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En arche en ho Legos :: The Price of a Lego Brick
February 7, 2013 12:25 PM   Subscribe

“LEGO® sets are not cheap toys. They are made to the highest standards and have the price to go along with it. However, in the past couple decades it seems that the price of LEGO sets has become outrageous. New sets can sell for up to $500 retail and old sets can sell for twice that in a secondary market. This is a children’s toy, right? There is no way LEGO sets have always been this expensive; it is just molded plastic. Let’s take a look at the history of LEGO pricing and try to figure out what is going on.”
posted by zamboni (106 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was just wondering the other day when the LEGO corporation is gonna start licensing and selling big globs of its official substrate. Because that's the day I buy a 3D printer.
posted by Z. Aurelius Fraught at 12:34 PM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


What happened with Legos? They used to be simple. Oh come on, I know you know what I’m talking about. Legos were simple. Something happened out here while I was inside. Harry Potter Legos, Star Wars Legos, complicated kits, tiny little blocks. I mean I’m not saying it’s bad, I just wanna know what happened.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:39 PM on February 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


LEGO® sets are not cheap toys.

But they will be vastly more profitable after Lego moves its production from Denmark to the Czech Republic.
posted by three blind mice at 12:40 PM on February 7, 2013


As a child, Legos were in the same category as mini-bikes and comic books - cool stuff for rich kids.
posted by 445supermag at 12:43 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


So maybe while we're all here one of you can answer this question for me, or maybe at least confirm that I didn't have, like, the one weird Lego batch.

My first Lego set (this would have been the late 80s) had two people, yellow-faced, one red one with brown hair and one blue one with black hair, square-bodied (to fit securely down on one four-peg unit of Lego), and limbless. These were proper Lego pieces, branded and everything, NOT Duplo. It came in a set of standard bricks (four sets of wheels, a few random windows, doors, and trees, no special pieces otherwise).

Every once in a while I google around trying to find some confirmation of what this was--early Lego people? Some special pre-Duplo children's Lego? What? But I never find what I'm looking for.

Thoughts?
posted by phunniemee at 12:46 PM on February 7, 2013


LEGOs are made of ABS, a common commodity plastic. ABS is already a popular plastic for 3D printing, but 3D printing will not give you the tolerances necessary to make a LEGO brick.

LEGOs have always been expensive but in the early 1970's there were very few themed sets and most of them small side items; the meat of LEGO's business was larger generic sets, of which there were only a few varieties. Those sets were expensive (adjusting for inflation) but sets could be accumulated gradually; two small sets was functionally the same as one larger set, so if you couldn't afford to blow a week's pay on a set you could still acquire an impressive brick collection. The move to mega-size themed sets, which really picked up steam in the late 1970's, put a lot of the new specialized parts out of reach of people who could only buy a small tray at a time.
posted by localroger at 12:48 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


"As the number of sets released has increased, the harder it has been for stores to parcel out their shelving space. In order to make more sales, decisions have to be made as to which sets will be carried. .... This process will favor the sets that drive sales the most, such as the licensed sets. The traditional boxes of bricks are pushed out of the way for the more profitable lines."

Yup.
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:48 PM on February 7, 2013


My daughters never played with Lego, so my only frame of reference was my own childhood. My friends would show me these incredible creations their kids made. I was insanely impressed. Millennium Falcon, race cars, dump trucks. I felt bad about my kids lacking spatial skills.

Then I was sent to Toys'R'Us to get a birthday gift. These incredible lego creations are models. Kits with instructions. No different, in fact way easier than the plastic models we made as kids.

In short, your kids suck and Lego is terrible.
posted by Keith Talent at 12:49 PM on February 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


This isn't always a bad thing. I'd been on the Lego subreddit a few days ago and saw threads from people talking about selling their old sets. Curious, I used the surprisingly sophisticated Brickpicker to do a little research on the history of the only big Lego set I ever owned -- a large Statue of Liberty, gotten as a Christmas present for my brother and I a dozen years ago after a stressful interstate move.

Turns out that despite its relative recency and the fact that I'd already taken it out and put it together, its value has soared to over $1,000, more than five times its highest original sales price (and still rising!). And mint sets are going for $3-4,000! It's crazy.

I don't know if that's typical, as the set is apparently the source of a large number of "sand green" bricks that are otherwise hard to find, but it was instructive as to the seriousness and potential value of the Lego resale investment market (which I assumed would be worthless for anything that wasn't mint-in-box).

If you have any old Lego sets lying about in storage somewhere you don't mind parting with, either completed or still in the box, I encourage you to check out their value -- you never know what kind of windfall you might find.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:52 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


My first Lego set (this would have been the late 80s) had two people, yellow-faced, one red one with brown hair and one blue one with black hair, square-bodied (to fit securely down on one four-peg unit of Lego), and limbless. These were proper Lego pieces, branded and everything, NOT Duplo. It came in a set of standard bricks (four sets of wheels, a few random windows, doors, and trees, no special pieces otherwise).

Yes! I had some of these. Still do. They were the predecessor to the Minifig. They were made around 1976 or so. I had the Police Headquarters set.

They were kind of neat and you could make them "sit" but breaking the body in half.
posted by bondcliff at 12:53 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


In short, your kids suck and Lego is terrible.

I remember nearly all LEGO sets except the smallest being in flat boxes with plastic subdivided tray inserts; the tray inserts would be plastic wrapped but the cardboard box top hinged open so you could look at the bricks in the store. Kits with hundreds of pieces would ship with a simple insert of assembly suggestions. There were no instructions or grand plan for the kit entire.

Those are proper LEGO sets. LEGO doesn't appear to have sold them though for a very long time.
posted by localroger at 12:55 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


The last time mefi discussed Legos, there was a link to a hobbit set from a Lego afficionado. This part stuck with me:

Either way, at 652 pieces and six minifigs, the set is within the magic 10 cents per part range that many LEGO fans look for — 10.7 cents at $70 and 9.2 cents at $60.
(Rant: A ridiculous and outdated standard, if you ask me. What, is LEGO going to stay the same price for these past 10 years as the price and scarcity of petroleum go up? What exactly is ABS made of, again? And how does it get transported to your house?

posted by Greg Nog at 12:59 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like that someone took the time to examine this, when many people are quite happy to jump straight from "seems to me" to "established fact."
posted by RobotHero at 1:00 PM on February 7, 2013


My first Lego set (this would have been the late 80s) had two people, yellow-faced, one red one with brown hair and one blue one with black hair, square-bodied (to fit securely down on one four-peg unit of Lego), and limbless. These were proper Lego pieces, branded and everything, NOT Duplo. It came in a set of standard bricks (four sets of wheels, a few random windows, doors, and trees, no special pieces otherwise).

