We recently returned from a business trip to Hong Kong and China (Shenzhen) which was not only fruitful for the original purpose but also quite fascinating from my perspective as an AFOL (adult fan of LEGO).
For the first time in my life we came across fake LEGO. If this isn’t news to you, then carry on – however all of us were awestruck by the detail in the knock-off sets available in the markets around Hong Kong.
And this wasn’t just your typical “Mega Blocks” type of set – nothing wrong with them as long as you don’t mix it with your LEGO. What took us by surprise were the absolute copies of LEGO sets by various manufacturers from China. Check out the following photos I snapped when the seller wasn’t looking:
The “Star Wnrs” gave us a good laugh, and the Big Ben gave me a fright as I hadn’t ordered one from LEGO at the time (however we now have two, thanks to Myer’s 25% off sale – one to build, one to keep).
However a Grand Carousel? Holy shit – those behemoths run from $1600 used to over three grand new (check Bricklink). A quick enquiry found that we could get this knock-off set for the equivalent of under two hundred dollars. And as they say on the knife ads – “but wait, there’s more!”
Those Creator modulars were available for under the equivalent of one hundred dollars. Ridiculous! I was tempted to buy one set just out of pure curiosity, however as a creator of intellectual property myself (a book) this would increase my personal level of hypocrisy to unpleasant levels. So I took these photos and went in search for tasty food.
If you’re still reading this I can imagine that some of you are thinking “Oh so what, that’s a deal and I really would have bought one”. If so, remember that a lot of people spent a lot of time on designing these sets, but also ensuring the highest quality levels from start to finish – to ensure you have a great LEGO experience for years to come.
Some of our more knowledgeable readers will know that the patent for the LEGO brick has now expired, and this has allowed other brands of construction blocks to arrive on the market. No problems there – however if those companies can create original designs for sets then more power to them. But simply copying a design, that’s a low act and deserves all the bad publicity that is available.
Furthermore, as reported in the Brick Fanatics website, the company behind the knock-offs above have also copied fans’ designs straight off the LEGO Ideas website. So if you think you have the next best thing with your creation – you may find it on the streets of East Asia and online before LEGO gives the go-ahead!
Real LEGO in Hong Kong? Absolutely!
To end this post with a positive note, if you’re in Hong Kong and have the time – don’t go past Let’s Go Lego in Mong Kok (Facebook). Tourists who are visiting the Ladies’ Market will find Let’s Go to be a short walk away – and their store is full of new and retired sets for your purchasing and ogling needs – for example:
Along with a wide range of new and retired sets for sale (however we couldn’t get them to price the Taj Mahal above) – there are books and other LEGO odds and ends of interest, along with displays by local LEGO fans and clubs. We bought some retired City sets along with some rare polybags. Well worth a visit.
And a quick hint for visitors to Hong Kong – you can check your bags for your flight home from the centre of town! So if you have an early check-out from your hotel – and a late evening flight, you can spend the day without worrying about your bags. Click here to learn more.
For now – stay tuned for further posts here at OzBrick, including some set reviews and updates on the layout. And remember, have fun and build something.