego armored space guy doesn’t look as good next to the Halo figure, it’s kind of sad to see the latter so short next to an American Girl 😀 .
That’s called Girl Power! 😀
Hey, baby-brothybroth, try this hat on for size!
The Star Trek diorama looks pretty good… I thought about building some space base with a bunch of control screens like that… Is it printed parts?…
I think I like their cartoony themes the best… (Smurfs, Minions, Hello Kitty, Monster High, Old School Turtles…) It’s hard to attempt hardcore realism in studded Lego style, it often looks jarring…
I remember JAGNBRiCKS mentioning that Collectors sets only have printed parts. So, yeah, my guess is that all the controls are printed. To make sure you can always watch Jang’s reviews. Yes, their cartoony characters are cute. Although I have to say I have seen some custom LEGO Smurfs and they were very cute too. But I’m already very used to the LEGO style.
Amen, sister!!! Good is good! Legos are good for sure but MegaBloks figures are too and people who reject them out of hand are fools. People who let themselves be intimidated by those idiots are fools as well. …maybe more so for not opening a $4 mnipack to see for themselves. (But be ready to mangle those arm joints in there, folks!) (A little spit and a pair of needle nose pliers help.)
I am deeply in love with my adorable little Minions which are sooooo much more poseable than CFMs due to the pivot joints they have at the arms and legs/feet which let them be manipulated 360˚. And I have been looking for the Mutant Ninja Turtles since you did that feature on them about a year ago. Alas! Still no luck there…. 😟
Hm… the Ninja Turtles should be readily available. I got all four of them at Wal-Mart, and I recently saw them again at TRU. You can also find them on eBay and Amazon. And yes, the Minions are very cute. Nice accessories too! 😀
I didn’t realize MegaBloks had Star Trek. Interesting.
The Barbie Megabloks were the gate to getting my daughter into Lego. We discovered those before we discovered the Lego Friends sets. My daughter now has both. I was initially against the genderization of Lego and resisted the Friends sets. However as Barbie was already in our house Barbie Megabloks was a natural move. From there we opened our minds to Lego Friends. Once Lego Friends were in the house my husband and I came out of our dark ages and got back into Lego ourselves. So now the American Girl Megabloks are out and they haven’t entered our house yet, but I am keeping an open mind. ANYTHING that gets my daughter building is a good thing, right?? Lego is better quality but whatever works.
Kids like small figures, so yeah, anything that gets kids building is a good thing. I think the American Girl Figures are better than the Barbie ones as far as quality, but the Barbie figures are more in line with the Friends figures as far as size. The Star Trek sets are brand new. They were just released this month. 🙂
Great comparison. I agree the microfigures are very well done is just about every set. I really liked the old Marvel figures back when MegaBloks had that license. And I have to agree the elements are not up to Lego quality, but I can also find deep discounted MegaBloks sets that make up for that when looking to add elements and MegaBloks doesn’t have Lego’s ban on using modern weaponry in it’s sets.
That’s a good point about modern weapons and military stuff. It is not a theme I’m really interested in myself, but I know many people do, so for them having a choice is a good thing. The Call of Duty figures are high quality and come with many interesting accessories LEGO fans can use too. And the sets do look realistic, even if the building experience is not in par with LEGO’s quality.
MB have their pros and cons. MB Call of Duty, coupled with LEGO Simpsons, were my gateway drug back to LEGO when I came back from Afghanistan. I loved LEGO as a kid and thought it was incredible that my (future) kids could have LEGO-like military toys without the silliness of G.I. Joe.
As indicated in the article, the quality of MB bricks leaves some desirability compared to LEGO. I wouldn’t rate MB bricks as poor but there is definitely inconsistency, and MB currently lacks the critical mass where builders can create truly good MOC’s. This is further exacerbated as almost every MB set has specific and therefore limiting pieces. However, on the flip side, it is because MB makes these unique pieces that their military models look so good. Despite all their bricks and history, there is no LEGO piece-or-build substitute for the canopy of an Apache helicopter or fighter jet. As good as LEGO 31039 Blue Power Jet (F-35) is, it pales in modeling detail compared to the Call of Duty Strike Fighter (AV-8B). Also note that MB are modeled on a roughly 1:35 scale, vs. 1:48 or 1:50 for LEGO, meaning it would be even tougher to capture this modeling detail in the smaller LEGO scale without specific, dedicated pieces. I’ve also seen gorgeous LEGO models that use small plates to fill in these specific-piece gaps, but that method also rules out playability for the kids.