Every once in a while I google around trying to find some confirmation of what this was--early Lego people? Some special pre-Duplo children's Lego? What? But I never find what I'm looking for.

Thoughts?


Proto-minifigs. Here's a list of sets that contained them.
posted by zamboni at 1:00 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


No different, in fact way easier than the plastic models we made as kids.

I can assure you they are completely different than the plastic models we made as kids. They are also just as good, if not better, than before Lego made all those "special" pieces, which you have to go back to the 1960s for.

Even the most specialized of pieces can be used in imaginative ways.

I've been a Lego user for about forty years now. I once thought, as others do, that Lego wasn't as good as it once was. Now I see how my son uses his Lego and it's exactly the same way I used it. You build the model once, you rip it apart, and then you use the pieces however you want. Imagination is still intact.

Those spaceships everyone remembers so fondly that were made entirely out of 2x8 bricks? They sucked. Give me Minifigs, roll bars and jet engines any day.
posted by bondcliff at 1:02 PM on February 7, 2013 [15 favorites]


Those are proper LEGO sets. LEGO doesn't appear to have sold them though for a very long time.

1950

2007
posted by bondcliff at 1:08 PM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


No different, in fact way easier than the plastic models we made as kids.

Related
posted by Greg Nog at 1:08 PM on February 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


I have a LEGO-related question, and here is as good a place as any to ask it:

What is the modern, still-for-sale equivalent of the old Technic Lego assortment-of-gears-and-axles-and-what-have-you set that I used to have? (I think it was this one.)

I want to play with gears and mechanics but I don't want to build a hot rod or a dump truck just to get the parts. A glance at lego.com suggests they aren't making those anymore but that website is confusing enough that I'll ask here in case somebody knows better.
posted by gauche at 1:09 PM on February 7, 2013


If all the signs lead to the price of LEGO not increasing overtime, then why is there a common belief that it has?

I wonder if part of the perception comes from wage stagnation?
posted by epersonae at 1:12 PM on February 7, 2013


gauche, this book might interest you. It comes with a bunch of gears.

Also, you might want to look into Mindstorms or just buy a Technic set and not build the model.
posted by bondcliff at 1:14 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


you never know what kind of windfall you might find

I've often thought that should we be the unfortunate target of a B&E, the thief would be smarter to take the Death Star II that's in our living room because it's worth quite a bit more than the TV it's sitting next to.

What is the modern, still-for-sale equivalent of the old Technic Lego assortment-of-gears-and-axles-and-what-have-you set

They still sell them but through their education site.
posted by jamaro at 1:14 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


What is the modern, still-for-sale equivalent of the old Technic Lego assortment-of-gears-and-axles-and-what-have-you set

Try LEGOEducation.us. A little pricier, but closer to what you're looking for.

Here's a link for Machines and Mechanisms.
posted by LEGO Damashii at 1:15 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


From what our data shows, it seems that the notion that LEGO is increasing in price is false at least in regards to the last couple decades. Since around 2006, the average price of a piece of LEGO has remained relatively stable between 10 and 13 cents apiece.

Great stuff. Now we need one for "The sets are only custom peices and you can't build anything else out of them."
posted by Artw at 1:19 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whenever the price of LEGO is brought up I feel the need to link to this comment in the previously mentioned LEGO subreddit:
Every single lego brick made has to fit together perfectly with every other lego brick EVER MADE. So the piece you get in your new super star destroyer has to snap together perfectly with a piece from a model house made in 1970. To achieve this, they run size tolerances on the order of .0005". That is half of a thousandth of an inch.
A comment on that comment mentions that those tolerances are way smaller than even those for ‘electrical inserts for submarine cables’.

When was the last time you bought something that was still compatible with whatever you bought from the same company 40 years ago?
posted by Martijn at 1:19 PM on February 7, 2013 [32 favorites]


Nope, this is not how my little people looked.

They looked like this...dotted line shows the "interior" view.

I would like to stress again that these were NOT Duplo pieces. (That's what everyone I've ever consulted on this tells me, and they are wrong.)
posted by phunniemee at 1:19 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


If all the signs lead to the price of LEGO not increasing overtime, then why is there a common belief that it has?

Also, this exchange I had with a mom in the LEGO aisle recently:

Her: "Why are LEGOs so expensive?"
Me: "Well, this set is only $20, and this one is $8..."
Her: "But my kids want the big $100 set!"
Me: "It sounds like it's your kids that are expensive."
posted by LEGO Damashii at 1:21 PM on February 7, 2013 [21 favorites]


I was just wondering the other day when the LEGO corporation is gonna start licensing and selling big globs of its official substrate. Because that's the day I buy a 3D printer.

You couldn't print good LEGO pieces using the best 3D printers, much less an affordable or homebrew one. The tolerances for the pieces is incredibly tight and measured in very small fractions of a millimeter. (Yeah, people have printed LEGO pieces, but the fit and finish doesn't even compare to LEGO and you're not going to get that trademark super tight fit clicking pieces together.)

And they are just common ABS but it's a very high density and virgin ABS resin.

The secret to making LEGO pieces is the extremely high precision and high pressure injection molds they use. They probably don't machine these molds, they're probably electroformed. Electroforming takes a copper electrode formed into the positive shape of the LEGO piece. This is then burned into the steel-nickel alloy mold by using electricity through the electrode and a small amount of pressure and repeated contact. It slowly etches away the steel to leave a highly polished and very precise mold cavity.

These injection molding forms are then used in extremely precise injection molding machines. Even with small parts they don't mold more than about 6-10 pieces at a time per molding. The molds are changed out and thrown away at regular intervals before they wear out and start producing parts that are out of spec and a fraction of a millimeter too large.

