Lepin subsidiary now licensing AFOL designs

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We've reported before about how Chinese clone brick manufacturer Lepin is stealing AFOL MOC designs and turning them into sets, and more examples have come to light recently.

Now it seems a subsidiary company, Xingbao, is actually licensing designs from talented and highly regarded AFOLs such as CrowKillers and the Arvo Brothers and producing sets of their most popular MOCs. They've been displayed at the Guangzhou Toy & Hobby Fair that's taking place this week in China and a full gallery of pictures can be found on Customize Minifigures Intelligence's Facebook page.

I first read about this on The Brick Fan earlier in the week but there's conflicting information in the comments there as to whether the AFOLs concerned did actually license their work or whether they too were ripped off, so before reporting here I thought I'd ask Paul 'CrowKillers' Boratko and the Arvo Brothers for their side of the story.


The Arvo Brothers haven't replied, but Paul has:

"No, this company didn't rip off Myself, Firas, or the Arvo Brothers.

"Having had my designs stolen and my instructions resold on numerous Asian marketplaces for eight years, my biggest fear was always waking up one morning and getting several emails with a link to pictures of one of my models as a set without my knowledge..

"I was approached and asked if I would like to be a part of a new company that wanted to work directly with builders the right way and not only compensate them for their design, but also include their names with those designs to give them the proper credit.

"I thought long and hard about this and after seeing so many AFOL's MOCs starting to show up as sets with out their consent or knowledge, the fear of my work being stolen without my consent was growing.

"I felt like I could either get compensated for my work or decline or get nothing and possibly watch my models get stolen by someone else. But this was never about money, it was always about the theft of the designs and me not knowing about it.

"Some people will understand this decision and some will not, but the large majority will never know the experiences and frustration that I have been dealing with for nearly the last decade.

"When I was ultimately making my decision, another fellow AFOL had made the comment to me "You can do what you think is right in the name of LEGO, but when your work gets stolen and reproduced, is LEGO going to step in and defend your honor?"


It's easy to judge and to question "why on earth would anyone license their work to a Chinese clone company?", and at first I did. But having heard Paul's side of the story I think he did the right thing given the stark choices he faced: license his work and get some compensation and credit, or don't, and have his work copied anyway.

I think I would do the same under the circumstances...

122 comments on this article

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By in United Kingdom,

Although it seems like this was probably the right choice, it's essentially blackmail to be forced into a position like this. Hopefully the current legal battle with Lepin will stop situations like this occurring again.

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By in United Kingdom,

The tone on here is SO anti competition.
I hope in years to come, we see these Chinese companies improve their quality to the point where it matches Lego, and provides genuine competition and original set designs.
I love Lego, but I think we'll see more creative designs and less arrogant pricing if there's high quality competition.

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By in United States,

Some other Chinese company will still steal the designs.

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By in United States,

Yeah, while I understand his situation I can not support this decision. Not only does this still skirt trademark and copyright law, but it has the potential to have a huge negative impact on the AFOL community if Lego starts to see us as potential competitors rather than faithful enthusiasts and brand ambassadors. In fact, builders who partner with bootleggers like this may even be setting themselves up for potential damages if Lego can bring successful legal action against the manufacturers of these products.

Also, what's to stop separate bootleggers from merely copying these cloned versions and selling them without reimbursing the creators of these MOCs? I doubt Lepin/Xingbao has the legal resources or even the legal standing to protect their own products from infringement any better than Lego can. So even the argument that these partnerships will ensure the creators get reimbursed seems dubious in the long term.

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By in United States,

There some designs in Legos Ideas which Lego has chosen not to produce. It would be nice if someone else did produce them, and paid their designers something for their work. That's not the same as piracy; Lego has first crack at those designs.

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By in Canada,

Working with the MOCers is good, but are they working with the IP holders? Alien, Akira, various car brands, etc.

And CHERUBboy, competition is great, but directly copying/stealing designs is not competition.

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By in Portugal,

LEGO Ideas would be a good place to submit your creativity and maybe see it produced by the company. But i feel that the terms and conditions of Ideas are abusive regarding the ownership of the submissions.

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By in United Kingdom,

Wow, some of the best "Lego" sets ever made...I'll be buying the "Aliens" and "Akira" sets for sure. Some of the cars are incredible too, put most official Lego and Tecnhic sets to shame. I guess the pricing will be up there with UCS based on piece count and desirability. Right?

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By in United States,

Strange. Could this put Lego Fans in a negative light? Perhaps. But being paid by Lepin to make models to sell is fair game. No difference than Megablocks paying their set designers to sell the set. But I also wouldn't be surprised if Lego black lists the AFOLs who sell MOCs to Lepin, and makes it so those AFOLs can't buy Lego through LUG discounts anymore. Strange things indeed.

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By in Canada,

I am curious what does Paul think of the quality of the sets they produce? I have heard mixed reviews of these off brand building sets.

I realize Lego can't make every awesome MOC out there and I certainly think there is an opportunity for these sets to be sold. The problem is there doesn't seem to be a choice in that either you go with a company like Lepin willingly and make some cash or you don't and they sell your product anyways.

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By in United Kingdom,

@willobee498: I can guarantee that they aren't working with the IP holders. Ford and Bugatti for example currently have a deal with Lego themselves, and those two car sets pictured were a Ford and a Bugatti, so no. Look closely at the badge on the red car, the Ford GT, you can see that it is supposed to look like the Ford badge but is different.

@rainstorm26: Exactly, that's what I thought too.

@CHERUBboy: No, the tone is anti Lepin, because Lepin is a clone brand that completely copies official Lego sets and sells them itself. It is also a company that Lego is in a legal battle with Lego. Why should the tone not be anti Lepin?

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By in United States,

As others have said Lego could start seeing us as potential competitors rather than a cohesive community that being said, it baffles me as to why great Ideas projects get shelled and never produced. I know of some US and European hobbiest that make costume pieces compatible with Lego but this is something else that I can't support due to Lepin literally blackmailing AFOLS, might limit my MOC exposure from now on.

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By in Ireland,

Alien set looks cool. What's to stop anyone downloading a manual and brick linking the Lego parts to build it? Not sure if the designers have thought this one out fully!

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By in United Kingdom,

If it's as easy as just getting a MOC and paying a fee to the MOC designer then why doesn't a Lego certified professional do this? I.e. Brightbricks
Probably as it infringes on the IP of the brand of the MOC (if it does copy a branded product), and a Lego certified professional contract must state this is a big no no.

To me now the MOC designer (if they have produced a branded product) has gone from producing a MOC with no intention of selling, to becoming a party in the process for designing and making a product for profit that infringes copyright. A big step and maybe has crossed the naughty line..

If the designed of the MOC has designed something that does not infringe copyright then that's ok, but 9 times of of 10 they will not be in the boat I would imagine.

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By in Canada,

this is just sad i do not want to give my MOC's for free Lego should stand up and fight but Lego is to cheep for there own rights i'm sorry for those who are suffering with fighting clone Company i do not think Lego can help

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By in United States,

Seriously this is becoming a really big problem and needs to stop. I accidentally ordered a Lepin Minifigure off of amazon because they were advertising it as a lego product. I meen it's one thing to steal lego's ideas, but to steal a AFOL's just seems so much worse.

