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Counterfeit LEGO and its effect on brand loyalty

FalconnefleFalconnefle Member Posts: 8
edited April 2014 in Everything else LEGO
Hi everyone, thank you for reading my post. I'm currently working on my thesis and I would like to seek all of your help for my project. So basically, I would be grateful if you can share with me your thoughts on:


i) how does Lego counterfeit from China affect the degree of brand loyalty among its Lego fans.
ii) what factors should Lego take into consideration to retain its brand loyalty? (from what I have gathered some fans actually mentioned quality, brand trust, and etc)

If anyone of you is wondering, why I would focus my attention on Lego products, I guess it's because I'm a lego fan myself and the more I research on the company, the more intrigued I am on it :)

Anyway, feel free to throw in any discussion which you think is relevant, I would love to learn and understand from your perspective too :)
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Comments

  • XefanXefan Member Posts: 1,149
    Counterfeiting always exists, and the scale of it is a function dependent entirely on how well you're satisfying the market.

    The classic viewpoint with counterfeiting was that it's just a problem you can deal with in isolation, that you can just go after counterfeiters and tell people it's wrong and it'll end the practice. But this is wrong, and has been especially proven so in the internet age - the only way to reduce counterfeiting is to alter the market to better capture those who would otherwise consume counterfeit products instead.

    We've seen it prominently with internet piracy where years of fruitless attempts at taking down sites hosting illegal downloads and so forth had absolutely zero impact on actually reducing piracy, and it was only when the markets actually began to change that progress on reducing it was actually seen - the arrival of more competition in the digital music market leading to lower price options, the arrival of free and ad sponsored, or subscription based but otherwise all you can eat alternatives like Pandora, and Last.fm.

    The forces are the same in the physical world, and so the only reason it's going to be a problem is if Lego allows it to be a problem. If we reach the point where counterfeit products reach an equivalent or near equivalent quality, yet are substantially cheaper then you'll see an increase in counterfeit products, there's only so much of a premium that people are willing to pay for the real thing, especially when concerns like quality equivalence disappear. Similarly, if Lego persists in failing to satisfy demand for a high demand set making it "limited edition" then they're begging for the creation of a counterfeit market.

    So ultimately, for me, it's not the counterfeit products that affect my view of Lego per-se, but the issues in the official Lego market that TLG has allowed to arise that would foster the creation of a growing counterfeit market in the first place. Or to put it another way, the rise of a substantial counterfeit market would be all their own fault, so it's upto them to make sure it doesn't happen.
    FalconnefleNorlego
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,199
    Fakes are prevalent enough that I rarely bother looking on ebay for minifigs from some ranges. Although most fakes can be spotted from the description, they are so many they drown out the genuine ones.
    FalconnefleLostInTranslation
  • XefanXefan Member Posts: 1,149
    Agreed, and I think that highlights my point quite well too, take super heroes minifigures for example (possibly what you're referring to?), eBay is utterly rife with them, but it's because the only way to get them otherwise is to pay £10+ (£20+ for some) from resellers for the real thing or to buy much more expensive sets when people may not even like or want the rest of the sets. If Lego released a super heroes CMF line it would kill that fakes market overnight, because people could get the real thing for £3 - £4 instead.

    It highlights a failure by TLG in failing providing people with what they want in a way they want it and so the counterfeit market has stepped in to fill that void that TLG has left. Of course this doesn't necessarily mean it's their fault, or they aren't aware of that, it may well simply be that they don't deem it worth their time, or that they can't get the necessary licensing agreements in place to produce a product that would resolve the issue in the first place. In this respect, it's possible that TLG themselves recognises counterfeits are going to exist because they don't fill that gap in the market themselves, but it's simply not worth their time to kill off the problem with a new product line.
    Falconneflemaques
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,008
    @Xefan makes a very good point that while some elements of the problem might be solvable by TLG releasing a product to rival the counterfeit it's not always that simple because of licensing.

    Also, again using the superhero mini figure example, if TLG did release a CMF line with an inflated price of £3 to justify the licence the counterfeiters wouldn't just stop they would probably just change track. Rather than selling individual figures they would probably sell sets, so while a lot of people would buy the official CMF range there will always be people who want the product but aren't prepared to pay for it so will turn to the fakes and see them as a better deal.
    Falconneflebobabricks
  • zipsforbananaszipsforbananas WalesMember Posts: 250
    This probably won't help much, but if you need documented opinions at least I'll have written it down for you!

    I find that clone brands enhance my feeling of loyalty to TLG. There's a feeling of entitlement and offence that they would dare rip off the genuine brand that was such a big part of my childhood, but I think that's only because they do it so badly. It would be a complement were there any genuine quality and effort to steal part of TLG's established market. But as they come in so substandard, mopping up TLG's crumbs as it were, it feels like more of a respect-less insult.
    I recognise that particularly with military vehicles there are moves to work in content areas where TLG isn't active, but the overall poor quality makes even that, which could have been a "valid" claim on their presence in the market, seem lazy and insulting.

