Review: Lepin Super Star Destroyer

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Super Star Destroyer

Super Star Destroyer

©2011 LEGO Group

Foreword by Huw: I asked Paul to write this review because I was curious about the quality of Lepin sets and I suspect many of you are too. It is not an endorsement and it's certainly not meant to encourage or condone their purchase. If you would rather we hadn't published it, or are easily offended, please skip to the next article.

Over to Paul...

No, it's not April Fool's Day – we're actually reviewing a Lepin set!

A multitude of Lepin-branded construction sets have flooded Chinese marketplaces over the past few years. Unlike most other LEGO clones, Lepin is notable for shamelessly producing near-identical copies of genuine LEGO sets – instructions 'n' all.

But just how good are they? To find out, I bought one of their largest sets, which is a copy of the LEGO Star Wars Super Star Destroyer. This article is not really a review of the set as such, but rather an opportunity to carry out an objective comparison of Lepin and LEGO bricks.


As you can see below, even the box art of Lepin's version is a blatant rip-off of the genuine LEGO 10221 Super Star Destroyer set. The only significant differences are the Lepin branding and the peculiar STAR WNRS licensing. I'm sure that'll throw Disney off the scent.

View image at flickr

I decided to buy my Super Star Destroyer clone from AliExpress, which seems to be one of the most common places to purchase Lepin sets. This online marketplace is owned by the Chinese Alibaba Group, which generates more money than Amazon and eBay combined. AliExpress has been around since 2010, and its purpose is to allow Chinese companies to sell goods directly to international customers.

The most obvious appeal of Lepin sets is that they are typically cheaper than the corresponding genuine LEGO sets, even when you include the cost of postage from China. Clones of discontinued sets can seem particularly attractive, as the price differences are even greater. For example, the real LEGO Super Star Destroyer had an RRP of £350 when it was discontinued in 2014, but could set you back at around £600 on today's aftermarket. Alternatively, you could consider Lepin's clone, which is available for less than £90 including postage:

View image at flickr

To reduce shipping costs, most of the sets available on AliExpress do not include the outer retail box. As I was only interested in assessing the quality of the bricks, I went for the cheapest one I could find.

Just a week after I placed my order, a hefty box arrived in the post. It was literally bulging under the strain of having so many parts crammed into it, and the ring-bound instruction manual was folded in half and placed on top.

View image at flickr

Interestingly, the cover of the instruction manual reads "STAR PLAN" instead of "STAR WNRS" (as if that makes it any better...), yet the large sticker that goes on the UCS name plaque still features the STAR WNRS theme branding.

View image at flickr

Nearly all of the Lepin parts were supplied in transparent bags, not too dissimilar to those used by LEGO. One of these had ruptured in transit, but I'm fairly sure that nothing had escaped from the box.

View image at flickr

The sticker sheet was taped to the inside of the instruction manual. It is not quite a direct copy of the genuine sticker sheet. Most notably, it features the ridiculous "STAR WNRS" text, but eagle-eyed readers may also notice a careless typo on the last line: "additionsl".

View image at flickr

Is this lack of attention to detail a sign of things to come? Read on and find out...

Parts appeared to be distributed fairly sensibly across the numerous bags, so I figured it would be fairly easy to find any individual part. To test this hypothesis, I built the set by taking parts directly from the unnumbered bags, without doing any pre-sorting, and the only notable confusion was caused by the 2x10 and 2x12 black plates being mixed in the same bag.

View image at flickr

One bundle of larger plates came inside a ziplock bag – presumably these might have been supplied loose inside the Lepin retail box?

View image at flickr

At first glance, all of the minifigure parts appeared to be supplied in the same small bag. However, I soon discovered that a few parts are annoyingly scattered across other bags. For example, Darth Vader's red lightsaber blade was very well hidden in a bag full of 4x1 red plates, which I didn't discover until much later in the build process.

View image at flickr

As with most other clone brands, the arms, hands, hips and legs are separate parts that you have to assemble yourself. This is a fairly straightforward task, but the instruction manual does not cover this, mainly by virtue of being a direct copy of LEGO's instruction manual.

View image at flickr

I have to say, once assembled, the minifigures were surprisingly good, including the printing. Here they are before I found the extra parts later on:

View image at flickr

Apart from the lack of LEGO logos on the parts, you'd be hard pressed to distinguish these from the real thing (when you manage to click the legs together fully).

There is also an eerie lack of branding on regular Lepin parts, with all plates and bricks having completely plain studs. Notice that some studs have small recesses to prevent remnants of Lepin's injection moulding process from protruding beyond the top.

View image at flickr

LEGO's injection moulding system is clearly superior in this respect. Not only does the LEGO Group avoid the need for these unsightly recesses on random studs, but they even manage to fit most of the LEGO logo on the studs that the molten plastic is injected through. Grab your nearest LEGO brick and see if you can spot where the ABS was injected into the mould.

A quick word of warning for perfectionists: Some Lepin parts that are supposed be identical might not look the same! For some inexplicable reason, the location of Lepin's recessed studs is not always consistent. This is demonstrated in the two light grey parts below.

View image at flickr

Disappointingly, some of the Lepin parts were, quite frankly, rather grubby. I can only assume this has been caused by grease or other muck in the injection moulds, as it only appeared to affect certain parts, such as the large 8x16 plates.

View image at flickr

But even more disappointly, these particular parts exhibited some other injection moulding flaws – notice the extended gate (or sprue) still emanating from the centre of the recessed stud:

View image at flickr

All of these large parts were similarly affected, with the dangly sprue extending well beyond the top of the stud.

View image at flickr

If left attached, these dangly bits can obviously affect how other parts fit on top. Judicial use of a fingernail solved the problem, but it would be nice not to have to carefully examine each part before fitting it to the model. This is a problem I have never encountered with genuine LEGO parts.

Although these problems manifested themselves rather early on in the build, I soon found the plate-intensive build process rather enjoyable. Everything seemed to fit together well, and the clutch was mostly as expected. On a few occasions, I genuinely forgot that I wasn't building with real LEGO.

View image at flickr

But every now and then, I'd be rudely shaken down from my tree of disillusion. Take the following tubular parts, for instance – they are clearly longer than the parts pictured in the instruction manual (although this is not a problem, as the parts are hidden inside the final model).

View image at flickr

While most parts fitted well, I found that Lepin's 2x2 round bricks had a ridiculously weak clutch. They literally fall off when you turn the model upside down and shake it a bit.

In contrast, the cloned Technic elements in the Lepin set were surprisingly good. The black pegs that hold the internal frame of the Super Star Destroyer together are pretty good compared with other knockoff LEGO clones. They can be inserted and removed many times without suffering any noticeable damage.

On the other hand, the long red pegs are slightly problematic, as they are slightly too flared at the end, which makes them hard to insert.

View image at flickr

Apart from that, all other cloned Technic bricks and beams in the set seemed very good.

After another short period on autopilot, where I once again forgot this wasn't real LEGO, I stumbled upon this plate, which had an unsightly hole through one of the studs:

View image at flickr

This manufacturing flaw obviously happened during Lepin's injection moulding process, while the ABS plastic was still soft and malleable. Again, I have never seen a flaw like this on a genuine LEGO part, which is testament to LEGO's superior manufacturing processes and quality control.

Several pages later, I had difficulties fitting a Lepin 1x6 tile to the model. It simply did not want to go on properly. When I removed it and compared it with some other 1x6 tiles, the problem became obvious:

View image at flickr

The faulty tile is the rightmost of the four shown above. It is noticeably warped, which is why it was difficult to mount it atop another plate.

Here's a side view of the warped part compared with a good one:

View image at flickr

This was the only warped part in the set, and it was most likely caused by being ejected from the mould before it had cooled sufficiently.

By this point, I was starting to get a bit disheartened with the build. It wasn't until the end that I discovered that this part was spare, and so I needn't have worried about it.

Then another anomaly turned up in the form of an incomplete 2x2 red plate:

View image at flickr

To be clear, the corner of this red plate has not been damaged – rather, it never existed in the first place! This is indicative of flawed injection moulding processes and poor quality control.

The Lepin-manufactured parts appear to be injection moulded in a similar way to genuine LEGO parts, but my clone set ended up containing several faulty parts. When a part is not completely formed like the one above, it can result in poorer clutch power, besides looking ugly.

View image at flickr

Fortunately all of these duff parts ended up inside the set and were not visible when I had finished building it, but that was probably by luck rather than by design.

View image at flickr

When plastic is injected into a mould, the air that is already in the mould escapes via a set of narrow vents, which are narrower than the width of a human hair. These vents are too narrow for viscous, molten ABS plastic to flow through, and so there should be no air bubbles in any parts, providing the vents are sensibly positioned.

Flaws like the one above could be attributed to either air remaining in the moulds, or simply not enough plastic being injected. I have never seen these kind of flaws in genuine LEGO parts, which yet again goes to say a lot for LEGO's superior quality control processes.

Even if you were unfortunate enough to discover malformed parts in a genuine LEGO set, getting a free replacement part is fairly straightforward. Unfortunately, in the case of my Lepin set from China, I was well and truly on my own when it came to replacing any malformed or missing parts.

Despite AliExpress's various guarantees, I ended up having to fix these problems at my own expense. My claim window had already closed by the time I realised there was a significant number of problems, and the seller simply ignored me when I made contact. This has certainly put me off buying any other Lepin sets, and using AliExpress.

Later on in the build process, I discovered several other parts that did not fit properly without modification. If you look at the following example, you'll notice that it will never sit flat because of a protrusion on its underside.

View image at flickr

These had to be trimmed flush with a sharp knife to allow the set to go together properly. This is definitely something I have never had to do with a genuine LEGO part!

View image at flickr

I believe the above fault is caused by wonky ejector pins in Lepin's injection moulding machines. These pins push the solidified part off of the mould when the mould is opened up, but if the pins do not sit flush with the base of the mould while the part is solidifying, then the pins themselves will affect the shape of the part (note that pins are usually round, but on the above element they are rectangular).

If the pins poke out too far when the mould closes, then the resultant parts will exhibit shallow holes where the ejector pins were – these are known as witness marks. You can even see these types of marks on genuine LEGO bricks, as it is an inherent part of the injection moulding process; however, LEGO does a much better job of it.

Witness marks are not a problem – they are usually sited where you won't notice them, such as along the bottom edges of a part; but problems can occur if an ejector pin does not poke far enough into the mould (or if the pin's end surface is not flush) while the plastic cools. This will cause protrusions in the resultant part, most likely underneath it, which means it cannot be attached to other parts without cutting off the excess plastic.

To make matters worse, I then discovered that a black 2x10 plate was missing entirely! As every other 2x10 plate was in a sealed bag, this was clearly not something that was lost in transit. This was a mistake made in Lepin's packing warehouse, which is a poor show. Although LEGO sets occasionally have parts missing, they are usually only small ones – missing something as large as a 2x10 plate is very rare (and even if it were to happen, LEGO's customer services would quickly put it right for you at no cost).

In order to finish building the Lepin Super Star Destroyer, I had to sacrifice one of my own LEGO 2x10 plates. Somewhere inside the finished clone is a piece of real LEGO, and I'm still not sure what I think about that.

Lepin's 1x2 Radiator Grilles also exhibited multiple injection moulding flaws. The following example has a protruding witness mark on each corner, caused by the ejector pins not being inserted far enough into the mould. These also had to be trimmed off so that the parts could fit properly.

View image at flickr

Viewed from above, several of these parts also exhibited some unsightly flash, which is excess plastic that has leaked between the two surfaces of the mould.

View image at flickr

This was rather fiddly to rectify without damaging the parts (or my fingers). The presence of flash – particularly this much of it – is something I have never seen in genuine LEGO parts. It highlights further flaws in Lepin's injection moulding processes – either the moulds were not pressed together properly, have been poorly machined, or they have already worn out such that they do not fit together tightly.

