altBricks review

Many of you may have noticed some recent creations featuring leaves in colors that Lego doesn’t produce. They come from a custom vendor called altBricks, who sent me a sample of their products to review. The parts are inexpensive and are sold in bulk, but their reduced quality may be of concern to some. Check out the video review to see what I mean.

12 comments on “altBricks review

  1. CatJuggling

    It’s hard to tell on the video, but is the lamp post actually identical? The wider part, the bottom half, looks like a different design.

    I love those that I have and your quality vs. cost point is very important, I think, as they’ve made a lot of pieces that kind of call for being big, bulk purposes.

  2. JimmytheJ

    The official lamp-posts have a new design for the bottom half, with four sticky-out bits rather than six. I got a black one in the christmas exclusive horse-drawn sleigh. I think that’s the design Altbricks have gone for.

    If I ever had a mad urge to make an autumnal or trans-blue tree, I think Altbricks is the way I would go. I’m not sure about the other parts, but if I found I couldn’t otherwise make the same handrails as the ones in whatever it was I might be building from Star Wars, I’d consider it. Say, do those white corners match nicely with those 1×2 bricks with the grill texture?

  3. mpoh98

    Altbricks is great! I love there leaves. I must say though, that there columns are a bit small. And although I do not like that the leaves can’t clutch bars, the color are nice, and the prices is what is the best!

  4. SEBARILE

    Thanks for the review Nannan. The altBricks leaves are made from “shiny” ABS as opposed to a more rubbery plastic. This was actually a design choice such that the leaves had a strong stud-to-tube clutch power. The enhanced clutch power enables leaves to be cascaded and stay together very well. I like using the brown leaves for internal branches and hanging the colored leaves off them. …and yes, unfortunately the holes are a bit over sized.
    Thanks,
    - SteveB (altBricks)

  5. Fred

    Steve, I’ve always been a purist but these make me question myself for the first time. Do you have plans to make adjustment in the future to address the holes?

  6. Yatkuu

    I’m sorry if this is a dumb question but… isn’t there some kind of copyright infrigement issue for copying LEGO’s brick designs like this?
    Don’t get me wrong, I like these as much as any other AFOL but I find this a bit peculiar.

  7. Ben

    The large limb (leaf) element first appeared in 1986′s 6066 Camouflaged Outpost set. Patents for functional elements expire over time which allows others to produce the elements. This is likely one reason why TLG is altering classic brick designs (ie: the castle short sword, macaroni brick, etc) so the competition can not produce sets with elements identical to pieces in current LEGO sets.

    I agree with Nannan about the quality issues. The holes in each leaf are also not perfectly aligned. In addition the leaf length will not allow you to attach it completely to a plate / baseplate for ground cover.

    On the other hand, I appreciate that Steve is offering these elements. Fans have been asking for color leaf elements for over a decade. Alternate products in the market should encourage TLG to offer additional colors to everyone.

  8. SEBARILE

    Hi All,
    Thanks Ben for the comments. altBricks is just another supplier to help AFOLs have a better experience in building MOCs! Our goals is to meet AFOLs needs and supply them with a product at a good price point.

    Also altBricks would never intensionally infringe on the IP of others. I have also directly spoken with LEGO on this topic.

    This Interlego A/G patent titled: “Toy building set for building tree-like models”, #4988322, was filed on Nov 26, 1986 in Denmark and filed on Nov 25, 1987 in US and issued on Jan 29, 1991 in US. It can be found at http://www.google.com/patents/US4988322. It ran out in 2006.

  9. Nabii

    Ben is wrong that the elements mentioned were changed to make it more difficult for competitors to copy LEGO bricks – both were changed because the old molds ran out and we saw the opportunity to improve the design with minimum expense. No other reason. (Though I guess that is a nice side effect.)

    The issue I see is that these are made in the harder plastic – the LEGO leaves are made in soft plastic because the design would be prone to breakage and splintering to sharp points in a harder material. All toys (including every single LEGO element) have extensive independent testing these days to make sure the design and material are in no way hazardous to children, including twisting to the point of breakage testing. As these are identical to the LEGO produced leaves even if the original packaging is clearly marked for adults only (I hope it is) if they end up in a kids collection they will be assumed to be LEGO elements and there is a potential danger to LEGO’s reputation and more importantly to the child.

    I think altbricks should either make it much more clear on their website these parts are for adult hobbiests, or check US federal rules on toy safety testing and see if they can afford the cost of it.

    That said I really like seeing these on displays- the more colourful range of trees look fantastic.

  10. Syruss

    Thank you for reviewing these. I’ve been thinking about placing a order for a while now, but quality and financial concerns have both been holding me back. I am excited to see the colors they offer, and I can probably look past the color matching issues. The hole clutch power is a bit of a concern, but as you mentioned, it’s not as much of an issue for simple tree builds.

    I also wanted to say that the tan-ish color leaves almost look like a pearl gold. At least as far as the coloration of the video. And I’ve also noticed that some of the LEGO elements in dark red have that shiny look as well. It’s almost as if there are two different dark reds that are used for different elements.

    At any rate, I appreciate the review. It really makes the decision whether to buy or not much easier.

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