LEGO® Clones – Rip-Offs VS Official LEGO® Products
As a website that concentrates on manipulating LEGO minifigures to create animations, we are often looking for new minifigures to be the actors in our films. The LEGO Collectible Minifigure Series are often easy to get hold of at a decent price, but if you want a minifigure from a specific set, but don’t want to spend the money on buying the whole set, then that minifigure can often be harder to get your hands on and a lot more expensive.
Because of that, it is not surprising that people have started to produce ‘custom’ minifigures, that are available to buy on ebay, amazon and other online stores for a cheaper price. Some custom minifigure manufacturers use real LEGO parts that are stripped of their print and properly pad printed with their own unique, original designs, like the guys over at Minifigures.com do to produce high quality custom figures, but other manufacturers are producing blatant rip-offs of LEGO’s original designs, printed (or sometimes stickered) onto cheaper LEGO compatible parts. We thought we would take a look at one of these blatant rip-offs and compare it against the original LEGO product to see how they compare to see if these cheaper copies are really worth your money… For this copy comparison we aptly chose Phase II Clone Commander Rex of the 501st Legion from the LEGO Star Wars Set 75012. We bought the official LEGO minifigure from Bricklink.com and his cheaper counterpart from eBay.co.uk
The original LEGO version of Rex is up to the usual high standards that they produce. With well detailed, sharp pad printing on the front/back of the torso and legs, the colours are strong and bold with a high level of accuracy to the character from the Star Wars films and animated series The Clone Wars. The phase II clone helmet looks great, with fantastic moulding and fine detailed printing with accurate representations of Rex’s signature Jaig Eye markings and tally marks that he is so well known for. The head underneath is similar to the original LEGO Star Wars minifigure clone heads, but with added ‘midnight shadow’ stubble to give Rex a bit more individuality. To finish the character off nicely he also includes a blue and black shoulder Pauldron and a black Kama belt cape. All of the pieces fit snuggly together, with enough friction to hold the arms and legs firm but moveable at the same time, and the helmet fits the head perfectly.
In stark contrast to the official LEGO Rex, the copy, despite looking pretty good on first glance, had obvious problems from the moment I opened the package. Firstly, the legs would not connect to the body properly, with hardly any friction between the parts to keep them together, and the legs regularly separating from the torso without any effort. The arms were similar, lacking in any kind of interference, so the arms spun freely within the joint of the body, making it practically impossible to put the arms in any other pose than down by his sides. Similarly, the phase II clone helmet, which is slightly shorter and squatter than the original, doesn’t quite fit on to the stud of the head, making it move around lots and not stay in one place. Print wise, the lines are soft and not as fine, with the colours being weaker, paler versions than that of the original LEGO counterpart and the design having been more or less copied exactly from the original. The figures face is a poor representation of the original, and across all of the elements the moulding and plastic quality of the product doesn’t feel as well made. The shoulder Pauldron is just black, as is the Kama belt-cape.
Overall, the Rex copy minifigure, despite being a much cheaper purchase, is vastly inferior to LEGO‘s original in almost every way, from print, through to build quality. As an animator, good quality printing looks better ‘on film’ and the lack of friction on the arms and legs makes it very hard to pose the figure effectively for animation movements. This, to us, really proves the old adage of “you get what you pay for” and although money is sometimes a deciding factor in what and how we do things in life, sometimes it is better to wait until you can pay for the slightly superior product. So next time you need a specific minifigure for your animations, we’d recommend you stick with the official LEGO product or go to a company like Minifigures.com or Firestartoys.com who you can trust to sell you quality product.
Thanks for reading and check back soon! Until then, keep animating!