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[SDCC] Clone Brand Building Blocks at San Diego Comic Con

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[SDCC] Clone Brand Building Blocks at San Diego Comic Con

Postby Staff » Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:09 am


Battle Changers Starscream


Comic Con came and went, and while it's been over week since I've bid farewell to the last day of the Con, I'm not done reporting the news. I got a few more SDCC-centric posts to do so let's get to it.

LEGO wasn't the only building block company at this year's Con. Clone brands were well represented by two other big brands and one newcomer to the scene that made its debut at the show. Hasbro leveraged their gigantic booth to showcase their Kre-o line. Megabloks had a tiny booth space. And the biggest surprise of the show was Todd McFarlane announcing his Walking Dead building block toy line.



KRE-O




Optimus_BattleChanger_ppt


Hasbro's Kre-o line pretty much runs the gamut covering Transformers, G.I. Joe, Dungeons & Dragons, and their own in-house theme such as Cityville. But really the only thing worth mentioning and this rather a big thing to mention was that they are coming out with a new line for thier Transformers Kre-o called Battle Changers. What makes it such a big deal is that they will be a line of building sets that transform the model from robot to vehicle and back to robot again without having to deconstruct and then reconstruct in between. This was the biggest drawback with all of their previous sets as it was painful and tedious to have to break down a model just to rebuild it again into a different form. To achieve this, they are using a new type of micro ball joint that looks an awful lot like the ones LEGO makes to get the level of articulation needed for transformation.


Battle Changers Wave 1 Alt Mode
Battle Changers Wave 1


The first wave consists of four figures: Starscream, Optimus Prime, Humblebee and Grimlock with a wave 2 so far having Hound and Shockwave. They stand just a few inches tall, larger than a Kreon but the interesting thing is that they still use the Kreon torso as the base. Unless there is some sort of compatibility issue with the new joint elements and the old torsos, which I don't think there are, you could probably build your own transforming Battle Changers using any of the old Kreons as a starting point. You can basically build existing characters or create brand new original transformers out of Kreon elements! How cool is that? This was by far the most exciting thing to come out of a building block brand that wasn't LEGO. Battle Changers are street dated for January of 2015 but will most likely hit some store shelves starting this holiday shopping season.

McFarlane's The Walking Dead




The Walking Dead Building Set 1
The Walking Dead Building Set 2 The Walking Dead Building Set 3 The Walking Dead Building Set 5 The Walking Dead Building Set 4


This was a surprise in many ways. First, it came out of nowhere. And second, rather than license the brand out to an existing building block toy company, like LEGO, Kre-O or Megabloks, they decided to come out with their own line. LEGO probably wouldn't have even touched the license but I could see Mega or Kre-O going for it.


The Walking Dead Building Set 6 The Walking Dead Building Set 9 The Walking Dead Building Set 8 The Walking Dead Building Set 7


I didn't get a chance to play with any of the sets so I can't speak for the clutch power of the elements. I did notice a few interesting things. Once the set is completely built, there are little to no exposed studs making the set appear pretty seamless. Even the plant elements don't expose any studs since they just plug into tiny holes along the tile or plate. You are basically putting together a little action figure scene. It seems to me like the design approach is craft and sculpt the scene first and then turn them into building block elements first. This is demonstrated further by the mini figures. They are essentially little action figures that are split at certain points and you just stick them together. The hands aren't molded in any certain universal fashion to grip accessories. There's no stud on top of the head to swap out hair parts or anything like that. There's no plug and play between the figures and any of the other elements. Like I said, they are just little action figures. The brand does promise compatibility with other building block brands so I imagine this would only apply to the bricks, plates, tiles and other non-figure elements. So if you wanted some of those sweet looking wood grain tiles you're in luck.


The Walking Dead Building Set 10 The Walking Dead Building Set 13 The Walking Dead Building Set 12 The Walking Dead Building Set 11


So far, The Walking Dead is the only brand to get the building set treatment but if it takes off we can probably count on seeing more from McFarlane Toys. That's a big if though. They are set to launch with three sets total ranging in price from $9.99 to $64.99: Daryl Dixon with Chopper, The Governor's Room, and Prison Tower with Gate. There's also a line of blind bagged mini action figures for $2.99 to expand your cast of characters: Daryl Dixon, Michonne, The Governor, Carol Grimes, Riot Gear Walker, Michonne's Pet Walker, and Herd Walkers. Why they chose Carol Grimes as one of the figures is beyond me. The Walking Dead building sets will be available exclusively at Toys'R'Us this fall.

Megabloks




Megablocks Call of Duty 9


Mega Brands had a small booth at Comic Con, probably 1/8th the size of LEGO's gigantic presence. They were promoting two of their licensed brands: Halo and Call of Duty. To be honest I didn't even know they had Call of Duty. They were pushing their newest Call of Duty sets and had a few of the sets on display. I assume they are new since I don't see them for sale on Amazon or Toys'R'Us. I know it's Mega but that hovercraft and tank is pretty sweet looking. That and the helicopter are obviously their marquee sets and visually they do not disappoint. Construction wise, I wasn't able to handle any of them so I can't say whether or not they would have fallen apart in my hands but last I checked their quality was still sub par.


