Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Comparison shopping: Lego vs. Mega Bloks

Trying to decide what sort of plastic building blocks to buy for a kid? Trying to choose between Legos and Mega Bloks? This diagnostic tool will help you choose.

1. What's your preference for manufacturing calibration?
a. I like everything just so, perfect and reliable.
b. Pshaw! I'm not anal like that—I enjoy the surprise inherent in not knowing if a given piece will be too loose, difficult to snap together, or just right.

2. What themes in play do you prefer?
a. I like socially positive toys, such as creative blank slates, rescue equipment, Harry Potter, and hospitals.
b. The more militaristic, the better; tiny men with tiny fake automatic weapons are charming; actual firing of miniature missiles ("You'll shoot your eye out"), a huge plus.

3. Have you got issues with packaging?
a. I appreciate efficiency and organization. When you've got hundreds of pieces, order is essential. Numbered bags of parts keyed to the instructions are a big help.
b. I'm so adept that I don't mind at all if those hundreds of pieces have been placed almost at random in unnumbered bags. I enjoy the challenge of plucking little pieces out of five different piles.

For each a answer, give yourself 1 point. For each b answer, give yourself 1.23794 points. If your total score is greater than 3 points, consider Mega Bloks. If your score is precisely 3 points, you will appreciate the Scandinavian orderliness of Legos. Whatever your choice, good luck and happy building!


Psycho Kitty said...

Ahhhh ha.
Although I did notice an improvement in quality in the MB Pirate (or some perversion thereof) stuff. But my god, the missiles on those things, you aren't kidding!!

The Absent Minded Housewife said...

I did not even have to take the quiz. Legos are awesome.

As a kid I had fake legos. They don't make the brand anymore. At the time those were more awesome than legos.

Lego style eggo waffles are just stupid however.

thenutfantastic said...

Bad experiences with mega blocs so it's legos all the way for our house. I don't even need the quiz for that one.

Mignon said...

We've got both. Madeleine plays with her stuffed ponies and I build elaborate towers with the blocks and Legos. Although this morning she did throw a bunch of Legos together in a totally random and haphazard manner and gave them to me as a "gift." AAACK! God help me and my engineer brain. It was all I could do to not immediately take it apart and put it back together in a nice rectangle.

Orange said...

Mignon, you should see what I do over at my in-laws' with the fat baby version of Legos. I build big things that are as symmetrical as I can make them—and then I'm heartbroken when a kid messes up my beautiful creation. (It's a sickness, isn't it?)

Charlie said...

Do Mega Bloks have gears and other nifty moving parts? I must confess that the decision making process that determines which sets I purchase (ahem, erm, for my kids) consists almost entirely of choosing the one with the most cool Technic parts.

Orange said...

Charlie, you need to go to lego.com and explore. Here's the construction crane we have, complete with working parts like a hook hanging from a rope and the conveyor belt. Your kids are too young to build the Technic Legos, perhaps, but see how much you can learn. (Lego's got many advanced sets that are for older kids. You might enjoy those!)

All that moves in the Mega Bloks set Ben received for his birthday are the aforementioned missiles, plus there's a wheeled "hovercraft" that flips over and falls apart (by design) when the trigger is shot by said missiles or otherwise jostled. Another part is a tall structure that doesn't actually clip together—it's meant to crash to the floor dramatically when attacked.

If you like to build and use things, you're probably a Lego man. If you just want to blow shit up, Mega Bloks is for you.

The Curmudgeon said...

I used to love Lego. I had a huge box of the stuff, back in the day. It was handed down through the family to my youngest cousin -- and when she was done with it my aunt gave it away.

I have never quite forgiven her.

The Lego served up nowadays is thin gruel compared to the Lego we had then: Now everything is a "kit" -- something to be assembled. One time. Like the Lego Statue of Liberty that still commands a place of importance in our dining room. So our kids never got to experience the thrill of building something on their own. We made our own buildings, to scale -- and weapons, and spaceship consoles, and all sorts of things.