Also, while I agree MB does an excellent job with their ‘micro action figures,’ there are quality control issues. I’ve purchased sets where some ‘micro action figures’ were damaged/scuffed before leaving the box since they are made of soft plastic, and others where paint is missing or obviously accidentally specked where a specific color should or should not be.
The range of MB micro-action-figures leaves much to be desired, too. There are no bad guys in the Call of Duty line, and that makes it hard to field opposition. No Haqqani or Taliban, no Soviet-era commies, no Viet Cong, and not even Nazis in their WWII stuff. Even the micro action figures that come with the BTR-80 or ZSU (Soviet-era equipment) are dressed like modern day U.S. military personnel. I can find make these bad guys out of the long history of themes available from LEGO, but ironically could not make U.S. or allied military out of LEGO.
IMO, MB is awesome but LEGO will always rule the day. LEGO offers so many pieces now for building that there is no substitute for building details. I’ll continue making towns and buildings out of LEGO, and let the kids invade with MB vehicles. I would do my best though to keep the LEGO vs MB pieces and lots separate.
Nice summary. Thanks for sharing. So far I haven’t had any issues with the micro action figures I got, but I definitely have a very small collection compared to dedicated Mega Bloks fans. I did hear though that their customer service is very good, so if you ever have an issue with any of the pieces or figures it is worth giving them a call. Now that I think of it, the only badguys I remember seeing in the Call of Duty sets are zombies. 🙄
So, the the American Girls dolls are taken apart by the limbs, not by the waist?
It makes sense for an ethnically diverse line-up, though. It’s harder to mix and match Lego mini-dolls of different skin color… (Especially considering that most of them are rather lightly dressed.)
The American Girls dolls completely come apart. The hair, head, torso shoulder joints, arms, hands, waist, hip, belt, skirt, upper legs, lower legs, and shoes/boots are all separate and interchangeable pieces. The collectible series (the ones I have pictures in the article) are specifically released so girls came make dolls that look like themselves. I think most girls would first choose the skin color (light, medium or dark), then the hair color, and finally the clothing and accessories. The faces are all exactly the same, except for the eye colors. Also, some have special heads with a groove at the back so you can put removable glasses over them. They are pretty sweet. 🙂
Thanks for the overview of MegaBlocks. I don’t know if you’ve looked at any Cobi stuff yet, but I think it’s worth a look. I purchased a couple of Cobi tanks for my boys… a T-34-85 and a Tiger I. Considering they’re only about $40 a piece, it’s an excellent value compared to commercially available kits that use authentic LEGO pieces. If I have the urge to have tanks in actual LEGO pieces, I’ll build some MOCs.
I did look at Cobi, but I really dislike their minifigs. In general I’m not interested in other building toys besides LEGO. (Oxford is an exception as their quality is the same as LEGO’s and their designs are very nice.) I do look at other brand designs however for inspiration for my own LEGO buildings, but what I’m mostly after from other brands is interesting minifigs accessories. But as you said, Cobi is a good option for those who are looking for military models. Definitely cheaper than BrickMania’s custom LEGO tanks! 😀
I bought some second hand Cobi stuff at flea markets and thrift stores… A military base including a tank, and some fire engine, and that old Minifig-like Cobifig with a pointed nose… (I’m not sure if they had to change the design since it was too similar to Lego’s…)
Pretty good, although a tad too many specialized parts… As I have understood it, unlike Mega Bloks, Cobi uses the same ABS-based plastic as Lego, so overall quality is quite high. It looks and feels pretty good to me…
I have actually been completely stolen away from Lego by MB Collector series this year. I started flirting with clearanced MB COD sets in the summer of 2015 with with mixed results (which I now know to be the transition period to Mattel), but since then, the set designs mop the floor with Lego. The plastic in the bricks has been upgraded, clutch power is better than Lego, quality control is just a notch under Lego (I`ve had 2 malformed parts in 25 sets) and the building techniques are mind blowing at times.
