A survey of Communist LEGO 2017

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If you have a fascination for Chinese clone brands you will enjoy the latest edition of Anthony Tomkins' annual survey of communist LEGO which can be downloaded as a PDF. This year he has reviewed just one set: a Lepin rip-off of the Maersk train.

You can also download previous editions (2016 and 2015) which cover more atrocities. They are not for the faint-hearted, though!

 

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53 comments on this article

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By in Netherlands,

Where is the link to the 2017 edition?

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By in United Kingdom,

Same question. 'download as a PDF' and '2016' link to the same file...

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By in Switzerland,

It goes to a 1.6 version, alas, there is no 1.7 and access to the /docs directory is not allowed. :)

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By in United Kingdom,

"Lego - Some parts made in China, so is communist." The title of this survey is an atrocity. The truly terrible (capitalist/political) title made me choke on my communist bowl of rice thus requiring me to drink some capitalist tea, however (2016 edition) it is an interesting read. If Star Diamond put a modest effort into capitalist global marketing (and I've seen these sets in capitalist South Korea and they're very good) they'll eat much of Lego's (hybrid capitalist/communist) pie.

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By in United Kingdom,

Very interesting as long as you keep some genuine figures next to you to hug every now and again.
I was most intrigued by the Mr Bean figures but when I got to that part they scared the hell out of me.
Shocking stuff.

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By in United Kingdom,

@PSD77 "some capitalist tea"? Would that be proper tea? All proper tea is theft...

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By in United Kingdom,

Haven’t read it yet, but for me the only way to stop this is for LEGO to take direct action in China, and stop production in their Chinese factory and lay off local Chinease staff.
The authorities will then take notice, with LEGO’s terms of reopening to be to shut down the likes of Lepin, and tighten local controls of this kind of manufacture.

Until LEGO take this kind of action the Chinease authorities will turn a blind eye to the likes of Lepin. And let’s face it if the Chinease authorities wanted to they could stop this over night.

The legal fight in China isn’t working, and direct action is required. It may cost Lego in the short term, but it’s whats required to stop these merchant bankers.

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By in Australia,

Another way of tackling this issue is to re-release sets that still have strong demand, like they just have with Taj. I believe Maersk Train deserves a re-release too.

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By in Netherlands,

@Fireheart. In that case, costs would rise and the competitive advantage of clone brands would increase. Also, it is not inconceivable know-how and machinery of the closed factory would somehow end up in their hands too.

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By in United Kingdom,

Apologies, link now corrected.

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By in United Kingdom,

@BramFokke, costs would rise yes. But only short term while the situation is sorted out, and LEGO takes the hit. The factories would not be dismantled, just shut down while this is sorted. The communist government needs workers in work, and a strong economy to survive.

This has all started by LEGO making the mistake of openeing a factory in China and thus giving the local workers / spies the knowledge required.. And all for cheaper production costs.. Not the best business move in the world, considering what’s its now costing them.

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By in United Kingdom,

^ Getting a 404 on that linkie Huw.

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By in United Kingdom,

I'm not having a good morning! 3rd time lucky? :)

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By in Germany,

The two right legs were hilarious :-).

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By in Canada,

^^ Link works now. Great article! I've been interested in sampling a set as well, for simple reason that Lego (until this year) refuses to re-release older sets and the secondary market is, as we all know, completely insane.

I have dreamed about an UCS Falcon for years but no way I was willing to spend $2K on a used Lego set. Lego finally came to their senses and re-released, and I will get one as soon as it is (again) available.

Taj Mahal is next on my list when it's re-released.

The article talks about "communist" and "capitalist" , and while sometimes in jest it's something Lego should remember. People want to buy these older sets, and with no option from Lego and secondary markets offering them for the price of a used car = a grey market will step in to fill the strong demand. Capitalism at work in a communist country. It's not what fans want, and is it shite quality, but when it's the only viable option...

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By in United Kingdom,

Actually quite informative and some highly amusing comments, perhaps some of the language was a little off but provided very good points on why we should all keep clear of clones...

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By in Sweden,

Okay, the minifigures got guns...