I remember the number of mold cycles is also really very low, like as low as 10,000 cycles or less or something, basically a small fraction of the cycles that the rest of the injection molding industry will use a mold for.

The parts come out of the injection molder basically ready to use and needing no further processing. The parts fall into bulk bins and are stored for part picking to build and packaging sets. They're basically not touched by human hands except to inspect them or pick and package them, and even the packing might be automated now.

Have you ever seen any "sprue" or "flashing" lines on a LEGO piece? These usually normal artifacts of plastic molding don't really exist on LEGO pieces, and it's not because they buff them or polish them off. It's because they never existed. That's how precise their molds are. Most pieces are also designed around this limitation so they can be accurately molded without sprues or minimum flash/split lines.

Basically LEGO pieces are made to tolerances that meet or exceed medical plastic manufacturing. They're vastly exceed the tolerances used in, say, a car, or personal electronics.

This is the "secret" to how LEGO produces billions of pieces that all fit together with more or less the same amount of force and fit. It's not really a secret, it's just fantastically high quality molding and quality control.
posted by loquacious at 1:26 PM on February 7, 2013 [62 favorites]


I have some of those as well, phunniemee. I don't know where they came from, but you are not alone.
posted by helicomatic at 1:26 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


They looked like this...dotted line shows the "interior" view.

Were they Homemaker Figures?
posted by 23skidoo at 1:33 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


An additional detail about high precision molding that I left out: This accuracy also heavily depends on the ABS resin consistency.

This has to be accurately controlled so that the pieces don't shrink or slump after molding, and so that they're not so soft that they feel rubbery or too flexible, and not so dense and rigid that they're difficult to snap together or apart. LEGO pieces have to flex a little for them to work and you can get them apart again, but if they flex too much they won't stay together.

So not only are they doing quality control on the molds and molding itself, but they're also very precisely controlling the ABS resin ingredients. Not all ABS is the same, especially if it uses recycled materials.
posted by loquacious at 1:33 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


My first Lego set (this would have been the late 80s) had two people, yellow-faced, one red one with brown hair and one blue one with black hair, square-bodied (to fit securely down on one four-peg unit of Lego), and limbless. These were proper Lego pieces, branded and everything, NOT Duplo. It came in a set of standard bricks (four sets of wheels, a few random windows, doors, and trees, no special pieces otherwise).

Ah, you mean the LEGO Finger puppets:

Male and Female
posted by LEGO Damashii at 1:36 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Found them found them found them!

This is the set I had!
posted by phunniemee at 1:38 PM on February 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


They're as old as I am!
posted by phunniemee at 1:38 PM on February 7, 2013


The molds are changed out and thrown away at regular intervals before they wear out and start producing parts that are out of spec and a fraction of a millimeter too large.

"Worn-out molds are encased in the foundations of buildings to prevent their falling into competitors' hands."

Some day I want to live in a building with Lego molds encased in the foundation.
posted by bondcliff at 1:42 PM on February 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yep, that's the set I had too. Thanks Lego Damashii.
posted by helicomatic at 1:45 PM on February 7, 2013


I don't remember having any sets at all, just the basic bricks. Accordingly, the only thing I ever made out of legos was Scrooge McDuck's Moneybin.
posted by Curious Artificer at 1:51 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've often thought that should we be the unfortunate target of a B&E, the thief would be smarter to take the Death Star II that's in our living room because it's worth quite a bit more than the TV it's sitting next to.
I've always said we don't need a burglar alarm because of the Lego my kids leave everywhere. We'll just come home to my booby trapped house to find piles of broken ankled burglars crying on the floor.
posted by artychoke at 1:55 PM on February 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


I want to play with gears and mechanics but I don't want to build a hot rod or a dump truck just to get the parts. A glance at lego.com suggests they aren't making those anymore but that website is confusing enough that I'll ask here in case somebody knows better

I was looking for this a couple of years ago and was able to confirm by reading Lego blogs that Lego doesn't sell that kind of thing in the US. You can find blogs where the writers talk about which Technic sets to get to get the best array of useful parts. Apparently they do (or did, when I was looking into it) sell nifty parts sets in Japan.
posted by not that girl at 1:57 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


LEGOs are made of ABS

That's "sturdy high-impact plastic" to you, bub.

The Price of a Lego Brick

I read that as "Lego Buick".

Apropos of nothing, I just didn't want to be left out of the new "I read that inane word as some other inane word" dance craze that's so popular with today's youth.

 
posted by Herodios at 2:18 PM on February 7, 2013


Re: getting the gears etc I see someone up-thread linked to some Lego Education sets. I have bought several Lego Education sets for various things and they are excellent. They also come in wonderful storage bins with compartments.
posted by not that girl at 2:28 PM on February 7, 2013


This book looks like a good starter for Technics.
posted by Artw at 2:39 PM on February 7, 2013


phunniemee: Look!
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:44 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hah, phunniemee, I had the same ones.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:46 PM on February 7, 2013


I don't understand all the complaints about Lego being high-priced models. The point of Lego is that after you put the model together, you tear it apart again and then build something different. I remember as a kid in the 1980s having a few of the sets that came with instructions--a pirate ship, a space ship, and so on. I'd put them together as soon as I had the chance, but they'd never stay together long. These weren't going up on the mantle. I'd play with them, and then the spaceship would attack the pirate ship and they'd both get blown up and then I'd put them back together any way I chose. Nobody says you have to follow the directions, as I am pretty sure most kids who play with Lego--today or in yesteryear--would readily tell you.
posted by synecdoche at 2:53 PM on February 7, 2013


Not only do these prices seem ridiculous, the love this toy engenders remains utterly mysterious to me.

I used to assume that as a girl kid I just wasn't exposed to Lego enough and so didn't get them. Then my kid was born. He has tons of Legos. He and his dad love them. His grandma loves them. His girl cousin loves them. (just pointing out that it's not a girl/boy thing).

I do not. Not because I don't like building things, but because there is something about the way they go together (but don't hold together, this drives me nuts), the fiddly hard-to-not-lose specialized pieces, the smallness and squatness of everything you build that just...eh. Everything looks, well, pixelated. It's so small, unless you put hundreds of them together. It's so...hard and blocky, and if you touch it or play with it after you build it, parts will start to fall off, a problem that gets worse the more that you play with them and they get worn.