With Lego UCS sets back sliding into playsets and the Episode 7 tax being applied to everything SW, I have found myself not buying a single set since obtaining the first wave of Ep 7. The line has clearly been drawn in 2016: Lego is simple for kids, MB is static model quality for adults. After the total switch to printed parts for MB, I find the idea of Lego stickers to be even more atrocious, especially when Lego has upped their prices even further. Trix are for kids.
I am actually anxiously awaiting for Amazon to deliver my +3,000pc Enterprise tomorrow for a weeks worth of evening building and a 34″ model that is adult display worthy. Maybe I`ll pull my Helicarrier out from under the bed for an impromptu battle.
I read somewhere that MB actively recruits ex-designers from LEGO for their Colllectors line. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it would explain the very advanced and interesting building techniques in those sets. And I agree that their no stickers and lots of really nice printed parts policy in the Collectors line is a huge draw.
I still don’t like the quality of their bricks though. In the Collectors sets I got the clutch-power is either too tight, or too loose. They just don’t click together as nicely and smoothly as LEGO, and they are really hard to take apart. Plus, their color-consistency is bad. They don’t have a consistent color-palette like LEGO (not even within the same collection), and all of their elements are either marbled, swirled, metallic or speckled to hide their inability to produce even colors. But their problems are definitely not as bad as they used to be, and the pieces can offer some unique variety for LEGO fans. I still wouldn’t buy full sets from them though, and just focus on the mini action figures which I really like.
Their pricing is kind of interesting. I have found that some of the sets appear to be way underpriced based on size and piece-count, and others are surprisingly overpriced and even more expensive than a comparable LEGO set would be. I’m new to MB myself, so haven’t really figured out their patterns yet. Plus I buy so few MB sets that I don’t really have to worry about prices. I did find though that MB sets consistently loose their value over time. So if you are willing to wait a little, you can find pretty much all their sets on sale. I bought almost everything I have at about 50-75% off the original price in brand new condition, either from eBay or from local retailers.
I’m looking forward to your thoughts on the Enterprise. It looks very impressive, and JANGBRiCKS also praised it in his review. It is definitely a beautiful looking set.
I highly suggest you pick up the Harrier for under $30 on Amazon to get a firm grasp on the new and improved MB. For that price, it would be hard to regret the purchase and it certainly shows off some of their techniques. I think most would be shocked to see only the cockpit upper, landing gear struts and possibly the wing plates are the only specialized parts when looking at the pictures or watching Jang’s reviews. Watch his review on the Bradley and listen to the astonishment in his voice of the build. I can confirm it is almost entirely constructed using 1 and 2 stud wide PLATEs. It`s insanely dense. Too bad they get a bit too clever with details that cause outer chunks to fall off when handling. I’ve been tempted to release the kragel.
I agree with you about the solid colors being uneven, but my Lego Star Destroyer suffers from that to a lesser degree. I also agree that if you are mainly a custom builder, then Lego is your path forward. As far as out of the box kits go ($40 and up MSRP), Mega completely destroys Lego now and the fact you can always find MB on Amazon at hefty discounts, you can get 2 kits for every one Lego of comparable part count.
I do watch all of JANG’s MB reviews, and saw both the one on the Harrier and the Bradley. I’m not into modern military sets though, so while they look good, they don’t appeal to me. I did pick up some of the Collectors TMNT and Assassin Creed sets though. And I also have some Call of Duty and Halo sets. Plus I regularly check the MB Collectors website for updates. So I’m keeping an eye on them and look forward to their new releases. It is definitely nice to see that they are making an effort to improve. I think they really found a niche for themselves with their Collectors line. 🙂
Mega Bloks/Mega Construx is evil. End of story. 😀
Interesting read. I always find non-LEGO brands have a different feel to the plastic, one of inferior quality.
Yes, I agree that LEGO’s plastic definitely has a unique quality that experienced LEGO fans can instantly recognize. The only other brand that has the same quality is Oxford. All other brands – in my experience – feels cheaper. However the Mega Bloks Collectors figures (which I’m most interested in) are made of a different type of plastic and they feel very high quality.
You don’t always know that. Mega bloks are better and they can the guns more realistic then a small stupid lego
Well i have mega bloks and I say the Legos suck compared.the Legos break easy but mega bloks are harder to break and the figures are awesome.I felt very offended when you said some stuff bad about them.If you try to use them again take your time with the small pieces.