There were no problems with the parts used to construct the two stands that hold the SSD, and so I had no concerns about their capability of holding the rather heavy model. Here is the cloned UCS name plaque with the sticker on, complete with its typo on the final line:

View image at flickr

I had a few moments during the build process where it was difficult to tell whether a certain part in the instruction manual was light grey or medium grey (or medium grey or black). I sometimes have this issue with genuine LEGO instructions, but Lepin's printed manual left me in more doubt than usual. The following page demonstrates the problem well – every part in the blue callout boxes is supposed to be the same shade of grey, but those at the bottom look decidedly darker (it's not the best photo, but trust me, it's not shadows causing this illusion).

View image at flickr

Lepin's red ink cartridge obviously needs replacing, too, as all of the red parts looked decidedly orange. However, this was not so much of a problem, as there were no orange parts in the set.

View image at flickr

The minifigures' weapons are supplied on three runner frames like the one below. There are more than you need, so you end up with several bonus weapons.

View image at flickr

The weapons are easily removed from the runner frame by hand, but like an Airfix kit, you might want to neatly trim the remnants of the gates off with a sharp knife. This is yet another thing you don't have to worry about with real LEGO, but on the other hand, you do get several spare guns.

Notice the witness marks on both the runner frame and the weapons themselves. A single sprue on the back suggests that the frame may have been manufactured using a traditional cold-runner injection moulding process, where molten ABS plastic is injected through the single sprue; the plastic then fills the runners (the frame), and then flows through narrow gates into the weapons themselves. The whole runner frame must then be allowed to cool into a solid before the mould can be opened and the frame is then ejected.

In contrast, most LEGO parts are manufactured using an optimised hot-runner technique, which allows parts to be produced significantly faster. Each mould is capable of producing several parts in one go, but without forming a solid runner. Molten plastic is fed through a sprue into a hot runner, which is essentially a runner frame that is never allowed to cool into a solid. Each time the mould closes, plastic is injected directly from several gates that are fed by the hot runner. As only the LEGO parts have to cool down (and not the whole frame), they can be quicky ejected ready for the next ones to be made.

The cost of a reliable and effective hot-runner injection moulder is much greater than a cold-runner system, where parts need more time to cool down; but it has obvious advantages - not just in terms of speed, but also in terms of waste reduction. The only material output in a hot runner system is the parts themselves, as the runner frame stays molten, inside the machine. Although a solid runner could obviously be melted down and reused, a hot runner system also eliminates having to remove the parts from the runner frame after it has been moulded.

While some of Lepin's parts may have been made on traditional injection moulding machines, I suspect from the gate placement that most of their regular parts are manufactured using a hot-runner system (similar to LEGO's). This is purely conjecture, as I have never seen their machinery, but if true, then it indicates significant investments in terms of moulds and machines. These would allow Lepin to produce several parts per mould every single second of the day; although as we have seen so far, Lepin's quality is not quite up to scratch.

Lepin has done a good job with its colours, though. They are almost indistinguishable from the colours of equivalent LEGO bricks, but I still wouldn't want to contaminate my collection of real LEGO bricks with cloned parts, no matter how good some of them are. So Lepin's Super Star Destroyer is an atomic entity as far as I'm concerned - it will either stay built and on display, or be sold. I see no point in taking it apart to build anything else when I have plenty of real LEGO to use instead.

Finally, I ended up with a bizarre amount of spare parts after completing the set. One of these was a black 2x12 plate, which I suspect was mistakenly added instead of the missing black 2x10 plate.

View image at flickr

Amongst this bundle of spare parts is the warped 1x6 tile that I thankfully did not have to use, but the most unexpected spare parts are the five light grey 8x8 plates. That's something that you wouldn't expect in a real LEGO set (mind you, I would have preferred to have the missing 2x10 plate than 5 random plates I do not need!)


Conclusions

I was surprised to find that most of Lepin's parts were very high quality – certainly better than any other clone brand I am familiar with. On a few occasions, I honestly forgot that it was not real LEGO I was piecing together. However, there were several exceptions which detracted greatly from the building experience, and from Lepin in general.

Lepin's overall quality control is evidently poor, with sealed bags containing dirty parts, malformed parts, parts with weak clutch, and one large part was missing entirely. These flaws are relatively unheard of with LEGO.

Lepin's injection moulding processes clearly have plenty of room for improvement. A plastic brick construction set should not require a sharp knife to complete. It was also disappointing to find a typo on the large name plaque sticker, and aftersales support from the Chinese seller was nonexistent when I ran into problems.

But it is hard to ignore the considerable price difference between LEGO's Super Star Destroyer and Lepin's clone (particularly as the LEGO version is now discontinued).

The Lepin set was cheap enough to allow me to satisfy my curiosity, but even so, I do not consider it to have been a worthwhile purchase. It provided an interesting experience, but quite frankly, the number of dodgy parts (and a large missing part) made it rather unenjoyable at times, as I kept wondering what the next showstopper would be.

Based on these experiences, I doubt I will be buying any more Lepin clone sets, whatever the subject matter is. Lepin versions of currently available LEGO sets seem particularly unattractive, as the cost savings can be marginal (LEGO sets often have better discounts than Lepin sets), and you are likely to face quality control issues like those detailed in this post.

Until now, I have avoided discussing moral issues in order to achieve a fully objective review and comparision of Lepin and LEGO parts. But we can't ignore the elephant in the room any longer. Lepin is shamelessly stealing LEGO's designs, instructions and artwork without permission. Research, design work and testing carried out by the LEGO Group is effectively being picked up by Lepin for free, which is partly why Lepin is able to provide its sets at a lower cost.

Some people understandably object to Lepin on moral grounds, but I can also understand the appeal of getting a 99%-there clone of a discontinued set at a significantly reduced price. That aspect was enough to pique my curiosity, and while I feel slightly bad about funnelling some of my money towards Lepin, I suspect this could be offset by a number of people reading this review and consequently deciding to buy genuine LEGO sets instead of Lepin's dubious clones.

In summary, I was surprised how good many of Lepin's parts were; but conversely, some of them are very poorly made. The experience of building a set is just as important as the final result, and various issues meant the experience was not particularly fun in this case. With hindsight, I would not have spent £90 on this.

 

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166 comments on this article

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By in United States,

Interesting insight into "the dark side." While the prices on discontinued UCS sets are definitely appealing, I would never in good conscience purchase from or support Lepin in any way. What Lepin is doing is pure theft. No way around it.

Thanks for buying this thing and taking the time to thoroughly review it for us so we don't have to go through the same experience. :P

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By in United States,

Great article. Thank you for sharing!

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By in Germany,

Ewwwwwww. Gross. :-X

Seriously, this is kind of like the uncanny valley, regarding near human animated characters, for me.

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By in Belgium,

must say i agree with this review, have bought some lepin in past (porsche, modular houses) and the quality is ok but in the end... its not LEGO and it has zero resale value.
for current set always go LEGO, but for discontinued sets you really want to have and only want to DISPLAY you could buy this
the whole buying/building experience is much greater with LEGO, you get a nice box, clean bricks, no missing/damaged parts....

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By in United Kingdom,

Ugh. It's an interesting article, but Lepin are a truly evil company.

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By in Greece,

I can attest to Huw's honest curiosity about the quality of Lepin sets. Over the last few weeks, I have witnessed a discussion between Huw and Paul about publishing this article. The intention was that an informed discussion can be had about the quality of one of the prominent clone brick brands.

I recently purchased a 20 kg bulk lot of LEGO and it has taken me several weeks to sort the parts by colour. About 1 kg was clone bricks. It is remarkably easy to spot non-LEGO pieces, but the catch all is the LEGO brand on the studs, or LEGO reference numbers on the underside of tiles and other non-studded parts. I have seen examples of all the moulding issues mentioned in Paul's article.

Great article Paul, that I am in no doubt will generate some robust discussion.

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By in Germany,

This is a very interesting and informative arcticle, in particular because of the interspersed explanations of how bricks are actually produced. Thanks! :-)

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By in United Kingdom,

@paul_merton
Did the stand survive the model being put on it?

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By in Australia,

Great review! I congratulate you on being able to provide us with an objective review.

Damn Chinese swines! I cannot believe that with all these stupid copyright laws, a company can get away with this. A child could see that Lepin are completely copying Lego!

People by themselves have taken down large companies, I do not see why Lego cannot take legal action against Lepin. Surely the Chinese government could not ignore this.

I hate to throw accusations around, but I would not be surprised if there are Lepin spies in Lego's Chinese factory.

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By in Australia,

Injection moulding issues aside, there is something off about the finish on the bricks that I can't explain....

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By in Russian Federation,

In Russia many poor families buy Lepin. Because they simply have no money to buy original Lego, but as good parents they want give at least something to their kids. So yes stealing is bad, but i think many happy kids kinda compensate this.

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By in Australia,

The moulding defects are enough to put me off. But thanks for the review!

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By in Sweden,

Interesting article. I own one clone minifigure by accident, and the quality is surprisingly good, however nowhere near Lego.
One of my biggest issues with clone brands is that they say "why pay more for the same quality?". One of the main reasons Lego seems pricey is because of licensing, product design, box artwork etc. Lepin doesn't need to pay for this, if they had to they'd be a lot more expensive.

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By in Sweden,

Well I think I will never buy a clone brand set. But minifigures are more likely to be bought sometime.

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By in Finland,

I would have liked to see a picture of the finished model!

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By in France,

Lepin's prices principally reveals us the exagerated benefits Lego does on any set, and Lego's philosophy of "We are a brand SO we have to be extremely expensive".

In the Lego world, poors have no place and are not welcomed.

The price per piece of this Lego set was 0.11 €, while the Lepin one was 0.03. Even with some damaged parts, it remains a good opportunity. Just keep in mind that the customs will maybe seize your set at the airport / harbor, and that Lepin uses child labour and child slavery.

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By in France,

@tomenadi: its not LEGO and it has zero resale value.
I totally agree with you. I bought a Cafe Corner and a Green Grocer because of the attractive prices, but now i have the full genuine LEGO modulars, i'm planning to get LEGO's one (but still don't have enough money). The collection is not complete with fake sets.

A re-released of most wanted sets would be a nice solution. I think building a community around most wanted old sets would be a great project for TLG. TLG could let us vote for most wanted sets and re-release winners. As they don't need to develop these sets again, selling old sets at the same prices would be a great cash machine for TLG and a good deal for us! If they want to keep the older sets "exclusive", they could just change some parts in the re-release, as they did with the 2015 "10249 Toy Shop" vs the 2009 "10199 Winter Toy Shop".

@Huw: just TLG know if you agree and if you can ;)

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By in Austria,

I enjoyed reading this article and now am better informed about the details of Lepin sets. Thumbs up to brickset admin who is daring enough to put up this article!

Well, deciding between a less than perfect building experience and spending more money for an original set, I am more incline to -> just not buying it at all, and will spend money only on good new sets which are not at an exorbitant price. That's just me anyway.

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By in Bosnia And Herzegovina,

YOU should't do this, YOU definitely promoted Lepin products, many will go for it, Lego lawyers will be very mad. There are very few of us who are perfectionists and go for real thing. Now you gave alternative and directions. Your curiosity should have been left between your four walls. Please don't do this in the future anymore. If someone wants to cure their curiosity let them do that alone.

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By in United States,

Valuable insight, but my zealous stance against clone brand sets demands a single reply: BURN IT.

BURN IT ALL.

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By in Ireland,

There's the dirt you can see, such as what's shown in that pic. And there's the dirt you can't see. God knows what foulness is lurking in those bags. Any parent buying this garbage for their kids needs their head examined. I hope you washed your hands afterwards. I understand the reasons for this review, but I'm still disappointed seeing Brickset give this company any exposure.

@Larrynautik Yes, lepin is cheaper. But given they had zero design costs, cheap labour, cheap materials and cheap manufacturing, how do you know they're not clearing a larger profit per set than Lego?