Lincoln logs, tinker toys, these I can get behind. Even better to stack up shoeboxes and books and other found things into elaborate mazes and buildings and towns, that can house any toy, not just a squat Lego person who keeps losing his hair/hat/tiny sword. That's how I built as a kid.

I don't begrudge anyone their Lego love, but they are not the be all and end all toy, even for those who like to make and build things. Their cultural dominance The Best Building Toy of All seems stranger to me the more that I look at it.
posted by emjaybee at 2:54 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


To me it was obvious that the premise was wrong, glad he went far enough to find that out.
I've changed my thinking about the price of lego a few times now:

As a kid: Wow, Lego is so expense!
As an adult with a job: Wow, Lego is affordable now!
Later: Wow, Lego holds its value. Unlike a car or an ipod, Lego stores your money with only slight loss, similar to gold. Not just short-term, it holds your money across generations. It's so durable that depreciation is negligible even though you're using it, so you get to play with it, at miniscule cost. (This assumes that you could be convinced to sell it. Yeah right :)

Note that the primary value of this last insight is its use as an excuse to justify to yourself that it's ok to purchase more Lego - you're not really losing money, just converting it. Honest! Shhhh! :-)
posted by anonymisc at 2:57 PM on February 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


> if you touch it or play with it after you build it, parts will start to fall off, a problem that gets worse the more that you play with them and they get worn.

Odd. I haven't had that experience, and my kids and I've played with a lot of Lego. When we visit my in-laws they pull out Lego that belonged to Mr Corpse when he was a kid, and it still all clicks together and is fine for playing with.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:07 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


What is the modern, still-for-sale equivalent of the old Technic Lego assortment-of-gears-and-axles-and-what-have-you set that I used to have? (I think it was this one.)

I want to play with gears and mechanics but I don't want to build a hot rod or a dump truck just to get the parts. A glance at lego.com suggests they aren't making those anymore but that website is confusing enough that I'll ask here in case somebody knows better.


I don't know the current set off the top of my head, but they still make sets like that. However, I don't think that's the best way to go.
One option would be to go to ebay and get a Mindstorms set that has been looted of the electronics (Mindstorms is the lego robotics set, which comes with sensors and motors and a brick that controls them that is programmable in several languages, if you know C++, you can use that, if you don't you can use the software it comes with, etc). It is packed with technic stuff, including the new studless building system. (These parts are more able to use pegs and less reliant on studs for connection, allowing you to build structures that are far more mechanically stronger, which matters when making functional computer-controlled things.
Another option, if you have the budget, is to buy a complete mindstorms set - the computer control allows for all sorts of things, people build pinball games, working 3d printers, home automation, not just robots.
Another option is careful selection of that dumptruck that you just said you didn't want to buy. Lemme explain. When I was getting back into it, I didn't understand the studless system, but knew it was useful. Ok, I understood it, but I didn't have that mental library of how to do complex things with it. So I bought a six-wheel-steering-mars-rover set that was almost entirely studless parts, a great complex maze of simultaneously moving and load-bearing structures, and then I followed the instructions (I never do that) to build it, just because it would walk me through using that system to create a whole bunch of mechanisms and ways to make them strong and load-bearing. Basically a crash course in the new system. In hindsight, it worked exactly as planned, and my ability with the studless parts took off, allowing me to prototype my own mechanisms and designs faster and more reliably. In summary, if you haven't used technic in a long time, don't discount the value of selecting a set that is all about the kind of mechanisms you are interested in, so it can show you how all those new parts can be used.
posted by anonymisc at 3:23 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Later: Wow, Lego holds its value. Unlike a car or an ipod, Lego stores your money with only slight loss, similar to gold. Not just short-term, it holds your money across generations. It's so durable that depreciation is negligible even though you're using it, so you get to play with it, at miniscule cost.

I want a Lego-based currency NOW. (Though inevitably some radical is going to make a "You shall not crucify me on a cross of ABS!" speech and advocate the free coinage of Megablocks)
posted by KingEdRa at 3:35 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I want a Lego-based currency NOW.

BricCoins
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:49 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


there is something about the way they go together (but don't hold together, this drives me nuts)

Seconding The corpse in the library, I don't get this at all. Legos hold together so well, they had to invent a tool to help you pry them apart.
posted by rifflesby at 3:51 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Worn-out molds are encased in the foundations of buildings to prevent their falling into competitors' hands."

How fitting.
posted by butterstick at 3:57 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I want a Lego-based currency NOW.

Bricklink is one of the major currency exchanges :)
posted by anonymisc at 4:25 PM on February 7, 2013


Seconding The corpse in the library, I don't get this at all. Legos hold together so well, they had to invent a tool to help you pry them apart.

Ah, progress. All my childhood legos had teeth marks on them.
posted by Artw at 4:31 PM on February 7, 2013 [14 favorites]


Turns out that despite its relative recency and the fact that I'd already taken it out and put it together, its value has soared to over $1,000, more than five times its highest original sales price (and still rising!). And mint sets are going for $3-4,000! It's crazy.

Not the same thing, but a co-workers cousin makes a living by selling Lego pieces individually. It seems that pieces go for quite a bit of markup individually, particularly overseas. With enough sales, they don't even need another job. Just selling individual (or in bulk) Lego pieces at markup.
posted by jmd82 at 4:35 PM on February 7, 2013


"Worn-out molds are encased in the foundations of buildings to prevent their falling into competitors' hands."

Wow, I sense an epic adventure-expedition to track down and obtain the Ultimate Collectors Item.
posted by anonymisc at 5:24 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Her: "Why are LEGOs so expensive?"
Me: "Well, this set is only $20, and this one is $8..."
Her: "But my kids want the big $100 set!"
Me: "It sounds like it's your kids that are expensive."


I assume the larger sets are for adults, since they're all so gorgeous and based on properties like Star Wars.
I'm always tempted to spend on the older sets, but if I really want LEGO I can dip into the communal LEGO bin that a family with 4 kids builds up.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:27 PM on February 7, 2013



"Worn-out molds are encased in the foundations of buildings to prevent their falling into competitors' hands."

Wow, I sense an epic adventure-expedition to track down and obtain the Ultimate Collectors Item.


