Jump to content

Brick Wars - Anyone outside Germany taking notice?


Recommended Posts

Over the last 2 years LEGO has been taking more and more (legal) action against German retailers and YouTubers they consider detrimental to their business. Legal alternative brick brands have gotten pretty big in Germany recently - you might say that just LEGO's actions themselves have pushed the alternatives' popularity further (cue "Streisand effect"). Obviously TLG is losing (German) market shares big enough to make them unhappy - their answer being to send out their lawyers to take care of it (instead of making their own products better or setting affordable prices again, for instance).

Now, while the "Brick Wars" are getting more and more intense in Germany, I've got the impression that outside the country no one is really taking notice - or maybe no one cares. I'd like to know what people outside Germany/Europe really hear/read/know about what LEGO is doing here?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do you have any examples?  I wasn't even aware that there was a EU-based competitor/clone company operating.   Are they producing more appealing models?  Are they producing average models but at a lower price?  Most AFOLs will be aware of bogus bricks but at least here in the US I haven't even heard there was competition ramping up in Germany.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Frank Brickowski said:

 Obviously TLG is losing (German) market shares big enough to make them unhappy

No, not at all even likely (certainly not obvious).

This is much more likely just a reasonable business response.

Edited by KShine
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do you have any examples? What retailers are they taking action against, and for what reasons (selling bogus bricks??)

TLG has a business plan, and that plan doesn't involve making their product cheaper. It's just like thinking Apple will reduce their prices to wipe out cheap Chinese knockoff phones.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

EU-Based Companies are Cobi (from Poland, produces in EU) that are quite famous for a broad range of warfare models, big historical ships. They i.e. have the Boeing license for brick models. I see them as competitor. Models are very detailed and look great. Brick quality is fine but still not perfect (like Lego), a bit tighter than Lego. They have a lot of custom bricks that are not produced by lego but nice for MOCs. 

Then there is bluebrixx from Germany. They buy huge amounts of noname china bricks and make their own sets out of it. Target customer group: AFOLs. Models look really great, they have a lot of railway stuff and sell really huge models (1.000 to 12.000 parts) and have own designers employed. They also act as general importer for other Asian brands and are in several lawsuits with TLC. Seems to become the second major player if Lego continues its present strategy. (they make a few million in revenue atm compared to several billion of TLC). Really nice and MOC-friendly: They offer part packs (like 200 pc. technic pin 3 long in BLACK for 6€). 

There is one big Youtube channel in Germany from a Frankfurt based AFOL that runs a very small Bricks store. His videos have 100.000 to 2,5 Mio views and come at least 3 times a week. He quit his Lego partnership last year and started to sell bricks from other manufacturers, too. He told his viewers that he wants to sell the really good things regardingless who produced them but rejects to sell or present piracy products like bogus bricks. As he is the biggest bricks influencer in Germany he brought a lot of AFOLs to be more open-minded to other manufacturers what might "open" the market for competitors.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As far as I know the EU regulations prevent any Chinese knock off brand to copy LEGO sets and sell those copies (legally) here. EU regulations acknowledge LEGO's copyrights. 

So... I assume @Frank Brickowski is talking about legitimate brands who make their own construction bricks that are compatible with LEGO, like Sluban and Cobi. Those are sold in The Netherlands as well, but I don't think they're very popular here. Not threatening the position of LEGO like Frank is describing of Germany. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, iahawks550 said:

Do you have any examples? What retailers are they taking action against, and for what reasons (selling bogus bricks??)

TLG has a business plan, and that plan doesn't involve making their product cheaper. It's just like thinking Apple will reduce their prices to wipe out cheap Chinese knockoff phones.

I think the main issue is that everything is happening in Germany and thus in German language, so the info does not easily come to anyone speaking only English. So no one outside Germany seems to know what's actually going on here and the magnitude this has already risen to. If LEGO acted like this on all the others markets too, I guess they'd be the most UNpopular brand by the end of 2021. Here are some examples from what is going on in Germany (hence "Brick Wars"):

LEGO causing trouble for...
...Held der Steine - Biggest German Brick YouTuber:

https://www.wuv.de/marketing/lego_legt_sich_wieder_mit_dem_held_der_steine_an
https://youtu.be/FpQF-YlXN0o (current trouble with LEGO, YouTube Trends No. 1, over 900,000 views)
https://youtu.be/M_UrLZzwWJ4 (first trouble with LEGO, over 2 Million views)
https://youtu.be/1lQY9ipId6w (commenting on other retailers' trouble with LEGO)
https://www.bild.de/regional/frankfurt/frankfurt-aktuell/frankfurt-lego-legt-sich-mit-youtuber-held-der-steine-an-59680780.bild.html

LEGO causing legal trouble for...
...Blue Brixx - Big German Online & Offline Retailer for alternative brands (especially Xingbao), selling LEGAL STUFF ONLY!:

https://youtu.be/phhygp0XKFc
https://youtu.be/8a4A0bE81tc
https://youtu.be/MtrdWPvrA3Y
https://youtu.be/5LYgFetFVfY
https://youtu.be/_dWrcGSc6GM
https://www.faz.net/aktuell/rhein-main/wirtschaft/streit-um-steine-lego-klagt-gegen-bluebrixx-17146839.html

LEGO causing legal trouble for...
...Johnny's World - Big German Online & Offline Retailer for alternative brands (especially QMan), selling LEGAL STUFF ONLY!:

https://youtu.be/WYn4wu3nPOQ

Edited by Frank Brickowski
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, roxio said:

Are they illegal alternative brands e.g. bogus bricks, or legitimate inferior brands e.g. Megabloks? A very big difference.

