Lego And Beyond: Brick Sets For Every Type Of Builder
STORY: Nicholas Yong
15 October 2020
When you think of brick construction toys, Lego is definitely the first thing that comes to mind. I’ve played with Lego bricks since I was young, and still do to this day. In fact, I’ve just added Lego Speed Champions (a series of race cars) to my ever-growing Lego collection.
Contrary to common belief, Lego isn’t the only brick toy on the block. There are plenty of same same but different brands of brick construction toys these days, especially as Lego’s patent on its trademark bricks have long since expired. Not only are these brick toys compatible with Lego bricks, some of them also have the license to other TV shows or characters. Here’s a list of brick sets for every type of builder.
For the whole family: Lego
Of course, Lego should be on the top of this list as the perennial master of the interlocking plastic brick. I bet many of us have grown up with Lego, and are familiar with themes such as City, Space, Knights, and Pirates.
Today, Lego has a host of popular licensed themes from Star Wars, Harry Potter, DC, Marvel, Disney, and even car brands like Nissan, Mercedes and Ferrari that collectors from all fandoms will enjoy. Kids aged 1½ to 5 years will have fun with the bigger Duplo sets.
Plus there’s also the expert and challenging Technic sets for those who enjoy building massive models.
For military aficionados: Oxford
The first time I came across Oxford was when I saw their Last Supper and cool 1990s Game Room sets at Toy Station in Serene Centre, near Botanic Gardens MRT. But this brand from South Korea is also one of the few manufacturers that has ventured into a territory even Lego themselves wouldn’t set foot in – military-themed sets!
Oxford has plenty of army vehicles including tanks, NSTVs, fighter jets, and choppers. All the soldiers come fully equipped with rifles and bazookas too. Perfect for those who miss their reservist life a little too much.
Check out some of these listings for Oxford on Lazada. Fun fact: Kre-O’s bricks which are synonymous with the Hasbro brand are actually manufactured by Oxford!
For fans of miniatures: Nanoblocks
These might look like Lego blocks, but they’re actually super tiny. These micro-sized building bricks manufactured by Kawada Co. Ltd in Tokyo are only 4 mm × 4 mm × 5 mm in size, but because of this, the resulting build is much more detailed.
There are Nanoblocks of famous landmarks like Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower, and familiar structures closer to home such as Marina Bay Sands and the Changi Airport Control Tower. Anime fans will fawn over Hatsune Miku, while Pokémon fans can choose from any of their favourite Pokémon to build in a tiny, handheld size. There’re even Doraemon Nanoblocks, too!
For preschool kids: Mega Bloks
Contrary to their name, Mega Bloks is made for smaller users. Mega Bloks is an alternative brand of brick toys by Canadian toy company Mega Brands targeted at preschool kids, similar to Lego Duplo. These sets include familiar faces your younger ones might love such as Thomas & Friends and PJMasks.
You can get one for your little one at Toys R’ Us.
For Pokémon fans: Mega Construx
Mega Brands also make conventional brick toys called Mega Construx, which is actually compatible with Lego pieces. But the unique part of Mega Construx is their possession of licenses for Pokémon-, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-, and Masters of the Universe-themed sets. Some of the Pokémon sets I’ve seen in Toys R’ Us include a jumbo-sized Pikachu and a set to build every type of Eevee evolution!
Gotta catch ’em all on Toys R’ Us online.
For Transformers and Star Trek fans: Kre-O
If you like Lego but you’re a fan of Transformers and Star Trek, then Kre-O is the answer for your brick-building needs. Hasbro’s answer to Lego is, of course, compatible with Lego bricks as well. But Kre-O is the only toy line where you can “Transform and roll out” with Transformers and “Go where no man has gone before” with Star Trek construction sets. Other licenses limited to Kre-O include G.I. Joe, CityVille, Dungeons & Dragons, and Trolls.
Get Kre-O-tive with Kre-O sets on Amazon Singapore.
For fans of scale models: Cobi
Cobi is the go-to brand for model maniacs. The Polish brand offers an extensive range from historical models based on actual warships and World War 2 military vehicles, to Boeing aircraft and licensed Top Gun Maverick jets. Price-wise, these sets don’t hurt your wallet either, but the problem is getting your hands on one of these as they aren’t readily available in Singapore.
For those on a budget: Sluban
Probably the cheapest option in this list when it comes to alternative brick toys. Plenty of Sluban sets “reference” stuff from Lego and Oxford, so you will be able to find military-themed sets here too.
Some other cool sets they have are the Battle of Red Cliff and what looks like Alien vs Predator. Unfortunately, you won’t be getting high quality stuff – I’ve heard that some of the bricks don’t exactly fit well.
You can find Sluban sets online on Lazada, or visit your neighbourhood Kiddy Palace department store. Kiddy Palace also sells several knock-off brick toy brands like “Lele Brother” and “Ausini”, but I cannot vouch for the quality of those brick brands.