Lego®: It's hard to imagine children's rooms without the world's largest toy manufacturer. And not just since yesterday. In 1949, the Danish company began with the production of our popular clamp bricks. At that time still on a small scale. Less than 10 years later, Lego was granted a patent in 1958: Today's basic building block consisting of two rows with four studs was officially the sole property of Lego.
In 1988, the patent expired and Lego tried with all its might to renew it. But this did not succeed and in 2010 the Danish company finally lost its hope in the court of justice to market the clamping bricks alone.
Other toy manufacturers took the lost patent as an opportunity to launch their own clamp bricks on the market - and with great success! Lego alternatives are usually much cheaper, but are regularly of good quality. From the simple box of clamp bricks for children to detailed model buildings for adults, everything is available.
In this guide, we show you which Lego alternatives are available and how they differ from the original. We also have some great set recommendations. Whether young or old: there is something for everyone.
The 4 best Lego® Alternatives
The manufacturer BlueBrixx has specialised in collectors' bricks. In addition to military models, BlueBrixx has many architecture sets in its range. The manufacturer is known for its simple packaging and, like Lego®, has shops where the kits can be bought directly on site. Here you can find a current list of the stores.
The Polish manufacturer of terminal blocks has mainly historical vehicles in its range. Recently, however, other vehicles have also been added. One of the best-known sets is the replica of the Titanic.
The Italian company Unico has alternatives for the smallest builders. It should be noted that the colours are different from those of Lego® Duplo itself. However, they are compatible with the original. A great set for children is the Unico Farm.
The Lego® compatible building blocks from Wange are another alternative. The manufacturer has specialised in architecture sets.
Lego® Alternatives: Why are they interesting?
For many years, Lego® was a top dog in the clamp building block and toy segment. As you have already experienced, this changed at the latest when the patent on the clamp brick ended.
Lego® Alternatives are cheaper
One of the best-known reasons for Lego® alternatives is the cost factor. The Danish manufacturer of terminal bricks is the market leader in its segment and has to cover high costs. Large parts of the production still take place in Europe, which is not the case with most competitors. They mainly have production in the Far East. As a result, alternative suppliers can offer the terminal blocks at a lower price than Lego. In addition, there are costs for licences (e.g. Harry Potter or Star Wars) and marketing.
Wide range of Lego® Alternatives
Another reason why Lego® alternatives are interesting is the variety of sets. Lego itself covers a wide range of themes, but there is not a suitable theme for everyone. Those who are willing to switch to alternative suppliers benefit from new themes and offers that are not available from Lego.
The adult target group now accounts for 10% of annual sales at Lego®. With the Lego Creator Expert and Ideas theme, Lego explicitly addresses the Lego AFOL community (Adult Fans of Lego). However, there are still no real model building sets. But they are interesting for model builders.
There are also no vehicles suitable for miniature construction. These are extremely popular with many adults. Likewise, Lego has only a few sets from the castles and pirates segment in its range. Alternative Lego suppliers fill this gap in the market, and miniature buildings are particularly popular with Cobi and Co.
Lego® Alternatives vs. original
As already mentioned, Lego® alternatives are often cheaper than the original. But this is not the only difference. The main differences between the Lego alternatives are explained in the following paragraphs.
Lego® digitises its sets
The Danish company is trying to score points with family and environmental friendliness and to further extend its lead as market leader by introducing AR (augmented reality). Digitalisation is advancing rapidly, so individual sets such as the Lego® Technic 42131 App-Controlled Cat® D11 Bulldozer can be controlled with the company's own Lego CONTROL app. In addition to digitalisation, Lego is also focusing on sustainability and is increasingly using paper bags instead of plastic.
Target groups of the Lego® competition
The competition, on the other hand, is trying to occupy niches in which Lego® itself is not particularly active. One of these is the military sets segment. The Polish manufacturer Cobi is a pioneer in this segment. With models such as the COBI VI Tiger tank, the company has captured the hearts of many model building fans.
Detail and size of the alternative sets
The kits of the Lego® alternatives are often quite detailed and large. Ideal for miniature building fans! Sets like the Triomphe of París by Wange are in no way inferior to the original in terms of detail and size. On the contrary, at the current retail price of just under €43, we arrive at an average parts price of 3 ct/part. Lego Architecture sets themselves are more expensive by a factor of 2x to 4x.
The Lego competition makes sure that their sets are compatible with those of the original. So you can combine the sets without any problems and without it being noticeable.
Lego® - The pioneer in the licensing business
No competitor comes close to the variety of licences offered by Lego®. In the case of licensed sets, for example, Lego pays a fee to Disney to be allowed to sell sets like The Disney Castle. These are often one of the most important purchase arguments. Children in particular are difficult to convince of alternatives.
Fans of the Harry Potter film series get their money's worth with Lego. The Lego® Harry Potter sets convey pure nostalgia. Most of the competing products are unlicensed building sets. One exception is the Kre-O company from Hasbro.
Hasbro has licences for Transformers and Star Trek sets, among others. However, these are not really cheaper than Lego sets. This is directly related to the corresponding licence, which is usually very expensive. For fans of the Star Trek series, for example, the Battleship Air Assault is suitable.
Lego® Alternatives: Checklist
Do you want to expand your Lego® collection and go for alternatives? There are a few points you should consider when buying. Furthermore, not every competing product is equally suitable for every builder. To support you in your search, we have summarised the most important aspects that you should pay attention to.