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By in Belgium,

I think Fireheart is spot on with his reflection. It's not only about the MOC designer, but also a bland copyright infringement for the other brands involved, like Aliens, like the car brands, ...
The Alien IP belongs not the MOC designer, but now he made himself part of a company selling stuff which clearly involves IP rights which were not obtained.

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By in United States,

I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me the designers are really exposing themselves personally to litigation if the IP rights are not handled properly. If they get all the legalities worked out, this looks like a great thing for the designers and consumers.

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By in United States,

This is actually kind of interesting phenomenon and I would almost be curious to know what it would be like if a Western company pulled the same thing. It made me think of what happened with author Terry Pratchett years ago, when a fan accused him of stealing a story he posted in a Pratchett fan forum.

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By in United States,

All the chi-coms do is steal ip's.
They do it with art too, snag images online if the rez is good enough and print on demand.

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By in United States,

How nice of them to offer the AFOL designers compensation for their designs... but if they don't then LEPIN will just release the set anyway. Very honorable. Let's all stroke Xingboa, or whatever the hell they're called and ignore that they're all POS.

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By in France,

Correct me if I'm wrong, but there used to be a time one could upload his design to LEGO® and have it produced as a single unique box. If that program were to be restarted and would allow fans to upload and have their creations produced at a reasonable price, it would soon regain momentum - IMHO !

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By in United States,

I like the idea of this a lot with some caveats. The Lego Ideas platform is so focused on licensed themes that a lot of really good AFOL sets are not being created. If competitors came in and worked with AFOL's to sell their non-licensed sets instead (not ones submitted to Lego Ideas mind you as the creator already gave up the rights to them), Lego would have some high quality competitors (at least in the design area). If enough good competitors came around, Lego would need to be more competitive in it's pricing. The Lego community would be able to get access to themes that Lego isn't producing during the "off years" ie: castle, pirate or building out new themes ie: Romans, Greeks, WWII. Lego would have to work harder to keep its market share.

Now maybe if the competitors created too good of themes, either Lego would try to get on the new theme or wouldn't bother returning to castles, pirates, Romans etc which would be unfortunate but I don't see very likely as there will always be the purists to buy the Lego versions. Now, I'm not condoning breaking copyright law which is one of the complicated caveats but others can argue about the specifics of that.

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By in United Kingdom,

I'm glad the fans are being compensated, but these rip-off companies need to go.

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By in United States,

@kris_h Yes, they used to have. I remember my son making one about 7yrs back or so. You would design it online, it would calculate the cost and you'd get it with a nice windowed box plus stickers too. We still have it.

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By in United Kingdom,

i have just built a lepin monster warriors haunted house and the brick quality was really good , for lepin to start making mocs with the builders permission , that can only be a positive step . Hope lego will start to lower their prices to match .

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By in Canada,

There needs to be a Legal Defense Association for Builders. Otherwise I fear that AFOL will wind up meaning Adult Fan Of Lepin. :'(

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By in Australia,

Lego screws us over all the time. Just look at them putting collectible minifigures in the build-a-minifigure bins, charging Europeans and Australians multiple times the American prices or treating us like paedophiles at Legoland. The biased anti-clone rhetoric will have to stop eventually; it's only a matter of time until they catch up in quality.

This move by Lepin/Xingbao is good for IP and good for MOCers. Now, MOCers can be financially rewarded for their talent instead of merely getting internet credibility. TLG had their chance to cash in on these talented fans and they didn't.

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By in United States,

That's rough.

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By in United Kingdom,

I really don't see how anyone here seems to be in the "right". The company in question is in the wrong, because they're cloning LEGO's parts and undercutting LEGO whilst infringing on their licenses and designs, and on the properties of the companies in question. It doesn't matter whether it's an official LEGO Ford GT or a fan-built one, it's still infringing on Ford's ownership of the design and use of it. The same goes for everything else done this way.

A lot of things like this and fan works come under "fair use", and companies generally let them go as they aren't really affecting their properties. The problem comes with the fact that these builders have *sold* their models and as such are gaining financially from this. That is where this becomes a legal problem, because they have no legal right to gain financially from them. They don't own, say, the rights to make models of Ford cars and sell them (even if you change the sticker a bit). This company doesn't have the right to produce sets based on their cars, irrespective of who designed the model in the first place.

It does suck when people steal things you've worked hard on, making carbon copies with no acknowledgement of what you've done, but two wrongs don't make a right here. Neither party here has any moral or legal standing whatsoever. If LEGO come down like a tonne of bricks (pun intended) on both parties then that is... well, it's something they brought upon themselves. They've no defence here.

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By in United States,

I would be interested in hearing how Paul and the others use LEGO resources to make their MOCs then profit from a competitor. LDD for BIs and LEGO elements for set design... then selling them to another company. Pretty sad.

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By in Canada,

meh. This whole situation isn't right... but under the circumstances I definitely understand Paul's decision. Come on Lego! Help your fans so they don't have to do this!

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By in United States,

For the great designers out there who want to protect their designs and ALL the hard work put into them, start offering the instructions for a fee to download.
Many, and I mean many a collector would be happy to pay for instructions to build your unique designs.
With regards to your pics...ALL of these below can be worked around, obviously, but why make it easy on them with your images (Watermarking* is the best). Edit...also, try to put a unique original signature onto the image model itself. Don't use existing fonts, somehow draw it into the image with a unique signature or symbol or combo of both.

BLOCKING RIGHT CLICK OR THE CONTEXT MENU
One of the simplest ways to help prevent your images from being downloaded without your permission is to put up a no right-click script. When people right click on your page, they will either get no options to download the image, or they will get a pop-up error message (depending upon how you code the script).

This is very easy to do, but also easy to get around.

SHRINK WRAPPING IMAGES
Shrink wrapping an image is a JavaScript technique where you display your image with another, transparent image overlaid on top. Then when the thief tries to download the image, they get something else instead - usually a blank image.

For someone who is determined, this method can be circumvented as well.

*WATERMARKING IS FAIRLY EFFECTIVE
Watermarking is where you place an overlay directly on the image. This usually impacts the quality of the image such that potential thieves don't want to steal it. This is a very effective way to protect your online images if you don't mind the text across the top of them.

USING FLASH CAN PROTECT YOUR IMAGES
It is also possible to set up a slideshow in Flash to display your images. This makes it impossible for thieves to download the images directly.

BUT, FULLY PROTECTING YOUR IMAGES IS IMPOSSIBLE
If you post your images online, it is possible for someone to steal them and use them somewhere else.

No matter what you do to protect them.

No-right-click scripts can be defeated by using a view source bookmarklet and browsing to the image directly. Shrink wrapping the images can be defeated the same way.

Watermarks can be removed (with difficulty).

Even if you embed your images in a Flash object or something else to protect them, it's possible to take a screen shot of the desktop as that object is displaying your image.

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By in United Kingdom,

It is quite an interesting discussion
When it comes to retired sets I have much less of a problem with Lepin.
I would prefer if there was a way that Lego could do it, but I also understand the economic arguments for them.
With retired sets, for a hobby, for a toy I simply don't like the ridiculous prices.
For new sets them I am flat out against Lepin and the like, and in the case of these MOCs, licence holders of Alien etc are missing out on sales of their licenced property.
As has been discussed numerous times, it will be interesting in this world when home 3D printers are more advanced.

