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Is the new building system easier to imitate?


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8 replies to this topic

#1 Offline Waaja

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Posted Mar 20 2014 - 10:56 PM

So there has been a recent explosion of Knockoff Lego sets, especially by a China company, Decool.

 

I just had a thought: Is the new Ball-and-Socket building system easier to imitate as compared to the old pin-and-axle system? It would be easier to get the ball socket right, as compared to pin and axle holes, as they can either be too tight ot too loose. Set designs too have gone down in intrinsicity, such that pieces are easier to imitate. Is this why such knockoffs have improved in overall quality and appearance?

 

What do you think? :D 


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#2 Offline The Kumquat Alchemist

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Posted Mar 21 2014 - 08:38 AM

I'd imagine this is why the pieces are smoother and have a more finished appearance, yes, but no matter how nice they look, it alone wouldn't improve durability (Unless their machines were quite violent about ejecting parts from their molds, and the smoother HF-style parts allow easier separation.) I'd imagine that, yes, these parts are easier to create molds from that BIONICLE's heavily-detailed elements, but I'd think they must have started using better plastic also.


Edited by The Kumquat Alchemist, Mar 21 2014 - 08:39 AM.

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#3 Offline Aanchir

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Posted Mar 21 2014 - 03:11 PM

Easier to imitate? Not really. The same companies now making knock-offs of HF sets had also been making knock-offs of other sets for years if not decades. I'd argue copying ball-and-socket joints is much harder than copying pins or axles. The LEGO Group's many failed attempts to create a sturdy ball cup between 2008 and 2010 should attest to that fact. These connections undergo a lot more stress than pin and axle connections, so designing them so that they work is a lot more complex.

And imitating pieces is no harder when they're less detailed than when when they're more detailed. If you're drafting a copy from the ground up, the number of curves on HF parts could present as much or more difficulty as copying the more elaborate but often much more geometric details of BIONICLE parts. But companies that make bootleg parts are probably just as likely to just cast molds from the official LEGO parts themselves, in which case the type and level of detail is immaterial.

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#4 Offline Sumiki

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Posted Mar 31 2014 - 09:57 PM

I wouldn't pretend to know all of the ins and outs of molding plastic, but I will say that, overall, your average Hero Factory part seems much less complex than parts from any predecessor lines.


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#5 Offline Pomegranate

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Posted Mar 31 2014 - 10:17 PM

I would agree with Sumiki. Traveling the world, my little brother and I have encountered and unfortunately sometimes received imitation Bionicle sets, and although a lot of the pieces are nearly indistinguishable from the real deal save a production number or a seam here and there (I should have a couple parts sitting nearby to use as examples, unless I remembered to throw the evil things away last time I cleaned), it seems that one of the biggest tells were the pins and axles. Bootlegged sets almost never got them right, and they often caused a lot of trouble or were just really easy to spot. With the removal of such components from Hero Factory sets, the simple ball and join snap-in-place parts might be easier to replicate and tell tale signs such as totally wrong pins and axles don't exist anymore.


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#6 Offline Waaja

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Posted May 05 2014 - 01:35 AM

I would agree with Sumiki. Traveling the world, my little brother and I have encountered and unfortunately sometimes received imitation Bionicle sets, and although a lot of the pieces are nearly indistinguishable from the real deal save a production number or a seam here and there (I should have a couple parts sitting nearby to use as examples, unless I remembered to throw the evil things away last time I cleaned), it seems that one of the biggest tells were the pins and axles. Bootlegged sets almost never got them right, and they often caused a lot of trouble or were just really easy to spot. With the removal of such components from Hero Factory sets, the simple ball and join snap-in-place parts might be easier to replicate and tell tale signs such as totally wrong pins and axles don't exist anymore.

I wouldn't call them evil; I'd call them lego for poor people (like me)  :P


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#7 Offline ShadowWolfHount

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Posted May 05 2014 - 03:01 PM

Well of what I have seen from Decool Ninjago ultra build and this Earth Tutelary, I think they are making better stuff then what Lego is making with Hero Factory.

Earth Tutleary make a lot better looking armor on there Heroes but the helmet have the wrong color and I do not yet know if there quality is good or not

Decool Ninjago ultra build is good but with one of the head quality get a crack when you put it on the second time.

So my guess is yes, they can make copys of Hero Factory parts easy.


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#8 Offline Kopekemaster

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Posted May 08 2014 - 12:56 PM

I'd agree with Sumiki as well; for appearances, anyway, they are simpler. Still, though, getting the sizes and all perfectly right would be difficult. A fraction of a millimeter too small, and its way too loose, too big, and it won't fit without breaking the socket.


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#9 Offline Lyichir

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Posted May 08 2014 - 02:26 PM

I would say they might be slightly easier to imitate insofar as HF has fewer parts like the Toa Mata torso that would require more than a two-piece mold (Bionicle also had fewer of these sorts of parts as the years went on and gear functions went away). Now, whether the quality could be imitated is another story—ball cups and ball snaps are generally put under more stress than pin and axle connections, leading even Bionicle itself to have problems with part fragility—but bootleggers are generally more interested in appearance than overall quality, so as long as the parts look like they do on the box they could care less whether they stand up to normal levels of use.


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