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By in United States,

"Costs would rise yes. But only short term while the situation is sorted out, and LEGO takes the hit..."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Sorry Fireheart but world peace is more likely than that. Sales were down a little from LEGO's insanely high profits of the last few years, LEGO solution was to fire a few thousand employees. You think they are going to close a several hundred million dollar factory, and take a hit in profits on top of that?

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By in United Kingdom,

@David1985 Then Lepin and clones are here to stay.. As LEGO cannot stop this via legal means. I guess it all depends on how serious LEGO is about stopping these and keeping their IP.

And if LEGO don’t care as it costs them money in doing so, then why should we...

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By in United States,

I find it appalling that so many AFOLs are willing to openly support criminal activity for the sake of a few bucks.

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By in United Kingdom,

I am mindful of the millions of kids that have never heard of Lego. Who would deny them or their hard-pressed parents (that work for low wages to produce high-end branded phones for example) having a Lepin set that would give untold pleasure to the wee one? Perhaps we Lego aficionados might cut some slack and not ride the high horse called Moral. I certainly don't think we shout 'foul' when B&Q, Homebase, Wickes etc stop displaying Spur shelving brackets for the cheaper chinese ones.

But woe betide anyone who insults/contaminates/violates me with a Wilko set! My daughter got one for Christmas last year and I'm still dropping a few parts into the bin fortnightly so my daughter doesn't notice! But yesterday she asked "where is the man with the cool hat"? Doh! I will have to buy the Indiana Jones set to replace.

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By in United States,

those tubby figs are straight-out ugly! I found his older reviews of compairing multiple sets more appealing,Also when did all these clone brands start appearing?

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By in United Kingdom,

Very entertaining read! Nice review of the set.

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By in United Kingdom,

Wow. That really is a fantastically grumpy review. Top marks :)

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By in United States,

Well, that was disappointing. I was expecting new LEGO sets made up of red blocks adorned with the hammer and sickle!

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By in Japan,

The title is so stupid. Where are we? In 1977? Funny how LEGO see no problem to use some "communist" cheap work force to profit over it in a very capitalist way.
The rule is simple, you don't want the chineses ripping off your products? Don't build a factory in China.

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By in United States,

It was awfully hard to find a useful review in amongst the morality rhetoric and overall smarminess. While I’m not buying Lepin stuff I do appreciate a smart review of any off brands without the added commentary. Thanks for the link, Huw! I am glad you share these very occasional forays into the netherworld of knock offs.

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By in Germany,

That guys writing style is just awesome! Lepin is pure copyright evil and needs to be destroyed with fire. I do like the Maersk train though and was lucky enough to grab a few when they were on sale.

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By in United Kingdom,

Why do the fake Lego people have guns?

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By in United States,

Nationalize LEGO.

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By in Switzerland,

I cannot understand why people do not see the reasoning behind buying these sets. Green Grocer anyone? Black Pearl? Older UCS sets? They are not up to the Lego quality, but they sure are good enough to fit in an otherwise vacant slot in the street.
I do not see why Lego does not rerelease sets that have no IP tied to them. It would take the wind out of Lepin's European and U.S. sales for sure.

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By in Poland,

Reminder there is a conspiracy theory that Lepin IS Lego part for checking markets.
The remade version of Falcon and TM are just another wood for confirmation fire :P

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By in United Kingdom,

I agree with flipus74, I can't get my head around why so many AFOLs think it's fine to buy Lepin sets. Notice I mention the brand specifically - buying a cheaper alternative construction brand with tanks or a police station etc is fine by me, and it provides those less well off a chance to begin interacting with brick building.

However! Lepin is purely ripping off designs TLG has already put the time and effort into creating (etc. etc...). AFOL excuses such as "oh, but the second hand market is so expensive" don't really ring true to me - we all regret not buying something at the time (myself included) but if it's out of reach on price, I wouldn't support this 'carbon copy ripoff' brand. In my personal opinion, my need to have an out-of-circulation set does not outweigh my commitment to a real Lego set. Outside of the commercial arguments though, that's what it really comes down to - would AFOLs be willing to 'infect' their collection with fake bricks or models? And not everyone is a purist.

Love the style of the review by the way - perfectly cynical.

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By in Bolivia,

I just opened brickset to have fun and I am greeted with this red baiting nonsense.