Or a Legomancer hunting for it. Not the user, but a custom Unknown Armies Adept. Not sure about the Paradox - maybe trying to create permanent structures out of an impermanent medium? Making them a variant mechnomancer?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:34 PM on February 7, 2013


a co-workers cousin makes a living by selling Lego pieces individually

I saw on a documentary show once that there is all kinds of arbitrage going on at Lego conventions -- both buying sets with rare parts and selling off the pieces for profit, and buying huge quantities of common pieces for volume discounts, partitioning them into sets that are no longer available in stores (complete with imitation retail quality boxes), and selling the set for greater than the cost of buying the parts. Some Lego traders repeatedly convert their inventory between sets and sorted pieces according to price fluctuations among conventioneers. The same brick would be bought with a set, spit and sold in bulk to someone else who would use it to complete a more valuable set, which would be sold again, and so on; crazy.
posted by ceribus peribus at 5:39 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nobody says you have to follow the directions, as I am pretty sure most kids who play with Lego--today or in yesteryear--would readily tell you.

Actually, I was at an amateur Lego exhibition, and the most shocking thing for me was how so many of kids who came there to see it because they owned Lego and played with it, were so unfamiliar with the idea that you could use Lego to make models other than the ones in the instructions, that this concept had to be explained before they could understand where the exhibition models came from. I don't even...

The same thing was evident in the Lego section of the county fair - here the models are supplied by kids who like and play with Lego (as opposed to the exhibition where models came from adult Lego enthusiasts). The Lego section judging criteria for ribbons etc were qualities like how dusty the model was and whether there were any pieces missing because all the entries at the fair were an instruction-built model from a set - the normal play pattern was for kids to follow the instructions to build the toy and never tear it down! I wasn't expecting that, I brought something I made from my imagination, and (after I explained that concept) my model got ALL TEH RIBBONS!!! (And I felt bad)

These were both in the USA, a reasonably affluent area. I'm not sure, but anecdotally I suspect toy culture is a little different here, and I think (hope) that this widespread lack of using Lego creatively is not quite as widespread in most places.
posted by anonymisc at 5:44 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Loquacious: they weren't using electroforming when they started. I don't know what they use today, but my father was a toolmaker and he achieved similar tolerances with old fashioned grinding and boring. That being said, I think that Lego's recent changes to their parts are intended to reduce visible defects by, e.g., removing superfluous flat areas that might show "sinking" and by using radii (curved corners) where they used to be sharper. Does this mean that they are working to lower tolerances? Or is it just to improve yield, while keeping tolerances at their former level?
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:56 PM on February 7, 2013


Phunniemie: I had/still have a couple of those proto-minifigs, along with a big plastic tote full of LEGOs.

Someday I will have my very own room that cats and dogs are not allowed to enter, and where I can leave piles of bricks and half-finished projects lying on a table whose surface area I don't intermittently need for other things. Or so I've been telling myself all these years.
posted by usonian at 5:59 PM on February 7, 2013


These were both in the USA, a reasonably affluent area. I'm not sure, but anecdotally I suspect toy culture is a little different here, and I think (hope) that this widespread lack of using Lego creatively is not quite as widespread in most places.

It's nature, not nurture. I grew up in an affluent area of America and played with LEGO as a kid. I always followed the instructions, because I don't think visually and couldn't come up with anything more creative than a small spaceship. OTOH, one of my little brothers built elaborate LEGO cities that he still has in boxes and the other one makes stop-motion LEGO Lovecraft adaptations.

There's a simple joy in following the instructions and getting something good at the end.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:00 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


kai ho legos en pros ton theon!
posted by Makwa at 6:00 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


When was the last time you bought something that was still compatible with whatever you bought from the same company 40 years ago?

Just about any Nikon lens made today can work with any of Nikon's SLRs, even the Nikon F made in 1959.
posted by gen at 6:10 PM on February 7, 2013


I've been getting my Lego fix with NanoBlocks.

Relatively cheap (about US$20 for each set in these parts), relatively harder than Lego, you get to do these heritage buildings, deceptively complex instructions (the instruction-sets generally show only 5-6 steps, but each step would correspond to at least ten steps in Lego sets), and a small footprint for us living in small urban abodes with no basements. You need this Zen-like focus to do these, because the pieces are so small that they'd blow over if you breathe a bit heavy. It's like cheapo Lego for intense folks.
posted by the cydonian at 6:55 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


@Doktor Zed: What happened with Legos? They used to be simple.

Sorry to come to this late, and sorry to turn Grumpy Old Man ... but yes. Being 57, I'd date the start of the decline of Lego to the mid-1960s - long, long before these crappy custom sets that make one object - and the introduction of "Slimbricks", when they first broke away from the basic chunky blocks. When I was a child, it was a big deal to have that transparent brick with the little light bulb inside.
posted by raygirvan at 7:19 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just about any Nikon lens made today can work with any of Nikon's SLRs, even the Nikon F made in 1959.

G series lenses without manual aperture control are going to be next to useless on the older models without aperture control built into them.
posted by Talez at 7:47 PM on February 7, 2013


When I was a child, it was a big deal to have that transparent brick with the little light bulb inside.

THIS. I HAD THOSE. Also the original train set, which was made entirely with standard lego bricks except for the motor module flange wheels and rails, and even the rail ties were standard 2x8 plates.

In the early 1970's they did have purpose-kits but they were exotica, not given nearly the shelf space of the generic brick sets with the hinged cardboard lids revealing the plastic-covered trays, and even those kits still made almost entirely of normal, normally colored bricks with just a few exotic adders.

LEGO might still make them but I can't remember the last time I saw a large generic brick collection on the shelf of an actual store. And a tub still isn't the same as that big flat box you could lift the lid on and see all the bricks neatly sorted. It's like LEGO doesn't really see their own bricks the way they did in 1970.
posted by localroger at 7:50 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


What raygirvan said. I'm 51. Our Legos did not come in sets. They came out of an old battered blue suitcase where my older siblings had been collecting them starting in the 1950s. Nearly all were red or white. Other colors - yellow? - did not come to our house until the 1970s. Wheels were a revelation, and also the little self-propelled engine thingy.
posted by Robert Angelo at 7:51 PM on February 7, 2013


It's nature, not nurture. I grew up in an affluent area of America and played with LEGO as a kid. I always followed the instructions, because I don't think visually and couldn't come up with anything more creative than a small spaceship. OTOH, one of my little brothers built elaborate LEGO cities that he still has in boxes and the other one makes stop-motion LEGO Lovecraft adaptations.