    I hope that helps a little!
    Falconnefle
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,936
    ^This exactly. I was thinking the same sort of thing, only I couldn't get it into words. ;-)
    Falconneflezipsforbananas
  • FalconnefleFalconnefle Member Posts: 8
    Aww, you guys/girls are awesome...thanks @Xefan‌, @CCC‌, @Shib‌, @zipsforbananas‌ and @plasmodium‌ for your inputs. :)

    On Xefan's point, I would totally agree with you because one of the concerns I raised in my thesis was counterfeiting is in fact inevitable, and what TLG should do to remain relevant in the market.

    To be honest, some of the quality of the clone brands aren't that bad (I purchased a couple of them for check out the differences of the quality). But then again, there are some which were just plain depressing. Since the functionality of lego sets can be similar to the cloned brands, what makes TLG stand out from their "competitors"? I mean, quality does come with a price af
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,936
    edited April 2014
    For some people, real Lego has the assurance that there are no dodgy chemicals in the paint and that they are manufactured in a hygenic manner etc. I read a report (in the link below) recently which said that the lower quality clones often have strange smells or substances on them. Some of them are things you really wouldn't want to give to your kids to play with...
    http://brickset.com/article/10110/survey-of-clone-brands

    I personally like the feel of Lego bricks compared to the (admittedly very few) clone brands I've come across (including high-profile ones such as Mega-Blocks). They are more solid and have a nice feel to them. It's probably due to thicker or higher quality plastic or something like that.

    I also like the idea that Lego is a family company (even though that may not really be so true these days) with standards and morals etc.
    Another reason I like them, I guess, is that they are a company which can be trusted to conform to health and safety laws and so on. They also have a good track record for customer service.
    Also, they are the innovators, really. They are the ones who more or less invented/developed the interlocking plastic brick to the state it's at today. Most other clones copy them, whether it's a blatant copy of their sets or one of their IPs or just the shape of the brick. It's the brand image, in a way.
  • FrothyCoffeeManFrothyCoffeeMan Member Posts: 46
    Read OP's post and none of the replies( no offence), so forgive me for going over old ground.

    I have actually had to tell a friend not to buy me "non "Lego" lego in a dr who stylee" recently.

    I'm not interested. I have however bought a couple of fake lego sets as a bit of a joke.
    £1.50 crappieness on a campsite, mainly to irritate my wife and they remain unbuilt.

    I'm also lucky enough to be given buckets of lego from parents and drinking buddies wanting to regain loft space.

    It's amazing how the gold gets mixed with the crud.
    I can only assume that it's lack of understanding or financial necessity by relatives and not a malicious act because what I have separated and discarded, has been:
    Less glossy in colour.
    Crappier stickers...… like crappier than TLC crappier!!! (That takes effort) :p
    On the whole basic brick format copies have similar grippiness and interchangeability, which is great when you're 5 years old but tedious when you are an adult buying an eBay set from Confused of Cornwall.
    In short, what was the question again?
    Er...
    Successful companies get copied, it's what happens.
    Unscrupulous eBayers are making a quick buck and I should know better. That's my fault or bad luck. There is no come back on Lego there.

    One the other hand, I have to state that.

    Lego customer service is, in my experience, quite possibly the best CS on all levels ever, for any global brand and I have dealt with store level, Dutch telesales, the web and UK head office, sometimes in an extraordinarily cheeky way, they get it, you're a fan, it's amazing to deal with retailers that share your enthusiasm for their product.
    I have 20 years in retail and now I own my own company.
    I do kind of think along the same lines as Lego in my CS but I think they can catch up with me soon ;-)


    I think that "fakes" will only only be adopted by the relatives that don't get it, much like my friend. It's bricks he can put together, therefore it's Lego.
    Once informed that it's sooooo not Lego, I was bought a replacement DK Lego book.
    Attention to detail comes with age, but kids ain't stupid and it's should be about playability.
    Maybe your thesis should be on the joy non Lego lego adds to the family experience in a welfare state. (Joking).
    Also a Better question is " what's the ratio of AFOLS to TFOLS here etc.
    ' cos I know I'm here to relive the nostalgia of the best times in my youth and they absolutely included Lego.

    I probably haven't helped much but good luck with the thesis.