Lego® alternatives should definitely have a CE mark. The CE seal covers extensive EU directives regarding safety and health requirements. Clamp bricks and toys in general may not be sold in Germany without the CE seal.
If Lego alternatives also have the GS mark, then all the better. This mark is voluntary and has even higher requirements.
If the bricks smell like chemicals or stain, you should never give them to children. The toxins they contain can have serious health consequences.
Shape & Colour
To make sure that the bricks from other manufacturers match your Lego® bricks, you should always pay attention to the colours. The Lego competition is getting better and better in this area and often the differences are no longer recognisable.
However, there is a significant difference in the minifigures. After a ruling by the European Court of Justice, Lego still has extensive patents in this area - the competition is accordingly small.
Clamping force of the bricks
The clamping force of the bricks, known as the insertion force, should not be too light, but also not too heavy. The clamping force prevents the bricks from detaching from each other too easily. If it is too high, however, it is difficult for children to play with them.
In the model-building sector, in which some manufacturers have specialised, the construction plans are often complex. Moreover, the instructions are not always as illustrated as we are used to from Lego® itself.
Price & delivery time
When it comes to Lego® alternatives, they don't necessarily have to be cheaper. When ordering your sets, you should also consider the delivery time. In some cases, this can take a few weeks. With regard to the price, it is important to pay attention to the quality; if it is significantly worse than the original, you will end up paying more.
A firm stand is immensely important. What could be worse than kits that collapse at the slightest touch? This happens when the quality of the bricks is poor or there are defects.
Best Lego® Alternatives
Bricks on the wall? There are many unusual and creative ways to set the scene with adhesive bricks. With the Mayka Block Tape from Zurus, you can set the scene on walls! Lego® alternatives as well as original Lego bricks can be attached to the front. The reverse side has an adhesive property that makes it possible to attach the tape to a wide variety of surfaces.
Bring light into the darkness with bricks from Light STAX: Equipped with LED light-emitting diodes, these clamp-on building blocks really set the scene for your constructions. They can be used to illuminate existing sets or to build your own creations. The lights are powered by a rechargeable battery or USB connection. The Light STAX bricks are compatible with Lego® alternatives and Lego itself. Best of all, in addition to the Lego® size, there are Light STAX bricks that are compatible with Lego Duplo bricks. One example is the Light STAX Junior Ultimate building set.
Lego® collection: expand with low cost Lego Alternatives
The majority of Lego® alternatives are compatible with the original. This has a big advantage for builders: they can expand and add to their Lego collection at low cost. Also in terms of colour variety, the Lego alternatives from China are in no way inferior to the Danish bricks.
Lego® Alternatives for children
Children often only want one thing: to create their own masterpieces. The Q-Bricks Mix-Valigetta serves this purpose very well. Children also have fun with the WYSWYG 1000 pieces building blocks box! The brick boxes from both manufacturers are compatible with the bricks from Lego® and the basic colours are also the same.
The Unico Plus box is suitable for the smallest builders. The blue blocks are compatible with the Lego Duplo building blocks.
Lego® Alternatives for adults
Very popular with AFOLs (Adult Fans of Lego®) are, among others, the modulars of the Creator Expert theme series. With them, you can build your own Lego city in miniature format.
The manufacturer BGOOD has special highlights in its assortment that add a special touch to your miniature city. The Ruins Restaurant set is based on the Lego® Creator Expert 10260 Downtown Diner. However, in the form of an abandoned ruin.
The Lego Architecture theme is also extremely popular with adults. You want to expand the Lego® Architecture 21044 Paris skyline with the Notre Dame? The Wange Notre Dame Cathedral set serves as an excellent addition.
The manufacturers YxFlower and QIHUI have an alternative to Lego Technic on offer. The remote control popular with Lego fans for controlling the motorised models is slowly disappearing from the market. The Danish manufacturer is increasingly relying on its own CONTROL Plus app, which is less popular with fans.
Held der Steine opinion on Lego® Alternatives
"Greetings world, I am the Hero of Bricks in Frankfurt am Main in the heart of Europe in my wonderful little Lego® shop on a fantastic day" - With this famous sentence, the Hero of Bricks greets his viewers on the YouTube channel of the same name..
Thomas Panke aka Held der Steine is one of the best-known Lego reviewers in the German-speaking world. After two warnings from Lego, Held der Steine is increasingly expressing a critical opinion about the Danish manufacturer of terminal bricks.
Thomas criticises the development of Lego's pricing policy and is increasingly drawing attention to Lego alternatives. For him, the fun of playing and the price-performance ratio come first.
He is almost enthusiastic about manufacturers like BlueBrixx® and Cobi®. On his YouTube channel, you can find several videos on popular clamping brick sets from all manufacturers.
Lego® Alternatives as an addition
Since the failed patent extension on the part of Lego®, several Lego alternatives have established themselves on the market. No matter whether customers are looking for low-cost alternatives or want to expand their Lego collection with sets that are not available from Lego itself. The choice of options is huge!
It should be noted that cheap does not always have to be good. That's why it's a good idea to take a look at our checklist before you buy.
With the sets of the 4 best Lego competitors, you are guaranteed not to go wrong.
If you do decide to buy Lego sets, we recommend the Brickfact App. It informs you by push notification as soon as Lego sets are available at the best prices. This way, you always buy your Lego sets at the best price.
Best of all, the Brickfact app is completely free and available for iOS and Android here .