For decades, children have grown up with Lego® and many remain loyal to the little building blocks as adults. They proudly bear the title AFOL (Adult Fan of Lego), which means “adult Lego fan”. The Danish company Lego began its triumphal march into children’s rooms in 1949 by producing small bricks. In 1958 it received its patent, which expired in 1988. Lego tried to renew the patent, to its misfortune failed in 2010 before the court. The reason was that the bricks were not suitable for any patent because of their general technical function. This is still valid today and does not bother the majority of building enthusiasts. The advantage of this is that it allows other companies to offer their products on the market. Some of these Lego alternatives are cheaper, which pleases many fans of the building blocks.
What makes these colorful components popular? The answer is simple, it helps children improve their motor skills, promotes creativity, and trains spatial thinking. Let’s not forget the fun of tinkering with the bricks for hours. What is good for the little ones also has its advantages for the adults. That is why for older fans there is an abundant choice of themes. They more often look for specific models and specialize in one area. For them, there are spaceships from sci-fi movies to replicate or additions to their theme park. Others see the hobby as a chance to let their minds drift and solve simple problems. They experience stress relief that helps them keep their minds fit. Based on the examples, it is clear to see that getting busy with the building blocks is something for young and old. In this article about Lego alternatives, you can learn even more about alternatives for adults.
If you still decide to buy the more expensive Lego® sets, we recommend using our app. There you will receive daily bargains via push notification and can save money.
Differences between Lego® alternatives and the original
The most important difference in the Lego® alternatives is the often lower price. In competition, Chinese companies have more economical production costs, which makes their offer cheaper. Another point is that the competition offers sets that the original does not have. That is why for fans of architecture and the military there are certain objects to replicate, which are available from specialist suppliers. These sets consist of significantly more components. At this point, it is easy to see the problem that Lego has. It is trying to stay true to its image as a child-friendly toy while trying not to lose market share. There is no lack of will for innovative ideas. Lego is focusing on the ecological production of its building blocks and has set a goal to make its production 100% environmentally friendly by 2030. Another goal is to digitize the building blocks. According to the vision of the developers, the friends of the clamping brick have the possibility to build their models in AR (English: Augmented Reality). In this way, Lego is trying to maintain its position as the market leader, while competitors are penetrating the niches. The two companies Abanico and Märklin are from Germany and try to fill the gaps that Lego does not serve. Here, an important factor becomes clear, to remain compatible with other suppliers in this way with their products. Without the protective patent, it opens the way for other suppliers to offer their bricks on the market. To the delight of the fans, who get the chance to expand their collection regardless of the manufacturer. Ultimately, it’s the customers at the checkout who decide whether the high price for quality and innovation is worth anything to them.
What you should look for in the alternatives
In order not to experience any trouble after the purchase, there are a few points that facilitate the selection of Lego® alternatives.
- External characteristics
In recent years, many manufacturers improved the quality of their stones. There are fewer differences in colors, shapes, and sizes compared to the original. It does not hurt to pay attention to this. Especially in the case of figures, this difference remains. This is due to the patent on figures, which Lego managed to defend.
- Without toxins
The stones must not have a chemical smell and the colors must not stain. This may be less of an issue for adults, but not for children. Children have a greater risk of coming into contact with plasticizers and toxins. They put the stones in their mouths or come into contact with toxins through their skin.
- Price comparison
It is worth comparing the prices. Some suppliers sell their products at the same prices and with worse quality. Or at the same quality at more expensive prices. Occasionally Lego is the cheaper choice.
- Insertion force
One of the characteristics of quality is the clamping force of the stones. This is shown by the ease with which the stones can be stuck together without falling apart on their own. This should not be too difficult for children’s hands.
- Firm stand
Nothing would be worse if a model fell apart after assembly. This happens especially when individual parts have construction defects. The manufacturer replaces these parts as a gesture of goodwill or they are for sale on the Bricklink brick market.
- Delivery time
It is worth checking the delivery time with some suppliers. This occurs with long supply chains.
Especially the building plans for adults have a more complicated construction. The models consist of more bricks, which makes the steps shorter. Not every step needs an image in the plan, without losing understanding at the same time.
Environmentally friendly packaging is important, especially nowadays. Children may not care, because they are happier about attractive packaging.
Examples of innovative ideas
The company LIGHT STAX has put its focus on luminous LED stones. These wonderful stones glow in the dark and give the room a cozy atmosphere. A battery or USB port is mounted on a building plate, which makes the LEDs glow through a connector. The sets are available in two sizes. In “S” is the counterpart for Lego® and “M” for Duplo. If you want to know how an illuminated set from LIGHT STAX can look like you can have a look at an example on Amazon* here*.
Märklin is a well-known manufacturer of model trains. In their new starter set, there is a complete train made of building blocks to rebuild. The locomotive pulls a tank car and freight cars behind it and creates light and sound effects. The special feature of the train is the wheel axle plate, which serves as a building surface for the train. The plate forms the transition to Märklin’s C track system. The conductor controls the train with a remote control. There is a wide selection of add-ons for the set.
ZURUS company launches the “Mayka” adhesive tape*, which has nubs on the front side. The adhesive property of the back is suitable for any surface. On this building, the surface fits the bricks of Lego® alternatives and Lego. It comes in widths of two and four nubs.
Lego® alternatives as supplements
Lego bricks originally came in six basic colors. Over the years, Lego® added more colors to give the models a better color gradation. Those who add Lego alternatives to their models face the problem that they appear in different color variations. To get ahead of this, there is the brick box from Q-Bricks*. It consists of 750 pieces in the basic colors and serves as replacement bricks for lost or unloved bricks.
Lego® Technic is one of the most popular fields of tinkering friends. The main focus is on motorized model vehicles. It is at this point that Lego’s image gets a lot of scratches. Fans love the models that can be controlled with remote control. This concept will soon be history. Smartphone apps are slowly replacing the included remote control. This course does not take place without complications. The app does not grant a stable function and is limited to a specific build. For example, if an owner of this app rebuilds the model, there is a risk that the control will no longer match. The companies YxFlower and QIHUI occupy this niche and offer their models* with remote control.
The four best competitors
Cobi is a Polish manufacturer that specializes in the replication of historical vehicles* especially war vehicles of all kinds. Meanwhile, Cobi also has other vehicles in its assortments like modern airplanes, a pirate ship, or a replica of the Titanic*.
The company Wange* offers inexpensive architecture sets and themes that go through all ages. The building blocks are totally compatible with Lego. Wange’s tagline is “Come to the dark side of the brick.”
- Kre-O by Hasbro
Kre-O is one of the more expensive alternatives that cover themes from movies. This is due to the licenses acquired, which allow the creation of building sets on a theme from a movie. These building sets are very popular among adults. Here, for example, is a construction set from Star Trek*.
This Italian company offers sets for children from the age of one and a half. They are an alternative to Duplo, with whose bricks they are compatible. The colors differ from the original. There are colorful farms with animals, people, and vehicles but also classic brick boxes*.
Lego® alternatives are an integral part of the market. They score with new ideas and additions that are missing from Lego. For many customers, the price of Lego is too expensive, which gives priority to Lego alternatives. The drawback of this is to run the risk of getting a lower quality. It is advisable to read the reviews beforehand. As the top dog, Lego brings its own innovation to the market in order to be responsible to its position. Attention is paid to customer satisfaction through the many service extras. On Lego’s “Ideas” website, customers contribute their ideas and suggestions, which have a chance of being implemented. However, if you do want to buy Lego sets, it is recommended that you sign up for the Lego VIP program. In this way, it is possible to still save money when buying Lego sets.
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