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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All the non LEGO dolls are super creepy. Probably from how if something is not a human, but looks a lot like we one we associate extreme creepiness with it.
Also when you said “there are some subtle differences between boy and girl figures.” you missed that the girls have breasts.
They all have their plusses and minuses. The LEGO mini-dolls are super cute, but they can’t properly sit down, can’t walk, and can only hold accessories one way. I personally like the MB mini-dolls. They are very articulated and can be dressed. I did imply that the girls have more female curves by saying that the boys have broader and flatter chests. 😀
Yeah that’s the effect known as the “Uncanny Valley” – I think LEGO is smart to keep their figures looking less human as that avoids this, but the more human something looks without being human, the more fake it appears to our eyes which is what I think you’re describing.
I agree. Although sometimes LEGO crosses the line to the Uncanny Valley too. Like they did with some of the Star Wars characters with the big bulgy eyes, and also the old Native Americans with the big noses. That’s one of the reasons why a lot of people still prefer the simple smiley faces. It suits LEGO’s simplistic design the best.
Usually with licensed real characters, they’re only recognizable if you’d have the whole figure. Just looking at the heads, most of the minifigs are so simplistic and generic, they’d be unrecognizable as the actor portraying the character.
Oh, yeah for sure. It’s usually the head/headgear, and the printing on the body that makes them recognizable. And maybe any unique facial details (face-paint, scar, eye-patch, unique skin color, etc.)
I must have missed that…. I would rather have a less articulated figure than one that looks like it might kill me in my sleep… :devil:
LOL! 🙄 😀 😈
BTW, I love LEGO mini-dolls, but I do think that the adult male version is on the creepy side. The head and nose are too big, and the jaw is too angular for such a small body. But the rest of them are very cute.
Ahhhhh, thanks for the comparison! This is great! I like lego’s minidolls, but Wellie Wishers is so cute too! They seem to have the best balance between super articulated and super stiff. If lego minidolls would have movable legs they would be perfect!
That’s actually my assessment too. It is interesting that with WellieWishers MB went back to a less articulated version. This makes sense, because Wellies are for younger kids, so they are in line with the original dolls. The movable legs and feet makes them more posable than LEGO mini-dolls without being too complex.
Very useful comparison seeing the figures side by side. But why don’t those WellieWishers have boots? Isn’t that’s the whole idea? Or are the boots optional accessories? And why does one of them have a mermaid tail? (I assume that’s what it is.)
In the main WellieWishers sets the girls do have boots, or sometimes both boots and shoes that are interchangeable. I only got the collectible figures, which, unfortunately, only come with shoes.
The collectible MB figures represent extra dresses you can buy for the real WellieWishers. The mermaid dress for Camille, the daisy princess dress for Ashlyn (pink dress), and the ballet costume for Emerson (short pink/purple dress) are all direct copies of costumes made for the larger dolls. The other two dresses (yellow for Willa, and mint for Kendall) I don’t recognize, but they may be future options for the other girls. All the dresses in the main sets are also accurate representation of the dresses of the real dolls.
I forgot to mention that the mermaid tail is a removable piece. It is over Camille’s light-blue skirt, and can be taken off.
Not my thing, but I have to admit that the little girl in the yellow dress with red pigtails is very cute.
I guess I’m different than the rest of your readers. I find the MegaBloks figures far superior to Legos both in terms of appearance and playability.
I’m not collecting any of them myself but I don’t think there’s an comparison to Lego in the area of bricks or to MegaBloks in the area of figures.
While LEGO and MB is similar in many ways, they do have a different focus. LEGO was always primarily a construction toy, and minifigs were a secondary thought. Of course, now they are very popular, but because they are part of LEGO’s carefully designed system, they kept their iconic brick-like shapes. They were never really meant to be accurate to the human form. Those of us who grew up with minifigs love them because of all the nostalgia, however for an “outsider” they are definitely strange.
MB is somewhere between construction toys and old fashioned lifelike miniatures. While they started out with LEGO-like blocky characters many years ago, they completely switched over to micro action figures, which definitely fits the brand better, and it also gives them a unique place in the toy market. In addition, MB’s sole focus is on licensed properties (although they used to have their own themes in the past), so it’s important for them to make the figures accurate.
