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Counterfeit LEGO and its effect on brand loyalty



  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,713
    kbenjes said:

    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.

    Then IMO you are perpetuating the issue that these can sell and they should keep doing it, which means you are part of the problem if you buy these knockoffs/ unauthorized copies. I see the temptation, but I will not do it. Never mind that if these are not from the same factories using the same materials, they could be cheaper, or more environmentally unfriendly (lead paint anyone?)
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,456
    ^add to that list - produced by companies that give 0 respect to international laws so therefore lower safety, rights to employees etc etc
  • NorlegoNorlego ScotlandMember Posts: 449
    ^ Which might be what tempted lego to go to China in the first place....
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,523
    Some people are starting to list them like this now ...

    No mention of lego in the title, but no mention that they are not lego any more - whereas they used to say not lego brand. But they are in the lego category.
  • greyfalcongreyfalcon Member Posts: 4
    Thanks @CCC‌. I guess that if someone buys something like this, assuming that it is LEGO, they couldn't claim a refund because although it looks like LEGO it isn't described as LEGO.
  • KiwiLegoMeisterKiwiLegoMeister New ZealandMember Posts: 212
    Norlego said:

    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.

    Not entirely correct.
    Yes, Lego's basic bricks are pretty-well unchanged over the last 50+ years. (there have been minor modifications esp underneath and in the internals of the basic bricks). But Lego are continually adding new bricks which do take design. Just about every new set has one new brick. Its a marketing ploy - you've got to buy the sets to get the newer speciality pieces. Anyone tried collating all the new pieces that have come out with all the CMFs? What about the animals in the Friends mini-sets?
    And the mix of colours that have become available especially with the Harry Potter sets and the Friends range. A veritable colour explosion.
    All this costs development money; and lots of it ....
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,523
    I hadn't seen these ones before, they are now faking CMF army builders and some castle / kingdoms ...

    Evil knight, gladiator, heroic knight, viking, roman commander, evil dwarf.

    It's probably only a matter of time before they start on the S1 zombie, the S2 spartan, the S3 elf, the S6 roman, etc.
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,956
    Those look like carbon copies from my observations - how would one tell the difference?
    And just out of interest, how do you know it's not a reseller selling real figs with custom stands/plates?
    (Though I do notice a few of them with the wrong weapons/shields/accessories)
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,456
    ^Look closely at the baseplates in the picture - they have one of the Lego rip off logos on them
  • prevereprevere North of Bellville, East of Heartlake, South of Bricksburg, West of Ninjago City Member Posts: 2,923
    CCC said:

    I hadn't seen these ones before, they are now faking CMF army builders and some castle / kingdoms ...

    Evil knight, gladiator, heroic knight, viking, roman commander, evil dwarf.

    It's probably only a matter of time before they start on the S1 zombie, the S2 spartan, the S3 elf, the S6 roman, etc.

    Surprised we haven't seen any Cloud City Boba fakes.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,523
    It's because the image comes from a chinese warehouse site. At least they sell them as LELE.

    Some will make it to the UK / US, and get sold on ebay as compatible, but in the LEGO categories. In time, some will get resold as Lego by those that do not know the difference, or those that do know the difference and don't care. It would be easy to replace the base plate and they would look as good as the originals in a photo.

    Or bits will start to make it onto bricklink and brickowl. In fact, there was someone asking about possible fake parts on bricklink just last week. They looked just like the originals, but very tiny differences.
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,456
    edited July 2014
    ^^don't they predate the chinese Lego factories? If so they wouldn't be able to steal the moulds.

    Edit: Just thought, key rings so they might have the moulds
  • jediami65jediami65 United StatesMember Posts: 474
    Point of all these is that Lego as many other companies have made a mistake by having any of their items manufactured in China.
  • hewmanhewman Member Posts: 93
    I think people that are speculating that these are coming out of Lego's China operations are forgetting the fact that if they were, these knock-offs would have the Lego name and official part numbers on the bricks, which I don't believe these have. I'd stake my worthless internet reputation on the fact that these come out of other factories.
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,456
    ^id agree it's likely from other factories, but still using stolen lego moulds.
  • hewmanhewman Member Posts: 93
    @Shib Lego moulds have their part numbers and/ or 'LEGO' moulded on them. I am yet to see any pics of bootlegs featuring this.
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,456
    would be easier to take the moulds and remove this than to make completely matching moulds (or make new moulds from the same place as TLG make theirs but without the Lego logo - which in my opinion is the same as stealing)
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,523
    The sad thing is that these do seem to be getting pretty decent quality, so it is such a shame they don't do some legitimate sets rather than keep on copying. If they molded their own helmets and shields for example, I'd buy them. I have quite a few weapons and shields from brickforge and brickwarriors, if theirs were similar quality and priced right, I'd buy them. They can obviously print reasonably well too which is an advantage.
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,456
    My big issue will always be stolen designs. Anyone who steals artwork/designs/construction plans etc really annoys me. We have a culture of not valuing people's time - I can't tell you how often I've heard people trying to argue craftsman on price because they know how much the materials cost, but they never consider the time and skill taken to craft the materials. As such if ever I see someone selling anything that is stolen artwork/design work I won't go near them.
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    edited July 2014
    ^^And that is the crux of the "overseas mfg" problem. When they can easily take it the next couple steps and design or create their own product. But don't because that takes creativity, time, skill, knowledge of subject, and passion to create something new. Then the work involved to get awareness of product or brand. When all of that is taken into consideration, the manufacturing part looks a lot simpler and being a smaller portion of the full amount of effort needed. Hence these producers end up staying in their nook of pirating existing IP where their key resources, cheap unskilled labor, can churn profits quicker per time/cost/effort spent.