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By in Canada,

hilarious and quite sad. Lepin should be stopped. Can't understand why Lego hasn't really gone after them. Who really buys this crap and blatant rip-off. Stealing is the correct word...

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By in United States,

About a year and a half ago a "gift" showed up on my desk from a coworker who'd been on vacation, full of "LEGO" goodies. Included was a small set that I knew wasn't LEGO: no printing on the studs, the minifig wasn't assembled and a machine gun was included. I've never had the heart to tell the person I knew it was fake, though I've often wondered where they got it.

I'd never seen that small set before until reading Tomkins' 2016 summary, and it's there as the Army Construction Vehicle.

I think Tomkins' writing is brilliant.

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By in Australia,

This isn't an example of capitalism working, it makes no sense at all to make that claim.

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By in United Kingdom,

@antsbull actually undercutting a competitor is in a sense the purest unregulated form of capitalism.

“See a need, fill a need”

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By in Singapore,

Lego has only themselves to blame for opening a factory in China.

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By in United Kingdom,

It has less to do with Lego opening a factory in China and more to do with the globalisation of trade in general and China's lax attitude to intellectual property rights. There are plenty of companies who don't manufacture in China- clothing companies, technology companies etc- who face the same problem with Chinese ripoffs, even down to the level of mimicking exactly the style of their stores (the fake Ikea store for example: https://gizmodo.com/5829615/of-course-theres-a-fake-chinese-ikea-store/)

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By in United States,

Why is this guy comparing them to Cthulhu? Cthulhu was incapacitated by a boat, which I don't think would be enough for the bootlegs...

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By in United States,

I think Brickset should open a separate site that allows swearing just for discussing Lepin.

I've got a few four letter words I want to share with them, and "goat" isn't one of them!

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By in United States,

Reminds me of the two right wings I got from my LeLe X-Wing. You definitely get what you pay for with these guys--and don't bother trying to communicate messed up orders and get them fixed, you'll just get the runaround.

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By in Germany,

"Communist LEGO"? How is this LEGO? Maybe I'm missing something.

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By in United States,

Ha, great stuff from Communist Lego!
I heard Che had a sizable Lepin collection back in the day and Bernie builds and moc's with Lepin kits and reviews alot of sets on the commie pinko sites regularly.

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By in United Kingdom,

Love the honesty lol

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By in United Kingdom,

The reason why Lego don't sue them is simple, it is very unlikely they will win. They already tried the most likely route which was that the brick design themselves were theirs alone, they lost this case. As for much of the other sets, it's a model of a train. I'd guess they'd have no real luck in challenging them, and as they found out with the attempt to keep control of the bricks, they might lose and set the legal precedent that anyone can make lego and the sets.

I'd also guess that from a Lego perspective, they haven't actually broken any laws. Lego licences the sets from others and have the right to make a lego X Wing (for example), it's probably for the rights holder to sue them, rather than Lego.

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By in New Zealand,

The review is hilarious. Brilliant writing from Anthony Tomkins!

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By in Germany,

The review was indeed fun to read. Having built Lepin sets myself I can definitely agree with his sentiments, even though in the end I am not too unhappy with the sets I have got.

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By in United Kingdom,

No reviews of my favourites, the double-size Star Wars and Superhero minifigs (where Superman comes with a pair of Uzis and Darth Vader has a 3-wheeled skateboard), nor the rather surprising large Ninjago jointed constraction figures.

Though the most annoying thing I see Lepin doing is ripping off fan designs and making them into sets.

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By in United States,

LOL "Communist Lego"

That made me laugh.

Down with Lepin!

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By in United States,

Looks like Lego is fightin' back, knockin' the chi-commie bricks right in da' chops! POW!

Don't know if this was discussed around the site but looks like Lego got it's trademark recognized as a well known trademark in China?
https://www.lego.com/en-us/aboutus/news-room/2017/november/lego-trademark-china/

"The Beijing Higher Court passed a ruling earlier this year (July 22, 2017) that recognizes the LEGO logo and the LEGO name in Chinese as ’well-known’ trademarks in China. The well-known trademark recognition is an important milestone in getting broader protection for LEGO trademarks in China. This means that the LEGO Group is now in a better position to act against infringement of LEGO trademarks, also outside the toy category."

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