This time of year there are lots of places online trying to sell Knockoff LEGO bricks as the real thing. I’ll show you what to look for to make sure you only get authentic, original LEGO.
For over 90 years the LEGO Group has been making children’s toys. Of course, the first toys were not the bricks we are so familiar with. But in 1958 the first bricks that could snap together were produced. Amazingly those bricks are 100% compatible with LEGO bricks from today.
Additionally, LEGO bricks hold their value better than almost any other brand. Their High quality and attention to detail are the main factors they are so expensive.
Finally, LEGO sets are only available for a few years at a time. While the bricks are always available, once the sets retire, they are gone. And that creates a strong secondary market for their product.
It is no wonder that companies want to copy LEGO bricks and piggyback on their success.
Identifying REAL LEGO is not hard, as long as you follow a few guidelines.
How to Identify a REAL LEGO Brick
With so many different and counterfeit toy building bricks being produced, how do you know if you have the real thing?
First, start by looking at the studs. Studs are the little round bumps on the top of a LEGO brick. You should see the LEGO mark. They are on every stud. It’s not easy to mold these and produce them on a mass scale. ONLY the LEGO group takes the time to do this, and make it right.
Most parts will also have a 4 or 5 digit identifying number on them. These are much harder to see. You may need a magnifying glass. These numbers can be verified against the existing LEGO piece Database to see if they are authentic. I like to use Brickset to help identify the numbers.
Also, look at the color, and sheen of the piece. LEGO will be bright and evenly colored throughout. They have a certain feeling in your hand that is just the right smoothness, and weight. The edges feel crisp, but not sharp.
Fakes will have a different color sheen, flexibility, weight, clutch power, or could feel different to the touch.
Another way is that the pieces break more easily – they are more brittle. It’s really hard to get the material composition just right to make a piece.
Most people can quickly and easily just “feel” if the piece is original. If you are really worried about having LEGO clones, look for the tiny logo, or identifying number as they are the hardest part to duplicate among fakes.
What is a LEGO Clone?
Technically LEGO Clone is a line or brand of children’s construction blocks which is mechanically compatible with Lego brand blocks, but is produced by another manufacturer. These LEGO alternatives are not the same, and generally don’t have the same quality.
Here are 10 LEGO Clones that connect the building blocks of LEGO brand bricks. Click on each for an example
- Mega bloks
- MEGA CONTRUX
- Lepin (no longer produced, but still out there)
Many of these lego alternative are made in China. They are less expensive, and often fool people into thinking they got real LEGO blocks.
Most AFOLs don’t like LEGO knockoffs and only want to use actual LEGO bricks in their MOCs.
What Companies are Similar to LEGO?
Very few companies are like LEGO.
Here are a few other toy companies and brands that are similar: Hasbro, Mattel, MGA Entertainment, Bandai Namco, Spin Master, Playmobil, Funko. None of these are the same company, however.
But none have demonstrated the same committment to the environment or sustainability as the original.
LEGO closely guards their new sets, pieces, and minifigures. Often we won’t learn about a new set until just a few days before it is released. This creates a very strong demand for new sets that people want to put into their LEGO collection.
Also Much like Apple did with the iPod and iPhone releases, people will line up at a LEGO store hours and even days before a set is released so they can be some of the first people to get it and share on social media.
Remember, there is no alternative to REAL lego bricks. Everything else is a knockoff. Always be on the lookout for knock off lego sets – especially if buying from 3rd party resellers.
Is LEGO in Bricklink Authentic?
Bricklink is an online marketplace where people can buy and sell new and used LEGOs (yes I know that’s the wrong word, but I use it for people searching).
A few years ago, the LEGO group Purchased the Bricklink website and company. The site still operates basically the same way as it always has – which is like this:
There are sellers and buyers on bricklink. Each seller has their own individual store, however their inventory is searchable on the bricklink website.
Bricklink sellers sell sets, minifigures and even individual parts both new and used. They organize and track their inventory, and ship orders quickly.
Bricklink buyers can search the overall inventory, or specific stores inventories for literally any part LEGO has ever made. And they can purchase it, or ask questions. Parts are paid for with PayPal or other methods, and then shipped directly to you. When it’s all done, you get to rate each side of the transaction.
You have to be registered with the site to use it – but that is free and easy.
The site sort of takes care of itself to make sure that everything is Authentic LEGO. If a seller sends you fake bricks, you can easily write a review and post on the forum what happened to warn others and make things right.
What is the way Fake LEGO bricks get into collections?
The way that I find most lego knockoffs get into collections is by bulk brick purchases.
Here’s how – you are looking on eBay or Facebook Marketplace or some other online marketplace and see a listing for a big tub of LEGO bricks for like $20. You want to increase your basic building block collection and this seems like the best way. There are good photos and the loose bricks look real enough.
So you go and buy the bin. It looks like real LEGO, and for the most part, it is. You see some semi-completed licensed sets, but within that entire collection are LEGO and other knockoffs. this can happen a lot from people who sell multiple large tubs at a time.
Another way is because you want to save some money. A good quality LEGO set can cost a lot of money. And when you add licensed sets like Harry Potter, or Star Wars themes it can go even higher.
So people will make sets that follow LEGO instructions with fake bricks. The pics look real, but when you hold them you can see and feel the difference.
If you are buying sets on line from a 3rd party (not LEGO) beware. If a single person has to sell multiple sets, or sells other brands as well he might also have generic lego pieces in the sets. Read the reviews, and as always if a deal seems to good to be true, it probably is.
If you have a substantial LEGO collection, it is likely that a few of these cheap LEGO alternatives have crept into your storage. I personally don’t even keep the Knockoff LEGO in my house. The promptly get discarded so there is no confusion.
LEGO are more than fun little toys. Even the Best fake LEGO can fool a collector. There really is no cheaper alternative to lego bricks. You get what you pay for.