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LePin, Lego and Porsche

I’ve been a fan of Lego for ages and my only limiting factors are the place it takes and the cost.

Being a car fan, I was pretty excited by the release of the ego 911 GT3RS (Lego 42056). However, this model was not stocked much and is overly expensive, probably to account for the Porsche copyright. This model is one of the biggest Lego Technics set to date (3rd I think) and is also one of the most complex in terms of mechanics, with a 4 speed sequential gearbox and a realistic look and feel.

Deciding that 300+ swiss francs was too much for a toy, I skipped this model…. until a colleague pointed me to LePin.

Until now, I’ve only and ever bough real Legos. My kids got some BanBao bricks which were definitely of lesser quality compared to the danish originals. Some colleagues told me that LePin quality is much higher, on par with original Lego. I used the 11/11 (the Chinese equivalent of black friday or cyber monday) to order a set to try and picked the Porsche model for ~80 dollars (USD, roughly 1/4th of the Swiss price for original lego)

After building it, here are my first thoughts:

  • The set is a 1:1 copy of the Lego set, the instruction is a leaner version (without all the shininess and pictures from real porsche) of the Lego one, based on an older version (with bugs). This is a clear clone and I don’t know how this can be legal and not infringe copyrights… Just to be clear, it’s free for sale online, you don’t have to go into the deeper parts of the undernet to find it and it ships with dhl/goes through custom without problems.
  • The quality of the pieces is really good, almost impossible to differentiate from real Legos. The model I picked is a known stretch for Legos (way too many gears and way too much friction) and ends up a good test: if this one is working, almost any Lego set must be working.
  • Assuming I didn’t mess up with the montage, I had way more spare parts (connectors especially) than on a standard Lego set. I however ended up with a spare bar of length 4 and a missing one of length 5. I can’t really say who is responsible for that.
  • Chiral components are clearly identified on real Legos with an embedded number, LePin are not
  • Some pages of the manual are not printed to scale, so you can’t use the 1:1 size picture to measure (not a problem if you’re experience, might be an issue for beginners)
  • The set itself is astonishing: huge, realistic, bright orange, it really looks like a masterpiece and has overly complex mechanics carefully hidden 🙂
  • some tolerances might be slightly worse than lego: the clear disks used for lights tend to fall, some connections are overly loose while other required some force to actually snap (including some connectors)

My final conclusion is that I would not buy LePin on a standard set, the price difference is not enough to account for the lack of innovation. I’m fine if a group creates alternative original models and cheaper bricks on the ones where the patent expired (I guess it’s not the case for studless). In case of Lepin, the quality is really good (almost the same as Lego, at least in terms of tolerance, I don’t know about time resilience) but he legal aspect seem quite shady.