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clone brands / custom parts

Discussion of custom parts made for the Castle Theme

clone brands / custom parts

Postby Bentoft » Thu Nov 01, 2012 3:26 pm

Hi all
Could anybody tell me the difference?

It seems like magablocks (or whatever) is banned, while altBricks and others are ok? What is the difference?
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Re: clone brands / custom parts

Postby Quickblade22 » Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:31 pm

The biggest difference is that clone brands like Megabloks, Cobi, Oxford, Best-Lock, etc, is that those companies are owned and operated by companies that are in competition with LEGO. The are a business first and foremost with their main concern being profit. Most people within the community are not happy with the quality of the plastic, the connectivity, or the figures that are attached with the product.

Custom parts like the ones you see within the community are treated differently because the owners are first and foremost fans of LEGO. They are people that are easily accessible to members of the community which I think is a big appeal. People know them because they have met them in person, or have had one on one personal experiences with them on the internet from giving suggestions, being asked what they'd like to see, and even just talking about non hobby related things. You just don't get that with the clone brands. The guys that own custom or third party vendors are just like you and me, fans that wanted something extra to go with their LEGO. Steve that runs alt Bricks is fairly new as a third party vendor, but has been in the community for years and has offered some products that people have wanted for a long time. I have had personal experience bouncing suggestions off of Mark at MMCB and Bluce at Arealight, with both of them responding. Victor that runs EclipseGrafx is someone I have had conversations with on Flickr. Ryan that runs BrickWarriors is someone whom I have worked with when he was a guest designer for BrickForge. Kyle that runs BrickForge is someone that I have regular contact with and I've been able to have some creative input on their items. Every single one I mentioned is a fan of this hobby. That is my main reason that I will use custom parts and would rather not use clone pieces. You can feel their excitement when they are making or designing a part that is compatible with LEGO. Clone brands are really just an imitation in a box.
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Re: clone brands / custom parts

Postby Bentoft » Thu Nov 01, 2012 7:08 pm

Sounds like a fuzzy border.

If the custom part traders starts to make more money and be more commercial they might be banned by the community?

It has nothing to do with the actual bricks/parts? But more about the makers being fans of lego?
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Re: clone brands / custom parts

Postby Quickblade22 » Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:02 pm

Bentoft wrote:Sounds like a fuzzy border.

If the custom part traders starts to make more money and be more commercial they might be banned by the community?

It has nothing to do with the actual bricks/parts? But more about the makers being fans of lego?


Nah, because companies like BrickForge and Brick Arms have been making a very nice profit for years. It's called longevity. Their longevity is due to fan loyalty and new creative products to offer to the community. When the LEGO community became known on the internet, these guys were already around making customized parts out of clay or whatever other means they had. At the time, clone brands were viewed as competition, and these customizers were on the same side as the AFOLs (mainly because they were indeed AFOLs). The customized parts were also viewed as pieces of art work too, not just a mass produced knock offs. Fans connected with the guy down the street that was making cool parts to go with their LEGO as opposed to that company from over seas or the knock off brand in Montreal. Back then no one, not even the clone brands, had the alternate parts like guns or fantasy medieval weapons and armor. So the building process started from that. Fast forward 12 years or so later, and you have years of peoples loyalty to the LEGO brand along with customizers who focus on sharing their product with the community going up against some "other" toy company. The face of the hobby has changed since then also. People have a conception of what a "brick" is and the importance of the minifig has in a lot of cases become more of a factor than the actual set designs. The quality of bricks has changed, but LEGO just holds a high standard that the clone brands just don't meet. Customizers for the most part make items that go with the minifigures. I see your initial question though. "Why are clone brands banned?" Most of the older generation has experimented with at least one clone brand set. They just don't have the same feel to them. They don't connect right, the color is off, and the parts just don't go well with their original collection. This has led to younger generations disliking the clone brands without much thought. Quality may have changed, but it is too late. With BrickLink coming into the picture, LEGO became even more available at an individual piece perspective. Then the whole phenomenon of the minifig became a factor. custom vendors were just way to far above and beyond what the clone brands could make. So much that it had an impact on how LEGO treated the importance of the minifig. Fans are going to continue to support custom items because they are a part of the community already.
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Re: clone brands / custom parts

Postby JoshWedin » Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:30 pm

I agree with everything Quickblade has said. I would like to also add the people making and selling the custom items intend for them to be used with LEGO products. The large companies that make the clones and knock-off brands want you to use their product instead of LEGO.

I understand how it may seem to be a fuzzy border to some but it seems pretty clear to me.

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Re: clone brands / custom parts

Postby AK_Brickster » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:01 pm

I think the biggest distinction is the "used WITH Lego" as opposed to "used in place of Lego". That's what clears it up for me, as I had this same discussion with Quickblade and others on this forum not long ago.
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Re: clone brands / custom parts

Postby Redav » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:44 pm

Bentoft wrote:Sounds like a fuzzy border.