    Falconnefle
  • beabea Member Posts: 227
    If you mean counterfeits as in copies of actual lego sets or figures produced by a different manufacturer, I think their existence puts me off buying the products of whatever manufacturer is responsible for making them.
    I feel copies of this sort are unethical and I don't intend to patronize companies who behave as such.
    On the other hand, if you mean other building block manufacturers who create their own, original sets which are "lego compatible", I have nothing against that. There are various themes I'm interested in which I don't feel are sufficiently serviced by lego itself to satisfy my interests and I would welcome another manufacturer who can fill that void. I've explored some options from other manufacturers and have found the quality to be unacceptable to me. At the same time, I also feel lego quality has declined and I have been very disappointed with some of the sets I've purchased on the quality front.
  • AFFOL_Shellz_BellzAFFOL_Shellz_Bellz Member Posts: 1,263
    Xefan said:

    Agreed, and I think that highlights my point quite well too, take super heroes minifigures for example (possibly what you're referring to?), eBay is utterly rife with them, but it's because the only way to get them otherwise is to pay £10+ (£20+ for some) from resellers for the real thing or to buy much more expensive sets when people may not even like or want the rest of the sets. If Lego released a super heroes CMF line it would kill that fakes market overnight, because people could get the real thing for £3 - £4 instead.

    It highlights a failure by TLG in failing providing people with what they want in a way they want it and so the counterfeit market has stepped in to fill that void that TLG has left. Of course this doesn't necessarily mean it's their fault, or they aren't aware of that, it may well simply be that they don't deem it worth their time, or that they can't get the necessary licensing agreements in place to produce a product that would resolve the issue in the first place. In this respect, it's possible that TLG themselves recognises counterfeits are going to exist because they don't fill that gap in the market themselves, but it's simply not worth their time to kill off the problem with a new product line.

    What it truly highlights is the attitude of "entitlement" that so many people have today. There seems to be a general assumption that we should be able to tell companies how to run their business and how to write their contracts. When a company like TLG signs a contract with another company such details are very specific and they are not free to provide them in any manner outside the details of that contract and to do so would make them just as bad as counterfeiters. Because TLG chooses to honor the terms of a contract does not mean they have failed their customers, it means their customers have unrealistic expectations and at least to some degree that attitude of entitlement. If we want something badly enough we should expect to pay the going rate for it, not use the situation as an excuse for black market or counterfeits. Counterfeiting is dishonesty at it's worst because they take advantage of the hard work, knowledge, and profits of honest working people. If we want change then we need to lobby Lego to work to change contracts. It doesn't mean it will be successful, but it's the right way to go about it.
  • AndyKbxAndyKbx Member Posts: 3
    I have two perspectives that you may find interesting, how I would answer your questions a year or so ago vs today. The difference being that in the last year I've being using Lego to help me deal with serious clinical depression, I never entirely grew out of it, but having seen up close two of the modular buildings (Palace Cinema & Parisian Restuarant, I had to buy one. I enjoyed building it so much, that I've since added the Town Hall (second hand, Ebay), Pet Shop, Emporium and many smaller models (Lego shop/ Amazon purchased new). Quite frankly, the counterfeits don't even get close to the quality of the parts, and the creative options open too you if your inspired to begin creating your own models.

    I'd never, knowingly buy a fake, and once a part is identified as fake/ lego clone then its out of my house. I understand why people look at price, and feel they can't afford Lego, and also perhaps if your going to allow children to play, and destroy the toys, why they might choose a clone brand, their not expecting it too last. In actual fact, I come across parts all the time, that are at least twenty years old, in perfect working (playable) order, but where else do you find that?, I think the rise in counterfeiting, is in part because nothing is expected to last, kids will grow out of it, so short-term economics rule.

    I don't have children myself, but my brother has grandchildren, its easy to see that a Lego kid like myself, would probably have passed it onto my children, and would today buy Lego for Grandchildren, hoping to infect them! To keep that going Lego needs to aim more at the adult/ teenage market, with models that inspire creativity and reuse of parts. The sets I love most these days, are those where you identify parts used in a different way, the modular buildings are the best example of this, but most of the cheaper "Creator" sets do this quite well too (e.g a car mudguard, used as a window cornice, of a round brick, little radar dish & minifig utensil hose nozel which becomes a lamp by the door of a house). I don't think this is well enough propogated by Lego, I feel they could supplement their sets with additional "instructions only" sets, and loads more mini-models which you'll only really get exposed to if your near a Lego shop.

    This is where the where the secondary market, Bricklink in particular, fills a void that Lego hasn't tried to fill, you can buy complex sets, or individual parts from lego, but very little in-between. If you want to build something unique, then the secondary market is the only way your going to get the exact parts you need.

    Going back a year, I was only trading in Lego parts on bricklink, having aquired some crates and boxes of Lego five years or so ago, I discovered and began selling parts on Bricklink, the extent of the secondary market became obvious quite quick, although in truth I was doing it as much because I wanted to see the Lego used again, rather than gathering dust in a box somewhere. Its time-consuming, made more difficult by the huge range of different parts and colours that have been made, but early on, I still found it fun, most of the time just handling the lego, identifying what the part actually was, and wondering what the buyer was going to do with the parts they had bought from me. There is truth in the saying that the ideal job, is being paid to do what you love doing, trading Lego comes close to that for me, although I couldn't live from the income involved.