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By in Australia,

^ Yeah, but I personally am not prepared to spend $150 (AUD) and a few hours of my time to satisfy my curiosity when someone has already done that precise same thing and can relay it back to a wider community. If they didn't, maybe I would end up purchasing this, just to see, and maybe ten dozen others like me would do the same, and Lepin would be just that little bit richer.
You might also want to note that, as the comments have proven so far, the vast majority of people who have read this are already aware of Lepin, so this isn't really giving them alternatives. And if Lego's lawyers don't care about Lepin's existence, they're not going to care about someone negatively reviewing their products.

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By in Greece,

Hm, previous post never got up. Strange. Nevermind, in a nutshell:

a) Thanks for posting that article. It's great to know your opponent.

b) Being an AFOL is a hobby an not a real need. So, unlike real needs where you can (are forced to) make do with a rip-off object (e.g. a car), in a hobby you can actually decide where you want to place your welfare money and the way I see it, I choose TLG instead of a rip-off (e.g. LEPIN).

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By in Netherlands,

Great article. And it just shows me why i only buy the original stuff. If they came up with their own IP's and their QC was excellent, i'd given it a small chance of considering it, but this is just plain theft of TLGs products.

Years back, i bought something from Megabloks out of curiosity. Some sort of robot that could fire a propellor-disc and transformed into a ball. I threw it away after a couple of days because it felt very greasy and it stank of chemicals. I've never bought a clone brand since.

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By in Australia,

"it has zero resale value".
I myself never ever buy Lego for the purposes of resale/investment, it simply a hobby for the enjoyment of building and displaying, I wonder of the AFOL community how many fall into what "bucket" re this.

Thus as some who enjoys building and displaying Lego, and loves Star Wars I have certainly considered Lepin for discontinued UCS sets.

For me in a perfect world Lego would either produce themselves or officially outsource production of some very popular discontinued sets, that may come at a premium (i.e. 10% + inflation more of original retail price), but certainly a lot cheaper than the resale market price (i.e. in the case of this set double).

I do wonder if Lego sales, strategy team look at what seems to be popular in the clone market and does that have any consideration for sets that they re-release (i.e. the Death Star).

I would much prefer my money to be going to Lego, than Lepin or the like.

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By in United Kingdom,

@almir_lego, I asked those who objected to us publishing not to read the article so why are you commenting?

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By in France,

Very interesting article, especially regarding the moulding techniques used to create the bricks - maybe that's a topic that would be worthy of a dedicated article in the future? It's certainly good to have the occasional review like this one to remind people just why Lego is the best. I've never heard good things about the quality of Lepin parts, and this article certainly confirms it for me.

On a side note about Lego quality control, I can recall finding only two mis-moulded parts since I started playing as a child back in the early 90s. Missing parts are rare as well, I think the last time it happened was a Lego ideas Exo-suit that missed out the 8x8 grille plate (which was supposed to be loose in the box, so it's exclusion was kind of understandable). Lego customer service has been much, much better than the experience with Lepin reported here

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By in France,

@TheBrokenPlate Because the 260 € price difference directly goes into Lego's pocket, while at best, Lepin can only make 90 € (and probably does something like 40 € of benefit).

You can't do big money with cheap sets. Having myself bought one, I don't believe Lepin is anything else than the new chinese Lego factory producing unnamed sets for several reasons, like calibrating the factory tools and machinery, allowing asian customers to get unaffordable sets, feeding AFOLs appetite for retired sets, and desmolishing other fake brands with a very aggressive price tag.

You know how Lego factories produce sets, so you know the industrial equipment required, which is very expensive, with 250.000 $ molds, and requires tons of plastic balls. You can't do that in your cellar. If it was possible to do that with such a quality, MegaBlocks and other legal brands would do that since a long time.

I defy you to place a Lepin set into a Lego exposition and to have ANY visitor to notice it.

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By in United Kingdom,

Great article.

I also have one of these sets and suffered the same issues as Paul. I have a genuine SSD as well but the Lepin one was bought for the grandsons to play with.

My family are from Azerbaijan and as Zombarium mentions in their post the place is awash with fake Lego. Star Wars, Ninjago, Pirates, Bionicle, City, Friends and others are all available at knock down prices and is eagerly purchased by families.

I did a double take last time I went shopping in the city centre. An Ewok Village 10236 set for £50 (AZ110 manats). When you consider that the average monthly wage is around £200 I certainly understand why the inferior quality sets are bought.

There is the real deal available but most sets are two to three times the price we pay in the UK. I was wondering why the nephews were so happy to see me.

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By in Singapore,

I appreciate the technical insight on how the pieces are manufactured. I know only the basics of it so the detailed explanation was a blessing for me.

Regarding the squarish plastic remnants, some ejectors can be rectangular in shape (ejector blades) but I concur that the remnants are caused by an uneven/worn out ejector blade.

As for the gating location difference, they might probably have tried to design a sprue system with a 4 or 8 cavitation that was symmetrical to achieve a consistent flow.
Else, they had different designs for different moulds (Possible that a sub-contracts were issued to either a few different toolmakers)

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By in Bosnia And Herzegovina,

@Huw, someone needs to leave some kind of statement, we need to satisfy Lego souls :)
But I don't wonder about Lepin as many westerners do, they are satisfying Asian market with low prices, probably making huge turnover. Perfecting production will probably raise prices or not, they have huge audience in Asia. So enjoy life, everything is fine. And don't get pissed at me :)

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By in Belgium,

Interesting article, I've been eyeballing curiously at Lepin as well. This article covers most of my questions and I'll be sticking to original Lego for quite a while.

Would it be possible to add a picture of the finished build?

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By in United Kingdom,

Thanks for posting this @Huw. Expect to break the previous comment record!
Any chance of posting an image of the complete model?

The price difference with some of the other sets is eye-watering. Cafe Corner £50 vs £1000+. Market Street £42 vs £1400+.

Not that this article pushed me further in that direction, but I am contemplating more and more completing my modular collection with Lepin. Now way I can justify spending £5000 on the missing 5 modulars.

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By in United States,

Ok, first, if you're going to review a lepin set, why did you get one of the largest sets, because if you don't like the quality, where would you put a three foot long spaceship masterpiece in a place where it won't make lego fans pass out.

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By in Australia,

I emerged from my dark ages about 5 years ago so missed the 10221 SSD in the shops. Using an inventory from Brickset (thanks!) I painstakingly compiled most of the required parts (mostly used) from numerous bulk lots won in eBay auctions and made up the missing pieces from BrickLink stores all over the world. I estimate this took me around 12 months and approx $350AUD in parts and a further $75 for original instructions. I eventually bought a second example (BNiB) for $1300 so can see the appeal of clone brands and cannot deny I have been tempted to buy a Millenium Falcon. But I refuse to and this article reinforces my resolve.
My SSD, despite being mostly made up of used (and some discoloured) parts looks fantastic on display and it comes with the added satisfaction of knowing how much time and effort was required to source them all. A very satisfying build.
My advice, don't be seduced by the Dark Side -you WILL regret it.

“You will know (the good from the Lepin) when you are calm, at peace. Patience you must have my young Padawan".

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By in United Kingdom,

@almir_lego, it's OK, we're cool... I'm pleasantly surprised that you are the only one to post such a comment, actually.

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By in El Salvador,

I bought the LEPIN Imperial shuttle. I have to say that except of 4 badly cloned technic pieces I love the quality.

Although I felt bad treasoning Lego it is the only way for me to get this set. Sorting the parts was easy and mould problems in my case was minimum.

Thanks for the review.

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By in Malaysia,

I can see how the writer tries his best to play down the quality of the set although he does seem in awe.

Personally I've also built a few Lepin sets with this being one of them. Their quality does scare me a little as it's obvious they're going to give LEGO a big headache. Other than the rare missing or malformed part, I've also forgotten it wasn't real LEGO. The exception of course was any set with large Technic contents of gears and such. Those are very poorly made and fail to perform well.

Lepin is making brick building toys affordable to many poorer families out there.

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By in United Kingdom,

I found myself biting my lip at first when I saw he title, but it's a conclusive well written article which for many I hope puts to rest what Lepin do and how inferior they are.

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By in United States,

Neat, although I prefer Cobi for my off-brand.

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By in United States,

Interesting article! I totally agree with a lot of what people have said up above. Lepin is plagirizing Lego's ideas and should not be given any support. Though to be fair, if there's an older set that is extremely high on the aftermarket that you want, chances are that you won't be able to tell the differences between the Lego one and the Lepin one.

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By in Italy,

I'm quite confused by your review: IMHO you did Lepin a favour by reviewing this set, because "it does not matter if people praise us or bitch about us, the important thing is they TALK about us".

I'm no stranger to buying off-brand construction toys, but I always tried to favour brands selling original sets. Moreover, it seems to me that Lepin might lead the chinese brands by quantity, not by quality: I can think of at least three chinese brands that can print their name on studs...

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By in Netherlands,

Well written article giving a balanced view.

As for Lepin (and Chinese manufacturers like these in general) being evil... well, I don't agree. They're just doing what the Japanese and Koreans did before. Starting off as cheap labour countries, slowly climbing up the ladder to more independent manufacturers, copying the more popular products from "the west" until they emerge as bonafide brands of their own, fighting of cheap knock offs from the next cheap labour countries. Only difference is that it's happening quite a lot faster and the quality, albeit still sub-par when compared to the real deal, is sometimes quite good.

That doesn't mean I condone of that behavior, though. It's still stealing intellectual property from companies that have spent a lot of time and effort in getting there (and a bit of luck).

If these sets are sold in abundance, one would hope that Lego sees the light and reissues/re-releases some of those iconic classic sets...

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By in United States,

I run into PLENTY of missing parts and screwed-up print jobs on my genuine LEGO sets every wave. I can't be the only one?

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By in Finland,

I bought this lepin set a year ago, I just wanted to build it and see how it looked.

The good :-
It looked great when built, you'd never know that it was a fake. Unless you examined it closely.
The price was very cheap.

The bad:-
It stunk of chemicals, opening the bags made me feel nauseous.
Some of the bits were very dirty, one piece had blood on it (dried crimson/brown)
A cigarette dimp and hairs in the box.
Felt the need to take a shower after a building session.

In summary, you can keep it.

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By in Canada,


I purchased this set and can tell you flat out the quality sucks. The stand is great but the ship kept breaking apart here and there if you just grabbed it in a wrong spot.

I picked up the AT OT as well and had to replace parts with LEGO parts to make it stronger.

Never will buy again.

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By in United States,

Well that was quite the trip down uncanny valley. Going to rinse out my eyes with real bricks now.

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By in Germany,

@TJCroCrop
+1. bricklinking is fun, too when you got some time spare. (had same fun of sourcing a larger amount of parts, too myself (Anio's venator which got stolen by L***N, too))

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By in United States,

Thank you for posting this very interesting article - I found the technical details about how various molding flaws can occur to be very informative! Agree with an above poster that additional articles that get into LEGO's production details at a very technical level would be fascinating.

I personally would never buy LEPIN, and this article just reinforces that for me. First of all I think it's ridiculous that they are shameless parasites on the intellectual property of others. That's just morally reprehensible to me. Secondly, the high quality control of LEGO is essential to the enjoyment of the build process. Even if flawed or missing parts ended up being rare with a knock-off, the constant anticipation of another little problem would suck all the fun out of the build.

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By in United Kingdom,

Excellent article, the debate on clone brands have been going on for me since the early 80's when I was 4. Every large box of assorted lego had a few "Tyco Superblocks" included within it. Interested in the set generally as a display piece, £90 seems a lot still though, might have paid £50.

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By in Malaysia,

Hi! I went to China a couple of months back. To a city in Qingdao.suprisingly I could not find much of Lepin. Since I was there, I thought to give it a try. When I asked my colleagues over there. They told me that these Lepin are actually for the international market.