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By in Poland,

Let's just wait for AFOLBs comunities! ADULT FAN OF LEPIN BRICKS!

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By in Croatia,

I really don't see a problem with it even if somebody "just" wants to profit on their designs. I'm sure everybody would prefer it if LEGO made their creations, but since they won't - it's nice to see them appreciated by another company.

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By in United Kingdom,

Akira bike rumoured to be priced at $20...

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By in Czech Republic,

Is Paul paying to Ford, Bugatti and other car manufacturers whose designs is he using?

If LEGO makes the set of some existing design of other company (Claas, Mercedes, Ferrari...) they have to pay to them for licence.
But this does not hold water ethically.
On one hand claiming that it is about protecting your IP rights while at the same time abusing the rights of others.
I think it is OK to sell instructions of something you designed, but if you commercialize someone elses IP (car manufacturer), that is not OK, unless you obtain licence from them.

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By in United States,

LEGO needs to sue Lepin.

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By in Germany,

Mega Bloks currently has an Alien(s) license.

If these deals involve copyright infringement, I would rather be ripped off than be a part of it ...

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By in United Kingdom,

In my view (and despite the rather arrogant suggestion we'll never understand because he thinks none of the rest of us make good enough models to be ripped off), he's propping up a company that makes its money stealing people's designs. He's fine with helping to support a parasite because he's making money off it and getting his name on the box. Short-sighted greed.

I have to say, I'm quietly hoping these guys will find out that while Lepin is safe and untouchable in China, they are not.

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By in United States,

Well, when what keeps you up at night is the fear of somebody stealing your MOC design... then I'd say you probably have a pretty good life. Maybe it's because I'm not a good enough designer, but I fall strictly in the camp that doesn't "understand" his decision.

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By in Netherlands,

For me also, my moc's are allready stolen and sold on ebay, you have Always people who wants to rip of others, but i never would join Lepin ore other clone company.
And if you do so under the copyright law and patent law it is illegal to do.
Lego can take you to court for giving you're designs to an illegal company, and then not Lepin is the bad guy but the designer, think about that, it can cost you a lott of money.

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By in Switzerland,

Never bought any lepin but some of these models looks great, especially castle in the sky so after 30 years of collecting lego I'll give it a try.

While lego is focusing on mindeless forcing minifigures driven creations where most of superheroes playsets are just containers for minifigures and which started even being forced to lego ideas, lepin is now pushing actually original ideas. I would prefer alien lego to any of popular tv show driven ideas offer.

And let's not forget lepin don't produce for western countries but mainly for local market where ip laws are different than in eu/usa. China is a country of 1 billion people with much older laws and mindset than most westrrn countries so you will have to understand it. But lego with inflated prices has driven a lot of people from "rich" countries to start buying lepin on taobao/ebay/aliexpress which is raising lego's concern.

in a long run this is a game chinese companies will win as once they decide to start selling abroad, they will just make new company, hire designers and sign contracts with all movie companies interested in Chinese market. This will increase their pricing but will still be cheaper than lego. Just look at phones industry where they take more and more market share and just 5 years ago that was incomprehensible in west.

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By in United States,

People really need to get their facts straight. None of Paul's 3 models that I see for presell have any license attached to them and are nothing but fantasy cars. In fact if you look at his brickshelf and mocpages, most of his work is made up cars. After reading his explanation, I don't blame Paul one bit for making the decision that he did. Why should he sit back and continue to let people just steal his work? That counting cars episode he was on last summer has been playing constantly, so there is nothing but free promotion for TLC. is TLC doing anything for him? I doubt it.

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By in United States,

I think this is a poor choice for various reasons:

The ripoff work of many of these companies is unethical in the first place. Supporting them is becoming an accomplice to the practice.

The MoC makers do not own the copyright to the IPs their creations are based off, which makes the products and deals unethical from a licensing standpoint.

If the MoC makers did in fact conesnt to these models, then I will lose a lot of respect for them. I won't judge until we hear the full story, but it doesn't look good.

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By in United States,

The answer to your question is "No", LEGO would not have stepped up and defended you.

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By in Australia,

Meh. The ultimate thing to do is refuse to buy any sets from Lepin. If they can't make money then they can't be in business.

But consider that the AFOL market in the west is a mere molecule of water in the ocean compared to the regular retail market in China, where these sets are sold.

And also put some thought into the legal sphere in China. Yes it is morally wrong to knock-off products or imagery made by another company, but it's not illegal in China. Lego literally has no legal right to try and take Lepin down. Lego and the original licencors can try to restrict their sales outside of China but within her borders Lepin is free to do it.

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By in United States,

Lego lost legal right to restrict others from making functionally identical blocks. This is no different than licensing to Megablocks or K-Nex or other "clones", and actually a huge step in the right direction for Chinese brick manufactures. Now is the time for AFOL's to put their money where their mouths are and actually BUY these sets that Lego won't make.

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By in Austria,

I have just one thing to say about all this. Lepin (and others) are simply not LEGO. Its no competition its just a illegal copy. They have stolen the idea of the company LEGO itself, so everything they do is wrong. If a MOC builder decide to be part of this pirate company then they are also kinda criminal like them. LEGO has at first given them them opportunity to even build smth like this, cause they invented the LEGO Bricks. I think everything a MOC builder is building, its just for fun, cause only the LEGO employees are allowed to get money for their work. If someone thinks LEGO is too expensive, well its right, but then leave this hobby, just buying a copy simply isnt LEGO anymore. Instead of buing a millenium falcon copy, its easier to buy a finished model from Hasbro for ex. People mostly dont buy Lego cause they want to build things togehter, they just love this awsome shiny brickies and want to have them! Also i dont know how LEGO should stepp up for someone, they cant even protect their own products, the law simply doesnt give a flower. But i feel very sorry for the extremly creative guys from whom the ideas have been stolen :( But at least the love that they put into heir builds stays. Hm, guess it was more then one thing to say ^^ Have fun and sorry for bad english.

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By in United States,

The only problems that I have with LEPIN are 1) that the products are (incredibly) sub-grade, I mean, COBY and MEGA-BLOKS have/had a better structural integrity and they were both terrible also, which makes feel that 2) LEPIN is just a collection of con-men that want to take advantage of the free market and the LEGO brick potential before they get sued... This isn't the first time that a company has produced rubbish rip-offs of LEGO bricks and sold them 'lawfully', and it probably won't be the last time either... *whispers* American Girl now has a LEGO Friends rip-off line: Mega-Construx. (although it is technically in collab with MEGA-BLOKS). Ah well. I pity the designers, I know they would've liked to see their designs officiated, but to be released and sold in this way is amoral and should never happen.

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By in Hong Kong,

This is awesome. For AFOLs the designs are far more attractive than anything Lego has made in recent years, and I am sure the price will be more attractive too. I hope the plastic quality will get to a point where it is comparable, which I am sure it will. As a consumer, I welcome innovation and competition. Crowkillers in a box? Yes!!!

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By in United Kingdom,

Don't put pictures of your MOCs on the internet - it's asking for trouble.

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By in United States,

Should those of us that like the new designs call ourselves AFOB from now on?
Adult Fan of Bricks.

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By in Australia,

O dear. This almost seems like emotional blackmail.

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By in United States,

Alien AND Lamborghini? Awesome!