    Again though, fake and clone parts were always disposed of, as were damaged parts. The quality of Lego parts, drives the secondary market, people happily buy second-hand, twelfth-hand etc because even very old parts, still work, and so long as Lego ensures that this stays the case, it will remain the iconic brand it deserves to be.
    Falconnefle
  • XefanXefan Member Posts: 1,149

    What it truly highlights is the attitude of "entitlement" that so many people have today. There seems to be a general assumption that we should be able to tell companies how to run their business and how to write their contracts.

    I think few people believe they have the right to tell companies how to run their business, though I think most people agree people should have the right to express their views on how a company is doing business, it's a kind of important principle called free speech. Similarly, if people do point out what they perceive to be issues with the way a company is doing business the company has every right to ignore those comments, but if those points raised are legitimate issues and the company chooses to ignore them then they too can't really complain if the issues are having an impact on sales.

    When a company like TLG signs a contract with another company such details are very specific and they are not free to provide them in any manner outside the details of that contract and to do so would make them just as bad as counterfeiters. Because TLG chooses to honor the terms of a contract does not mean they have failed their customers, it means their customers have unrealistic expectations and at least to some degree that attitude of entitlement.

    If TLG has negotiated a contract that doesn't fulfil the needs of all of it's customers then by definition it has failed those customers whose needs have not been fulfilled. It's silly to pretend otherwise. There's no god given right to businesses to have everyone have to be a customer even if a company isn't providing the product people want at a price point people want, and similarly not everyone has equal levels of income.

    Counterfeiting is dishonesty at it's worst because they take advantage of the hard work, knowledge, and profits of honest working people. If we want change then we need to lobby Lego to work to change contracts. It doesn't mean it will be successful, but it's the right way to go about it.

    It's a nice fantasy, but it's not the way the world works. I agree it's a far from ideal situation, but it's most definitely the unchangeable reality of the situation. If millions of pounds spent on buying and lobbying politicians by the music and movie industries to outright enact laws that strip away fundamental rights such as the right to be innocent until proven guilty in an effort to try and change that reality in the last 20 years with no actual impact on reduction in piracy isn't evidence enough of the fact that you can't change reality then I'm not sure what would be. The only companies that have seen success in reducing counterfeiting and piracy are those who both understand in a pragmatic way the realities of it and who work within that understanding to provide something that does win over customers who would otherwise resort to non-legal alternatives.

    I work in software development, so I know all too well the frustration of piracy and counterfeiting. But trying to wish it away with cries of it being immoral and so forth is a fruitless task, and similarly trying to lobby it away is the quickest way to lose money with no effect (other than to make corrupt politicians wealthier and increase their chance of being re-elected due to them having more campaign funds). The only way to deal with it is still to either accept it, or cater to the customers who are buying from the counterfeiters (or pirating) the best you can. There'll always be some you'll never please, but the trick is to minimize that group and get it as small as practically possible. That becomes much easier when you view them less as criminals and immoral folks with an entitlement attitude, and more as potential customers whose needs you are not yet serving.
  • monkeyhangermonkeyhanger Member Posts: 2,763

    Counterfeiting is dishonesty at it's worst because they take advantage of the hard work, knowledge, and profits of honest working people.

    Are we talking all counterfeiting/piracy?

    I saw an article the other day bemoaning that Game of Thrones is the most pirated TV show ever. Maybe it is, but you've got to ask what motivates the pirates to acquire GOT.

    Is it because they don't want to pay for the series on Bluray, or is it because they see the series on Sky Atlantic or HBO channel and then have to wait a year to see it released on Bluray? Yet there is is from day one, available in 1080P - do you really want to make your loyal fans wait a year to get an identical product, albeit with the nice packaging.

    Give the customers what they want, at the right time and the right price and couterfeiting/piracy plays a very small part in the market.

    I've not witnessed Lego counterfeits first hand, but I have witnessed low quality official parts from TLG that have come from China. Lego is perceived to be high quality, if they compromise that to the point they cannot be differentiated from the snides then maybe people will be less willing to pay a premium for the Lego name.

    madforLEGO
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    ^Game of Thrones may not be the best example for your point. Reason is that it is made by HBO for their customers, whom pay a monthly subscription price to have access to that program and others that HBO creates. If a person wanted to watch it, they should be paying the creator or supplier. Would it be fair that a pirate or pirate website steals the product and makes it free to all?

    HBO = No its not, it is our property and we are free to distribute it how we like to our customers.
    HBO Customer = No its not, I paid the fair going price so that I can see it. Why should other freeloaders be able to get it without honestly paying for it like I do?
    Freeloader = Of course! I want it and don't want to... (Pay, wait, buy, fill-in-the-blank-with-excuse-of-choice)

    Counterfeiting/piracy is playing a small part at this moment for Lego. But if left unhindered it will grow and fester into a much bigger problem. Just look at music and movies as precedence.