Not really but it all depends on your point of view.

Clones only care about profit and not LEGO.

3rd party customs complement LEGO care about LEGO.
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Re: clone brands / custom parts

Postby Heir of Black Falcon » Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:34 am

Biggest issue I see with clone brands is poor quality. I got a few in a moment of weakness for my kids and even in the same set the colors were off and some of the parts under more stress fractured rather easily. I think Megablocks is better than other lego-likes but suffers from some issues such as very massive parts so building is limited and the newer knex might be as good in the material itself but getting all in the same place is harder.

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Re: clone brands / custom parts

Postby divonic » Mon Nov 12, 2012 5:29 pm

perhaps a comparison would be a company that makes 3rd party Barbie cloths and a company that makes another doll, similarly sized to barbie.

or perhaps ford and chevy vs. a company who makes after market seat and steering wheel covers.
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Re: clone brands / custom parts

Postby the enigma that is badger » Mon Nov 19, 2012 9:46 pm

divonic wrote:or perhaps ford and chevy vs. a company who makes after market seat and steering wheel covers.

The "automobile manufacturer and after-market parts market" is the analogy I most often use in describing the situation.

Like AK_Brickster said, the same discussion recently came up, and what I said there still applies:

"Speaking specifically about the motivation behind BrickArms and its products, Will definitely intends to compliment, not replace, LEGO products and the LEGO experience, and speaking to many builders over the years, this seems to be the primary reason they are willing to use BrickArms accessories in their MOCing.

Over the years, LEGO had made and continues to make very clear that, for a variety of reasons, they do not have any interest in certain themes, particularly accurate modern and World War-era elements. However, many builders are interested in those exploring those themes, and Will is happy to provide them with elements, namely custom accessories and minifigs, that these builders might find useful in their MOCs.

Will is extremely respectful of LEGO and their products and demonstrates this respect in the following ways:

- He does not produce any element that could be mistaken for a brick or in any other way replaces or encroaches on LEGO intellectual property (alternate minifig body parts, etc)

- He specifically avoids elements in themes that LEGO has historically explored or is likely to pursue with their products

- He has developed his own design aesthetic such that while BrickArms accessories capture the abstract and caricature tone of minifig accessories, they feature a style and level of detail that makes them clearly distinct from LEGO products. Will has no interest in copying or adapting LEGO design motifs in his work.

- All BrickArms products are clearly marketed as custom and not official LEGO products or associated with LEGO in any way.

Overall, the feedback Will has gotten from LEGO representatives over the years has been nothing an appreciation that he respects LEGO and its intellectual properties.

The best analogy I've heard used in reference to the relationship between LEGO and true custom elements is to compare it to car manufacturers and aftermarket car parts. Aftermarket parts are in no way necessary for your car to function nor can they replace the role a car serves. However, for those interested in exploring ways of modifying their vehicles to suit certain interests or needs, aftermarket car parts offer those individuals a wider range of options to explore."
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Re: clone brands / custom parts

Postby Fraslund » Tue Nov 20, 2012 5:06 pm

And among custom shops there can be a big difference as well. Brickarms has incredibly high quality products. I only wish they made more stuff for us! Their stuff has a great feel to it and I have never had a problem with grip.
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Re: clone brands / custom parts

Postby Bluesecrets » Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:21 pm

To address the original question, this is something that is being discussed in other places too.

Basically it comes down to loyalty. LEGO people like LEGO, not clones. So in a fan of LEGO community, it is to be expected that Megabloks and the like are not acceptable...because we like LEGO. We want people to buy LEGO, use only LEGO, live a LEGO life, be obsessed with LEGO...and don't give money to the competition. So including them in a build...well that is a huge NO!!!!

Third party product...is product that LEGO doesn't make. It isn't competition, or it shouldn't be...because well LEGO's legal department is pretty quick with the legal actions. People who love LEGO get all excited about these because it is things they can't get from LEGO, so these are okay to them.

Reality is...build what makes you happy. Use what you want use. But if you are building for events, cons, or contests..well follow the rules of those things.

Just be a little prepared that using a clone might bring out the "OMG NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! YOU HAVE VIOLATED THE MIGHTY BRICK WITH THAT *insert whatever word you feel is appropriate here*! NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" Because in the end, this IS a LEGO fan community.
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Re: clone brands / custom parts

Postby the enigma that is badger » Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:03 pm

Fraslund wrote:And among custom shops there can be a big difference as well. Brickarms has incredibly high quality products. I only wish they made more stuff for us! Their stuff has a great feel to it and I have never had a problem with grip.

I'll pass on the kind words to Will! As for more BrickArms accessories in the castle/fantasy theme, I'm afraid I'm a bit out of the loop these days when it comes to what Will's currently developing, but I do know while his primary focus is likely to be modern and scifi, new castle accessories aren't entirely out of the realm of possibility, including this:

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