Review: Cheap LEGO Knockoffs

I spent a few years trying to collect all the LEGO Batman sets, but there were too many of them and my collection (though formidable) ended up with some holes in it. Since those sets are going for $400 now Peanut decided to switch gears and start me on a new franchise for 2009: Halo.

The only problem is they don’t make Halo LEGOs, so she had to make do with LEGO’s gimpy buck-toothed cousin: MegaBloks.

Except for a few key differences MegaBloks are identical to LEGOs. The pieces are even interchangable, as Two-Face demonstrates by rocking Master Chief’s SMG. The differences are noticable, though, and add up to a less satisfying block-building experience.

For one, the colors of the blocks are very slightly off. MegaBloks’s “dark grey” is not LEGO’s “dark grey”. If you were to build something using both types of blocks you would be able to see the subtle color differences. Maybe actual colored blocks are closer in hue; it’s difficult for me to tell since this Halo set is almost completely grey and my Batman sets are almost completely black. I somehow doubt it, though.

Secondly, MegaBloks are made of softer and more malleable plastic than are LEGOs. When you put two LEGOs together you get that satisfying snap! sound. This translates to, “We two pieces are together now. You don’t have to worry about us anymore.” MegaBloks lack that nice, friendly little snap!. The pieces fit together well enough, but I found myself scrutinizing my work to make sure I wasn’t leaving any gaps as I went. It’s completely possible to get two pieces three-fourths of the way together, which causes the next two pieces to be very slightly off, and so on, until you find one of your finishing pieces simply refuses to fit at all. This happened to me, and this is a relatively small set; I’d hate to think of what those tiny little errors might build up to in a larger set.

Also as a result of the flimsier pieces: it is way too easy to knock stuff off. The cannons, and the grey exhaust vent, and the green “wing” piece are kind of just stuck on the set with a hope and a prayer. They simply do not stay put if you’re manhandling the set. I may or may not be the kind of 27-year-old man who secretly has little LEGO adventures with Batman and Robin when nobody is looking, but if I were such a man I can say with confidence that the Halo gun would not be up for it.

The figures lack the distinct charm of LEGO minifigs, but are closer to real action figures; they have knees and elbows, and their shoulders and hips are able to swivel. What I found curious about this set in particular is that they gave me three Master Chiefs. When you buy a small LEGO set you usually get a couple unique minifigs to go along with. I can’t fathom why they gave me three identical characters rather than, say, an Arbiter or a Marine. Maybe someone out there wants to re-enact the Halo Clone Wars.

Peanut informs me she saw a relatively cheap Warthog set. I might pick that one up and find enough shelf space for a little Halo ghetto in what is now a Batman wonderland. In the end, I can’t help but wonder how much overlap there is between “builds LEGOs” and “plays Halo”. I would not have expected very much at all, but I would seem to be wrong about that.

4 comments to Review: Cheap LEGO Knockoffs

  • FuRrY321

    I found a distinct problem in that exact Warthog set by Mega Knockoff-Bloks: The axel on which the wheels need to be attached to won’t fit onto the “bed” or “underside” of the warthog. The more malleable plastic that lacks that “snap!”, as you said, causes this problem. What I find HIGHLY awkward is that the piece that is supposed to go on the middle of the bed will snap on anywhere BUT the middle; it will go on the edges, or even one row over. But you can’t build the Warthog correctly unless you put it together EXACTLY AS SHOWN. Perhaps I should just use glue, if I am a true Halo fanboy and won’t take it apart anyway. Unlike LEGO, Mega Bloks uses high-quality pieces in their prototypes, then send out the (pardon my language) sh*tty mass-produced pieces to the frustrated consumer (that would be me, and, I suspect, you, and I pity the poor soul that should actually have just MB and not proper LEGOs).

    I don’t see why they include extra [i]small[/i] pieces, when it’s the larger ones that cause all the problems.

    • Brickroad

      That sounds pretty lousy. I know you can order custom sets directly from LEGO but I don’t know how much they cost; maybe I should get a Warthog from them instead of MegaBloks.

  • lego would have owend halo 1234

    i was f-u*in pissed because it kept exploding

  • Idk

    Stop hating. My god look at them now. And also the articulation on mega construx is muche better then the past figures and lego,so think about that

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