Only legal stuff, of course! Come on, we're talking about Germany here. If you're selling something here as a retailer you better stick to legal stuff or you're out of the game within days.

 

Btw MEGA is an inferior brand? Since you canot be relating to brick quality, what ARE you relating to?

Edited by Frank Brickowski
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm originally from Germany but now living in the US and here the legal options to get alternatives to Lego are by far not as good as in Germany. Cobi started to sell their products via Amazon but so far I couldn't find anybody such as Bluebrixx here. I tried to ship Bluebrixx to the US but my package got lost on its way 😞. I think the US market still needs some time to "catch up" with what's going on in Germany.
 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

25 minutes ago, HandyHand said:

As far as I know the EU regulations prevent any Chinese knock off brand to copy LEGO sets and sell those copies (legally) here. EU regulations acknowledge LEGO's copyrights. 

So... I assume @Frank Brickowski is talking about legitimate brands who make their own construction bricks that are compatible with LEGO, like Sluban and Cobi. Those are sold in The Netherlands as well, but I don't think they're very popular here. Not threatening the position of LEGO like Frank is describing of Germany. 

You are right. I got the impression 90% of brick fans worldwide still don't know how many alternative LEGAL brands there are. The German market is very different from that with other brands having risen in popularity rapidly. Xingbao, Cobi, QMan, Wange, Sluban, Mould King, CaDa, and so forth - these are all legitimate brick brands, closing in on LEGO more and more. That might also be the reason for LEGO now taking action agains the German retailers. I repeat: These are all LEGAL brands, no knock-offs or anything fake. Only OTHER bricks. Blue Brixx for instance also design and release their own sets in collaboration with Xingbao and give AFOLs what they have long been waited for (not getting it from LEGO). They even opened 8 brick and mortar stores in Germany in 2020 alone...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was reading this article you posted: https://www.wuv.de/marketing/lego_legt_sich_wieder_mit_dem_held_der_steine_an and now I get a better idea what it's about. 

For people not able to read German, the issue here is that "Held der Steine" in his videos is using the word "LEGO" to describe all interlocking bricks from different brands. Like how in the UK the brand "Hoover" is synonymous with vacuum cleaners. So, using the LEGO brand name as a generic product description. And TLG is taking offense with that, being adamant that the word LEGO can only be used to name actual LEGO brand bricks. 

And apparently Germans are siding with Held der Steine, against TLG.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

20 minutes ago, Frank Brickowski said:

 LEGO causing trouble for...
...Held der Steine - Biggest German Brick YouTuber:

https://www.wuv.de/marketing/lego_legt_sich_wieder_mit_dem_held_der_steine_an
https://youtu.be/FpQF-YlXN0o (current trouble with LEGO, YouTube Trends No. 1, over 900,000 views)
https://youtu.be/M_UrLZzwWJ4 (first trouble with LEGO, over 2 Million views)
https://youtu.be/1lQY9ipId6w (commenting on other retailers' trouble with LEGO)
https://www.bild.de/regional/frankfurt/frankfurt-aktuell/frankfurt-lego-legt-sich-mit-youtuber-held-der-steine-an-59680780.bild.html

To be fair, Held der Steine was purposely trying to harm the LEGO brand in dozens, if not hundreds of videos. Many arguments he made were valid, while others made him look like a total hypocrite.

I watched him a lot & in the end I realized he's a man in search of profit, nothing else. Forget the 'morals' he's trying to 'defend'.

He is a seller in the end & said he'd rather make a 1000€ selling 2000€ of merchandise rather than making 10% on LEGO's products, sells mugs for 15 or 20€ a piece & cooperates with Amazon, Huawei and other angelic companies. Yeah, right, morals. 

Unfortunately the majority of his viewers/fanboys blindly accept his perceptions of the world & defend him no matter what. It's ironic, he always brings up LEGO fanboys, when he has the biggest fanboy community on YouTube Germany. Reminds me of a sect. The comments are a display of pure hate on TLG while everyone knows these guys are the ones buying an exclusive on day one. 

Also he seems to forget what grew his channel, I don't think Cada or Cobi did. He presented LEGO products & he continues to do so. If he wouldn't he'd lose the majority of his subs. Classic hypocrite.

Edited by elmaslıefendi
  • Thanks 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, HandyHand said:

I was reading this article you posted: https://www.wuv.de/marketing/lego_legt_sich_wieder_mit_dem_held_der_steine_an and now I get a better idea what it's about. 