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By in United States,

Is Lepin even making Xiagbao? From what I've gathered so far today, they are both owned by the same company, but appear t be separate branches like MZ-Model. Doesn't matter to most I guess as people will be salty regardless. Still can't tell if that salt is anger or a bit of jealousy. I also don't think the crowkiller response was arrogant at all. If 1,000,000 people build and 10,000 of those people have their work stolen, then that means that the 990,000 remaining would be the large majority. Sounds more realistic than arrogant to me. But hey, what do I know? Bring out the pitchforks and torches!!! XD

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By in United Kingdom,

Long comment alert - but I enjoy the debate on these contentious topics. These guys are without doubt talented builders, there's no question in that so you can't take that away from them. But I find it very hard to take an empathising standpoint with these sorts of decisions, for 3 key reasons:

1.) Why endorse the overarching brand that will likely rip off other people's ideas, even if you've made an agreement (that could be blown off at any time) to license your own?

2.) If said company doesn't have the IP rights to produce products based on a pre existing franchise, then you're already in murky waters, Lego or not. That's what gave China cars like the Land Wind

3.) Like someone said in the comments above, if you lie awake at night worrying that someone's going to sell your ideas, you're in a pretty desirable position in some senses. I'll admit that no one wants someone else to claim your work is theirs, but if you were clearly the first person to have the idea and made waves with a fantastic design, the majority of fans will already have respect for your creative ability (The Xenomorph for example). It may not result in a commercially available set that is licensed by you but I'm sure it's not all about a cut in retail profits?

On the other hand though, if you want to sell an idea that has no existing base in IP at all to a rival brand, logically that is just competition. But that's also assuming you don't mind the company being a clone brand, rather than just a similar one in the sector like Megabloks.

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By in United States,

Yeah, Lego is going to be pissed with these guys. I wouldn't be surprised to hear they get blacklisted from LUGbulk or the LAN (If they use either). I'm also kind of surprised to see the arvo brothers involved, since they already made some high quality books for these models.

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By in United States,

If these builders are not being paid by Lego, then Lego really doesn't have any reason to be pissed. These guys sold their art. No different than if I bought a pack of colored sharpies from Staples and drew a beautiful picture of an automobile and then some Chinese company contacted me and wanted to use my drawing to make prints to sell. Sharpie made the product, but I made the art. These Xiagbao sets are no competition for Lego since Lego doesn't make these same sets.

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By in United States,

Oh-ho, isn't this the kettle of fish!
There are so many angles on this, it's a real watershed moment.
The underlying issue that stands out for me:

LEGO's archaic business practices. From a management theory perspective, TLG is AT&T circa 1975, a classic dinosaur firm that is squeezing out monopoly profits right until the bottom falls out completely. IDEAS is a classic example of a legacy company trying and failing to create a platform to come to grips with a new marketplace reality that they don't believe in and are very uncomfortable with. In LEGO's, the ability and demand of fans to dictate what they want made for them in the age of Kickstarter, Patreon, and so forth. TLG's response has basically been to gravitate more and more toward the only industry that is managing to cling by its fingernails to a dictatorial monopoly: Hollywood. Since Disney et al have already perfected the model of shoving rehashed intellectual property in blingy packages down the world's throat, TLG hops aboard by making 8 zillion minifig-plus-derisory-build sets. This turns off customers who value a broader idea of creativity. It's rational for TLG in the short run but in the long run erodes their UVP. Xingbao can be seen as an end-run around TLG towards direct consumer-driven product design that is the future of most consumer goods industries.

You can just bet that execs in Billilund are grumping around right now with "I told you sos" about IDEAS, that it "let the cat out of the bag" blurring the line between LEGO designers on high dictating sets to the fawning plebes... when in fact the problem is that it didn't go nearly far ENOUGH in a crowdsource world.

TLG's addiction to brand licenses has undermined its determination to connect with its customer base through its own IP and through the power of genuine creativity, not glorified action figure play. TLG is never going to sweat out the needed marketing push for brands like Hero Factory and Chima that have 10x the creative merit when they can just reach for that Star Wars needle and mainline a few more billions in cash. When the crash comes, it's going to be ugly.

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By in United States,

@SlappyR
You may have a point if it was original art. What about H. R. Giger who came up with the alien based on his own surrealist art. Wouldn't you think that he is getting ripped off? Once you start profiting off of someone else's IP then you have become part of the problem.

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By in Canada,

As for me, if LEGO is not willing to create a project, then the project goes to the next bidder. Correct? If I submit an MOC and LEGO rejects it, then a year later Lepin comes to me and says we would like to reproduce your project, compensate you for it, and give you credit! Hmmm, tell me more; I am interested.

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By in Canada,

@ ninjagoyo,

I just wanted to say how well thought out your above comment was and that I have been seeing some of the same warning signs as yourself re: monopoly and archaic business practices. It would have been awesome to think that Lego truly BELIEVED in ideas but I don't think they did/do.

As someone else mentioned above, this is certainly a watershed moment and I actually think that both sides have very valid points.

However, I wanted to touch on another concerning trend I've noticed in the last few months to a year. I'm seeing this sort of "blind support" for TLG cropping up yet again. I find the online community in particular on this website to be pro-Lego regardless of the argument at hand, to the point that it affects their objectivity during moments like this. Some people made very valid points about competition and how it is actually a good thing. The funny part is, I feel as though some people don't WANT to see Lego in a competition with other companies. It's all very ironic to me.

If our treasured and respected company, Lego, with all its financial and positional power, are too short sighted to recognize the consumers desire to see fan created MOCs become real Lego sets, than shame on them. It's not Lepins fault. It's Lego's fault. They have the resources necessary to pull off anything. Yet they do not. For all of you in here trying to pin this on Lepin, take a moment and ask yourself why your favorite brick company isn't branching out and keeping in touch with what the AFOL, MOCing community want. I think you'll be surprised to discover that perhaps this is more on LEGO than anyone else.

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By in United States,

@ninjagoyo and @Matt Z.

You both so perfectly captured everything that needs to be said. 100% spot on both of you.

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By in Singapore,

Original designs with no IP infringement is free and easy. No issue. it's like a toy company outsourcing their design works to freelancers and giving them the proper credit and compensation. However, if the produced design is based on an existing well-known brand and image that the company is not paying to, both parties will face legal issues in the future. It's as simple as that. So, it's essential to read the agreement carefully. I hate to be blackmailed and "forced" into this agreement. To save yourself from this headache, just don't share your LDD to anyone.

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By in New Zealand,

Many views on these rip off Asian brands which I clearly do not support or condone at all. Even though they may be cheaper, they're product is crap and a clear copy of The Lego Groups designs and also the designs of so many very talented builders out there who work very hard on their models. I personally will always prefer to pay more for a genuine lego set as I know it's a more honest hard working company than betray talented builders and show support for what are no more than criminals in my eyes. Lego all the way!

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By in Singapore,

I DO NOT support fakes...but, let's face it...LEGO's premium pricing is to blame for Lepin and other clones. From Boston, now living in Asia, where income is lower than Europe and America, LEGO sets are priced (set by LEGO) at a 20-35% premium over USA prices. In Shanghai, for example, would you pay close to $700 USD for the LEGO Disney Castle or just $60 USD for the Lepin clone? I've written to LEGO Singapore (Asia HQ) about this multiple times and receive no reply. Until this amazing Omni-channel brand, better understands their audience and its needs, this problem will continue and perhaps even place the brand itself, in jeapordy.