But you were aware of what your brothers did - you understood that Lego could be used that way, even if you didn't use it that way yourself. At least some of these kids not only had never used Lego to make something other than the thing in the instructions, they weren't aware that this was something you could do with Lego (which in turn implies that they didn't know any other kids who played with Lego that way, or at least didn't play together or otherwise compare notes).

I'm also hesitant to discount nurture - my suspicion is that the play style of "build once, put on display, wait for a new set" is comparatively more rewarding when you have a steady incoming stream of new toys, than if one set is your big toy acquisition for the year and it's got to be engaging for a year.
posted by anonymisc at 7:58 PM on February 7, 2013


The thing I don't see mentioned in this article is the relative size of the pieces in the sets. Maybe it's just confirmation bias, but looking through the remnants of my sets from my childhood compared to the sets my kids have today, a much higher percentage of the pieces in the new sets are tiny - 1-dot plates or bricks, instead of 2x4 and 2x2 bricks which seemed to be prevalent in the sets of my childhood. I realize this means that the sets are also much more detailed, but there's a part of me that would be curious to see this math re-done comparing overall set mass or volume, rather than raw piece counts. I bet the newer sets would come out more expensive by that measure.
posted by jferg at 8:05 PM on February 7, 2013


there's a part of me that would be curious to see this math re-done comparing overall set mass or volume, rather than raw piece counts. I bet the newer sets would come out more expensive by that measure.

About a third of the way down the article, he does a price-per-gram comparison. To be sure, it is possible he is assuming that a 1x2 brick from 1978 will weigh the same as a 1x2 brick from 2013, and he doesn't get make that assumption explicit, but given the quality controls that Lego is alleged to have, I'd be surprised if weight isn't a decent stand-in for mass or volume of Lego in the way you're asking for.
posted by gauche at 8:19 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, wow, completely missed that part of the article. That's what I get for multitasking while tired. *sighs*
posted by jferg at 8:32 PM on February 7, 2013


The usual contention is that all modern sets contain a single large brick anyway... can't have it both ways.
posted by Artw at 8:59 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


If it's so difficult to machine the Lego molds, how come Megabloks probuilders seem to click in just fine, don't have that "flash" on their bricks either, and are a fraction of the price? The whole Lego Ueber Alles thing reeks of fetish and class.
posted by meehawl at 9:16 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


If it's so difficult to machine the Lego molds, how come Megabloks probuilders seem to click in just fine, don't have that "flash" on their bricks either, and are a fraction of the price?

I can't believe anyone could think this. They click in badly, they deform, they get worse and worse over time, they have poor color and poorer consistency in pretty much every way. The difference is night and day. Most Lego enthusiasts can barely stand to touch them, because at their level of interaction the low quality imitations are actively repugnant.

And you could also throw in what I was saying earlier - unlike all these other companies, Lego bricks have held their value for generations now. These imitator companies are constantly appearing, selling bad bricks for a few years then going out of business. Buy crappy bricks from the company du jour, and in ten years the company is gone and you can't get more or replacements parts and your bricks don't work properly with the bricks that you can buy (Lego), and there is little to no market for obsolete crap so they become largely worthless too.

As well as cutting corners on quality and materials, they also get the price down by making a much smaller range of parts in a smaller range of colors, and the design is noticeably poorer such that the bricks are much less versatile once you get to parts more interesting than a X by Y block.

They might cost less, but they're not a bargain next to Lego.
posted by anonymisc at 9:48 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


If it's so difficult to machine the Lego molds, how come Megabloks probuilders seem to click in just fine, don't have that "flash" on their bricks either, and are a fraction of the price?

You speak as one who has not played extensively with both. I still vividly remember the Megabloks set my son got once as a gift, and could not get to stay together, even with help from his mom. The pieces feel cheaper, stick together too much or not enough, and nowadays are not even that much less expensive than LEGO.

I strongly believe the prejudice against off-brands is well-placed, and comes from deep experience. If you only ever build one or two sets, you may not notice the difference. But if your passion is creating, the quality of the pieces becomes the one factor that you notice with every single brick placed. The click of a LEGO brick snapping into place is immensely satisfying, and so far, no other company seems to have been able to replicate it.

And perhaps the person upthread was trolling, but I don't understand knocking LEGO for being chunky and then citing Tinkertoys as a preference, or claiming that LEGO doesn't stay together, and then praising Lincoln Logs.
posted by LEGO Damashii at 9:52 PM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


I agree about Megabloks. We have some that have slipped in -- when you buy a bag of Lego at the thrift store a large percentage of it is going to be Megabloks -- and they're inferior. They don't snap together as well, and they age quickly. I don't usually care about brand names but this is one of them where it makes a huge difference.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:52 AM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Brand new Megabloks are pretty crappy too, we had an Optimus Prime kit that had pieces that never clicked together brand new right out of the box. It was especially a bummer because my son's two favorite toys were Lego and Transformers. So close but a massive miss when you can't get Optimus' face to stay on.
posted by jamaro at 9:29 AM on February 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


So close but a massive miss when you can't get Optimus' face to stay on.

His alternate form is nightmare fuel.
posted by phunniemee at 9:40 AM on February 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I guess I'm being "that guy" on this but... the discussion here is why a high quality product made by a reputable company costs a lot?

Right?