    But I agree on your last point of Lego opening the door themselves by lowering the bar for product standards, so that counterfeit trash is coming closer and closer to the real thing.
  • monkeyhangermonkeyhanger Member Posts: 2,763
    I used the GOT example as a Sky Atlantic subscriber (therefore HBO can be considered paid) who doesn't want to clog their Sky+ box with the series for almost a year until the blurays come out, and who would willingly buy the Blurays when they become available but would prefer them earlier rather than later. There are always people who pay for nowt, no matter how good a film or TV show is - so no lost sales there.

    There's a good argument against simultaneous cinema and bluray release because you'd likely kill off cinema industry doing that (spend £60 taking the family to the cinema or £15 buying the bluray and watch it on your big TV), but for subscription TV broadcasts competing with simultaneous bluray release, I can't see the harm in giving people what they want, when they want to save them resorting to piracy.
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950

    There's a good argument against simultaneous cinema and bluray release because you'd likely kill off cinema industry doing that...

    A good argument from who's point of view? I'd be fine with capitalism killing what is amounting to an antiquated and overpriced display model. Don't force me to sit in a theater with inconsiderate people if I want to see Captain America today. Sell me my Blu-Ray and let me dive in at home, on my TV at the same time.
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    edited April 2014
    That's what HBO GO represents, which is free with your subscription and streaming so no need to download or dvr. Episodes are available same day or next. I'm not familiar with Sky Atlantic and their offerings/capabilities though.

    So HBO is already ahead of the game on efforts to thwart piracy right at the heart by reducing the incentive, just as you were suggesting. They are going so far as to encourage members to share their HBO GO with non-member friends and families, which is a first for any company or industry afaik. So not only are they trying their hardest to defend against piracy, they are going well out the way to encourage consumers to go straight to the source even if they do not gain an extra $0.01. What they do accomplish is starving out the pirates, which is HBO's gain in the long run.

    However, this example is still ill fitting for the situation at hand with Lego. Since shows/movies tend to lean towards the function of access versus obtaining of product, such as the case with the bricks or handbags or clothes.
  • vwong19vwong19 San DiegoMember Posts: 1,135
    What are licensed minifigures sold at Minifigures.co.uk considered?
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950

    That's what HBO GO represents, which is free with your subscription and streaming so no need to download or dvr. Episodes are available same day or next. I'm not familiar with Sky Atlantic and their offerings/capabilities though.

    So HBO is already ahead of the game on efforts to thwart piracy right at the heart by reducing the incentive, just as you were suggesting. They are going so far as to encourage members to share their HBO GO with non-member friends and families, which is a first for any company or industry afaik. So not only are they trying their hardest to defend against piracy, they are going well out the way to encourage consumers to go straight to the source even if they do not gain an extra $0.01. What they do accomplish is starving out the pirates, which is HBO's gain in the long run.

    However, this example is still ill fitting for the situation at hand with Lego. Since shows/movies tend to lean towards the function of access versus obtaining of product, such as the case with the bricks or handbags or clothes.

    Unless is crashes during Game of Thrones :) But great example of a company doing what I think they should do, and that's give me my stuff now, how I want it and at a reasonable price.

    Back on topic though (piracy doesn't really apply to Lego). Lego cares about counterfeiting mostly because they don't want Generic Mom & Dad to experience something like buying their kid a new Green Lantern "Lego" fig on Ebay, then have it crack apart or make the kid's fingers fall off and then tell their friends "Wow, Lego sucks these days."

    As for Lego vs. the clones, I think it's all coming down to licensing. For example, Call of Duty & Halo are extremely popular, so that will win out for some to choose MB over Lego, regardless of quality differences (and there are still significant quality differences).
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,199
    Looks like Lele now make fakes just about every theme ... even the name Chima and all the character names are direct copies