    This is also why Lego has little to fear from the clones for a long while. Their already large and expanding catalog of IP, Licenses & parts (all well designed too) is darn near insurmountable.
  • jediami65jediami65 United StatesMember Posts: 474
    Shib said:

    would be easier to take the moulds and remove this than to make completely matching moulds (or make new moulds from the same place as TLG make theirs but without the Lego logo - which in my opinion is the same as stealing)

    I was a mould maker Machinist apprentice for 5 years from high school on: moulds have a shelf life there is only so many parts you can make before having to either resurface or use a whole new mould. Older moulds Plates are discarded and that's what I think are being used to make the fake Lego and it is easy to remove the "Lego" print. There are always test mould presses in these factories and that could be where these parts are made and thus can be using the same plastics.

    I have to say that I have been disappointed with the TLG that they have left these on Ebay, because if they wanted to they could stop it. Also TRU, Target the sell on Ebay Store should have a problem with TLG allowing this and taking business from those legit stores and other sellers.
  • prevereprevere North of Bellville, East of Heartlake, South of Bricksburg, West of Ninjago City Member Posts: 2,923
    ^I really don't consider those fakes, since Lego doesn't (and likely will never) produce a trans-clear Stormtrooper. Pretty cool. Man, to have the technology to produce your own trans-clear minifigs, that takes some knowledge.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,523
    It is difficult to know what to call them. Bootlegs maybe. Licensed stuff produced without a license, changing one aspect.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,404

    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.

    Not everyone is online 24/7, and sometimes it is nice to download stuff while traveling.

    I took the kids on vacation this summer, having a few movies like Frozen downloaded to the iPad so that it could be watched on the plane, in the truck, etc. was very nice.

    Streaming and the cloud aren't the solution to everything. :)
  • jediami65jediami65 United StatesMember Posts: 474
    prevere said:

    ^I really don't consider those fakes, since Lego doesn't (and likely will never) produce a trans-clear Stormtrooper. Pretty cool. Man, to have the technology to produce your own trans-clear minifigs, that takes some knowledge.

    They are fake because they are made to look like Lego but are not, also not licensed as @CCC mentioned, they look cheap.
  • raven1840raven1840 Member Posts: 9
    There are numerous counterfeits of the superheroes range on ebay. Just shop by category, selecting toys then construction then click other construction and you will find pages of them. The ones with the S logo are of a comparable quality and the print on the torso's is completely indistinguishable to the originals. Although the parts are blatantly obviously not lego, the clutch and interchangability between S brand and Lego is not noticeable.

    I bought a few of these from varying different ones as structure brick fodder for some giant mocs as well as simple curiosity. Now there was no way you could have initially persuaded me to purchase Lego's "The Bat", which I regard as a travesty and not worth the £40 it was on sale for. When a friend pointed it out on ebay for £10 postage free, I thought what the heck. Have to give the counterfeiters some credit. They made a better copy version than Lego did with the original with vastly superior clutch to Lego's own bricks. Many Lego sets are now far too fragile for the target market because of the fading clutch and so lose playability. IF the counterfeiters duplicate the technic properly then Lego will be in real trouble soon.

    What's making matters even worse is that the stock images being used. Several sellers are now copying the counterfeiters lol and you don't know if its the S brand or something akin to MY blocks / Block tech.

    Those who doubt the extent of the amount of counterfeiting out there check out:

    I will gladly pay the premium of Lego to cover the designers wages, the admin and support staff and executives who've been with the company since they started their working lives. I don't like paying for professional board members and the gamblers anonymous entrants - wall street.

    A big issue Lego has and will always face is the premium price illusion. Lego is great value even with the huge amount of tiny detail bricks we get now. This is what is a great feeder into the counterfeit market.

    Cast your minds back to the late 70's and 80's when many AFOLs were kids and take a look at the prices of those sets - Galaxy Exploter (497 / 928 ) - $32 according to one site. Now translate that with inflation to todays prices - $180. Take one from the 80's monorail which i have catalogue evidence was £99.99 - translate to today's prices - £300. Both sets well under 800 pieces and no way would people consider them value now. ITs the change from being a kid and having your parents buy them to paying from own wages as well as the drastically lowering of purchasing power.
  • lordflintstonelordflintstone Member Posts: 3
    above, we have seen a site that sells bootleg lego. Everyone sees that it is not lego but now they started to appear on the secondary market without willows informs that this is a bootleg. I myself am not a collector but I would still not have them mixed in my lego. Now is a great risk that these figures will be blended voluntarily or involuntarily in people's Lego collection.
    what can we do, what can Lego, Disney do?
  • GIR3691GIR3691 Member Posts: 674
    I was looking at this Iron Man set. Are the non-LEGO designs ripped off from a customizer? I can't find them anywhere else.
  • ChrisJThunderChrisJThunder United StatesMember Posts: 115
    edited October 2014
    On my end of things, we laugh at the knockoffs. You can't really take them that seriously, but there are exceptions of course.