I'd rather LEGO's business model NOT be comparative to FoxConn, personally.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:24 PM on February 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Regarding the "build according to instructions only" thing and the "exercise your mental freedom" thing, I think a lot of it comes down to how cool the thing is out of the box. My kids love Legos, and do both play styles: they do creative stuff with the big bucket of legos we bought at a garage sale, and they stick to the rules for their fancier sets.
posted by Bugbread at 4:49 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thank you, meehawl, by the way. Your question made me to try to articulate the differences, and I think in doing so I gained some insight into Megabloks' business and design philosophy. I'll have to pay more attention to Megabloks playset design to check I'm correct, but in the meantime:

1. Megabloks (Mb) can't sustain production of as broad a palette of parts and shapes as Lego, so if they copied Lego's playset style head-on, their sets would look noticeably cruder and blockier.
2. To get around this problem, Mb makes a few large custom bricks per set, such that one large custom brick renders critical aspects of the model in custom high detail in one hit (instead of Lego-style of using many smaller versatile pieces to assemble that detail), but the resulting large custom brick is consequently much less versatile. This approach means that a toy can very closely match a licensed theme despite a smaller range of bricks than Lego, but those bricks don't break down as much to be as useful for building something outside its theme.
3. Combine this with other differences, and it occurs to me that [simplification] Megabloks is not aiming to be a toy construction system like Lego is, but instead a snap-together playset system with extra versatility via Lego-style mechanics and compatibility. Megabloks positions itself to offer better value to the play-style of assembling the playset pictured on the box and then keeping that - playing with it, customizating etc. While Lego caters more to the play-style of building things entirely of your imagination.
Obviously there is a lot of crossover, and I'm grossly generalizing, but I think I learned something about Megabloks product design strategy, from elements of this thread all clicking together (sorry :).
Maybe this is all Captain Obvious and I just hadn't paid enough attention to Mb to notice until now.
posted by anonymisc at 4:57 PM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Meehawl asked: If it's so difficult to machine the Lego molds, how come Megabloks probuilders seem to click in just fine ...

Other people have reported that Megabloks aren't really as precise as Lego blocks, which is my experience too. The other things I notice is that the Megabloks are made of an inferior plastic, which is easier to mold but which is softer and deforms more readily. The corners of Lego are sharper, and the details are finer. This makes them nicer to play with, but it makes them harder to mold.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:02 AM on February 9, 2013


My kids got some of the new Lego knock-offs from China (Enlighten brand, but also Banbao lloks ok) and it is very, very close to lego quality.
The 'clutch' of how the pieces grip is almost spot on, and it is made with ABS of almost the same quality. The colours don't look quite right, and the plastic is differently glossy.
But it isn't the abomination that megabloks are, and the pieces have joined the massive lego crate without incident.
I like lego as a company, even though they are becoming more cynically corporate (cf. friends) and will continue to buy from them, but when my 7yro can afford a little fire engine set from China or a single genuine mini-fig, I'm not going to forbid him from making his own choice.
posted by bystander at 3:54 AM on February 10, 2013


Given the obvious passion and attachment so many people have to the Lego brand, which they inevitably conflate with their early childhood experiences and hence influence their adult sensory perceptions, I think I could really only trust a blinded, parametrised A/B multiple-trial testing system to see if people could reliably discern the difference between all the varieties of brick couplings. I personally find it quite difficult to objectively, consistently, tell them apart -- but then again I am a very basic tinkerer with blocks. I think anonymisc is right in the analysis of the business case of Mega Brands - they are not interested in developing complex non-licenced models, or in developing new tech like Technics or Mindstorms. But that means they don't need as much margin, so their bricks are significantly cheaper. One distinct benefit is that Mega Brands still sells a clone of the now-defunct and annoyingly expensive Lego Quatro system for toddlers.
posted by meehawl at 8:53 PM on February 10, 2013


Well, for what it's worth, I buy a lot of used Lego in bulk. A lot as in "by the 66 quart storage bin." I can locate and separate out every non-Lego in a pound of mixed Lego shapes/colors in less than 2 minutes, a skill of dubious extensibility that I use every month when I meet with my two bulk Lego suppliers to look over their latest offerings. The % of non-Lego in a sample pound scooped up at random directly influences how much I'm willing to pay.

The easiest way to spot a non-Lego is by color. Lego bricks come in a relatively limited palette (179 colors over the years) and other than white bricks yellowing with exposure to sunlight and the brown and grays shift of 2003, tend to be very color stable and consistent across the years. Lego bricks also rarely have color variations molded into a brick (pearl silver and pearl gold being the exceptions) or from stress marks near the bottom, something other brands are prone to.

Second scan is for worn studs and tubes (the hole on the underside the stud clicks into). Used Lego bricks often come decorated with teeth marks but the studs/tubes rarely are worn unless the entire brick looks like it's been scraped across a sidewalk. Of course it's pretty easy to spot and discard any bricks with studs that do not have the Lego imprint on them.

Third scan is for off-true parallel sides on bricks. At this point, I've found almost all the fakes and am looking for Lego bricks which have been severely damaged but have noticed that non-Legos often have pinched in sides.

So yeah, the differences are quite marked.

which they inevitably conflate with their early childhood experiences and hence influence their adult sensory perceptions

Meh, I did not have Lego as a child, my parents kept buying me goddamn Barbies. I got my first Lego set when I was 36, kinda making up for lost time.
posted by jamaro at 12:40 AM on February 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


for what it's worth, I buy a lot of used Lego in bulk. A lot as in "by the 66 quart storage bin."

This is fucking BALLER
posted by Greg Nog at 6:38 AM on February 11, 2013


jamaro: "I did not have Lego as a child, my parents kept buying me goddamn Barbies. I got my first Lego set when I was 36, kinda making up for lost time."

It seems to me that your feelings towards Lego involve at least a significant interplay between aspiration, benign parental indifference, possession frustration and gender ambivalence. This is not to say they are inauthentic, but merely quite complex (at least going from the multiple layers of emotional resonance you managed to cram into 30 words or so).

I'm not disputing that Lego bricks aren't usually very well made. I'm just saying that the consistent quality gulf that's imputed to them is a probabilistic, relativised and market- and SKU-specific trend, not an absolute moat. What I've read here is that people's descriptions of them are repeatedly enmeshed with so many emotional currents that objectivity is peculiarly constrained. That's the beauty of branding.
posted by meehawl at 8:48 AM on February 11, 2013


While I do have fond memories of playing with Lego when I were a lass, now that I'm the person buying the Lego I would much rather get the cheap stuff -- but it just isn't comparable.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:56 AM on February 11, 2013


It seems to me that your feelings towards Lego involve at least a significant interplay between aspiration, benign parental indifference, possession frustration and gender ambivalence.

