If you are a compatible/alternative bricks fan, you know there are many types of minifigures available from a lot of clone brands. If you’re not (yet), I’ve made this for you 😉
Now, diversity is a very good thing! Related to what we’re talking about, It tells us that there is a fair fight between competitors, right? Just imagine if all cars looked exactly the same, but had different company logos. That wouldn’t be a fun world, would it?
I for sure don’t think it would and that’s why I appreciate it when alternative brick toy companies create their own minifigure designs. Some are cool, some less, but the effort is there so thumbs up for that!
First and foremost, there is LEGO. Like I’ve mentioned before, it’s all about LEGO and how other brands try to compete with them. So, it wouldn’t feel right to not put them first here.
These are just a few examples of how the LEGO minifigure, in it’s current design, evolved over time. And what an evolution it was! From very simple to some of the most radical concepts, LEGO has changed the way we perceive their minifigures for ever.
Apart from the standard “LEGO man”, there have been a lot of variations. To put them all here would actually be a good idea, but I’m gonna stick to just a few 😉
These variations appeared from LEGO’s desire to diversify their products, attract a wider range of customers and also adapt to licensed themes, such as Star Wars, Lord Of The Rings, Harry Potter and others. I for one think some of these figures are exaggerated, like Star Wars’ Jabba The Hutt being way to big or Harry Potter’s Hagrid looking more like a Playmobil character. Others instead are simply a stroke of genius.
With all the diversity from LEGO, there were still certain niches they didn’t or wouldn’t cover. And thus, the customizers came to be! Soldiers, expanded universe super heroes, video game characters, you name it, were all made possible. Of course, customization is hard work and that is reflected in the price these unique minifigures sell for. A fact that makes them inaccessible to many.
Most custom designers use reprinted or decaled LEGO minifigures, to which they attach truly unique and awesome accessories and weaponry. I’ve mentioned custom minifigures because a lot of fake brands are using these designs for their products and I’m gonna talk about them a little later.
So far, in terms of playability, very few clone brands have managed to provide a minifigure as good as LEGO’s version. By playability I mean switching body parts and accessories between minifigures and making them not look like some kind of failed genetic experiment. And speaking of MEGA BLOKS…
The current design that MEGA BLOKS/MEGA CONSTRUX uses for their minifigures is relatively new and comes after a long series of bad attempts (my personal opinion). The MB minifigure is more like a mini action figure, the only things it has in common with other brands being that it can hold brick toy accessories and stand on studs. What it has and others don’t is a lot of articulation. Switching parts from one figure to the other is not really an option like I said, unless you enjoy creating unearthly hybrids.
Still, many, and that includes me, consider the MEGA BLOKS mini action figure to be a very interesting alternative to the classic “LEGO man”.
A mix between MEGA BLOKS and LEGO is the Kreon, KRE-O‘s own design minifigure. These little dudes are quite articulated but still keep the classic brickish look. They are the standard KRE-O minifigure in all sets except for CityVille Invasion series. That one takes the “mini” in minifigure to a whole new level 🙂
COBI also came up with a unique design for their characters, after using the LEGO standard for many years (with sad results). The new one looks OK (I kinda like all minifigures, cause I’m a brick toy fan, so I may be subjective sometimes), but further embraces the non-compatibility with LEGO of MEGA BLOKS and KRE-O. Except for head gear! As some of you may know, all COBI hand hear is a little thinner than LEGO hand accessories and tends to slide down in a standard minifigure hand.
The OXFORD alternative to the standard LEGO minifigure is a slightly modified version of the…well, standard LEGO minifigure 🙂 Does that mean that OXFORD’s version is the most playable of all clone brands? Well, it might be. The South Korean company also came up with a more recent design for the Code Name Cobra sets, with features such as hip rotation and knee articulation, but so far that minifigure is only used in the mentioned series.
I’m very sure I saw standard LEGO minifigures in some OXFORD sets, but so far I don’t have the pictures to prove me right…
Last and probably least, we have IONIX. I’m sure they have fans, other wise they wouldn’t exist, but their take on the minifigure concept just beats me. I will say it’s interesting, since I just mentioned I like all minifigures 😉 Definitely some cool gadgets there…
So, we’ve wrapped up the mainstream clone brands, let’s take a look at the Chinese clone brands and their minifigure designs.
SLUBAN is now (maybe) the most well known alternative bricks brand in the world, to come from China. I believe they have outraced ENLIGHTEN; you can buy their sets officially in a lot of western countries, which is something ENLIGHTEN still needs to work on…or has to start working on 🙂
Anyway, here’s their version of minifigure (you may still find older sets that have the copied OXFORD minifigure)
Their current design (first 3 photos) is very unique and weird; the torso can move side to side, the hands and head have ball-joints and the head attaches to a rod that connects the torso with the leg piece (I know, it’s a brain f&@k). Again, only head and hand gear fit with other brands.
Another Chinese clone brand that decided to do things the legit way is WANGE. Their design is squarish, to put it simply. They used to have a different minifigure design (photo 1) and it’s a good thing they’ve changed it…
This one (the new model, photos 2-4) is even more selective, in that you can put a WANGE hat on a LEGO minifigure’s head, but the other way around doesn’t work. It has to do with the square head of the WANGE little dude 😉
COGO…have to mention it…sadly! COGO has 4-5 minifigure variants, the latest one being their best so far. COGO/LOONGON/Little White Dragon in some places is one of the worst clone brands ever to be made. Bitter rivals with BEST LOCK for number one spot! That’s what I think of them, it’s my opinion, you may beg to differ. Back to their minifigure concept, like I said the last one is the best so far. It’s like a mini Playmobil character that happens to stand on studs. It’s a nice minifigure concept, but COGO ‘s poor quality on all levels makes that redundant. Buy some of their sets, see for yourself…
Almost all the other Chinese clone brands use the LEGO standard minifigure design. Also, all fake brands use the LEGO standard minifigure design. Now, a lot of bootleggers have some nice custom designs, which is why I’m going to showcase some here. Randomly picked, just for reference: Batman-Ironman from BIG ELEPHANT, The Sentry from POGO, big Venom from DECOOL, The Fantastic 4 from SHENG YUAN and some army men again from DECOOL. The list is simply huge, so for you to better understand what I’m saying I will put together a photo album on CloneBricks.com’s Facebook page.
This wraps my article, if I get new information I will add it here 🙂