You know, that toy that used to be made by the same company that now makes the Star Wars themed DIY design kits? I decided recently to import some samples from China, because when the copyrights fell off the design of the amazing brick system of course hundreds of Asian factories came with their own box.
In this post I evaluate my personal experience with the kits of the three with a decent collection of boxes and relatively easy to find: Sluban KAZI Enlighten If this review leads you to develop an interest in something, do let me know, enough positive reactions might lead me to do a one-off import session of a limited number of different boxes. Disclaimer In this review it is important to know that I have not bought any boxes of original LEGO tm past for myself to build, except the occasional board game.
This is mainly due to the overly designed and complex building blocks used these days, and indeed the last boxes I did buy, that prevent real creativity. This is a review of one or two boxes of a brand, randomly bought.
Chance may have played a part in my conclusions and NO guarantee can be given of the quality until a good number of different boxes of a single brand have been evaluated by two or three level-headed people.
Actual Review First, let's look at the boxes of the kits. They're all basically the late 's action shot boxes. Simple, clear, good looking, just with a lot of Chinese characters I cannot read.
Booklets Well, up next are the booklets, I feel that all of them are a bit too concise for the age advertised on the box. I have my doubts whether the complexity of a single step will be correctly executed by all children. But in a way this was sometimes also true of the genuine article all those years back. Sluban Sluban did its best to resemble the genuine booklets, with a small block indicating the parts to be used in a step, displayed next to the actual layer of parts to be added in vibrant colours, on top the faded colours of the previous step: They employ a similar tactic of using the blocks next to each step to show how a portion of that step should be built.
Whether it's the wheel of the ship, or just how a few block should be arranged. This breaks a little from the ideology "Gather your tools first, count them, then build" but it does add a little to the clarity and ease of it all. All in all it is hard to make a choice between who has the best booklet, because they are both pretty decent.
Because the KAZI and Enlighten use a similar tactic, I choose to save a little space by only showing the marginally better Enlighten booklet: Building Building the kits turned out to be very easy for a 30 year old adult with Technical education.
No suprise there I suppose. So I decided to keep an eye on the brick finish and quality along the way, as well as test their proper compatibility with the original branded stuff. This last part because I had heard horrible comments about that quality of the knock off boxes. Both boxes contain the same parts and extras, nothing left to chance there. I had not really expected otherwise.
What was fairly obvious when building this set is that there is limited quality control on the molding and printing equipment. Most parts go easily on and stick decently, but some have slight disfigurements that make them hard to apply. Some parts end up being a bit crooked. There are no big problems with building and it can be completed in a fairly straight forward manner, but at some points I had to wonder: I unfortunately forgot to take a picture of it, but on one of the sides the "Police" print was set too far to the left, making it an "olice" helicopter on that side.
The fit to normal LEGO was acceptable, although the alignment is not optimal. There was a little shaving and cramping on both ends, but visually the elements seemed to match and it wasn't very hard to combine parts in various manners. I would, however, not advise it on account of increased risk of wear and tear on either side.
Enlighten Next, after the slight disappointment of KAZI's finish I decided to go with Enlighten, because I had seen Sluban in some local shops and I had some faith they had done some research. How right was I? You will find out. The first thing that caught my eye about the set was the great finish of the parts, things looked familiar, smooth and reusable.
Not only that, while building I actually got a little bit giddy of the smooth fit of each part onto the next. Clearly these parts had some time put in to make generic parts stack in a neat way. Nice imaginative constructions using mostly basic parts in a good colour scheme. I was also amazed to find that all the parts fitted onto real LEGO tm parts without causing any direct damage or stress.
There are minor differences, and you can see the real brand has more experience in producing the parts, but even the skeleton with the treasure chest caught my eye, because it actually felt a bit rattly, without falling apart. Also on the figurines the joints feel good, the hands snap in, allowing easy rotation without constantly falling out. The Enlighten kit really lifted my spirits tonight. I had planned on giving away all the end products, having someone in mind for this set as well, but I think I really king of want to keep it!
They even threw in some sea-salt glitter in the boat's wooden parts. Some results The one upside down: The white plate is genuine Denmarkian plastic: Sluban Well, I picked the fire squad set with my mother in mind, but after writing and reading-back this review, I am actually hesitant about giving it to her.
The brick quality was clear immediately, not-quite-alike and not entirely in alignment. What also caught my eye in the first few steps is that the bricks supplied were smaller than would have been efficient and sturdy.
So I suspect this brand actually makes the minimum required number of different size bricks to make it's models. This is a valid business strategy, but to the more discerning little builder it might feel bit of a hassle.
And it certainly does not add to structural integrity. The colours go more towards the old 's standard, the smaller parts the figurines seem to hang more towards the end of the 's. It is a reasonably nice set, but the end result isn't as impressive as the Enlighten kit.
There's some hard corners and unfortunate design edges. This may be because it's a helicopter and not a boat, but on the other hand KAZI had a helicopter and those parts were a much nicer fit.
So on the one hand Sluban wins here because of the re-usability of the bricks all standard , on the other hand I think a few extra parts could have helped the design greatly to reduce some unfavourable edges.
All things considered with the nice booklet make-up and easy to stack bricks I would have gladly put Sluban above KAZI for it's versatility. Until suddenly the arms of the figurines started falling out on cross drafts.
The parts involved do not snap in like with the Enlighten parts, or press in tightly with the original LEGO tm stuff, they're in there, but they might just as likely not be. This sparked a session of close inspection of all things moving and snap-in and it turns out that actually the fit of these kinds of couplings are all a bit iffy. This combined with some unfortunate construction planning unfortunately puts this brand quite a bit behind the KAZI model.
I am not so much disappointed in the brand, because it was highly affordable, but I am once again disappointed in "my colleagues" in the toy-import business. Also, this set does seem to fit okay on LEGO tm parts, but again not perfectly.
Once again I would not throw them in with the bunch. There was no immediate wear or tear to be detected, but I wasn't quite comfortable with it either. It'd probably be okay, but I'd rather not. Well, here we go then. Level of pleasantness of the end result: Now then, the average end scores: The blocks are versatile, they look good, the colours are nice, all the finish and print required for the theme has been put on neatly and the theme is nice and well thought up.
I think Enlighten did a great job of recapturing the glory days of "Buy a boat, build a castle". Now, that scoring may be influenced by a little nostalgia, but if you agree with me that all these space ships and dragons and robots that cannot ever build a regular house or car, even if they wanted to, are not worth the bags of money you spend on them: Look into the Enlighten sets and let me know what you find.
Mixing As stated during the review: That is not to say that I am at the point of just chucking the Enlighten parts in with the big bunch. After all one should always consider: So if you want to buy one of these three to throw into the general toy chest with all the other ABS-plastic yay-bricks, I'd certainly advise Enlighten.
Copyrights All content, opinions, views, photo's in this article: Please feel free to link to, quote from or talk about it, but if you want to reuse, ask first. Prior written consent and all that mumbojumbo. Good manners I call it.