Blox - High Speed Tanker Review
Sometimes it amazes me just how many companies produce construction kits based around the brick format LEGO popularised. Otherwise known as clone brands, these companies will make relatively inexpensive sets with a small part count. Blox amazed me back in 2015 by producing sets under the name of a national high street retailer; Wilko (otherwise known as Wilkinson's). I thought I'd take a look at a familiar tanker truck to see just how Blox stands up.
Most brick based toys other than Lego are often made out of cheap and tacky plastics that do not compare to Lego other than the shape. This is mainly due to the fact that the only way they can compete with our much loved toy is down to price. i.e. the cheaper the price, the cheaper the bricks. And cheaper bricks means more of them can be made to a smaller price point, allowing for more bricks to be sold, bought and circulated.
I expect 'blox’ to be exactly the same. This set cost me £2 and contains 100 pieces. The box itself is sturdier than anything Lego has done box-wise and around 2/3 full when I opened it. Note the sticker that says "compatible with leading brands".
The contents of the box separates into four pieces; two bags of bricks, one instruction leaflet and one sticker sheet. The bags that the bricks arrive in take scissors to open as my penknife would do nothing but poke holes into it. I could not open the bags by hand without fear of lacerating my fingers as the plastic just bunches up under stress.
Moving on to the sticker sheet mine arrived with one edge stuck to another bag and did raise questions about the quality of the stickers. However I am pleased to say that they have a lovely sheen to them and can be removed from bricks without too much of a fuss. The stickers last as well which is reassuring; it has been a year since I initially wrote this review and the stickers have not faded or lost their hold.
Before getting into the build I was surprised by four pieces in the ‘blox’ range I had never seen from any other brands. We have a wheel (far left), a modified tile with a small pin fixed to the top (left), a curved 2x4 brick without studs (right) and a piece that I have been wanting to see from Lego but presumably I never will: a plate with studs on both sides (far right).
I find it interesting that ‘blox’ should make a piece with studs on two sides because it is a piece that has been asked for by the community for a while now. It may seem like a cheat to some but, I quite like it. This single piece made the entire set worth while with seven included in total. So if you find this set, I would recommend getting it just for these seven pieces.
The quality of these ‘blox’ pieces is actually close to LEGO as the pieces feel the same, have the same 'click' and are the same shade of white. It is difficult for me to find a difference between them but I still have a nagging feeling that the price per piece (2p) compared to LEGO’s (12p average) denotes poor quality for Blox.
Speaking of which I did find a few quality issues that made me sceptical. First of all some of the pieces have some of the mould left on them. As pictured there is dirt moulded into the plastic, which I presume is either moulding lubricant or rust.
Secondly the wedge pieces are incorrectly moulded and, as pictured, have little bubbles and ridges in them. I have been able to see that the wedge pieces are thinner in the ridges and does make me wonder how long it will take before they split. The LEGO 'cheese-slopes' (top right) are prone to splitting down the middle on occasion so I wouldn't expect too much from the Blox equivalent (top left).
Thirdly this set arrived missing one of the tyres, turning this into a 99 piece set. This set contains no spare pieces so I can't say that I am happy missing such a vital piece. WTF Blox?
The instructions are also lacking. For example the final instruction of the leaflet doesn’t show that the tank goes onto the truck or where the stickers go. In the end I used the box to determine where the stickers are meant to be and how the tank fits the trailer. I am slightly concerned that the tank isn't actually connected to the trailer and instead just floats atop some 2x2 white tiles. Meaning that a child could fling the tank off during play, although I'm sure that wouldn't matter to a six year old.
All in all I do like this set despite one or two rather severe issues with quality. Considering that the price is the main selling point I would recommend it. The quality of the correctly moulded pieces is surprisingly good and the end result is a nice way for a child to have an afternoon of entertainment for a small price. For an AFOL that two-sided piece with studs on both sides is enough of a selling point that I would advise adding this to your wanted list.
There are tight connections that do mean assistance from an adult is needed for applying pressure for a perfect fit, however some connections will never be perfect. The building techniques are interesting and make for a mean-looking finished model that seems surprisingly familiar…
…And this is why it looks familiar.
I dusted off this red gem that I have on display which is the discontinued Lego set from 2006; number 8664 LEGO Racers Road Hero. The build for the cab of the Blox truck is very nearly identical to that of the Road Hero. Clone brands strike again! I was amazed to discover just how similar these two are. Not only the overall shape but the type of pieces used are shared between the two with only a few pieces changed on the Blox version.
This does make me suspicious of the Blox sets however I have no plan to build any more of them so just how much they plagiarise will remain a mystery to me.
Being the builder that I am I couldn’t help doing my best to recreate tanker in the Blox set out of LEGO for the Road Hero.
If you would like a copy of this Blox High Speed Tanker then click here to go to an online stockist. And sorry folks, this appears to be UK only (however you can find them on ebay from time to time)
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