LEGO is one of the most popular toy brands in the world, and for good reason. Its iconic bricks allow for unlimited creativity in both kids and adults. With that sort of success, comes competition. We have seen many companies and brands try to compete with LEGO. While many are just cheap imitations of the real thing, there are still a few that do things differently from LEGO worth looking at.
But Why Bother Going with an Alternative in the First Place?
For many, one of the main reasons to look at LEGO alternatives or knockoffs is the price. LEGO sets can be expensive, so your options are quite limited if you’re on a tight budget. Other brands can offer you more pieces and bigger builds for less than LEGO.
The other main reason to go with a knockoff is simply for more options. A knockoff may produce sets LEGO never would (or hasn’t gotten around to).
The Downsides of Alternatives
But it is worth talking about why LEGO is so expensive in the first place. Simply put, LEGO bricks are going to be higher quality than any knockoff due to LEGO’s extensive quality assurance and years spent perfecting its bricks.
Part of the reason for this is that LEGO has patents and trademarks for how its bricks are made. This forces some companies to create different locking mechanisms for bricks that are generally inferior. This can lead to loosely fitting bricks, a complaint frequently made about LEGO knockoffs.
LEGO sets also typically have better instructions than knockoffs, which is especially important to note for younger builders. You can also expect the resale value of knockoffs to be much lower than LEGO sets, which if anything, only increase in value after being discontinued.
Now that you know this, let’s talk about the brands. We’ve selected seven alternative LEGO brands for you to look at. We’ve chosen these specific brands for having unique builds and styles, all the while making sure the bricks will still work with LEGO.
When it comes to quality and selection of sets, Kre-O definitely comes the closest to matching LEGO. Kre-O does both licensed and original builds, with a focus more so on the former. You’ll find sets from popular franchises such as Transformers and Star Trek , finally giving fans of those IPs builds comparable to the LEGO sets IPs like Star Wars and Marvel have been getting for years.
The original offerings are far more limited, with the only currently running original theme being Cityville Invasion , which does offer some nice city-based sets that younger builders, in particular, are sure to love. Hopefully, we can expect more original builds from Kre-O in the future.
Kre-O’s builds are praised in the brick building community for their high quality compared to other knockoff brands, which makes sense considering it’s made by Hasbro, one of the largest toy manufacturers in the world.
Up next is MEGA CONSTRUX, which also focuses mainly on licensed sets. The bricks, while not comparable to LEGO, are still better than most knockoffs. The licensed sets cover some big names like Call of Duty, Halo, and even Pokémon . The builds all look great and are faithful to the source material. Great for fans of those franchises, but it’s a shame that MEGA CONSTRUX doesn’t have more to appeal to a general audience.
Fortunately, they do sell bulk cases of bricks at considerably cheaper prices than LEGO, so that is something worth noting for people just after more bricks.
Out of the brands mentioned so far, BanBao definitely has the best selection of original sets. It does both real-life and fictional sets , along with some licensed sets centered around the Peanuts franchise.
The quality across sets can be a bit hit or miss, but the large selection of original sets does make them worth looking at. There are also some sets aimed at younger builders, with simpler builds and more cartoony figures.
Cobi’s builds certainly stand apart from LEGO and other knockoffs. Its builds have a much smoother appearance as they use larger pieces of plastic for the exteriors of builds. This gives them a unique style, but it does limit how much you can repurpose the bricks from each set.
But with Cobi mostly focusing on real-life cars and planes , it can actually make the sets more appealing to those looking for display pieces. It makes them closer to normal model planes and cars, although this hikes up the price per piece considerably.
When it comes to military-themed sets, LEGO has always kept its distance. But that does open the door open for smaller brands, like Sluban, to fill that niche. While Sluban’s military theme is its broadest, it does do other themes based on real-life vehicles and occupations such as the construction, city, and firefighting themes.
Much like most LEGO knockoffs, you might have some problems with loose bricks, but if you want sets based squarely in the real-world while still giving off that brick-built charm, Sluban is the best choice.
If you’re looking for brick builds that do things completely differently from LEGO, Laser Pegs should give you what you’re looking for in a novel way. All of Laser Peg’s sets use transparent bricks and light-up power bricks to create this unique glowing style.
This certainly isn’t for everyone, but for younger builders, the fun of creating light-up cars and helicopters might make it worth choosing Laser Pegs over other brands. And for those looking to repurpose sets, the transparent bricks can give a neon look to normal builds if used sparingly.
From the same company that produces MEGA CONSTRUX, MEGA BLOKS is much more of a DUPLO alternative. The bricks are larger and thus safer and easier for young kids to use. They do sell multiple sets, including some licensed ones, but the best part of MEGA BLOKS is that they sell multiple large tubs of blocks. Not only is a gift like that fun for young kids to build with, but it also allows them to explore creative thinking in a safe and simple way.
Due to the larger size of MEGA BLOKS, they cannot be used with regular-sized bricks. They can work with Duplo, but it is limited. MEGA BLOKS can be attached to the top of Duplo, but not the other way around.