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By in United States,

I think there is 'competition' and then there is a company making a brick for brick knock off of product and designs of LEGO's. Many people say their design quality is great.. maybe too great, considering that MB in the US has been far inferior to LEGO even though they have had 20+ years to perfect their designs. Competition is fine, as long as you do not have a company using questionable, if not illegal, tactics to gain an advantage.

I think people can try to blame LEGO all they want, but the bottom line is this:
These designers are now dealing with a company known for ripping LEGO off (if anything the intellectual property of the designs, and maybe the production quality of the brick as well). They are also dealing with a copany likely treating their work force like crap to make the product they are designing sets for. I think any rationalization of selling designs to Lepin is just that. Someone trying to feel better by justifying why they would do this.

By the way, I think people need to stop putting Lepin on some sort of pedestal. I doubt Lepin is doing this because they are 'listening to the AFOL community' and want to see ideas made, I think they are doing it because they have NO ideas, and make their money by either ripping off, or now apparently buying others', designs. IMO To lie in bed with them because of some misdirected, or misguided, ire at LEGO is exactly what LEPIN, and their promoters in the US (because they want cheap stuff to sell) counts on.
Yeah, LEGO 'hides' behind IPs and has to adhere to silly things like trademark, patent, and copyright laws and their costs go up, maybe too much (but LEGO really has never been cheap). IMO Lepin is cheap because they do not care about patents, trademarks, and copyrights; pay their labor force nothing to make the product. They flout the law at every turn because they hide in China, whose courts are a joke. Yep, that is a company to sell designs to.
Disclaimer: Do I love LEGO? Heck yeah. I grew up with it. Do I think LEGO is getting too big for their britches? I sure do. However, I resent companies taking shortcuts to compete, especially when there is competition in the form of MB who probably loath Lepin because of how they are getting away with building their base via Chinese knockoff markets with eerily good quality.. one could ponder that someone at Lepin 'borrowed' the specs from a factory somewhere. I think it is even worse that you see people trying to justify this behavior, deflecting all the blame back to LEGO.

Finally, I will say this. I think LEGO is guilty of one thing, in trying so hard to enter the Chinese market, they 'cut their nose off to spite their face' and allowed Chinese factories access to their designs and molds until LEGO could build their own factories. Worse move by LEGO since their near demise some 15-20 years ago as I think once LEGO starting making the temp factories in China is when all of these knockoffs starting popping up everywhere.

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By in Canada,

Clone companies appeal to a different market. They are willing to make whatever they think the end user want to buy, but made with inferior quality. Lego makes durable and precise products but TLG do not wish to relinquish control of determining what they think the mass market wants. The china clone brands are just so much more accessible with a larger variety.

Take for example the whole "no gun in City sets" rationale they have. It is hypocritical for them to not include guns for police sets while every other theme include even more realistic weaponry and implied violence.

At the end of the day, TLG decides what they want to produce and sell. With China clone companies perfecting their art, it's only a matter of time before TLG start to lose a serious portion of their market.

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By in United Kingdom,

Surely the "compatible with other major brands" debate has been going since I was a kid in the early 80's, there was always a few Tyco Superblocks mixed in with any box of lego. You can buy clone brands in toy shops, pound shops, wilkos even do their own pick a brick.

So not seeing the major issue here, good luck to them. If lego didn't want their designs, someone else did, if the designs are good and the bricks decent quality, what is the issue?

Why shouldn't they make some money.

Good luck to them

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By in New Zealand,

Damn. Not an easy topic.

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By in United States,

Does the clay company own the rights to what the artist creates after it has been formed? No. Lego doesn't own the rights to what the artist creates after the artist's vision has been formed.

I am glad to see another third party company using designs which are not outright stolen. I wouldn't say these designers are being extorted, but I would say they are likely being taken advantage of.

This is however, a positive step. Lego has dominated the market for a long time. Competition is healthy. This will help on the design side, but what about the quality side?

Am I going to purchase any of these sets? Not a chance. I am still too much of a Lego fanboy. But I am happy to see a wider range of builds being available from a wider group of designers.

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By in Switzerland,

Aliexpress sellers started preordering all sets. My first xingbao order made and I'm quite curious to see how it compares to lego.

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By in United Kingdom,

What an excellent debate! It's great to see advocates for both sides of the argument eloquently expressing their views.

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By in Netherlands,

"Does the clay company own the rights to what the artist creates after it has been formed?"

I totally agree with this comment.
However, Jeff Koons will sue you when you use that same clay to copy one of his sculptures and sell it to someone. Even when you copy something form an artist long dead, the design is not yours to sell.
I think HR Giger, Ferrari etc. will feel the same.
So, for someone lying awake at night fearing someone might steal his creations, this feels slightly hypocritical.

Me personally, I would not want to be associated with any of these idea-stealing chinese brands in any way.
What they are doing has nothing to with competition, it is simply theft. There is no reason (except hitchhiking on LEGO's success) for making their building blocks exactly the same as LEGO's.
If the really wnat to compete they should make up their own building-block-system.
There are enough examples of alternative building systems available (but most of these failed).

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By in United Kingdom,

To me the key issue here is the design itself, not what was used to create it. The designs are the intellectual property of their creators, whether they're made of Lego products, Lapin products, or even matchsticks and glue. Paul has every right to sell his ideas to anybody prepared to pay. Just because the designs were made using Lego initially doesn't give them any kind of ownership over it to the exclusion of others.

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By in United Kingdom,

My friend gave me a lepin star wnrs set for my birthday, believing it was a discounted Lego set. I burned it.

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By in Switzerland,

@BasJH

Lepin sets are not made for western markets.
IP laws in China are different than ones in west, hence lepin fully legaly working in China. Once they decide to start competing in west, they will open new company, contact all movie companies that are fighting for Chinese market and turn legit for western standards.

Downside is that their prices will go up but that is standard process for Chinese companies, just look at mobile phones industry, from total ripoff to xiaomi mi mix. Unless lego changes their obsolete way of doing business, they will come to similar situation as they were in some 20 years ago. This incremental approach based on Hollywood licenses and insane overpricing (akku battery for 80 eur without charger lol) can not exist much longer.

Btw for all ip lovers, learn how lego entered astic bricks business:
http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2014/02/06/kiddicraft-the-company-lego-ripped-off-to-make-plastic-bricks

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By in United Kingdom,

Yeah, claiming others' ideas as your own is pretty poor behaviour.

*cough*postedinthechineseclonethreadthreedays
beforethisarticleappearedthatsomeoneshouldtalk
directlytoPaulBoratko*cough*

;o)

Only, teasing, Huw!

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By in Netherlands,

@kraken

Thanks for the link. I did not know that.
What the article does not mention however, is that when LEGO introduced their bricks, the Kiddicraft patent had already expired.
Furthermore, LEGO did not copy the design for the bricks, just the working principle.

So, legally they did nothing wrong either.

And don't get me wrong, I have no problem with companies coming up with their own building blocks. I just think, by litterally cloning all the bricks and making them fit on LEGO bricks, they clearly are trying to make use of LEGO's success and get a free ride.