Megablocks Call of Duty 17 Megablocks Call of Duty 16 Megablocks Call of Duty 15 Megablocks Call of Duty 14 Megablocks Call of Duty 13 Megablocks Call of Duty 12 Megablocks Call of Duty 11 Megablocks Call of Duty 10 Megablocks Call of Duty 8 Megablocks Call of Duty 7 Megablocks Call of Duty 6 Megablocks Call of Duty 5 Megablocks Call of Duty 4 Megablocks Call of Duty 3 Megablocks Call of Duty 2 Megablocks Call of Duty 1

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Re: [SDCC] Clone Brand Building Blocks at San Diego Comic Co

Postby dWhisper » Tue Aug 05, 2014 5:24 am

I like the look of the Call of Duty stuff, but the quality of the product is just... ugh. A coworker of mine has one of the Halo sets on his desk, and I use every opportunity I get to point out why it is an inferior product. Luckily, based on said quality, I don't have to make anything up. There's plenty of things obvious as an example.
If the above post didn't offend you, you're probably reading it wrong.
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Re: [SDCC] Clone Brand Building Blocks at San Diego Comic Co

Postby sparkart » Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:04 am

I'm intrigued to enough to look at Megablock products on the store shelf, but not enough to buy them. I don't think Hasbro is ever going to hit LEGO levels of success until they match LEGO-quality no matter what they license to produce. But then, even getting a small percentage of the success that LEGO has gotten in the last few years is a huge success for a toy company, and maybe that's good enough to keep the business growing and successful. Good for them.

My first impression looking at the MacFarlane Walking Dead kits was that they were aimed toward table top gamers. I think they're about 1/35 scale.
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Re: [SDCC] Clone Brand Building Blocks at San Diego Comic Co

Postby legendlore » Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:25 am

Personally, I really like mega bloks collector series set lines and since they were bought by mattel, their piece quality has gone up. I am looking forward to their fall 2014 halo and call of duty sets. All of them look great.
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Re: [SDCC] Clone Brand Building Blocks at San Diego Comic Co

Postby phoenixhawk » Tue Aug 05, 2014 4:53 pm

LEGO-themed sites almost always take jabs at MegaBloks every chance they get...but I must say that I have NEVER had a MB set just "fall apart in my hands" nor have I experienced it to be an "inferior quality" product. I understand that many years ago, like year 2000 timeframe, MB had a lot of issues, but their products now are very well done and their Call of Duty line is pretty good. Their micro action figures for CoD take articulation to an insane level and never once has a figure disintegrated into component plastic atoms. I was quite impressed with their products the last new years, despite the negatively coming from the LEGO themed sectors. I'm kinda intrigued by MB's new Assassin's Creed line coming out, too.

Sorry for the rant...I have loved LEGO since I was a wee child in the late 1970s and early 1980s and still enjoy creating, building, and sharing LEGO, but I'm not an "elitist" and I have found some enjoyment with the Halo and Call of Duty lines and briefly with some of the Transformers Kre-O. The original line of TF sets were interesting, but moreso for the little figures and then they just got silly with it and have pretty much abandoned the large line of figures in favor of the smaller ones. Competition is good and it is always nice to see what designs and ideas others come up with.

Chris
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Re: [SDCC] Clone Brand Building Blocks at San Diego Comic Co

Postby onions » Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:47 pm

phoenixhawk wrote:LEGO-themed sites almost always take jabs at MegaBloks every chance they get...but I must say that I have NEVER had a MB set just "fall apart in my hands" nor have I experienced it to be an "inferior quality" product. I understand that many years ago, like year 2000 timeframe, MB had a lot of issues, but their products now are very well done and their Call of Duty line is pretty good. Their micro action figures for CoD take articulation to an insane level and never once has a figure disintegrated into component plastic atoms. I was quite impressed with their products the last new years, despite the negatively coming from the LEGO themed sectors. I'm kinda intrigued by MB's new Assassin's Creed line coming out, too.

Sorry for the rant...I have loved LEGO since I was a wee child in the late 1970s and early 1980s and still enjoy creating, building, and sharing LEGO, but I'm not an "elitist" and I have found some enjoyment with the Halo and Call of Duty lines and briefly with some of the Transformers Kre-O. The original line of TF sets were interesting, but moreso for the little figures and then they just got silly with it and have pretty much abandoned the large line of figures in favor of the smaller ones. Competition is good and it is always nice to see what designs and ideas others come up with.

Chris


no need to apologize. i enjoyed reading your rant.

admittedly, i've never put a megabloks set together, or a kre-o one for that matter. i just can't bring myself to actually pay for a set when there's a perfectly good lego set sitting next to it that I could get instead.
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Re: [SDCC] Clone Brand Building Blocks at San Diego Comic Co

Postby Zrath » Wed Aug 06, 2014 1:02 am

Who's Humblebee? :D
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Re: [SDCC] Clone Brand Building Blocks at San Diego Comic Co

Postby Tohst » Wed Aug 06, 2014 4:59 am

So, I have put Mega bloks sets together.