    image

    image

    image

    image
  • ArtfulDodgerArtfulDodger Member Posts: 103
    It wouldn't surprise me if someone out there is making counterfeits of the really expensive sets (e.g. Millenium Falcon). I imagine it wouldn't be too hard to 3-D print the set unique pieces, and then you could turn around and sell the pieces as a set and make a tidy profit. My prediction is that Lego counterfeiting of sets is going to tank the Lego resell market within the next few years. All it will take is one high-profile instance.
  • bobabricksbobabricks Vancouver, BC, CanadaMember Posts: 1,836
    The only one I was thinking of getting is an actual custom (their own design) sheng yuan bootleg captain America with an actual moulded helmet. Other wise I don't like these because we now have to be cautious buyers in case someone is trying to sell us bootleg.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,199
    I can understand that there is a market for knock-offs of $500 minifigs. Same with $50 and even $10 figs. But copying things like widely available and cheap Frodo and Gandalf, GS and Chima. Why would anyone want to pay $5 for a knock-off, when you can get the original for the same price?
    bobabricks
  • minicoopers11minicoopers11 USAMember Posts: 104
    The Super Heroes minifigure fakes are of quite a high quality, having handled them myself. I am referring to the brand that has the S in the upper left corner (can't remember the name) and packages them in small boxes. I was merely interested in the Iron Patriot, but could never find one for sale at a reasonable price. I could have bought 480 for US$0.25 a piece (lol), a pack of 6 different ones that included the Iron Patriot, or one Iron Patriot for US$4 (LOL, no thanks again). And I didn't even seek it out...came across it in Yiwu, China, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.
  • bobabricksbobabricks Vancouver, BC, CanadaMember Posts: 1,836
    @minicoopers11 that's Sheng Yuan Bootleg, out of all of the bootlegs that seems to be the best quality (still not as good as Lego quality, even Chinese Lego)
  • NorlegoNorlego ScotlandMember Posts: 444
    I got a couple of "cobi" helicopters in a job lot that look and feel like lego. The grey coulor is very similiar, even mega bloks are getting the colours right on newer sets. Might be better for lego to buy up a cheap brand to corner thay market while preserving the prenium market.
  • FalconnefleFalconnefle Member Posts: 8
    Hi everyone, thank you for your feedbacks :) Apologies for the MIA as i was bogged down with work for the past couple of months
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,199
    Norlego said:

    I got a couple of "cobi" helicopters in a job lot that look and feel like lego. The grey coulor is very similiar, even mega bloks are getting the colours right on newer sets. Might be better for lego to buy up a cheap brand to corner thay market while preserving the prenium market.

    I'm not so sure. If they had a low quality version and a high(er) quality version, then you can guarantee that brand quality perception would fall. Lower quality parts would get mixed with high, and people would gravitate towards the cheaper stuff to give to kids, and realise it is not good quality any more and stop buying lego.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 9,172
    People 'pirate' because the cost is too high.
    But it is about steps to prevent, not obliterate. It seems, especially in the US, we have this problem of not being able seeing things as gray lately. only yes or no, can stop it all if not then free reign to all. It is about steps to prevent stuff, can ever truly stop something once done? Not really. Piracy as a whole is probably one of the worlds oldest professions.

    Look If companies wanted to drop much of the piracy, make new CDs no more that 15 dollars, old Cds 5 dollars. Make new DVDs 15, and old 10 or under. New Bluray? 20, old? 10-15.. I find it really funny that this is old technology but we are paying through the nose for some movies that are 3-4 years old now -looking at you Marvel Studios. (yes yes i know part of it is the actors and production companies cut, but make movie theater tickets 5-10 instead of 10-15 or 20 for Imax -and enforce rules about kicking out who are making noise- maybe you will get many more people to go to the theater to see your movie)

    As for LEGO. The 'licensing fees' they have to pay which make the sets more expensive is partly what is causing these knockoffs.
    No, the real issue is LEGO wants to be in the China Market so badly that they signed a deal with the devil that basically says China makes it with you or no deal. This causes product to go out both the front and back doors (I guarantee you that many of the 'counterfeits' and 'knockoffs' are likely coming from the same factory making the legit stuff) And LEGO knows this, that is why they are not going after these guys in China, that and China's court's may as well have their slogan be 'Counterfeiting'? What Counterfeiting?'
    LEGO basically said 'it i still more lucrative to get some of our product into China and live with counterfeited ones than none of our product there'
    Same reason why many other companies build stuff in China only to see it counterfeited. It basically is the cost of them doing business there.
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,008
    Here's an interesting perspective that I noticed of my own buying habits - Counterfeit mini figures make me more loyal to the Lego brand because I'm far less likely to buy from a 'second hand' source, even if listed as new, for fear of getting a counterfeit figure.
    E.g. I missed out on getting the Mines of Moria set in any significant discount and have been considering buying the two fellowship character I'm missing on ebay/bricklink etc since. Saw it advertised at a slight discount on RRP from a reputable retailer (an actual established shop and not a reseller etc) and thought, what the hell I'll just buy the whole set. If the counterfeit's didn't exist I might have been more inclined to buy from ebay but not wanting to risk it instead of buying just two or three minifigures I bought the whole set!