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By in Switzerland,

@BasJH

This cloning is usual process in Asia, for instance Japan started their technological grow on imitating and only later inventing. China is going through similar process where they play catch-up with much more technologically developed western countries. They can't develop on their own immediately but can shamelessly copy for instance lego in initial phase, then try some limited experimental creativity and later go with inventions once they master initial process.

Without this global connectivity we would not be even informed of this initial phase intended only for internal market but resellers are making this visible to us.

They want to be something more than sweatshop with minimal wages and this method worked in the past so no reason for them not to recreate it.

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By in Switzerland,

I cannot find my favourite Lepin sets in the brickset database. Can they please be added? :-)

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By in United Kingdom,

I don't know why the IP argument is being raised again. Were the Arvo's Akira and Alien books licensed? What about the various Star Wars MOC instructions you could buy? I'm sure Disney didn't get a fee.

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By in Slovakia,

I kind of do not understand the moral integrity of somebody that claims that copying his builds would hurt him, on the other hand he accepted to be face of a company that does exactly that to other AFOLs, brand names do not matter, it is the same owner ... but people live with and defend worse decisions.

I'm all for competition, but fair one. If whatever clone company starts to use only the parts that are their own or with expired protection, acquires all the IP rights and pays the designers ... they could be considered such competition. Until then Lepin nor Xingbao are one of those.

I find the comparison to mobiles by @kraken quite good. If you look at the Chinese brands that are the flagship killers then you do not get to 30% of the price like clones, you maybe get the -30% off. I'd say if the Lepin & Co would do all according to the laws in Europe and start dealing in retail, you won't get much more than the 30% less than LEGO.

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By in United States,

Guys & Gals, Most everyone is acting ridiculous on here. How is competition a bad thing for us as fans and collectors of Lego and building blocks in general? ...And how are people not shocked that Lepin (a pirate company in many minds) had the good temperance to reach out to these designers and offer them a deal??? This was seriously a good move on Lepin's part and only adds to their stock in my mind. ...How are more people not shocked and impressed?

Now my question: What was their rate of compensation, compared to a Lego IDEAS project builder?

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By in United Kingdom,

Yawn, this debate is pointless. Buy or don't buy.

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By in United States,

for me personally I would not want to align myself, or do business with a company that stole LEGO's or other AFOL designs.

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By in United States,

Some folks seem to be seriously confused here. *Mega Construx and Kre-O* are competition. Lepin is an IP thief. People who are shouting "competition is good!!" really should go ahead and channel their support into Mega Construx and Kre-O. But no... I suspect they are cheering on Lepin because they produce LEGO copies.

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By in United States,

The double standard here irks me:

Company sets up shop selling plastic interlocking bricks (legal) using unlicensed third-party designs (infringing): SMH

Company sets up shop selling t-shirts (legal) using unlicensed third-party designs (infringing): BUY BUY BUY

Both instances involve salable goods whose marketing and imagery create opportunities for brand confusion, yet everyone loves their funny 'parody' pop culture t-shirts which blatantly cash in on known IP, while simultaneously condemning plastic bricks that don't have those four little letters stamped across the top.

Of course this kind of thing isn't just limited to AFOLs, yet this site and others encourage and even feature the t-shirt culture, where the same infringements are being made. Do you think anyone gets compensated for the use of their likeness with products like these linked below? Or that TLG or any other entity authorized the use of their trademark and/or copyrighted images in the same?

https://brickset.com/article/12776/another-lego-t-shirt-on-teefury-today

https://brickset.com/article/24677/game-of-bricks-t-shirt-now-available!

https://m.facebook.com/brickset/posts/10152310402288089

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By in United States,

rodiziorobs you have made an excellent point and one that I hadn't even thought of. Not to mention you have companies like Brickforge, Brickarms, BrickWarriors, and countless other non Lego manufacturers who are welcomed with open arms because they are supplying builders with accessories and figures.

So I guess that it's acceptable as long as it meets your needs. :/

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By in United States,

@SlappyR I think the difference with Brickarms, etc is that they create parts (like realistic weapons) that TLG won't make in order to supplement LEGO products, not to compete with or replace them. With custom figure makers like clone army customs, they are doing a similar thing, just using official minifig parts to create things that LEGO won't make, not to compete with them.

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By in United States,

@IceCreamClone True, but they are still using Lego to make their money.

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By in United States,

@SlappyR That is true, but unlike bootlegs, these companies only exist in response to something that the LEGO community actually wanted. For example, brickarms started up because the guy's son wanted guns for his minifigs.

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By in United States,

@IceCreamClone I'm sure there are many in the LEGO community who want cheaper sets. I'm puzzled by people who condemn "clone" makers like LEPIN but support Custom Minifigure shops that are just as blatantly infringing on IP rights of movie and superhero franchises.

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By in United States,

Putting the IP issues aside, I am surprised these MOC-ers put their names behind a company that produces such low quality bricks, not to mention the toxic smell.
Kind of like saying "Look at my awesome designs. You'll never get the bricks to snap together like the boxarts OR the smell to leave your bedrooms, but at least they are cheap"

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By in United States,

@rodiziorobs: you make a valid point with your t-shirt example, however you forget that said t-shirts are, in fact, protected under Fair Use & Parody law, hence it is not entirely relevent to the subject at hand.

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By in United States,

@dragonhawk which Xingbao sets have you built that had quality issues? I've read a lot of reviews about Lepin sets, never saw anything about "toxic smell", and the complaints I have seen about the quality indicate the "problem" is that they are nearly indistinguishable from genuine LEGO, raising the risk that second-hand buyers will mistake them for the real thing.

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By in United Kingdom,

@Kraken Is Aliexpress a reliable site to order from? I have been thinking about getting a Lepin Falcon for a while now and they are considerably cheaper on there than eBay.

Most of the comments about Lepin sets I seen seem to say they are comparable quality.

Cruel April Fool 'jokes' aside it would be nice to get news on whether a new version/reissue of 10179 is ever likely to happen as that is all that's currently holding me back.

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By in United States,

@datsunrobbie Almost every Lepin review I saw mentioned some kind of problems and "you get what you paid for" line of explanation.

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By in United States,

Licensed IP issues aside, one thing that seems clear from these discussions amongst (I assume mostly) Western AFOLs is that there are people and market segments not having their desires fulfilled by LEGO. There is a market for instructions for cool designs that may not be kid- or retail-friendly. There is a market for pre-packaged bricks to make those designs. There is a market for buying large quantities of eclectic bricks and elements, or elements in "uncommon" colors.

Whether any of these markets is big enough for LEGO to go after in a meaningful way , I have no idea. LEGO seems to have expanded their product line in recent years to target AFOLs a bit more (look at all the 2000-4000 piece, $200-$350 sets released in the past few years compared to years prior). But clearly there are debates about whether the Ideas platform is going far enough. Clearly their pick-a-brick selection is disappointly limited. Clearly there are Ideas projects with strong followings that don't get made.

