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LEGO Compatible Brands – Custom Crazy

LEGO DUPLO Brand Disney 10597 Mickey and Minnie Birthday Parade Building Kit

$24.99


Lego Brand Store | Brickset: LEGO set guide and database

I always am a bit embarrassed by some LEGO discussion groups' taboo on discussing clone brands. It just makes us look elitist and insular if we try to pretend that the LEGO brand exists in a vacuum or wasteland. The truth is, clone brands (including disreputable bootlegs and knock-offs) are important to understanding the LEGO Group's context, particularly in markets like Asia where the LEGO brand has struggled to get a foothold.

Certainly I have never known a clone brand with comparable quality to actual LEGO bricks, but with that said, they are not trying to compete with LEGO in terms of quality, but rather in terms of price, and in some markets where the reputation of the LEGO brand as a quality life experience for kids is not as well-known, that strategy works quite well.

Personally, I think the only clone brands that are truly reprehensible are those that directly copy specialized LEGO elements where they are not obligated to do so. The one in the picture that accompanies this news article is a good example of that. There are plenty of ways to make vehicle mudguards without plagiarizing the LEGO Group's own design.

It worries me that a brand as shameless in its plagiarism as Star Diamond is also one of the only ones that seems to nearly measure up to the LEGO Group in quality. Part of me thinks that the LEGO Group will want to keep a close eye on the dealings of this brand in case they become a meaningful threat. Then again, the higher quality evidently also comes with a higher price — even higher than LEGO prices for a comparable vehicle! Hopefully the higher prices will cause the brand to sell poorly so they are not rewarded for their terribly unethical business model, and never become a major competitor for the LEGO Group even in developing markets. It hurts a bit to say this of a high-quality building toy, but if you want to compete with the LEGO Group on quality, you don't do it by directly stealing their part designs.

I live in Shanghai, and occasionally my boys get fake Lego given to them as presents. Mostly it's just thrown straight in the bin (as it's absolute rubbish), but I have kept a couple of Ninjaman Spinner sets, as they are an exact copy, including packaging (and reasonable ones at that) of the real thing. Only difference is the name Ninjaman and not Ninjago on the packaging.

On my next visit to the UK, I'm going to drop them off at a Lego brand store for them to on-send to Lego head office, but I doubt the Lego Company will be able to do anything to stop these fakes, as in reality, the Chinese authorities have no interest in stopping Chinese companies stealing IP from non Chinese companies.

July 2015 LEGO Retail Brand Store Calendar

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