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By in Australia,

I think if nothing else, we've all learned a lot more about the ABS injection moulding process....

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By in United States,

I think it's certainly important to delve into these more taboo subjects for the sake of education. To those who might say something like, "Curiosity killed the cat," I say that such a statement sounds like confirmation bias, wherein all previous examples of curiosity not killing the cat are ignored. In fact, previous acts of curiosity could have provided said cat with numerous insights and experiences that actually prolonged its life. Additionally, suggesting that curiosity was the culprit - the instrument by which the cat lost its life - is simply incorrect; perhaps there is a basis for postulating a correlation between a cat's curiosity and its death, but there is absolutely no basis for implying causation. Essentially, I'm grateful for this article because more information is better than less information, and here we have been granted a provision of decadent, detailed delineation for our own education. Yes, we are now more aware of the inexpensive alternative, but simultaneously, we are now far more aware of the underlying symptoms that adversely mitigate those lower prices.

Anyway... I have no love for the notion of directly replicating LEGO products that exist or have existed previously. As has been pointed out by everyone, that is stealing, but it's also completely uninspired and malicious. By copying LEGO, Lepin is making it clear that they not only wish to undercut LEGO by directly competing with their prices on what they want to be seen as essentially the same good, but they're also showing their willingness to prey on the underprivileged and under-informed as a means of generating a revenue (which I imagine is consequently not very significant). In regards to opportunity cost, LEGO is losing out on more than 80% of their potential revenue** every time someone buys a Lepin set, whereas Lepin likely struggles to surpass its operating costs on every set sold. It's just an inefficient, externalized system for everyone involved. If Lepin were to actually bite the bullet and create their own concepts and intellectual properties, it could effectively compete with LEGO in a non-underhanded manner, which would significantly improve their revenue and probably even reduce their negative impact on LEGO.

I do want to comment on the point made by Larrynautik, because it's an important one. We're all really quick to defend all of LEGO's actions, because they are more or less respectable relative to typical corporations. However, I think that the product that LEGO manufactures is more intrinsically meaningful than just some toy. As such, I feel that LEGO products should be far more accessible to far more people, as they provide enrichment and education to peoples' lives.

**LEGO charges significantly more because its cost of production/operation per set involves far more input and labor from start to finish read: paying employees for negotiating licensing terms -> the cost of acquiring licensing -> paying employees to design sets -> paying for the conduction of market research on their products -> paying designers to translate feedback into final product -> drafting comprehensive instructions -> now we've finally arrived at paying laborers/equipment for production (which is only now where Lepin starts - and stops - spending, comparatively) -> paying for employees to carry out quality assurance measures -> paying for a marketing team to inform the market of their product.

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By in United States,

Great review Paul!

As a pure LEGO fan, I found this quite informative about the 'other side' and was surprised by the overall quality that they had, especially the printing on the minifigures. However, I'll stick purely to LEGO as they have the best quality when building, displaying, and playing with their sets.

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By in Malaysia,

My mother bought me several LEGO sets when I was a kid, then I stop buying LEGO around secondary school period. Now having my own family, I am starting to buy some LEGO sets again (mainly Technic and Creator) but only within my budget.

However for playing with my two kids, I have bought some clone sets because I can let them play as they like and not having to worry to damage the sets. They can play with the bricks, take them outdoor and just having fun with the model car or aircraft etc.

I am not supporting clone brands, but for my budget I can only afford to buy a LEGO set which I have to consider, research and save money for few months. Therefore I will keep my LEGO sets as collection and keep it for display.

In short, if I can afford it, I will always buy original LEGO. Clone brands are not good for LEGO supporters, but they definitely are lower cost alternative for able to playing "LEGO" with my children for now. Later when they grow up and interest in building bricks by themselves, original LEGO is the only brands we will start to build and collect together.

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By in United Kingdom,

Fascinating article - glad you kept the technical and moral issues separate, but covered them both.

I've been tempted by their Emerald Night, bearing in mind just buying the official Lego windows for the carriage would probably cost more than the entire Lepin set... However, the various flaws in the elements presented here would probably be enough to put me off, bearing in mind that the engine is all about the looks. Still, interesting to see how closely competitors (albeit those who leech on and profit from the design skills of others) are snapping at Lego's heels...

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By in United States,

The other legal problem with these sets is that the holders of the original intellectual property (i.e. Star Wars and etc.) don't get anything from these sales. That's a shame for all fans of the original intellectual property who want to see more of those films. Even the films are illegally copied and sold on the streets of China while the government there does little to nothing to stop the practice. It's a sad state of affairs all around since the Chinese government is the one allowing this illegal practice to continue on such a grand scale.

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By in United States,

You can argue all you want about how overpriced LEGO can be, but some portion of that higher price is going into actual LEGO piece quality. Lepin doesn't think "only the best is good enough". There are lots of issues to be discussed with people actually buying knockoffs such as these, but I feel that they simply shouldn't be made in the first place. This is shameless, obvious theft with no effort to do anything original, and the reduced price has its own consequences.
The real deal may be pricey, but it's a guarantee that nobody will have to X-Acto their bricks or replace faulty parts with good ones from their own collection. More affordable or not, these aren't the people I would want to support with my money.

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By in United States,

Interesting review on this Lepin "set". I would never support the people who clearly knock off Lego sets though.

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By in United Kingdom,

@teddy

That's why I've been interested in Xingbao. They make sets that Lego don't, with designer agreement, don't steal the design and don't use the trademarks they are based on. They don't steal IP.

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By in Canada,

This was a great read! I certainly learned a lot, particularly about how different parts are manufactured.

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By in Panama,

I'll be honest, not sure how to feel about this one. The article did a great job of letting you know that you might not get your worth out of buying these "cloned" sets, but then I understand the other side of the coin.

Collectors are only a fraction of Lego retail market. Most consumers are parents that are trying to stretch their budget as much as they can, and off clone brands as Lepin become more attractive due to costing less, even if their quality is less. And this especially happens when you have markets that Lego has decided to forego, as Latin America.

I'm from Panama, and when I read people from US/UK/Europe/Australia complain of how "pricey" Lego is, I can only laugh. You don't know what "pricey" really is. If a set has a $29.95 USD price in US, in Panama it will be $49.95. This applies to almost every set. And if you take into consideration that salaries are waaaay below US standard, you can see how buying Lego original sets is a luxury you might not have. So what do you do? You turn to the Lepin cloned set, that is $24.95 and might not bring Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, but Superguy, Batsman and Wonder Women.

As a collector, I only buy LEGO sets. Sure, I might buy a cloned minifig here and there of characters Lego haven't created or has no plan of doing so, like the X-Men, but I definitely understand why Lepin is so attractive for parents. This, of course, it's not an excuse, but leaves me wondering that maybe Lego, while going legally after Lepin, they might also want to get their house in order and ensure they cover most major markets and not just a few of these.

But again, great article!

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By in United Kingdom,

I was at Manchester Comic Con yesterday and like last year (and no doubt the previous years) there were tons of fake minifigures for sale. I've seeing quite a few people buying them last year calling them 'Lego' figures. Theres even a market stall in town where I live selling them now. If Lego wants to fight companies like Lepin then maybe its worth sending someone around all these conventions and putting a stop to these sales. I can image if this continues then we will no doubt see bagged sets being sold there as well in the future.

Also its worth mentioning, i've on some other websites and blogs from people who have bought Lepin sets online online to other courier automatically return them to the seller as they don't ship counterfeits.

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By in United Kingdom,

Interesting both in terms of how good most of the pieces are, and how bad some of them are. What if a set includes a rare/hard-to-replace piece which is warped? You can see that a good chunk of the price we pay for Lego is quality control... I had already decided not to buy Lepin, but this confirms how inadvisable it would be - I've only ever had one faulty piece in over 350 Lego sets, and TLG were quick to replace it free, so when I'm buying Lego it's with confidence that a) there almost certainly won't be any problems, and b) if there are, they'll be sorted out.

On a moral level, I prefer to compensate the company that invested in the designers for these sets. In the end, I accept that I'm not rich and therefore I can't have every set I want.

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By in United Kingdom,

Thanks for publishing. Excellent article. As others have suggested, Lego could reduce Lepin's window of opportunity by rereleasing old classics, perhaps in a modified format to differentiate from the originals, e.g. no minifigs, or different colours. Possibly even through a sub manufacturer sub brand arrangement.

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By in Austria,

A general comment whereby many of you have not posted before, or simply choose to ignore:

- If there is no clone of Lego, many children in lower income group (global valued income and not local), will not have the chance to play with Lego. There are managers, executives in lower income countries that earn less than the people washing dishes at restaurants in higher income countries, so imagine that! And their children may not have the opportunity to play given the RRP of Lego for the so call well-off countries.

- Should we deny children from certain countries to play with Lego?

- If the above answer is no, then I suggest we have an open heart to these approaches, and take it as a charity, if you wish. Of course the only 'wrong' here is about copying the design, but well, it happens also for music or movie downloaded online and this is again, nothing new. And for the latter, it is not the Asian that fuels it.

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By in United States,

While I'm not sure how I feel about a Lego fansite as prominent as Brickset reviewing a bootleg product like this, I must admit the review itself was enlightening (no pun intended). I've seen very few Lepin reviews that take such a critical eye to the sets—most of the ones I have seen come across as a bit TOO positive, as if the reviewers are more concerned with justifying the purchase to themselves than actually providing insight to other fans.

I often see Lego fans complain about Lego's quality control going downhill, but while I've certainly seen a few errors in sets over the course of my time as a Lego fan (a "short-shot" part here, a missing part there), those errors tend to be few and far between, and I've never had a genuine Lego set with more than one or two such issues. The sheer number of errors in this set is frankly mind-boggling. Combined with the poor customer service (in contrast to Lego's own, which is among the best in the business), it's clear that plenty of corners are being cut beyond the obvious theft of intellectual property.

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By in United Kingdom,

@Larrynautik that's a pretty strong claim about child slavery - can you prove it? While I personally would never buy Lepin or others for copyright reasons slavery should be enough for anyone to boycott the company.

Also, if they really were Lego producing these sets that would mean the Chinese factory having extra machines and two sets of mounds: with and without logos on studs etc. Doubling production costs to then try and undercut your own market does not make economic sense.

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By in United States,

Awesome article and extremely insightful. Learned so much about the moulding process just by reading, and it's super cool.

I am Chinese born and raised, and I hate those blatant clones so much, especially Lepin since they literally make the exact same thing, which is simply awful. I will never buy anything from them in my lifetime just out of principle, but i dont think our dear government really cares. I can only hope that the expanding LEGO market in China would force the government to rethink its stance on similar matters.

I do have an anecdote about Lepin though.

Last summer I was doing volunteer teaching/daycare work not far away from where I live in Beijing, mostly helping elementary school children from low income families. One day I overheard the kids talking about "LEGO", and as someone who's fortunate enough to have) been playing lego my entire life I was very alert to the word, and of course curious to maybe one day see what sets they have (the cost of LEGO was not really on my mind at the time). And when they took out their toys to play with each other, what they had was (for someone who've played with some amount of lego) obviously not lego. They were a ninjago themed clone, most likely Lepin. Now i have no problem with the loose definition of "lego clone" that have their own designs and such, but this was the literal "clone" that i absolutely despise. But then I was left to make a decision, do I tell them that they were playing with bootleg lego that were made from stolen intellectual property and manufactured at a fraction of the cost of genuine lego, and take away the joy from those kids whose parents work hard day and night and would not be able to purchase genuine lego? The only thing I could have done was to say nothing about it

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By in Netherlands,

Translated by Google translate from their company website's news section:
'At present, from the central to the local are strongly advocating the transformation and upgrading of manufacturing, but easier said than done, to break the inherent business model, looking for new market space and profit points, which has been done for several decades of manufacturing SMEs is no doubt Is a huge challenge. As early as a few years ago, this challenge has not yet come before, Chen Zhenkai expected this day, as the year from the simple trade to the manufacturing transformation, this time, Chen Zhenkai also in the crisis before coming to take the initiative to think of the transition The Where to turn? How to turn it? Transformation is not switch, Chen Zhenkai or look back on their own line of toys on the line. He is swept the world's toy brand Lego as an example, he believes that China's toy market space there is great potential, but simply rely on simple imitation and manufacturing is not enough, a toy only beautiful appearance and meticulous workmanship is Not enough to win the market, must give each toy a unique cultural connotation, like Barbie dolls, because every doll is carrying a beautiful girl dream, so for decades has been popular and expensive. Culture, giving product life.'
(http://loongon.com/view.php?id=100)

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By in Poland,

Grab your nearest LEGO brick and see if you can spot where the ABS was injected into the mould.