    On the BIONICLE Comedy Central Podcast, we were discussing prototype images from the old BIONICLE sets, and I randomly came across a cheap made-in-China-knockoff of Matau Nui ultimate build. While that was off subject, I think our reactions sum up how we think about knockoffs. (
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    The crazy thing to me is when they are knock-offs of cheap affordable figs to begin with, like most of those Superheroes or Ninjago fakes. Doesn't even make sense. But then again, people who enjoy buying fake stuff doesn't quite make sense to begin with.
  • byucougsbyucougs Member Posts: 38
    I am wondering if these sites are at least a sneak peak at what might be coming out in the real Lego world. I saw that they are making Venom and Hulkbuster Ironman figures. Anyone know if these are in the works?
  • Kevin_HyattKevin_Hyatt UKMember Posts: 778
    There are loads of exclusives in these knock offs. Hulkbuster and other Ironmans(including a nice MK1 suit!), large Venom and The Thing figures, various versions of fantastic four, Jean grey as phoenix, Punisher plus many more. I really hope these are stolen prototypes as some of these figures are awesome!
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,523
    Quite a few of them are knock-offs of custom versions (if that makes sense). There are a few big names in making / selling versions of licensed minifigs (without having a license) that lego do not yet do, and some of the cheap fakers are now faking those as well as faking genuine lego ones.
  • PatrioticKevinPatrioticKevin Member Posts: 10
    Apparently a store was selling knockoff Lego minifigs, and were displaying them in a Lego Brand Case, and caught hell from lego for it, but the parents who bought them never knew the difference from knock offs from the real ones.
  • prof1515prof1515 EarthMember Posts: 1,550
    Rule of thumb is NEVER buy Lego or anything claimed to be Lego from eBay. You're almost assured to not get what you paid for either because the sellers are ignorant or deceitful or both.
    That's pretty harsh...
    I assume you're specifically referring to minifigs?
  • Kevin_HyattKevin_Hyatt UKMember Posts: 778
    Caveat emptor, always.
    Buying from eBay is fine; if something says it is LEGO and isn't then you will get your money back every time.
  • prof1515prof1515 EarthMember Posts: 1,550
    No, I'm referring to the ways in which people lie. I've seen people posting stock photos of sealed sets with "a little shelfwear" which turns out to look as if they threw the box in the washing machine first. I've seen people claim a set was MISB only to turn out that their definition of MISB was "mint in sealed bags", their definition of mint meant that they were oily indicating they'd obviously been played with by someone with oily fingers and that by sealed bags they meant sandwich bags that they'd placed the pieces in and then sealed shut.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,523
    There are also a lot of decent, genuine sellers on ebay.
  • zipsforbananaszipsforbananas WalesMember Posts: 250
    prof1515, I've never had any trouble with buying off eBay, it's always been as pictured, but then I've always bought very obviously used items. I've done a fair bit of selling on eBay too and I can assure you that brush you're tarring eBayers with doesn't belong anywhere near me! ;)
    EBay is easy, so long as you're careful to study the photos and you check out the feedback of the seller. I always go to their stars and pull up the negative and neutral feedback they've been left to give myself an idea of how reliable they are.
    (I guess if I ever do get fleeced or fall for a counterfeit seller I might change my tune, I did get cheated on a Nintendo Wii once, but there were so many warning signs on that purchase that I've only myself to blame, and I've not been caught out on Lego yet, or anything else since.)

    I'd say the warning about people who lie when selling applies to life in general. Which particular shop/market/website/etc you're on really doesn't make any difference.
  • Thanos75Thanos75 Member Posts: 1,120
    edited November 2014
    I used to sell a ton of comic books on eBay. I never had any problems then it seemed like it flipped over night. I would ship a mint condition book in bullet proof packing and then I would get an email saying the book was damaged or in bad shape. They would send it back and I would refund them . After getting the book back it was clearly not the book I sent. From what I have heard there is a huge problem on eBay with people swapping out damaged books for mint ones then getting them graded. It got so bad that I was getting scammed about a third of my total sales. After that I gave up selling or buying on there.
    I have never been brave enough to buy any LEGO from eBay.
  • FalconnefleFalconnefle Member Posts: 8
    Hi everyone, thank you so much for contributing to this post, your inputs have very much being heard and I have pretty much documented the general notions of all of your feedback for my thesis. :) Well, since I am one step closer to my last few chapters, now it's the time where I would need your inputs for a statistical analysis.

    I've created a questionnaire and would very much like you to participate in the survey. There are approximately 30 multiple choice questions, if possible I would appreciate if you can also share this to your friends and family as well. Thank you in advance for all your help 

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