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BUYING (OR NOT BUYING) FROM INDEPENDENT MINIFIGURE ACCESSORIES COMPANIES
BrickForge. BrickArms. Brickmania. Brickwarriors. These companies and others like them are making it harder and harder to be a LEGO purist! Brickwarriors has an accessory to make a two-headed ogre for crying out loud! LEGO needs to start thinking outside the box like these companies.
I wonder if, ironically, these companies have kept LEGO from making accessories that they have patented first? A prime example is the centaur body that BrickForge sells. Is this why LEGO didn't have any centaurs in there HP line because BrickForge made one first? (This is a theoretical question.)
As cool as the accessories these companies are making are, I have so far been able to resist. I try to be as much of a LEGO purist as possible although I do use DUPLO bricks in my larger layouts. If one of these companies makes a Death Dealer style helmet I might have to break down.
Do you embrace these accessories or do you shun them? If so, why? Is the quality of the products these indy companies are making as good as or even better than LEGO? Do you feel that these companies are just as bad as Megabloks and the other clone brands and counterfeits?
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Recent discussions •
Any time anyone gets high and mighty about being purist I always have to ask, have you ever tried any other brands or custom parts? Ultimately I'm of the opinion that you can't really claim LEGO to be the best without having a point of reference. A lot of custom parts are hard to tell appart from LEGO in terms of quality.
*full disclosure - I don't approve of unauthorised use of intellectual properties, so wouldn't buy the "Lego Compatible fabulous four" type minifigures, but some custom parts etc really allow for some great stuff.
Here is where I stand. The customizers are capable of doing great work, but I feel bad by giving in and supporting non-Lego efforts. It seems trite written out, but time has validated me in several ways. Back in the early 2000s, it seemed unlikely we would ever see Lego go for the more "realistic" route for our favorite themes. Yet, here we are, over ten years later, with modular buildings, large train wheels, and sets featuring such previously-unlikely franchises like Ghostbusters and Back to the Future. In that rush forward, even established themes like Star Wars saw delvings in more realistic blaster rifles and pistols, as well as forays into the Expanded Universe beyond just vehicles (Galen Marek! Asajj and Anakin's duel on Yavin 4! DARTH REVAN!). These are all things that customizers and their ilk churned forth, but have become pure Lego reality over the years.
The take-away from that is this: there is nothing wrong with embracing custom-made parts and figures. However, I feel that having in faith in Lego (and lots of patience) wins out, and we will eventually get those parts and figures we've long thought beyond their consideration or reach.
Obviously, this isn't applicable when you consider Lego's "rules" (i.e. no modern weapons), but that is a different debate altogether. If I had an interest in military vehicles and weaponry, perhaps I would be of a different mind, but since I don't, I'll abstain from making a comment.
But since then, I've disarmed all of that team and put the BrickArms away, as it just simply didn't seem right being placed on legit Lego figs. It very much bothered me each time I looked at them, knowing they were wearing counterfeit parts essentially. Almost like feeling pity for the little minifigure that they were being accosted by an alien and foreign parasite a la Symbiote Spider-man.
So now I'm in the midst of re-establishing a line of military characters, but choosing to go the purist route by only using official Lego parts & accessories. Seeing the ones already completed this way ('Nam Delta Force, American Sniper Chris Kyle, Bin Laden, Jihadi John, etc.) is so much more satisfying.
Some of the modern military stuff out there is of fantastic quality and as a kid I would have killed to have my LEGO men kitted out in some of that gear!
*the minifig wearing that outfit seems quite happy to me.
Why doesn't Lego provide a source of approved minifig accessories in excess beyond their current wares!? Coming from Gamesworkshop and other table top miniatures that have huge "bits" markets, this seems to me a missed opportunity.
For reference's sake, the last real MOC I made that used a lot of figs was my Ninjago Ultimate Battle back in 2012. And it's not like that has much room for a centaur or an AK-47. The themes I collect don't tend to be taken that seriously by a lot of AFOLs so I understand that customizers have little incentive to create custom parts geared towards those themes.
I still wonder more and more if LEGO designers are being influenced by what these independent companies are doing. Although they are not exactly the same design, for example, the new wings on the gargoyle CMF are reflective of the demon wings made by BRICK WARRIORS, who also have an incredible collection of fantasy accessories. The new wolf head pelt is very tempting.
I must stay pure. I must stay pure. I must stay pure.
Modern combat is all well and fun until you shoot your eye out kid ;)
Again, with my history of table top miniatures, I'm thinking I need to bust out some primer and my Vallejo inks/paints and flesh out some of the details of these.