Are you kidding me? You need to be rather blind or slow to not find a injection point in new LEGO bricks. I can show you injection point in any lego piece you have. They always have different color, and they are always in placed at the sight.

[Edited to remove profanities and derogatory term]

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By in United Kingdom,

I think it's absolutely pointless to buy any set from Lepin that can still be bought from Lego themselves, the savings are tiny or maybe not there at all. It's certainly not worth the sacrifice in quality and not having the original box.
Discontinued sets however are a completely different matter, especially UCS, modular buildings and landmarks like the Taj Mahal. The only way to obtain these is to pay literally extortionate prices for them on the secondary market, something which only lines the pockets of the greedy investors and doesn't benefit Lego in any way. Also, there is affordability, many of us have a very limited budget for our hobby so the fact these sets are available for reasonable prices even with a few faults is very tempting, most of us have a decent selection of spare parts to replace the odd duff piece.
Also, I know I'll get shot down in flames for this but you can get some cool ideas sets that Lego are never going to make anyway, I know the creators of these sets may not like it but when you upload MOC designs to the internet they effectively become public property anyway.
So, as I said, current sets are a big NO but retired sets definitely YES!!! I don't particularly do brand loyalty and certainly don't do investor/speculator loyalty!!! It'd be great if brands like Lepin could force down the value of these so called investments and stop the practice altogether, both Lepin and investors are bad really but my wallet dictates which way I'm going to go!!!

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By in United Kingdom,

Good on Brickset for publishing this article. This is really well written and pleasingly objective, complimenting where it's due and finding fault when appropriate. Well done.

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By in United Kingdom,

Having bought a few retired sets that I can't buy from Lego anymore I would agree with most of what was said in the article. Expect about 1 part per thousand to be badly moulded/missing and the quality of minifigures to be noticably lower sometimes. For example the MF UCS Skywalker uses a female hairpiece thats not even close to correct. Also the radar dish was 8x8 studs instead of 10x10.

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By in United Kingdom,

Nice review. I've never bought a Lepin set as I try to buy Lego sets on sale and there isn't a huge difference. I can see how it's tempting for OOP sets and wish that Lepin would concentrate on this instead of cloning sets the second they are released.

I'm always amused by the arguments (for and against) that arise on subjects such as this. What is legal and what is moral is always an interesting question. Copying Lego sets is clearly legally wrong, but the fact that lots of people are hoarding the genuine articles to resell for later is considered perfectly fine. So is Lego's pricing structure - justified by the costs of R&D and licensing - despite having the highest profit margins of any toy manufacturer by a long way. Legally fine, but aren't we all just being taken for a little bit of a ride? It always seem that laws are really there to protect money and power.

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By in United Kingdom,

I don't think Brickset should be publishing reviews of Lepin sets as it draws attention to the brand but definitely an interesting article. All the moulding info is appreciated.

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By in United States,

I, for one, LOVE the fact that there is a review of a Lepin set. With the several concurrent threads over in the forum about this exact topic, I think it's actually really beneficial to finally have a long, in-depth review with good pictures to reference, rather than speculation from people who have never built a Lepin set that wonder about its quality and value. This is a good reference tool for people who are genuinely curious about how they stack up to the real thing. If your typical customer wants one of these sets and sees a clone that looks almost as good for a fraction of the price there is sure to be some hesitation before spending exorbitant amounts of money on the real thing.

Ultimately, people vote with their wallet, and is buying Lepin any more morally ambiguous than buying knock-off Coach bags or kit-versions of a Shelby Cobra? I'll leave that for the philosophers to decide.

And, @Huw, regarding your disclaimer at the beginning: it's 2017; everyone is offended at everything these days :-D

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By in United States,

Thank you for going through the whole process of buying, building and doing such a thorough review of the parts, printing, etc. A great job.

I've been on the fence with getting a Lepin. I've purchased a couple of the smaller Iron Man sets from another company...'S' with the back slash through it? I think that's the logo.

What I do buy are sets Lego DOESN'T make. I've had an Iron Man build that was good (well designed, clutch good but the polish on it made them look like used parts, scratches on some), and one that was just junk. Small purchases though. For these, I'm going to rebuild them using quality Lego parts.

I might get a Lepin Star Wnrs Medical Frigate. Since I'm an old school model builder, I'll treat Lepin like I did back in the day. Like you, I'll use my exacto blade, but also some fine sand paper to smooth areas that are rough and since I won't reuse the bricks, I'm going to glue the model, cleanly. Maybe even paint some parts to show weathering, etc. Give it depth and texture.

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By in Pakistan,

Photographs or better side by side comparison would have been missy beneficial . Surprised the final product wasn't shown

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By in United Kingdom,

I for one have bought several of the discontinued Lego sets as Lepin copies and have had no real problems building them or with the quality - albeit a couple of missing or damaged parts - but when most sets purchased have piece counts of 2000+ I can cope with this as it is easy to source from Bricklink.

Lepin offer the chance to own previous discontinued sets at a much better price and to be honest once built it is almost impossible to tell the difference.

I for one will continue to buy Lepin sets as I believe the Lego Group while far superior are getting too greedy and too expensive.

After all isn't competition supposed to be healthy?

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By in United Kingdom,

I also have to say that the XingBau brand which is now producing previous Lego Ideas rejects and other AFOL models now licensed with the permission of the designer.

I for one have purchased the Alien model and have to say it is an absolute stunning model and a very good conversation piece.

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By in United Kingdom,

Great non-biased and open minded review.

Firstly I need to say I have LOADS of Lego and my little one loves building the models and i've spent £££ over the years.

However, I am mid-way through my Lepin super star destroyer build and am loving it using the H&H seller within Ali Express. Took under 1 week to arrive in same packaging as described in the review for under £90.

Having recently built a Lepin UCS Slave 1 (bought as a cheaper model to test the Lepin product) i'm finding this one easier in terms of finding parts and colour identification and quality of the pieces seem to be higher.

I have not come across any faulty, badly fitting or missing pieces yet.

When an actual Lego set of this model could cost between £600 and £2000 this is a no-brainer.

And this is how i see the copy-write thing.....

1. The Lego patent for the bricks no longer exists (and courts have agreed you can't do things such as patent a 2 x 2 interlocking brick) so any company can make the bricks.

2. The instructions are open source on their website so anyone can print them off and get them ring bound or laminated or made into a hard back book.

3. Lego list the parts needed for every model in the instructions. You could order a UCS super star destroyer from Lego by selecting all the required parts from the Lego website (probably i don't have the time to check each part) so why can't you do that with a cheaper company who charges less for the bricks?

Clearly its not as straight forward as that because of the branding and reselling but I struggle to see it as the huge issue people make out when Lego make the parts list and instructions available open source. My friend who is a big Lego fan has disowned me though - haha

Anyway, I'm looking forward to finishing the kit and and its an experience I would not have been able to have if it had not been for Lepin.

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By in Germany,

Of the 29 UCS Star Wars sets i own 20, among them 10179, 10221 and 10030. Of the remaining 9 sets i was only interested in 10143 (Death Star II). This set is one of the most expensive on eBay so i decided to buy it as a Lepin set. All in all it's ok for the price (ca. 110 euro) but i experienced the same issues as this review describes, except that i didn't have to use a cutter knife to remove excess plastic. But one part was missing (IIRC a 1x12 plate), one was molded incomplete (didn't replace it with genuine Lego as its barely visible) and there were an ridiculous amount of spare parts left.

I also saw this one here: https://de.aliexpress.com/item/Lepin-05083-1736Pcs-Star-War-MOC-Series-The-Nebulon-B-Medical-Frigate-Set-Building-Blocks-Bricks/32807774008.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.jBSx98 and i have to admit that in a way i want this set. Unfortunately Lego did not release something like that and this Lepin set seems to be based on a Moc.

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By in United States,

After years of loyal Brickset viewing (and purchases through affiliate links), I will no longer be a visitor of this site.

Thank you for the years of enjoyable services - but a Lepin "review" is unforgivable.

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By in United Kingdom,

^ I did ask those of a sensitive nature not to read it!

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By in New Zealand,

A nice insight to clone brands. It'd be interesting to see if more brands get reviewed.

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By in Canada,

Very insightful, fair and useful review. Thank you.

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By in United Kingdom,

Rmcnamee - bless ;)

Lepin is also sold on Ebay and Amazon so you best avoid them too

Educating people about drugs and sex is better than burying your head in the sand and pretending its not there.

Well done brickset for discussing what is actually wrongly taboo in the Lego world.

Lets hope this sort of company helps keep Lego prices affordable as when i was a kid in 10yrs of Lego play I got 1 x big(ish) set which was pneumatic technic lego JCB - all the rest of my lego was just general bricks and came from car boot sales!!

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By in United Kingdom,

^ Great points. And I also had 8862 Backhoe Grader :)

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By in United States,

I appreciate this type of article! Thank you for making the investment (time and money) to actually experience this product we hear so much about but are too scared to touch, so you could share that experience with us. Much appreciated! I found it fascinating, cringeworthy at times to know that they could have such oversight in quality, and also got a great education in the injection mold process!

Let's face it, Lepin is part of the Lego world, however disgraceful. I for one found it very educational to get a good look at their product, it only solidifies my stance that I only want to spend money on legitimate LEGO.

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By in United States,

Lepin does make me wonder how much TLG's markup actually is. Sure, LEGO sets are nearly perfect in terms of quality control (and they also have to actually design and license the set), but does it actually cost them $200 more to achieve that? I don't intend on purchasing clone brands anytime soon, but I do question LEGO's pricing.

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By in United Kingdom,

My gut reaction was that Lepin's products should not be given the space necessary to justify their existence, there is no excuse for piracy. I personally disagree with the court ruling regarding Lego's patent and think that the expiry of a patent is unfair whilst a company is still in the hands of people directly related to the original patent holder. I'm not asking for an argument, just stating an opinion.
I do think it was right however, to review something from a clone manufacturer, particularly in a fair and unbiased way. It is important that people are aware of the pitfalls of buying these products.
I think you can find justification for buying clone products and price is always going to be a major factor in that justification. That will never make it right and I would ask everyone to consider, reconsider and hopefully choose the morally correct path before spending money on these products.
As an illustrator, I have had work stolen in the past and "others" have made money from my work, whilst I have remained unpaid and uncredited. This is only different in terms of scale. Piracy or theft will always be just that, theft.

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By in Australia,

I recently had a trip to Vietnam with the family which was exceptionally enjoyable. IN Hanoi whilst looking for a half decent toy shop so my son could purchase something that might last beyond the flight home we stumbled across a shop that I have to say blew me away. This little shop seemed to have every fake brand of building block knockoffs available. So easy to spot the LEGO sets they've copied but the sheer volume surprised me so much. Thankfully my 8yr old knows the quality in these sets is utter trash so we exited without any drama. Fortunately found a toy sop with real LEGO in it and we both breathed a huge sigh of relief!

[Edited to remove profanity]

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By in Slovakia,

@problemchild let me try to correct your misconceptions

"1. The Lego patent for the bricks no longer exists (and courts have agreed you can't do things such as patent a 2 x 2 interlocking brick) so any company can make the bricks."