The aftermarket and fan community has made wonderful strides in these areas and sites like bricklink and rebrickable are invaluable. But they can only do so much. Most people probably won't be willing to put up with the effort and expense of bricklinking a fan-designed model, carefully tracking pieces and splitting orders to minimize shipping costs. But imagine there was some kind of Lego marketplace or something where you could buy digital fan-created instructions (with the designer getting a cut) and then buy the bricks as a kit shipped directly in a plain box from LEGO? I would even be willing to pay a little more per piece if it was that convenient. Sure there would be a lot of logistical expense there, but you could get away without packaging, artwork and retail expenses. Maybe it could be an expansion of the Ideas concept and only projects that got a certain level of support would qualify. But it seems like there needs to be a middle ground between "this is one of 2-3 Ideas sets we will release at retail this year" and nothing. That seems to be where some of these clone brands are gaining ground.

Well that and reproductions of retired sets that go for crazy money in the aftermarket.

That's just spitballing; I don't have all the answers. But LEGO seems pretty set in only abiding by the classic retail model for most of their stuff. The problem I think is an ever increasing number of sophisticated fans with specific desires.

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By in United Kingdom,

@Spartan Ghost

The T-Shirts are not protected under Fair Use & Parody law. They parody the pop culture reference of each shirt: Game of Thrones etc but what about the Lego images? They aren't parodying Lego so no such law is applicable.

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By in United Kingdom,

This is an interesting and knotty situation. I have no interest in brands outside of Lego, but that does not mean I like everything they do - far from it. If this situation lights a fire under them perhaps so much the better.

What gets me about this very defensive statement is, well, exactly that it is so defensive. What is said suggests that selling ideas is not something the builder wanted to do. If that's the case, the defence doesn't hold water. If you're only selling because your design will get stolen anyway (perhaps by ultimately the same company) the only diffference is the money, and accepting it makes you complicit.

We don't build for money. We build for fun, for passion in the subjects and for passion for the medium. To stretch ourselves and the Lego system.

Sure, to find someone has taken something you spent so much time and effort on and sold it without so much as a by-your-leave would suck. But that is their choice, their wrong - and ultimately something you can't realistically prevent.

If the idea of your design getting stolen makes you feel bad, I can't imagine having a wad of cash in your pocket is going to change that for the better.

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By in United Kingdom,

What strikes me as somewhat revelatory is how many fans in the 100 plus comments above are behind Lepin, at least enough to consider buying products from clone brands like them...

To give it a metaphor, I just feel like my head's going to implode when I see an EXACT copy of a real Lego set that already exists, and find it difficult to understand when anyone defends it. However in some situations that could arise, AFOL designs haven't been manufactured by Lego so they're not commercial copycat pieces, but who's to say they didn't rip off more AFOLs in the process?

To repeat, competition in the 'construction toy' market (Megabloks, Brickarms, totally custom minifigures) is good. Stealing intellectual property - from designers or franchises - is not. You could almost say approaching designers to license their ideas 'properly' is a step in the right direction, but I don't think anyone's trusting of them on the whole yet.

Oh and whilst a few people above have been talking about IDEAS, I'd love to see Lego producing at least 2 sets from each shortlist guaranteed. That might alleviate some of the disappointment when good designers don't have their ideas produced.

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By in United States,

@Stevolteon maybe regular Joes like you and me build for fun, but I think that you really need to take a look around you like on Ebay for example and see how many people are building for profit. There are also numerous people offering their services for commission models and It seems everyone is trying to sell instructions for their models now. Then you have all of these 3rd party companies making minifigs, weapons, and accessories. Anyone that lays down their hard earned cash for a Lego set is free to do with it however they please. I really cannot bash any of these guy's choices that they make because I am not in their shoes, nor am I anywhere near as popular as they are.

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By in Canada,

@ The Rancor,

I like how you worded your response but with all due respect, I don't think it's that black and white. I do think you hit the nail on the head when you said "approaching designers to license their ideas properly is a step in the right direction."

I'm not sure the defensive stance of those who commented above were so much "in defense of" Lepin, but moreso defending the stance to produce AFOL-designed moc's. As ninjagoyo said around comment ~65 above, the problem is that Lego didn't go far enough into the crowd source world. I don't see how any 3rd party company, Lepin or otherwise, is not allowed to approach MOCers and license their designs. In fact, as I mentioned above around comment 67, TLG has the ability to nip this in the bud yesterday. They have so many resources to be able to capture AFOL inspired MOCs and produce them into real sets. Trouble is, it doesn't appear as though they have their hand on the pulse of the community. Either that, or perhaps we AFOLs and MOCers really do not account for as much profit as we think we do, and they have purposefully neglected our wants and desires as consumers. Trouble is, they may soon face a brand and reputational based crisis.

I, like most people in these comments, will always view Lego as superior in almost every facet. But I think that it's irresponsible of us to criticize other companies when they actually seek out unique ways to compete, and to fill a void that Lego has neglected. I don't agree with cloning, and never will. But this particular issue deals with approaching designers and offering compensation for their artwork they created. That is not offside. That's quite on side.

Don't tell me Lego couldn't have an entire division dedicated to the AFOL and MOCer community. Because they could, if they wanted. And we, in our unconditional love for LEGO, would support them and buy their sets,'unequivocally.

I think Lego has been King for so long, they've forgotten the nuances of competition, and it's time to wake up, stretch those legs, and make strategic moves to respond to competitors. Before it's too late.

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By in Canada,

@ Roobot,

Wow I completely missed your comment but you just simplified and explained everything that was in my head, and I'm certain in the minds of other AFOL. I think you covered the bases perfectly. CLEARLY, the market is there. It's just about size and worthwhile-ness of LEGO to go after it. That said, even if they lose money, it might be something they need to do for their image and to help curb future trends and competition. As you said, increasingly sophisticated consumers with specific needs.

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By in United States,

@SlappyR: true, but it's more like aftermarket performance parts for cars. Lego's market is unaffected by BrickWarrior's existence, and BW makes money in the sense that Lego also exists in the world, not from stealing from them.

@Spartan Ghost: parody is indeed covered under Fair Use doctrine (not law), but pop-culture t-shirts (almost universally) would not qualify as parody, despite what people may think. Fair Use is primarily applicable to free speech and expression or other forms of communication, not commercial goods. Also, there are several criteria that are examined to determine the validity of Fair Use, which is definitely too off topic to go into here, and since I'm already guilty of that I'll save it. :)

I'm not trying to excuse Lepin's actions, but the way I see it either it shouldn't bug people so much, or other stuff should bug people a whole lot more.

Another tangent: I think Lego has tried to draw in the AFOL market before in many ways, but they haven't always panned out. Remember Star Justice and the Space Skulls? Remember the Legends series? Or the logistics nightmare that was Design by Me? None of those were really successes on TLG's bottom line. Maybe they didn't do it the right way, but given those experiences I can see why they'd be skeptical of a market success and shy away from courting us that way.

Again, maybe this is a niche that Lepin could fill if they do it legitimately, same as Mega doing Call of Duty or BW doing modern weapons.

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By in United States,

Aside from the discussion about intellectual property, copying, cloning etc., it also brings up the question - as others also have pointed out - are people fans of LEGO? Or Lepin? Or Bricks? Or...? - Well... I know what I am :)

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By in United States,

I would like to make two clarifications to my "defense" of Lepin, as some are taking it, which is in fact more of an observation about TLG.

First of all, the issue of whether the AFOL MOC is itself IP infringing. I want to clarify that, to the extent that the IP is protected in the market where such sets are then officially sold, it would obviously be unethical and possibly illegal for the AFOLs to profit.