The swaddling for the baby can also be used as a cocoon for an immature insectoid, or all sorts of things like that--sadly, at the moment it doesn't come in white, the only color I would use for a baby. But there were a lot of other tempting things when I went over to that site to check the swaddling out....
I wouldn't buy anything from a third-party manufacturer that has a reasonable equivalent in authentic Lego. But there are some things that I doubt Lego will ever make that are just too cute or too clever to be ignored. Anyone who uses minifigs as gaming figures would surely fail a saving throw against the two-headed ogre armor, for example! I don't blame anyone for wanting to buy something like that!
Now, I completely understand that in the context of Lego exhibitions and so forth, parts-purity is a baseline mandate. But for my own purposes, building for fun at home, it doesn't bother me to use 'aftermarket' parts to fine-tune a creation.
While I was in the store I noticed that they had a display of custom engraved bricks with varying different things engraved on them. I brought a couple of them as a memento of the trip and got VIP points from the shop for them as well.
Would the purists say that as they were for sale at a genuine Lego store would they be classed as genuine Lego parts or not as they are modified bricks?
For anyone who is hesitant to shift from "purist" to "semi-purist", it helps if you choose to view these companies as "official suppliers to LEGO", even if they are not affiliated. You really won't be disappointed (especially with Brick Warriors stuff!).
They are not official suppliers to LEGO though. They are unofficial suppliers to LEGO's customers.
I've bought a few custom parts over the past year, but they are really specific stuff that LEGO will almost certainly never produce (e.g Munchkin Bricks made by Crazy Bricks which are officially licenced by Steve Jackson games)
I keep all these parts separate until building, bit beyond a couple of silly little vig scenes I've done little with them.
Crazy bricks have just provided a good example of why I generally don't buy much custom - they've been working on Satyr legs...which LEGO have trounced with the CMF satyr's legs that look much better and have the bonus of being official.
That said, I have once or twice used a megabloks piece that Lego doesn't make: the 2z2 plate with studs on both sides. It's damn useful.
It's good to know what the rules are, so that you know when to break them.
Btw, why the caps in the tread title?
It really depends what you want the pieces for. Some of the custom stuff is excellent and the companies already mentioned are fantastic, likewise there are some amazing mini-fig prints going around and for some characters (DareDevil, Red Robin, Batman of the Future, Deadman etc.) where the chances of Lego ever doing an 'offical' one are slim to none and you can't MOC them using a mixture of offical parts then they are a great accompanyment to your collection so you can't go to far wrong, they are also excelent value.
I would never use the custom bits and figures as more than 'added extras' to a MOC but sometimes they are perfect.
I don't consider your post off topic. I've seen worse. :)
I think I'm bothered more by the custom figures made of legitimate characters than the accessories that Brick Warriors and the like make. At least they are creating original designs. I still think you're ripping off MARVEL if you make a figure that looks just like Captain America but you call him "Star-Spangled Soldier" or something to that effect and mass market it.
for the most part the good companies/people are taking a love of Lego, their natural creativity and skills and offering up something new, be it parts or figures and very rarely do you see those guys creating figures that are already on Lego's production slate, and if they do they tend to look very, very different. These are the guys that I think enhance the hobby and offer something worthwhile so I never have a problem buying their stuff the enhance my own collection.
then there are the 'chinese' type companies that are mass producing clear knockoffs for money and no other reason and that is wrong. Yes in parts of the world they are allowing kids access to a type of Lego, but isn't Lego and likely the production standards are so low the toys could even be unsafe and they are damaging the Lego brand, these companies offer nothing of value.
so really as long as you understand what you want and where it comes from then great.
When I was a kid, the garage doors, house windows, and so on all were in perfect scale for my Matchbox car collection--and, of course, HO scale trains (I didn't have any, but the boy down the street did, and combined Lego buildings with his train set). The advent of the minifigure has shifted Lego away from any other common toy scale, which has assisted me in becoming much more of a purist.
BrickWarriors have some clever ideas, but their level of detail and precision of manufacture, while good, are not up to Lego level. (On the other hand, their pieces do exhibit the old, familiar clink of Lego bricks rattling against each other--what is it Lego uses nowadays?) CrazyBricks seems closer to Lego quality; I shall have to see how well their new arm pieces match genuine Lego arms before deciding to let them into my main collection. And what am I supposed to do with authentic Lego bricks that have been printed with detailed and interesting designs by third party operations? My minifigs deserve Cadbury bars, darn it!
I am aware that they are unofficial suppliers. I was just trying to suggest a strategy to think about it from a purist standpoint if someone was having difficulty rationalizing it in their heads, or were on the fence about a purchase. Some of these companies were definitely created with the spirit of Lego in mind, and design high quality compatible products.