Not true in general sense, while the patent for original bricks have expired and there is no general patent for interlocking bricks, any new form of brick can be protected and some are. These protections will eventually time out too, but in the meantime there will be new sets with new bricks. And LEPIN is not really waiting for the expiration or producing own versions of adapted bricks, they blatantly and cheaply copy everything. Oh and LEGO got the minifig trademark upheld in EU, like 2-3 years ago. If you want to see what is legally possible look for Polish COBI, some bricks are the same, but other look like original and they you see they have slightly different shapes. And also no LEGO like minifig. Not like LEPIN.

"2. The instructions are open source on their website so anyone can print them off and get them ring bound or laminated or made into a hard back book."
Nope, there is no opensource license, public domain or even creative commons data on the instructions. Instead there is stuff like "©2016 The LEGO Group." That little symbol prevents you taking latest book from JKR or such, copying it and selling it. It does the same for the instructions (unless TLG approves) ...

"3. Lego list the parts needed for every model in the instructions. You could order a UCS super star destroyer from Lego by selecting all therequired parts from the Lego website (probably i don't have the time to check each part) so why can't you do that with a cheaper company who charges less for the bricks?"
Sure, it might be the next evasive step, as they stopped shipping sealed boxes, next they might sell it as parts pack... except for it to be legal it should be without the still protected newer parts, and all minifigs, and instructions, and anything that resembles the the SW IP owned by Disney, .... the demand would not be the same

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By in United States,

^ BUT, if you don't protect your IP, it's not really protected. LEGO and Disney have to act here. Absent action, they are giving tacit approval.

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By in United States,

It took sto... well let's just say *guts* to publish something like this here of all places, so I have much respect for that. Respect also to the author for approaching this as a somewhat fair and very thorough evaluation and not a smear piece. This was educational for me personally as I thought the Lepin would be far worse than it is. In fact, I'm confident this article will allay the fears of some interested parties to the point of helping them reach an affirmative decision to buy this very product. That may not be what many of us would consider a desirable outcome, but ultimately it's up to consumers to make their own choices for their own reasons. What this article did was present truths, and I think that's never a bad thing in the big picture, even when it hurts. Ultimately this writeup shows that Brickset supports and represents the very highest level of editorial integrity.

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By in Slovakia,

@speedorz4ever
if you feel like they are not doing anything grab the opportunity and start a local business importing LEPIN :) Then hope you will make enough money to pay for the confiscated shipments until the moment you pop on their radar...
As for customs, they can give guidelines, request action and be a part of any investigation, but they are just normal companies, they cannot go directly after private persons opening their shipments themselves.
Also this works in countries where IP rights are kind of enforced.
Then there are other countries where you can buy fake watches on each corner and big car makers with state subsidies copy design of European brands ... and there it is not only TLG being played

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By in Slovakia,

@Huw @paul_merton
The article is focusing more on the product part, but would be nice to have some analysis on the surrounding topics.

- the (not) shipping in MISB form - some time ago it was possible to order also a box, but currently even if there is such option, usually it won't do for Europe. Besides shipping the reason is marked as counterfeit goods of commercial character, unlike a sealed box with graphics matching official product a pile of bricks in a carton box is not so easily stopped. The same laws that should stop such goods provide also ways around it for private persons, there is even a (i think German) forum where they post hints how to ruse the customs officials :(

- The price questions - when put like 90 vs 350 pounds it looks like a clear case against greedy LEGO, but lets take this sample :
90 GBP is a non-taxed price based on a high competition low margin wholesale channel in China with almost no expenses in Europe beside the pay for postman
350 GBP is a sticker price including VAT for retail where almost all the chain links are based in Europe and usually include one or more big companies and often including license costs

One could write a long analysis how the state takes on average 20% VAT, then comes the retail chain where the purchase price to sticker price ratio vary a lot and only then comes TLG income. And in that one, based on the Annual Report, only about 1/4 is taken by production, there is lot of sales and distribution share and licenses and research... most of that done Europe/US.
On the other hand is LEPIN, production costs are lower, sales ? marketing ? Those are 'paid' by LEGO as they sell only copies. Few % to the guys fighting for sales on wholesale portals and those pay also for commission to the portal.

It does not really compare and yes the 30% profit before tax TLG makes even from warehouse price is a lot of money, it is just not 30% from sticker price ...

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By in United States,

I personally don't care about this (everything of value is counterfeited, Lego is no exception), but even I have to admit this review was in poor taste and serves no purpose other than to bring awareness and promote illegal item sales. It wouldn't fly on other fan sites of counterfeited items, not sure why you thought it would here.

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By in United States,

Very interesting review, I'd like to see more of these clone reviews, maybe even comparing the clone with the actual set.

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By in United States,

Very interesting article, I read through the entire thing. I must say, Lego really has great quality on their products that couldn't ever be reached by these clone brands. These clones are absolute disgraces in every way, especially with "Star Wnrs" I appreciate that you did this, it gives me a look at lepin and how they execute their clones. I never would have known about the minifigures needing extra assembling or spare weapons.

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By in United States,

Love the review!
It was VERY eye opening... (*)(*)
I would love it it you reviewed some more "STAR WNRS" sets!
Maybe some Chimo or fneinds,,,

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By in United States,

Longtime lurker just wanted to say thanks for the insight here! I personally would never buy knockoff bricks and tbh wouldn't build that lepin set if you gave it to me! Please do a more in depth article about the ABS molding in the future I found that fascinating. Keep up the good work!

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By in United States,

Excellent article. I hate Lepin as much as the next person (probably more), but always had a very mild curiosity about the comparison between LEGO and Lepin. While I would never buy Lepin, thank you for an excellent comparison review that now sates any curiosity I once had about the topic :)

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By in Australia,

Unfortunately, I cant afford to have the original Mona Lisa hanging on my wall, so I took a picture of a 400x600 resolution one off the internet, blew it up to 1:1 ratio and have it framed behind bulletproof glass. Sure, you can still see that its kinda blurry a little bit, but if I stand far enough away, oh my, that sexy smile!

Edit: Is this the most commented article on Brickset ever?

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By in Australia,

Thanks for the article. I've bought some clone brand minifigures before just out of curiosity but never again. Terrible quality. I've also seen a clone brand call their Star Wars minifigures "STAR WART".

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By in Canada,

I think this article (an the existence of counterfeit LEGO in general) is really an indictment of China's blantant disregard of IP rights and the type of business practices that are prevalent there more than anything else.
I thank Brickset for their fair treatment of an unfair company and providing insight on an ugly reality to your readers. I'm honestly surprised by those comments on here implying that Brickset is actually condoning or endorsing Lepin products because they addressed this issue.

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By in Hungary,

I wouldn't ever buy a Lepin set. It's a plain copy, a crime against lego.
And I really dont care that they offer retired products, I can live without the black pearl, or the caffe corner

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By in United Kingdom,

Wow... 25,000 views and over 100 comments in 24 hours -- clearly this is a topic that many of you are interested in or curious about.

I thank you all for keeping the discussion civilised. I'm glad, and relieved, that the majority of you found the article informative and support my decision to publish it.

Make the most of it, though, as we won't be publishing anything more about Lepin or any other clone brand anytime soon.

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By in United Kingdom,

I have to say, I have sometimes bought items from these companies, but always original designs- minifigures and big figs Lego can't or won't get around to producing. These blatant copies, however, are a very different kettle of fish, and when the whole idea of Lego is that you can build anything with it, I don't understand the need to resort to copies of sets that use entirely standard parts. To each their own, I suppose.

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By in Poland,

^^ It would be nice, though, to see a Xingbao review of one of Arvo Brothers' "licenced" MOCs...

But who am I kidding, I won't buy it anyway. This monstrous Alien, on the other hand... tempting :/

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By in United Kingdom,

Why would anyone want one of these 'huge lumps of grey plastic', real or fake, anyway? Must be a 'man thing' probably just like pink Lego is a 'girl thing'!!! The damn thing is ugly. Sorry! Amazing review though.

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By in Netherlands,

For quit some time now I wanted to try one myself. For the same reasons mentioned above. I wouldn't have started with a large set as this one though. After reading this review I think i better keep my money in my pocket. I'm cured of my curiousity.

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By in United Kingdom,

Thanks Huw and Paul for being brave enough to allow this review on your site, and to write it. The article is really helpful. Far from promoting the clone brand, it helps me understand why LEGO remains such a high quality toy. It's certainly helped me appreciate the extra value behind the official sets and parts. Not many manufacturers ship missing or broken parts for free. Not many companies sell parts today that are 100% compatible with those manufactured in the 1960s. Personally, I would appreciate more (albeit occasional) comparisons of LEGO to clone brands.

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By in United Kingdom,

An interesting article on an interesting subject. I understand why some people will follow this route to pick up sets that they either can't afford or are otherwise unavailable - don't agree with it myself, but clearly there's a market.

The thing that strikes me though, is when we talk about 'value', we often refer to the price-per-piece cost. Clearly in this regard, Lepin has Lego on the ropes, but for me it's more than that. I mainly buy Technic (plus a few other bits and bobs here and there), and despite me poring over books like Sariel's 'Unofficial Lego Technic Builder's Guide', I would never be able to construct, from scratch, something like the Bucket Wheel Excavator or the Arocs truck. I simply don't have the skill.

So when I hand over my money for a Lego set, yes, in practical terms I'm buying a box full of plastic pieces, but more than that I'm buying someone's design, I'm buying the countless hours that went into perfecting that design, I'm buying the time and effort that went into making a set of build instructions that lets me put the set together without tearing my hair out and I'm buying peace of mind that - unlike Paul - I won't have to worry about pieces being malformed or missing.

I'm fortunate that by and large I can afford to buy Lego without worrying too much about the price, but rather than being able to afford an overpriced toy, I think I'm actually getting pretty good value for money.

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By in United States,

I have received some off brand Lego-type sets and they're terrible. You can tell the fake minifigs because they are more brittle and shiny.

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By in Malaysia,

In my opinion Lepin and its subsidiary Xingbao is the best thing that happened to the Lego hobby. To understand why you got to know how the Lego scene in Malaysia up until recently. Around the time after the Lego movie came out the Lego market was very very hot. It was difficult to find what you wanted, things rarely go on sale, exclusives were RRP with no discounts and promotions. My biggest disappointment was the 100% increase in the PAB price to "match" the price of bricks in Singapore. At one time they even disallow reusing the cups!

Then Lepin happened and the Lego bubble burst. Suddenly the market for UCS, modulars etc crash which is good for collectors but extremely bad for those who wish to invest. Then Xingbao came along and for once there is an alternative to Lego. Exclusives which can only be found in Lego Certified Stores (LCS) at RRP with no VIP points can now be easily found elsewhere. Price is also a factor since a Xingbao Lamborghini costs only RM 100 compared to the Lego F40 which is RM 440. For the price of 1 F40 can get multiple Xingbao supercars. The best part is that the Xingbao's Lambo has more consistent yellow parts than my flagship Technic Volvo Wheelloader, Mobile crane MK2 etc which costs up to 10 times more!

Also Lepin sets are excellent sets to break up for MOCs. I do not need to rely anymore on PAB for parts. A mega modular like the natural history museum which has 4500+ parts is equivalent in price to 5 PAB large cups. But the natural history museum has wayyyy more parts, a large 48x48 base plate, lots of 16x16 plates, windows, doors etc. Plus the quality of the parts is as good as Lego. Color consistency is also as good and sometimes even better than Lego.

Somehow I'm more excited with Xingbao's Chinese theme modulars than Lego's assembly square. Price wise it is much more affordable too and for the price of 1 Assembly Square I can get all the Chinese theme modulars and some of the Xingbao's supercars.