P.S. - Saw your comment on Bored Housewife. I can't oblige on the identity of the Tribune reporter. But don't overstate the case: I've met the guy, but I don't claim to know him. He was, as I said, a few years before my time.

And besides, as a Chicagoan you know that this is a small town of 3,000,000 people. Everybody doesn't know everybody else, but everybody knows somebody who knows somebody.... In this case, I doubt that you and I know each other, but we are probably two or three degrees removed in our acquaintance (without involving Kevin Bacon in any way) -- and I'm trying to build up a blog and attract a readership without the added complication of having to worry about inadvertantly giving offense or embarassment to my family or friends. (If it eventually bobs up through the slush of the blogosphere and has its 15 minutes of fame, family and friends will probably be flattered by their caricatures. That's human nature.)

To illustrate why I am concerned: I have a friend who used to write the best Christmas letters. They were genuinely funny letters that talked about the exploits of his kids -- and even though they were his stories about his kids they had a universal quality: They rang true to life generally, not just to his life in particular.

But the kids got older -- and started hearing from their peers about the funny letters. And they became embarrassed.

Now the Christmas letter is written by the family dog. And the family dog just doesn't have the same flair....

amusing said...

We love Legos here -- and there are crates of "freeform" legos you can get -- plus at the few Lego stores to be found at high=end malls around the country you can scoop up whatever shape and size you want out of a bin, like jellybeans for engineers.

Anonymous said...

i don't know much about lego vs. mega bloks at the older level but mega blocks tiny n' tuff sets for little kids are the best! cool design and work great.

Anonymous said...

For the guy who mentioned "everything is a set":
Lego still has a lot of building buckets and bags. It is they just do not promote them as hard as the sets.
They even sell separate sets of bricks, plates and whatever you want in the color you want! But you need to order them online with their store, you can't find it in walmart.

Anonymous said...

Lego all the way! Mega Bloks= CRAPPY RIP OFFS OF LEGO

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to complain or rant about the age groups each are for, so I'll keep it simple. The only reason I am annoyed with Mega Bloks is because they have managed to secure the rights to create sets from films that if you look close enough, are really more tuned for a pre-teen audience. Take for example, Spiderman 3... I wouldn't let my kid watch that, not at least untill they were at an age where it could be understood. It's not just about "Yay, it's Spiderman", that movie uses tonnes of adult problems. As a fan of Lego myself, I'm actually deeply annoyed about having to miss out on these 'cool' ideas when they will not be appreciated as much, and even understood.

Anonymous said...

I hate people stealing Ideas so Lego all the way!

Shayne Kawalilak said...

while I hate people 'stealing', how on earth did Lego get a monopoly on building blocks with a patent? It seems like a very general idea. Why didn't someone patent the wheel way back when?

Anyhow, I have kid #8 on the way and cannot afford $5000 a year on Lego. I can get the same number of bricks for 1/4 the price. The quality may be lower but the selection is monsterously superior and my kids have never complained (neither have I).


Anonymous said...

I dont see why your makeing such a big deal about choosing between Legos and mega blocks. First of all, when I got Mega blocks for the first time, they were pretty much, cruddy. I mean, the pieces tottaly broke when i was useing them. Also, they were completely useless when I used them on my legos. And lasly, when push came to shove I tottaly threw them out. Anyways, lego has a better website and game, and also magazine. And so, Lego dominates and Mega brands are a really cheap rip off. But i do have to admit, the lego eggo waffle things were pretty dumb.

Anonymous said...

The Lego Eggo waffles were frokm the Eggo Company and had no involvement with the Lego Corporation.

X said...

I choose the third way: fake lego-compatible blocks. The chinese are turning out some good fake blocks nowadays. Although as you point out, the gun thing is kind of against the whole Lego ethos.

Anonymous said...

After my aunt brings my little cousin out to where I live I plan to share my re-growing Lego collection with him, and NO Mega Bloks, though I am making an exception for the World of Warcraft line.