    I understand why some people are drawn to the counterfeits but to me it's the difference between owning a famous painting or buying a poster of said painting from a gift shop, only worse. The irony is that while people here have suggested things that TLG might do to reduce the amount of counterfeiting, they can never stop it, the only people who can stop it are the people buying the counterfeits, even then it wouldn't stop the counterfeiters but just back them into a corner and make it harder for them to turn a profit.
  • NorlegoNorlego ScotlandMember Posts: 444
    edited June 2014
    One thing is buying the likes of mega bloks but then mixing it with lego.... This makes the lego worth less on ebay.
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,008
    ^But mega bloks etc are not counterfeit, they are just different brands of constructions toys.
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    Shib said:

    Here's an interesting perspective that I noticed of my own buying habits - Counterfeit mini figures make me more loyal to the Lego brand because I'm far less likely to buy from a 'second hand' source, even if listed as new, for fear of getting a counterfeit figure.
    E.g. I missed out on getting the Mines of Moria set in any significant discount and have been considering buying the two fellowship character I'm missing on ebay/bricklink etc since. Saw it advertised at a slight discount on RRP from a reputable retailer (an actual established shop and not a reseller etc) and thought, what the hell I'll just buy the whole set. If the counterfeit's didn't exist I might have been more inclined to buy from ebay but not wanting to risk it instead of buying just two or three minifigures I bought the whole set!

    I understand why some people are drawn to the counterfeits but to me it's the difference between owning a famous painting or buying a poster of said painting from a gift shop, only worse. The irony is that while people here have suggested things that TLG might do to reduce the amount of counterfeiting, they can never stop it, the only people who can stop it are the people buying the counterfeits, even then it wouldn't stop the counterfeiters but just back them into a corner and make it harder for them to turn a profit.

    This brings up an interesting conundrum. If you pay for a minifig, thinking it's a genuine minifig, get the minfig, it looks exactly like the minifig you were expecting, and you never expect to sell the minifig in the future, does it matter?
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,008
    If it wasn't genuine lego parts it would matter to me, I'd demand a refund, because to me it would be no different to something being listed as new then arriving with teeth marks all over it.
    Falconnefle
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    Right, but I'm saying if the counterfeit was so good it would fool anyone. I get that it would matter in principle, but what about reality? If you got a minifig and were told it is original, and you think it is original, but it actually is counterfeit (and you didn't know), how would it matter in your mind?
  • samiam391samiam391 A Log Cabin in KY, United StatesMember Posts: 4,234
    I don't think it would matter in my mind because I would have what I thought was an original figure.

    Besides, whenever we get to the point where there are four commas separating words in a question I think it's time we throw in the towel on the "dilemma" and recognize it as becoming a bit to specific ( to the point of an un-accurate scenario).
    jasor
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,008
    The fact that I don't like buying from second hand sources shows how it matters to me, thinking it might be fake fakes me not want to take the risk. I get what your saying, if you don't know it won't hurt you, but I'm proud of the collection I've amassed so the idea that I might one day discover that bargain I got on an hard to minifigure was on a fake is enough to make me not want to risk counterfeits. I have a few figs that I've got from trades, but I like to think that the majority of people on here are trustworthy so I see those trades as low risk and I have a couple of second hand figs I've bought from shows, but I had the chance to look them over for the hidden text in the moulding counterfeits miss.
    Falconnefle
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    edited June 2014
    samiam391 said:

    Besides, whenever we get to the point where there are four commas separating words in a question I think it's time we throw in the towel on the "dilemma" and recognize it as becoming a bit to specific ( to the point of an un-accurate scenario).

    Generally, I'd agree; however, mine wasn't a list of specific criteria to a situation, but rather a detailed order of operations with a little criteria sprinkled in. I could have worded it better I agree, but I didn't :)

    Let's try it this way...

    You buy something assuming it's real, but it isn't. You don't know this, and are ignorantly happy nevertheless.
  • samiam391samiam391 A Log Cabin in KY, United StatesMember Posts: 4,234


    Generally, I'd agree; however, mine wasn't a list of specific criteria to a situation, but rather a detailed order of operations with a little criteria sprinkled in. I could have worded it better I agree, but I didn't :)

    Let's try it this way...

    You buy something assuming it's real, but it isn't. You don't know this, and are ignorantly happy nevertheless.

    My pea brain can only handle so much.

    Your second attempt I can follow.

    And again, I would actually have the same answer. If I'm ignorant of the fact that it is fake, and assume it's real, then what's the harm? I'm sure this happens all the time. Unfortunately it even happens in the re-selling world of minifigures.

    Thankfully, customs haven't been able to reach LEGO standards yet and most of us can pull out the weeds... but they are trending up in level of quality, and soon we won't even be able to tell a fake from a true LEGO piece. Which is, honestly, killing my brand loyalty. Not in the sense of me buying customs over genuine LEGO (not even going anywhere near there), but towards me buying LEGO minifigures for any sort of re-selling purpose period. I've just about sold all my stock, and will be down to only my favorites (for my own collection purposes) soon.
  • theLEGOmantheLEGOman UKMember Posts: 1,504
    You get the idea alot of Chinese fake products come out of the original factories.