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By in Poland,

Thanks for an impressive detailed investigation. Thanks for providing the pictures that prove that beyond the IP issues, Lepin has major areas to improve in their moulding and quality control.
I hope that chemically their product is safe.
The brick flaws you highlighted show that 95% or 98% is not high enough. Lego reaches way higher than this. Out of my modest 8000+ pieces I can remember a single one being defective/missing yes, that's 0.00125%. Yes LEGO reaches 99.99875%.

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By in Singapore,

The genie is out of the bottle and will not be going back.

Lepin is frightening for three reasons. First, as we all know, they are releasing all the OOP AFOL stuff. Everything that you missed due to your dark ages or before you were a fan? Lepin is, or looks like they will be, bringing them back. (Although this has slowed down recently.)

Second, Lepin is frightening fast in its tries to match release dates with TLG. The gap is now weeks, not months. Soon it will be days?

Third, Lepin has branched out to MOCs. It started with 4 "borrowed" MOCs, and it looks like it will continue with more, borrowed or not. MOCs are more fragile, but they also have that wow factor.

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By in United Kingdom,

I thought this was an interesting article too. I've bought loads of fake minifigs over the years (they tend to be POGO rather than lepin) and have been very happy with them. However, I've still not ventured into fake bricks for the fear of them getting mixed in with the pure collection! Fake minifigs are easy to keep aside from real.

The thing that really surprised me was how a box that size could come in without any interest from customs. Was there an import fee on it?

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By in Singapore,

Another question is, how big a dent does Lepin and the other copycats make on TLG's bottom line?

IMO, not a lot. The reasoning is that the AFOL market is "small". The impact only feels big cos we are looking at the AFOL niche.

Lepin doesn't actually carry most of the smaller popular lines, yet it is the most infamous in Western forums.

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By in Singapore,

Let me put in a perspective from Chinese Lepin buyers. Lego 70618 cost CNY1899 (USD 281) while Lego online shop for U.S listed it as USD 159.99. That's a 75% mark up for Lego in China, and this is what a local call "Jiaxing copy", not imported one. Not everyone could afford to shell out USD 281 for Lego and especially it's 75% more expensive than outside China.
What you review was a older release from Lepin one year back. Lepin had improved a lot and newer release included numbered bags. Also they are getting good at cloning latest release such as Saturn V Rocket, which Lepin managed to release before Lego's official launching date. See review here: https://customizeminifiguresintelligence.wordpress.com/2017/06/28/review-of-lepin-37003-nasa-apollo-saturn-v-counterfeit-of-lego-21309/

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By in Singapore,

Also Lepin had just started second factory for its Xingbao line. The law suit had done nothing to deter them from investing in new facilities. Even Lele had investing up to 10 million to acquire new molding machine from Japan so there is no slow down at all in China bootleg brick scene. However the rise of Lepin did had a profound effect on other brands such as Bela in which it could no longer compete due to inferior quality of parts and had disappeared. Other brand such as Sheng Yuan scaled down Lego copying and instead focus on MOC design on existing Lego theme as well as developing its on IP.

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By in United States,

Thank you for posting up a terrific article/review that balanced both the moral and construction side of this product. I do wish we had seen a comparison shot or two. Also, I think a smaller set and a comparison build with its LEGO set would be interesting to see.

I have only bought off-brand minifigures and three small space sets ar $1-2 each. The quality is close but not QUITE there. Not too sure I'd venture into a knock-off set at all and, if I did, it would be one of the X-wing sets as the price point is not too hateful.

I don't think this revierw being posted on Brickset condone's Lepin's product line at all. knowledge is power and if this article helps shed some light on knock-offs then so be it. We all benefit from knowing what we are REALLY looking at. Is it truly 'apples to apples' or something else? I know I am glad to see from a respected reviews, that the Lepin line is not quitwe what it's cracked up to be. Thank you Huw for posting your findings here. Ignore the haters and keep educating us!

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By in United Kingdom,

^^^^ Lepin and other brands don't just copy AFOL favourites. They copy all products, down to CMF and small sets. When these are sold in markets and so on for kids I have no doubt they impact lego sales.

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By in Sweden,

This is so sad to see. L***n is clearly theft and any Lego fan should avoid it. Heck, if you happen to be a person that consider yourself above buying stolen things in general, you should avoid it.
A premiere Lego fan site doing a review of this is very unfortunate. It is, in some sense, a way of supporting this theft and bringing attention to it in the wrong way. I thought better of brickset to do this. It's just wrong to do it.

So. It's not about hate. Ain't a hater. No matter how nicely this particular review is composed and written. I just find the choice of doing a review of a pirated, stolen thing alongside with originals quite unfortunate. Doesn't matter if the moral aspects of it is mentioned. It will remain a prime time ad spot for a company that makes money by stealing another company's work and intellectual property.

Will consider removing myself from this site.

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By in United Kingdom,

Remember lego starting in the plastic bricks game by stealing the idea from another company ...

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By in Canada,

I have purchased copy versions of discontinued LG sets from Lepin and have considered the moral issues. LG's patents have expired years ago and courts from many countries have ruled against LG's multiple attempts to stop the production of compatable parts. So compatable parts are ok, pretty much everyone now agrees - except the owners of LG who wish it wasn't the case. I do believe it is wrong to steal art work and copy registered trademarks. I would not personally purchase copies of sets currently offered by LG. Thanks for the review, agree with your assesment, surpirsed you weren't missing more parts as the large sets I have purchased were missing dozens of parts which I also had to replace myself. If you are just looking for a source of bricks for MOCs or other, LEPIN is a great way to go.

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By in United States,

I love the keyboard moral police that state that they are now removing themselves from this site. Brickset has been one of my favorite websites for several years and I find out a ton of information from here. I appreciate @Huw for taking the chance to post something controversial, and if people don't like it they can simply skip the article. It reminds me of the big music-rating controversy headed by Tipper Gore when I was a kid in the early 90s: if you don't like the music, just change the station. More concerning, however, is the idea that people are backing away from any form of conflict rather than having an honest, open discussion about it, and that head-in-the-sand attitude is a huge impediment to progress regardless of the subject matter.

I've never bought a Lepin set but I consider myself very fortunate to never have been in the position to "need" to. That doesn't make me begrudge anyone that does, however. How many people bemoan the prices of the big exclusives, like the Death Star? And not even just sets like that one; how about the $80 Service Station that was out last year? And now the rumors about a potential new UCS Falcon being $800. EIGHT. HUNDRED. DOLLARS. You can argue licensing and PPP all you want, but that's a LOT of money - the deductible for my son's month-long stay in the NICU was less than that!!!!

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By in United States,

Where the article mentions flaws "are unheard of with Lego" I had to laugh a little. I have received Technic beams where the plastic near the elbow was simply missing (never injected, similar to photos from this review), misprints, extraordinarily brittle pieces that crack from simply existing, missing parts, obvious gates, etc. Yes, TLG's QA is good, but lets not kid ourselves that they are perfect. As for this kind of mis-molding or packaging defects, it seems like Lepin is not too far out of Lego's league.

However, the presence of chemical traces on the pieces is one definite drawback to these clones. I bought some clone mini-kits when I first came out of my Dark Age (can't remember the brand, but probably Enlighten) and I was willing to look past the flashing, the color inconsistency, etc, but the waxy feel and
solvent smell were intolerable. I still occasionally find a piece that managed to creep in to my collection, and I toss them out immediately.

Thank you for this review. If I cared about display models or big licensed sets then Lepin might be an option for me. As is, I get most of my Lego enjoyment from two things: (1) MOCing (2) finding a ridiculous deal on something that should cost ton$ more (I may have a spending problem). Going the Lepin route seems mostly incompatible with either of those two (not to mention the moral issues, etc etc). But again, thank you for publishing this review and using it as an opportunity for deliberate objectivity.

Thanks also for the insight into the molding process, it's always good to learn new things.

P.s. had to repost this comment (which happens to me Every Time on Brickset). Luckily I remembered to copy if first.
Edit: 7th time now

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By in United States,

Lepin is clearly inferior, blatantly rips off LEGO and steals from all the rights holders. Lepin deserves all the spite and hate. However, let's not confuse that with Brickset's reporting of the facts. I think it is important to recognize what else is out there in this brand space -- it's good journalistic reporting. Somebody has to venture into this seedy territory so we can appreciate how great LEGO really is. Many LEGO purists will say the clone brands are not worthy of their time, but to pretend it doesn't exist isn't the right approach either.
Thanks Huw and Paul.

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By in Sweden,

I hope this doesn't hurt what relationship you have with Lego. Still, what Lepin is doing is illegal in many countries, so it's different to for example review a Playmobil set here.

I don't think people who react to this review are easily offended, just as I as an artist am not easily offended when others steal my work and claim as their own or make money of my work. And if you got pissed of if other sites stole Brickset content I wouldn't blame you for being easily offended. And I don't think Lego is easily offended either if they are offended by this review.

I do believe that Brickset did act in good faith, and we all make misstake, and as I said I hope this doesn't hurt your relationship with Lego or the users of this site (yes, I know it's free to use, but the saying goes "if something's free, than you are the currency").

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By in Finland,

This was a great article, I found it very informative. It's pretty hard to find reliable information like this about the quality of those fakes. I'll never buy a Lepin set, but it's still interesting to see a review about it.

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By in Netherlands,

Thank you for a great article! i learned a lot, specifically about the manufacturing proces. If, by any chance, we could get more articles on that i would love to read them!

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By in United States,

I'm late on commenting but thought I'd throw in my two cents (or two hundred sentences). First of all, I think it's ridiculous that (although thankfully only a few) people are so upset about this article they’re "quitting" Brickset. It's not even a review really as much as a quality comparison and education piece Re: the molding process (which I found to be very informative and entertaining). Secondly, I say kudos to Brickset for having the guts to go where many of us were curious but were afraid to ask (I think there was a book titled "Everything You Need to Know About Clone Brands but Were Afraid to Ask" - or a title very similar which I remember sneaking a peak at during my early adolescence). I too have been curious as to the quality of Lepin and have watched a few YouTube videos on the subject, however most seemed overly eager to promote Lepin, perhaps to justify their actions and satiate their sullied conscience. Thirdly, I also wish Lego would find some avenue of producing these highly sought after retired sets. Perhaps in conjunction w/Brickset in something of a "Vote for Your Favorite Set to Re-issue" article. These could be done w/a devoted set # listing on an annual or semi-annual basis. There should be a sufficient market of those of us who desperately desire these sets (UCS Star Wars, the first Modular’s, Galaxy Explorer!!!, etc.) but are unable to afford the exorbitant third-party prices. Lastly, I say Thank You! again to Brickset for satisfying my curiosity w/o having to drain my wallet or dirty my hands (although I did feel the need to wash my eyes out w/soap - a burning but gratifying sensation). And to those so offended by this well researched and enlightening article that their willing to boycott the best Lego fan website on the planet - for Heaven's sake don't be so easily offended! And if you are at least have the good sense to heed Huw's good advice "If you would rather we hadn't published it, or are easily offended, please skip to the next article."

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By in Netherlands,

I have a question for Paul that has not been covered in Lepin reviews before. How do the bricks feel and sound?
When I rattle through a bunch of LEGO bricks they make a certain sound. And they feel in a particular way (like smooth for example). Is this the same with Lepin bricks? I'm asking this because my vision is below 10% and I enjoy the sound of real LEGO! I can even tell the difference between certain similar bricks (1 by 2 red contrary to 1 by 2 dark bluish gray for example) by listening to the sound they make when I handle them.

Edit: to clearify this, is the specific weight different from LEGO?

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By in Netherlands,

I appreciated the article as it is always good to get credible information on subjects such as this. I personally will not buy Lepin as I have a huge issue with them stealing designs. This will mean that I may never own some of my most wanted sets, but I'm okay with that.

Lego is by no means perfect and I'm not a fan of where the pricing on sets is going but will always buy genuine. There is something about having the real thing that a fake just can't recreate for my personal satisfaction. Even if others would never know that a model was fake.... I always would and it would always bug me.