Because of the different focus, comparing MB and LEGO figures is like comparing apples and oranges. However, because in many ways they are compatible, and many people mix the two brands, it does make sense compare them. I have heard many other people say the same thing as you mentioned: LEGO is superior as far as a building system and the quality of their bricks, and MB makes the best micro action figures.
I enjoy collecting LEGO minifigs, LEGO mini-dolls, MB micro action figures, and MB mini-dolls. I just really like small plastic people whether they are square and stocky minifigs, tall and skinny Friends, or lifelike MB figures. 😀
If Wellie Wishers would be a little shorter, they could go well with Friends. I like the last picture of all of them together. They all have their plusses and minuses.
Yeah, they can all coexists peacefully. 😀
Eeeewwww, they are Butt UGLY. LEGO IS THE BEST HANDS DOWN. Wish Lego kept to their original minifigures, I like the Lego design of the Lego batman movie. My kids got almost all the sets, they love them. They have the friends and Elves too. However wish they kept the body component the same as all their minifigures. Why mess with a good thing. Right. Maybe trying to appeal to the children of the future, *SHRUGS SHOULDERS*
He-he… I knew this article is going to bring in very opposing views. 😈
The minifigs show no sign of going away. They’ve been a great success since the start, and unlike the bricks, Lego still owns the patent.
Absolutely! Minifigs are not going anywhere. They are very much the core of the world of LEGO. There would be a worldwide riot if LEGO would replace them or change them. 🙄
Well, I never even liked the LEGO minidolls, so it’s probably no surprise that I don’t like the MB minidolls. haha The articulation is a definite improvement I’d admit – the LEGO minidolls are pretty terrible that way… they can’t even kick a soccer ball! 😛 But I think the shape of the LEGO one, particularly the face, is significantly better. Plus the colors look less plastic-y (just going by the pictures of course). Still, I don’t really like either one. 😉 But I will admit that the minidoll themes have brought some nice new pieces into the part arsenal, not to mention some really neat colors that first got introduced in the minidoll themes.
I just I bury the one or two I have in the farthest recesses of my minifigure containers. 😉
I have them mixed in my LEGO city. I just consider the Friends figures teenagers; tall, skinny, and awkward with big feet. Like in real life. 🙄
And yes, Friends brought in some fantastic pieces, accessories and beautiful pastel colors. As far as skin colors, LEGO Friends are the palest. The American Girl figures are a tad darker for the fair skinned characters. The darker skin-tone for LEGO Friends is somewhere between the MB figures’ medium and dark skin. I think they are all pretty accurate comparing to real skin colors.
I also like the faces of LEGO Friends first, then WellieWishers, then American Girl. I don’t like the adult male version of LEGO Friends with their big head and big nose, so I usually just swap them out with boy faces. There are no male MB American Girl figures yet, so I don’t know what they would look like (there are male American Girl dolls, so maybe they will come in the future). But of course regular minifigs are the best. 😀
Even the men of the Friends theme appear rather feminine. Adding beards don’t really help much.
Although it might not matter much to the core audience, anyway…
Are there any men in the Monster High sets? I kinda like the theme, although it’s unlikely I’d buy any set without substantial discounts…
Monster High are all girls. While MB’s prices are definitely creeping up, especially on the Collectors sets, they are still cheaper than most LEGO sets, and you can often find them on sale as well. I have been thinking about picking up some Monster High figures myself as they are really cute. 😉
Men in Friends sets are like Ken in the Barbie universe. Rare, and looking very out of place. 🙄
Ken looks a bit more masculine, though… Just very carefully primped…
Yeah, that’s true! 😀
I’m actually pretty selective about which friends (or other minidoll) accessories I’ll use… some of them just look too friends-y to me. Not that I have many anyways. And most of them are ones that came along when I bought out my sisters’ collections. 😛
I think I’d have a really hard time trying to get used to a mixture of minidolls and minifigures in one build. It would probably drive me crazy! 😉
Yeah, I agree on the accessories. Some work better with minifigs than others. Mini-dolls work fine in certain settings mixed with minifigs. Elves for example, look okay, because they are meant to be a different humanoid species, so the differences make sense. With regular mini-dolls, if you don’t put them right next to minifigs they are fine. Like, for example, they could be a group of friends (pun intended) walking down the street in your city. They also work well as mannequins in building like the Grand Emporium. 😀
I generally like the accessories, though. It’s nice having a lot of handbags and lipsticks other utensils that’s sorta been neglected for a while in the minifig-based themes.