    2 official shifts of 8 hours, product sent abroad to the paying company.
    1 unofficial shift of 8 hours using the same materials and the same machines each worker gets a cut of production sold off cheap.
  • scrumperscrumper UKMember Posts: 323
    If that is the case it's unlikely to be the workers making money from it.
  • NorlegoNorlego ScotlandMember Posts: 444

    You get the idea alot of Chinese fake products come out of the original factories.

    2 official shifts of 8 hours, product sent abroad to the paying company.
    1 unofficial shift of 8 hours using the same materials and the same machines each worker gets a cut of production sold off cheap.

    Production costs are very low, so legal and fakes cost the same. Most likely the factory gets paid more for the fakes otherwise no point in making them. By cutting out legos brand marketing etc fakes can be sold cheap. In fact the real cost of lego is what fakes cost, but of course few people buy non-branded stuff.
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,008
    ^if you ignore the time/money related to designing the pieces and licensing fees too seeing as the fakes have that done for them/don't give a toss about the original designers and character owners.
  • blackfalconknightblackfalconknight Member Posts: 3
    Hi everyone,

    I'm new to the Brickset forum and also relatively new to collecting LEGO again as an adult. This is something I'd never really thought about before seeing the thread. I'm aware of clone brands such as Mega Bloks and Kre-o, but I didn't know there were manufacturers producing copies or rip-offs of actual LEGO products.

    Does anyone know if manufacturers are making copies of whole sets (i.e. with box, instructions, internal bags, and pieces) or are the fakes in the market limited to individual minifigures?

    Out of interest I just did a quick search on eBay for 'LEGO superheroes' and then 'LEGO Lord of the Rings' and found several listings that appear to be the type of fakes mentioned here. However, none of the listings that appeared to be fake LEGO actually contained the word 'LEGO' or the LEGO logo in the listing. When I had a close look at the figures in the pictures I could also see that some of them had the brand 'lele' printed on the figure's base.

    So, are LEGO fakes only being sold under a different guise or are some manufacturers/sellers actually selling LEGO fakes under the LEGO brand with the LEGO logo?

    I've bought several new sets, but not individual minifigures, from BrickLink and eBay since getting back into the hobby, however I haven't come across anything suspiciously fake yet. I think I have a reasonably good eye for evaluating what I've bought and the sets have been consistent in quality and appearance with sets I've bought direct from LEGO or in major retail stores. I'm just wondering whether I need to be more careful when it comes to buying via BL/eBay or if I don't have to worry if buying new and sealed sets from sellers with a good feedback rating?


    Thanks to anyone who might like to answer any or all of my questions. :)
    Falconnefle
  • blackfalconknightblackfalconknight Member Posts: 3
    Also, I realise this is somewhat off topic from the original post. So, in answer to the original question: I have no interest whatsoever in buying fake LEGO or clone brand construction toys, and in fact, I'd like to take every step possible to avoid doing so.

    I have a strong attachment to the LEGO brand thanks to many fond childhood memories. For that reason and because LEGO products are far superior in design and quality to any clone brands or fakes I would never buy anything other than LEGO products.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,199
    Most of the fakes are not called Lego in the listing, but will come up with searches for lego and say something like compatible with lego / leading brand. Some will also claim to be custom, when they are blatent rip-offs. Some custom made ones are more genuine in that they do not rip-off actual lego designs, and they do use genuine lego parts, but they also rip-off other companies' intellectual property.
  • NorlegoNorlego ScotlandMember Posts: 444
    Shib said:

    ^if you ignore the time/money related to designing the pieces and licensing fees too seeing as the fakes have that done for them/don't give a toss about the original designers and character owners.

    I doubt lego spend much money on designing bricks,quite a few are 30-50 years old... The big cost is getting people to buy lego/visit legoland etc. Building up a brand costs a lot of money not related to production costs. Add that lego price their products high to be a prenium brand. Which is why fakes cost less.
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,008
    Seeing as most of the counterfeits are mini figures actually a heck of a lot of time will go into the design, getting new moulds made for new items/accessories, getting the prints right...and on the licenced themes don't forget that the owner of the IP will almost always have a final approval clause in their licence agreements meaning that TLG have to constantly go back and forth to them for approvals. Also theres the design cost on getting the box art, instructions etc etc. The counterfeiters obviously just steal the Lego 3D rendered artworks of characters and plaster it on a very crappy designed box.

    Design is probably the most undervalued thing that effects every man made thing out there. But people forget that to make things look pretty takes HOURS OF WORK. The problem is that various companies that promote "free design" etc don't point out that they give the same design to thousands of other customers, so it's not free design its just the cost of the design is split across thousands of people.

    *end rant*
    jasor
  • kbenjeskbenjes Member Posts: 69
    My girlfriend visited Thailand and brought me back a few of the LeLe knockoff figs, including Jor El and Gandalf. The quality was great, on par with real LEGO for the most part. I'm tempted to buy some on eBay, especially designs that aren't available in official sets like Green Lantern.
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