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By in Canada,

Thank you Paul! Thanks for doing this, dirtying your hands, and reporting back for our good. I wouldn't be able to bring myself to do it.

On another note, I'm very glad that we won't be getting more of these reviews, the less publicity L*p*n has, the better.

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By in Finland,

How does it stand up to a baseball bat?

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By in Costa Rica,

I almost didn't read this article as I have no interest in other brick brands. I'm glad I did read it though. I really appreciated the technical information provided. Well written article as well with a balanced review. Hopefully all the comments posted will provide those interested in other brands with additional considerations.

I have no desire to buy anything else that genuine Lego. I accept I will never be able to own all the Lego sets that I would like. I have lots of sets that I would like to build once. Approximating the original as best as I can with the bricks that I have and exercising my creativity to fill in the missing parts. I am thankful to Lego for making their instructions available to assist with this. Owning said missing set from a another brand would just not give me any satisfaction.

I will admit I am completely bought in to the Lego experience. I recognize it is a premium product. I know it is not perfect, I have had missing pieces, cracked pieces, misprints, etc. However, TLG after-sales is unequalled. Everything replaced free of charge, even sticker sheets from years ago.

I am fortunate that I can afford my Lego hobby. I appreciate Lego might be very expensive in some countries and understand folks might be going for other brands out of necessity. I also think a lot of people may not even realize that a set is an illegal copy of a Lego set. I sincerely hope these products are at least safe. I do not have one ounce of sympathy for any producers that have such blatant disregard for their customers that would use or produce unsafe/unhealthy items.

The plethora of other brands clearly shows there is a market that Lego is not able to service for various reasons. We have seen this cycle on other products as well as mentioned above by other posters.

I find it remarkable though that TLG decided to open a factory in China considering.

Thank you Brickset for providing a wonderful platform for us to get together and share our thoughts and opinions.

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By in United States,

A very insightful article.

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By in United States,

Nice review!

I've been super happy with the off brand set's I've bought ( Nebulon-B, Green Porsche, OOP 4x4 Crawler, German Tank . . . nothing Lego seems willing to make, so I'm not losing any sleep over it!)

Agree they're about 95% of a Lego set. They probably don't play as well, but since I'm building them to build/display, It's not a factor for me.

I actually like the wild west of parts in wrong bags, extra stuff left over, directions that make no sense . . . it's like back to the beginning building sets as a little kid! Lego instructions these days piss me off with their numbered bags and 5x more steps than needed. So that's fun for me.

*shrugs*

Lego gets plenty of my money. Lepin can have a little too.

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By in United Kingdom,

I'd like to congratulate Brickset for publishing this article.

Some time ago I did a review of a Mega Bloks Star Trek set on my blog and was amazed at the depth of negative feelings toward the clone brands from LEGO fans. It feels like there's a kind of brand snobbery with some people that renders debate of legitimate competition impossible. Whilst Lepin's theft of intellectual property is mind bogglingly blatant and awful, LEGO's patents on the interlocking bricks has expired and other brands are legitimate. Whilst they seem to be universally not as good as LEGO they're actually not that bad and it's great when they do stuff that LEGO doesn't do like different IP's, military subjects and parts.

One thing to take home is that realistically the quality of LEGO is crazy, perhaps actually way more than is reasonable for a children's toy.

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By in United States,

Thankyou for reviewing this--I'm sure it was a controversial decision, but I'm glad to have the inside details about what's different quality-wise between the clones and the real deal.

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By in Canada,

I don't mind the article or the review. I am concerned that people who purchase these rip offs are feeding Lepin money. This is their sole purpose in ripping off the box art, logo design and the actual set etc to grab your cash. I don't think this cannot be overstated.

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By in Canada,

Something I noticed missing from the discussion about Lego's costs is all the "free" stuff that they do. The promotional sets and the monthly minibuilds in the Lego stores both need to be designed, produced and shipped around the world which adds to the cost of every other product that they produce. There also seems to be a nearly global support system in place regarding events and groups and sponsoring things. I have no real idea what they all do and how much it costs but these all add to the cost of the product on the shelves beyond the obvious design, licensing , and shipping costs. Speaking of shipping, I've never paid for shipping from Lego as thy offer freen shipping on orders over $35 (used to be $75) at least in Canada. That can't be cheap either.

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By in United States,

If these are so illegal and "blatant ripoffs" then why have they been around so long? If Lego would do something about it or heck even the megacompany Disney, I might not be inclined to buy them. Seems the only complaints are from people on a Lego board.

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By in United States,

I also find it funny that Lepin=bad but buying your custom Iron Man suit #1000 is ok because "Lego won't make it anyway". Custom figures are higher on the brick chain for some reason but they are still wrong. Where is Disney's cut on your custom "man telling from bridge #3" Batman figure?

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By in United Kingdom,

A fascinating discussion and many thanks to the reviewers and moderators for such a thought provoking article but I do wonder if Lepin is only an issue for people on this forum?

As has been said, the designs are copied for the international market because they have their own designs and range for the home market. There is almost no discussion about any copies of current sets, only discontinued sets due to the EBay markups. Therefore if it wasn't for western Lego fans trying to complete their modular or technic ranges would Lepin have such a market for knock-offs?

A quick internet search shows Lepin do indeed produce their own sets but the price per piece is not as attractive as the copies, probably because of the additional design costs. It would be amusing if Lego made official copies of the Lepin sets - I wonder if the price would work out around the same, but with a better quality product.

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By in United Kingdom,

If lepin were to slip up and make a ferrari set, it could bring down the whole operation. Ferrari take this kind of thing VERY seriously.

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By in Australia,

you should melt this down and use the heathen plastic to make dustpans or something.

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By in Netherlands,

Thanks for sharing this great article. I wouldn't want one piece of fake Lego in my collection myself. It would feel wrong because of financing thieves like Lepin. But for the sake of, lets call it research, it was very informative.

Let's hope Lepin doesn't read this and tries to learn of it's flaws you pointed out so well haha.

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By in Poland,

Regardless of any reasons all this article is going to do is promote Lepin bricks. I totally disapprove. I think no decent person should care about things that is basically stealing. If you want to be a thief, I suggest to just steal minifigs from magazines in the supermarkets. Seems less bad.

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By in Thailand,

Well,Lepin or Other KO Brand (Decool,SY etc etc) market it's country that lego price are 2x or 3x compare US price.

peoply who can buy real lego didn't care about these bootleg unless they do something that lego never do

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By in United States,


This is my AFOL dream.....

The Lego Legacy Collection

Set retires from its ''regular'' run....however.....

you can still order it....at a higher price of course....for a generous time afterwards.

it would take, depending on size, three weeks to two months to get to you.
no instruction booklet....there would be a Legacy instruction site
no box.....instead you get it, much like the Lepin option, in sealed unnumbered bags in a plain box.

with a made-to-order program like this....Lego wouldnt have to have sets on the ready therefore no real overhead involved...and still theyd make money of of their own designs, almost continually. the much-maligned aftermarket wouldnt piss off new fans. Lego, besides bragging rights i guess, has nothing to gain now from the 2ndary market.

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By in United States,

So... many... comments.

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By in United Kingdom,

^^I'd use this to get the town square, the city garage and the public transport station. I wonder if lepin does them.

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By in United Kingdom,

Buying this set to display now is a more moral decision than to pay extortionate aftermarket prices.

One HUGE point that the reviewer deemed to forget is that this set did not cost £90. It cost around £45. The other £45 was the cost to ship it to the UK. If you live in China or closer countries, the shipping will be far less or even zero if you can find it in a brick and mortar store.

So when thinking of the value of this set, think, is this many bricks and finished product, with very few problems actually, really not worth £45? Really?

75175 A-Wing Starfighter, 358 pieces...versus a very good cloned 10221 Super Star Destroyer, 3152 pieces. Which is the better value?

Yes, Lepin have stolen Lego's designs but I don't have a problem with this as the very nature of Lego should mean that copyrighting a design is illogical.

Box design and instructions are obviously protected and Lepin are extremely lazy and illegal here. They could get some kid with photoshop to produce a legal and possibly better version for pennies that won't effect the price of their product.

Minifigures are also protected and for display pieces, minifigures could be excluded entirely to comply with legal requirements.

The bigger victims are the original owners of the design that Lego license from, in this case Disney. This raises the even more morally ambiguous question, is it immoral or even illegal to reproduce a design. If I build a Lego moc of star wars, should I pay Disney? If I roleplayed Star Wars with a stick for a lightsaber, should I pay Disney? If I draw Luke Skywalker, should I contact Disney and Mark Hamill to pay them likeness rights? Maybe it only applies I intend to profit? So if I make a YouTube video of a stopmotion Lego Star Wars skit, do I pay Lego and Disney? Are YouTube guilty of publishing copyright protected material? What about the entire world of gaming videos, there are YouTubers making millions from playing video games on YouTube or Twitch which surely goes way beyond fair use.

I know there will be lots of people that side with Lego because it is their passion. Let's do it this way...how many of you guys have bought Fidget Spinners for your kids? How many have paid money to the actual patent holder?

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By in United States,

I wouldn't take this for 1 cent.

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By in China,

As a Chinese fan, I can share my experience of playing Chinese bricks.

At the beginning of playing bricks, I bought 5 sets of WOMA(??), a brand of military theme. I was impressed by the box and instructions. But none of the bags were numbered. The quality of normal bricks were OK but that of the wheels and connector pegs were bad. And there were some missing parts.

Then I was received LEGO 75149 as a gift. I could compare the quality between LEGO and Chinese bricks.

After that I bought the Tumbler of DECOOL(??), another Chinese brick brand. I was very disappointed this time because I even used hot melt adhesive to connect long plates and angle plates.

I also bought some other Chinese bricks for my MOCs. But the quality was not good.

From then on, I only bought LEGO.

By the way, the prices of Chinese bricks are really cheap. However, as the Chinese proverb says, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY(???????). If you want to enjoy your playing bricks or collect bricks for MOC, buy LEGO.

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By in China,

Honestly, as a chinese lego fan, i feel shameful. I am not any proud of lepin and other brick brands like lepin, and trust me, all chinese lego fans hate lepin either,just as you do. We can't pay for their laziness no matter how high quality they have or how cheap they are, copy is copy, it's unpardonable sin. But that doesn't means all chinese brick brands are bad, there are still some brands selling their own origInal products, like Enlighten. Just remember guys, we chinese fans are on your side.

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By in Spain,

Wether you buy from bootleg brands or hate them, this is a very interesting read. Thank you for posting it despite what people could say.

I'm myself thinking of buying the Orthanc Tower for a MoC I want to do just to take a few pictures. It's not worth for me to pay what it costs right now when I'll just be using it for a couple pics, and I already give TLG much more money than I should be spending.

@PeterBox: every Chinese Lego collector I am friends with hates bootleg brands. And I mean EVERY one I know. If you are a Lego collector you know Lego is the real deal. I've always got the impression that the people who buy bootlegs are just casual toy collectors.

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By in United States,

I can't believe I missed this article!
I check the website every day (almost) and completely missed this!

Thanks for posting such a controversial item on Brickset. I'm pretty sure I would never buy a Lepin or any other clone set but I'm glad for the information in the interest of science.

What Lepin is doing is theft, pure and simple. What some people who have responded don't seem to understand is that The LEGO Group spends money designing these sets, figuring out what they look like, how many pieces are needed and where they go, designing the instructions, and tons of other myriad tasks related to bringing these products to life.
And Lepin just waltzes in, grabs the lot and goes "thanks for all the hard work!".
Even their name is a rip-off. It's Lupin (like Arsène Lupin, the gentleman thief) with one letter changed. Seems oddly fitting though. :)

If Not-Lupin designed and released their own sets, it would be an entirely different matter. They can make clone parts as much as they want, but when they reproduce existing LEGO sets verbatim, it's THEFT!

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