I'm afraid you're going to have to show me your Internet Psychiatry License. Or, you can just fess up that as someone who self admits to be "very basic tinkerer with blocks" that you don't know what you're talking about.
posted by jamaro at 9:11 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I also buy mixed blocks from thrift stores. There are always megabloks mixed in with them, and it's trivial to spot them and remove them. It's quite rare to need to resort to checking for a lego logo, and that same logo also shows that there are no false positives or that the sorting success is only imagined. The very real inferiority and distortions of cheap bricks make them easy to spot. I would expect the quality gap to narrow over time, but your disbelief remind me of the time someone insisted that people couldn't tell the difference between whole milk and skim milk. No, the diffidence is night and day if you have a more than casual acquaintance.
posted by anonymisc at 2:34 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


emotional currents that objectivity is peculiarly constrained. That's the beauty of branding.

You have it backwards, by the way. In my case at least, I found the Lego bricks to be better than the others back before I was even aware of brand. I didn't know where the bricks came from, but I could tell that some bricks were different. As I got older, I understood the differences were from different sources of bricks. I liked the best bricks the most. It turned out that those bricks were the ones from Lego.

Perhaps you're arguing that the quality moat has narrowed since then so everything is different now. Well, the quality moat has narrowed, yes. That doesn't mean that it's imaginary or that you can decide to not notice it.

You are making a bizarre claim - business-side people note that it's difficult to engineer the molds for this quality level, and you respond by saying it can't be all that difficult because the cheap bricks manage it. Then people experienced with the bricks indicated to you that no, the cheap bricks don't manage it, and you reply that they're just imagining the difference, it's all branding delusion.
Occams razor: Are all the experts and enthusiasts in the world wrong, or is it the one non-expert that is mistaken?

I have no reason not to believe bystander (that there exist non-lego bricks of lego quality), but Megabloks isn't them.
Hmmm - maybe you're comparing Megabloks to some of Lego's non-ABS parts? I can totally understand not seeing a difference there. Lego does make some cheaper parts. But the talk of Lego quality is about their regular quality parts.
posted by anonymisc at 3:51 PM on February 11, 2013


anonymisc: "the cheap bricks don't manage it, and you reply that they're just imagining the difference, it's all branding delusion."

I'm not sure I ever said "all". I believe I was talking about a probability distribution. There's probably less variance in the metrics for standard Lego blocks over other brands. But that's a multi-dimensional range, as with the output of all mass-produced items, with some overlap. Do the ranges overlap? Proponents in this thread would say, I'd guess, absolutely not. I'm not sure that's true for every dimension. But I do think that branding counts for a great deal, and when you're marketing product, you can sell on your engineering, and you can sell on your brand, and you can frequently use one to amplify the perception of the other.
posted by meehawl at 7:53 PM on February 11, 2013


Whatevs dude, your Mega Bloks suck.
posted by Artw at 8:23 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was a kid, my grandma bought some Megabloks; I don't know if they've gotten better, but back then they were really shoddy, and the walls of your house, for instance, would not hold well. I've played with kids who used their huge small-kids brick, and those are okay. But for smaller bricks, unless the quality has increased dramatically, there's just no comparison.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 8:58 PM on February 11, 2013


Meehawl, megabloks are manufactured from a different material. Even if the tolerances were identical, it's like the difference between hardwoods and softwoods.
posted by anonymisc at 12:49 PM on February 12, 2013


A thing about megablocks: Someone already mentioned that their oversized preschool oriented stuff works fine. Before "super megablocks" aka the Lego-compatible ones, they had a lego-sized home brand that was not lego compatible; it featured much taller knobs. Those hold together fine because they were made with an awareness of the less precise quality control. They don't give a "satisfying click" because they kind of slide together but they work.

But everyone wanted Lego compatible, so megablocks finally started making Lego compatible bricks -- except the cheaper material and process isn't quite up to making them work as well with Lego dimension interfaces. Which is too bad because the original megablocks were an interesting alternative to Lego that was a lot cheaper.
posted by localroger at 1:27 PM on February 12, 2013


When I was a kid I had a birthday party some time around the fifth or sixth grade. I told all my friends I wanted Lego (because fifth graders don't have anything resembling tact) and all but one brought me a Lego set. The one kid who didn't got me these Lego knock-offs that were sort of, but not quite, entirely unlike Lego. They had the guzintas and the pegs but they were upside-down. It was crazy. And no, I wasn't just using them the wrong way, the instructions and pictures all had the pegs on the bottom. This was some time around 1980. I'd love to find out what brand they were so I could buy a set and burn them.

At the time, again with the lack of tact, I was like "Dude... what the hell are these?" but looking back I bet my friend begged his mom to get me Lego and she was like "Oh, these are JUST AS GOOD AS LEGO and he will be TOTALLY HAPPY WITH THESE!" and it was probably the most devastating thing for this kid to bring me the anti-Lego.

Sorry, Doug. I totally get it now.
posted by bondcliff at 5:36 PM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Heh. So today I purged the crappy Mega-blocks from the baby's Duplo. Those bricks never stuck properly anyway, and picking them out was super easy due to color and texture. Death to false blocks!
posted by Artw at 5:48 PM on February 12, 2013


And now I'm going crazy trying to figure out the brand name. Google is turning up nothing. I thought it was Tente but that was another brand. I might have to Ask Metafilter...
posted by bondcliff at 5:49 PM on February 12, 2013


They had the guzintas and the pegs but they were upside-down.

Minibrix, maybe, they had the inverted studs. They stopped being made in the mid 70s though.
posted by jamaro at 6:12 PM on February 12, 2013


Thanks, but I don't think that was them. I am about to post an AskMe thread. This is driving me crazy.
posted by bondcliff at 6:22 PM on February 12, 2013


Oh now that I see your AskMe, no way was it Minibrix. Minibrix were made of rubber, like dried out pencil erasers.
posted by jamaro at 6:39 PM on February 12, 2013


If it's so difficult to machine the Lego molds, how come Megabloks probuilders seem to click in just fine, don't have that "flash" on their bricks either, and are a fraction of the price? The whole Lego Ueber Alles thing reeks of fetish and class.

They don't click in just fine, in our experience at our house. We've never had a Lego set that couldn't be built; we've had Megabloks sets that could not go together without some of the pieces being askew. Just based on our own experience, we don't bother with Megabloks anymore.
posted by not that girl at 7:54 PM on February 12, 2013


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