The lipstick pieces are nice when it comes to attaching antistuds or that sort of thing because they can function as a really short pole… but as it happens I don’t have any anyways!
I wish LEGO would make the lipstick pieces in other colors as well, because they are definitely very useful.
Yes, they are awesome. I particularly like the kitchen utensils. Some of the colors are a little weird, but there are also colors that match regular LEGO city stuff as well. And yeah, the lipsticks and handbags are great! 😀
Yeah, I wonder why there yet hasn’t been any kitchen tools set in a more natural color, such as white, black, gray or chrome…
Yes, exactly! And I’m sure Friends will be perfectly fine with plain colored utensils! 😀
Loved the article. Thanks for the analysis.
Being in Europe it is really hard to buy these MB. I have a 6 year old daughter and am a mom, so full disclosure! I love MB dolls, and while the quality of the sets is not as good as lego, the sets are really interesting if not more interesting and imaginative than lego friends (how many more cafes do we need? frozen yoghurt, cupcake, patisserie, pizzeria, and so on…). Monster High is really cute as well, even though we are not acquainted at all with the universe. I have been able to buy these from the amazon in europe. We own some of the AG sets (as presents from north american relatives) and I would really love to be able to buy them all (the new parisian cafe, the piano player, the gymnastics set, etc). The new WW are super cute. I would really hope MB is listening and they make these sets available in Europe. I was buying Lego Friends back when they are released and my daughter was still 1, so count on me to buy these now – MEGA BLOKS, JUST MAKE THEM AVAILABLE!!!!
Alexanda, I answered your questions in the other thread, but to repeat the crux of it; Mega is working on expanding their distribution now that they are the umbrella of Mattel. Funny you mention it; I just built the gymnastics set last week, and it is very impressive. I also had a chance to build some of the upcoming sets while visiting their facility. The quality has vastly improved, and it is now basically the same as LEGO. I especially like their small specialty pieces and accessories. I will write up a full article about my visit shortly. If you have any further questions/requests, etc., feel free to add them here. Now that I have several contact persons at Mega, I can whisper in their ears. 😉
I hope I’m not too late to join in on this! My daughter will be 5 in a few months, but has discovered during the last 6 months how much fun Legos are! She’s also amazed me that she can put together these larger sets with so much ease! She’s never been a Barbie or a doll “girl” because she’s always drawn to the smaller tiny toys. I had to BRIBE her to finally move on from Fisher Price Little People just last Christmas! Ha!
So needless to say, she’s OBSESSED with the Lego minifigures…people AND the animals!
She’s recently seen the American Girl minis that appear to be just like her Lego brand minis, in her eyes.
I definitely appreciated this review…THANK YOU!
Can anyone tell me if these other minis from Mega Construx will fit, or stand on her existing Lego building mats? She’s begging for more “dolls” but I know she’ll be upset if they won’t “play well” with her existing sets and friends.
Ahhh, I was just like your daughter; didn’t care for girlie dolls like Barbie, but really liked tiny toy figures, especially minifigs! Thanks for sharing! To answer your question, the American Doll figures are fully compatible with LEGO. Meaning, they can stand on LEGO studs, and they can hold LEGO accessories in their hands. The sets they come with are fully compatible as well, as Mega uses the same building system (so you can mix and match all the bricks and accessories). However, as you can see on my pictures, American Girl mini-dolls are about half an inch taller than LEGO Friends dolls, and the Wellie Wishers dolls are about about a quarter inch taller. They can get along just fine. 🙂
What’s the exact height in inches of the Mega Construx American Girl dolls?
Exactly 2.5 inches. 🙂