Both back in the day for a couple dragon sets that I got really cheap at KB Toys Outlet (oh how I miss those) and more recently with Skylanders sets (bought by my son, I swear).

The dragon sets castles didn't fall apart but only because they wouldn't go together. The pieces just didn't fit right. After a few times trying different examples of the same sized piece to find one that would go into place next to another I gave up and just played with the dragons and warriors.

Even at the time I was told the bigger mega bloks sets....ultimate builds or whatever they were called....had better tolerances and stayed together well. But why would I spend more money after the sets I just bought didn't?

The skylander sets we have are basically figure packs but the quality of the blocks has not improved. One set comes with a little table with 4 pieces that make a circle. Putting the last piece on caused enough tension in the other three pieces that they literally flew apart when I placed the structure down on a table. I eventually found that if I had them in a certain order they would stay together. But that is 4 pieces that are supposed to be the same being so off that I had to iterate through a solution. The skylander figures are cute but one won't hold the accessory she is supposed to easily.

So, when you see Mega Bloks bashing on Lego sites. It is because there are many many stories like mine. And at the end of the day, I don't get it. Why would Mega put out a product like this? Do they think they'll get enough sales anyway? Do they not want to compete with Lego? I've got a bunch of Kreo and even as the 'new kid on the block' their quality is leaps and bounds ahead of this.

I'm glad others have had better experiences but I've given Mega Bloks a chance and they have blown it repeatedly.

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Re: [SDCC] Clone Brand Building Blocks at San Diego Comic Co

Postby dWhisper » Wed Aug 06, 2014 7:06 am

My bashing of MB has always been around my experience with their castle and pirates stuff back in the early 2000 (before LEGO snatched up the PotC license), and their huge overuse of BURP and molded pieces instead of actually using bricks. LEGO is guilty of that from time to time, but nothing on the scale of what I saw with those sets.

Their quality has improved somewhat, and their sets have become more brick oriented with Halo and Call of Duty. I own some other Halo toys, and would go so far as saying MB may have the "best" Halo stuff out there, but that's more a statement of how bad the other stuff is. My dings on quality (in said Halo set on the coworkers desk) are still out there though. Color blemishes, especially in the green that Halo stuff like, are still there. The figures are still prone to breaking a lot, and the blocks seem to wear down and lose purchase. Lego has a similar problem, but it doesn't seem to come on as quickly.

That being said, there is a pattern there... MB is getting better, and Lego has been getting decidedly worse. Color blemishes, which were absolutely unknown a decade ago, are getting increasingly common. Punch and mold marks have been getting more prevalent too. I had about ten different parts in my Research Institute set that I submitted to Lego because of quality problems (mostly in the clips), and I actually had to break off a hanging plastic piece from a brick in my Ghost set. Go into the Exo Suit thread and you'll see a lot of us complaining about the robot arm piece, or into other threads, and see complaints on the detail (or over-detail) on minifigs.

So, I'll keep bashing on Mega Bloks, but I'll also keep ripping on Lego as they slip closer and closer to that quality bar.
If the above post didn't offend you, you're probably reading it wrong.
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Re: [SDCC] Clone Brand Building Blocks at San Diego Comic Co

Postby phoenixhawk » Wed Aug 06, 2014 8:41 am

with regard to LEGO and quality, I was rather disappointed when I recently built Emmett's construction mech - there were spots where 3 different "shades" of yellow come together, and it is clearly supposed to all be the same yellow. I could easily pick out at least 2 different variations of yellow even in the same bag of parts. Quite disappointed in that.

What you mention about MB is the most common refrain I hear...back in 2000, they bought a few sets and they were crap, so all MB must be crap, even to this day. Usually I toss the LEGO vs MB debate into the same category as Mac vs PC, Coke vs Pepsi, etc. Once someone has an opinion, it is hard to change that opinion. Not trying to sound like MB fanboy or anything, but I agree with you dWhisper in that MB has gotten better and LEGO a bit worse. As a customer, I am generally satisfied with LEGO, MB, and even Kre-O products, but on the whole, I do worry sometimes about LEGO's quality control and the wisdom of manufacturing parts in so many different factories around the world.
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Re: [SDCC] Clone Brand Building Blocks at San Diego Comic Co

Postby buriedbybricks » Wed Aug 06, 2014 9:00 am

My son will often get Mega Bloks sets for Christmas etc, from relatives that don't know the difference. He's six and has no problems spotting the difference in quality and I try not to bash them around him because I wouldn't want him to be ungrateful. The difference is there, it was years ago when my wife bought me the Enterprise D and it's there now for Power Rangers, the Marvel sets, Skylanders and the rest.

Still better than Best Lock though. If you literally want to see a child cry after giving them a gift. Give them Best Lock.
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Re: [SDCC] Clone Brand Building Blocks at San Diego Comic Co

Postby Robzula » Wed Aug 06, 2014 7:15 pm

Zrath wrote:Who's Humblebee? :D

Or Carol Grimes for that matter.
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