That is, an Aliens MOC produced as a set without a license from whoever owns the Aliens IP in a market where such a license is legally required (eg, the US) should not be accruing monetary benefits to the AFOL. However, my understanding--based only on frequent assertion by others and not any independent expertise in Chinese commercial law--is that (a) the Chinese market does NOT in fact enforce international IPs the way many developed countries do, and (b) Lepin only officially markets and sells its product in China (and possibly other nonconforming IP regime markets).

If those conditions do in fact hold, there is nothing unethical about an AFOL design generating profit--any legal issues of infringement would have to pertain to the original act of creating the MOC in the first place, not its subsequent sale to a market outside the scope of the IP regime. So the entire thorny Pandora's box of fan-created works and fandom would be opened up by any serious legal challenge--and in the social media instant-backlash age IP holders are probably less likely than ever to kill the golden goose of slavish fandoms than ever by cracking down of fan-created content even if it technically infringes. And also reluctant to incur the wrath of Chinese consumers and regulators who feel "singled out." (Thanks for the object lesson, United!)

Second, I want to make it clear that I support competition in the brick market with my wallet. I spend plenty of bucks on MB, though still far less than LEGO, and I do not personally find the product quality inferior as a whole--I run into frustrating issues with MB sets, but I have plenty of issues with LEGO sets also. However, I find Kre-O sets unacceptable in quality and design so I don't buy them. YMMV.

I have bought very few Chinese knockoffs of actual LEGO, usually only ones where the variation introduced by blatant imitation actually adds an interesting twist, such as a JW velociraptor mold with the paint scheme of an Indominus Rex. TLG itself would not and could not create such oddities, which have their own appeal to the collector. I feel ethically OK about this considering the hundreds of dollars I spend to buy entire lines of official LEGO sets. I find the quality of my own small sample size acceptable for play and display, even if inferior to LEGO.

There is a strange sort of creativity that shines through in some knockoffs, a kind of mash-up mindset that harks back to the sampling debate of 30 years ago in the music world--and it's interesting to note that the samplers were artistically and commercially victorious in the long run there. So I would love to see a Chinese brand make a serious run at the US market with somewhat less blatant, and therefore IP compliant, ripoffs -- not "Ninjoga" with exact replicas of Ninjago sets, but, say, NinjaElves with random and fun and color-shifted mash-ups of TLG themes. This is no different from "mockbuster" or "B" movies and the "gray" quasi-knockoffs that populate every creative industry and provide a check on monoculturization and monopoly. Combine that with non-IP based licensed AFOL designs and you would have an interesting stable of sets. If they could hit a price point of 50% of authentic Lego with those, I'd buy them at the quality level I personally have seen from knockoffs.

Why? Because the bottom line is MB, being almost as pricey as LEGO, despite good licensed IPs is not effectively competing in the market, creating a de facto monopoly that is not good for consumers and not good, in the long run, for LEGO. Someone needs to come to market with original, not licensed, lines at attractive price points that put pressure on TLG to offe

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By in Jordan,

Personally, I do not agree with Crowkillers' reason for aligning himself with Xingbao, but I can see where he's coming from.

My opinion on the whole Lepin thing though, is that Lepin is putting a type of competitive pressure that Lego never had to deal with before. I say this because major competing brands seem to me more like alternatives to Lego than true competitors. For example, Mega Construx has more war-oriented themes than Lego, and K'Nex's building system is different from TLG's. That probably means they are appealing to a different audience. If TLG doesn't want to lose customers to Lepin then they're going have to take new measures that otherwise wouldn't have been taken.

While I do think what Lepin is doing by stealing TLG's ideas is wrong, if it's legal in China, then our condemning them is not going to help.

I'm still going to stick with Lego though, no matter how good and cheap Lepin is, and I would never give Xingbao pemission to make any MOC of mine.

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By in Jordan,

Oops, I didn't take Mega Construx's other non-military themes into consideration when I mentioned them in my comment above! My point still stands ,though, in relation to Halo, Call of Duty and Destiny when compared to Ninjago, Nexo Knights and TLG's somewhat humorous take on Star Wars. Even looking at the figures reveals MC's more gritty, realistic approach as opposed to TLG's approach to "war toys".

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By in United States,

This seems like it is going to get out of hand really quickly, but maybe the potential sales can tell TLG that people want more. I dont own any Lepin sets, dont plan to, but I saw this https://loltoy.myshopify.com/collections/frontpage/products/the-ucs-rupblic-star-destroyer-cruiser-lepin-blocks-lepin-bricks-05077 and just...wow... it is very very tempting. This is my favorite ship and I have always wanted it in UCS form. TLG, please oh please dont make me buy Lepin

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By in Singapore,

Haters are gonna hate, especially with fansites such as this catering to all the diehard fanboys.

Do that you believe benefits you and just ignore all the naysayers.

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By in Germany,

@xxtrainzfanxx

Maybe you are not aware of this, but this is actually one of the MOCs whose design Lepin stole.

Lego started out as a producer of toys for children. And to this day, this is apparently what they still believe to be. But along the way they have created something that in the end is so much more: a building system that you can use to build whatever is meaningful to you. And there is no reason whatsoever to play with the result if you don't want to.

I think that it is time for Lego to fully acknowledge this. They should embrace it and capitalize on it as otherwise someone else will. Lego architecture, the modular buildings and advanced models, and Lego Ideas are all steps in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go.

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By in Germany,

but,
LEGO 75170 germany-price is 39.99EUR china-price is 499RMB(69EUR)
LEGO 75156 germany-price is 99.99EUR china-price is 1099RMB(150EUR)
LEGO 75151 germany-price is 119.99EUR china-price is 1299RMB(178EUR)
LEGO 75095 germany-price is 199.99EUR china-price is 2299RMB(315EUR)
LEGO 75171 germany-price is 59.99EUR china-price is 649RMB(89EUR)
why?

As there’s no online shop on Lego China’s website, people won’t able to know the actual price unless standing in a physical lego store. For it is generally 50% more expensive than they are in Europe or America, customers and clerks are always enjoy talking about the differentiation of the price between each regions. The reason to price the product in this way is that Lego considerd Chinese people are richer? Do you want to buy Lego with china-price?

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By in United States,

@diekoon, yeah I know it is, and I actually bought the instructions for it. Looked at getting the pieces for it but it totalled out of my price range for now. My point was that maybe these companies ripping off and selling mocs that people want will push lego to expand out and put the sets out themselves.

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By in United States,

Just noticed that one of Paul's MOCs that is being preseold is the same car that he had on the show Counting Cars that Ryan Evans airbrushed and then Paul sold to raise money for a sick child.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQjoI0yhjBU

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By in Japan,

I would encourage any of these MOCers to not produce anything that is not owned by them. I could only imagine if a huge movie studio or media company that owns the IP these MOCs are based on decided to bring down the hammer. (>.<)

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By in United States,

I will personally pay a bit more to buy a product from one company versus the other. There is a store here in the US that I will not name that I try very hard to never set food in. I'll pay a few dollars more to shop at another store who treats its employees better. Also, I'll pay a bit more for "local" companies products that I know are of high quality (for example, the Gorilla Glue company is local for me and makes its products in the US).

LEGO is the same for me. Not only is it a higher quality product, it's also a (arguably) a more ethical company than some of the clone brands. I'll pay more for LEGO.

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