For people not able to read German, the issue here is that "Held der Steine" in his videos is using the word "LEGO" to describe all interlocking bricks from different brands. Like how in the UK the brand "Hoover" is synonymous with vacuum cleaners. So, using the LEGO brand name as a generic product description. And TLG is taking offense with that, being adamant that the word LEGO can only be used to name actual LEGO brand bricks. 

And apparently Germans are siding with Held der Steine, against TLG.

Problem is, LEGO has been taking legal action against different people in Germany over the past 2 years in a very unlikeable fashion, demanding to not use this or that (more or less simliar) logo on somebody's YouTube channel (also see Sariel's logo for a similar issue), to delete certain videos, to not use these or those words. They'd like prohibit some retailers from selling certain sets with certain minifigures, claiming people would mistake them for LEGO figures etc. I mean even IF they would be right about EVERYTHING they (or their lawyers) are demanding from others, how they are behaving is just totally unsympathetic. And in Germany their popularity has already taken a huge hit because of that. The new thing with Held der Steine is just the newest episode in this whole story. Almost 1 million views in a little more than 1 day... And TLG just does not learn anything, they're moving from one PR disaster to the next.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 minutes ago, elmaslıefendi said:

 

To be fair, Held der Steine was purposely trying to harm the LEGO brand in dozens, if not hundreds of videos. Many arguments he made were valid, while others made him look like a total hypocrite.

I watched him a lot & in the end I realized he's a man in search of profit, nothing else. Forget the 'morals' he's trying to 'defend'.

He is a seller in the end & said he'd rather make a 1000€ selling 2000€ of merchandise rather than making 10% on LEGO's products, sells mugs for 15 or 20€ a piece & cooperates with Amazon, Huawei and other angelic companies. Yeah, right, morals. 

Unfortunately the majority of his viewers/fanboys blindly accept his perceptions of the world & defend him no matter what. It's ironic, he always brings up LEGO fanboys, when he has the biggest fanboy community on YouTube Germany. Reminds me of a sect. The comments are a display of pure hate on TLG while everyone knows these guys are the ones buying an exclusive on day one. 

Also he seems to forget what grew his channel, I don't think Cada or Cobi did. He presented LEGO products & he continues to do so. If he wouldn't he'd lose the majority of his subs. Classic hypocrite.

>Many arguments he made were valid, while others made him look like a total hypocrite.

For example?

Moreover I think you're pretty wrong about his ethics and goals. Maybe you have to speak German to really get his mindset. But he is not primarily in search for profit. If you know the whole story, you know how things evolved. Two years ago he almost only featured LEGO sets... how things have changed, and not because of HIM...

I'm critical about some things he says, too. But his arguments are mostly valid. And even if some are not, that does not discredit his criticism.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, Frank Brickowski said:

 Maybe you have to speak German to really get his mindset. 

I'm German and watched most of his content before he got carried away in his spirit. I know what he said 4 years ago & I know what he says now. It was over for me after he pitched for BlueBrixx like c'mon how bad can something be. He either did it out of spite or they gave him a mad bag of fun coupons, probably both.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 minutes ago, Frank Brickowski said:

Problem is, LEGO has been taking legal action against different people in Germany over the past 2 years in a very unlikeable fashion, demanding to not use this or that (more or less simliar) logo on somebody's YouTube channel (also see Sariel's logo for a similar issue), to delete certain videos, to not use these or those words. They'd like prohibit some retailers from selling certain sets with certain minifigures, claiming people would mistake them for LEGO figures etc. I mean even IF they would be right about EVERYTHING they (or their lawyers) are demanding from others, how they are behaving is just totally unsympathetic. And in Germany their popularity has already taken a huge hit because of that. The new thing with Held der Steine is just the newest episode in this whole story. Almost 1 million views in a little more than 1 day... And TLG just does not learn anything, they're moving from one PR disaster to the next.

Big corporations with big expensive lawyers only use big expensive hammers.  It is easier and/or legally required to strike everyone for every single potential infringement.  Think of how Disney is very protective with their characters and logos

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 hours ago, Frank Brickowski said:

Over the last 2 years LEGO has been taking more and more (legal) action against German retailers and YouTubers they consider detrimental to their business. Legal alternative brick brands have gotten pretty big in Germany recently - you might say that just LEGO's actions themselves have pushed the alternatives' popularity further (cue "Streisand effect"). Obviously TLG is losing (German) market shares big enough to make them unhappy - their answer being to send out their lawyers to take care of it (instead of making their own products better or setting affordable prices again, for instance).

Now, while the "Brick Wars" are getting more and more intense in Germany, I've got the impression that outside the country no one is really taking notice - or maybe no one cares. I'd like to know what people outside Germany/Europe really hear/read/know about what LEGO is doing here?

I know absolutely nothing specific about what you're talking about, but that has never stopped me from offering an opinion before so...  If LEGO is going after these people/entities to protect its intellectual property, there are reasons for doing that that have nothing to do with market share.  Certain types of IP rights are essentially "defend it or lose it," so if they didn't take action against potential infringers, the very fact of their inaction could be used later to challenge the protectability of the IP.  This is one reason that you see huge corporations going after infringers that couldn't possibly be harming their business in any material way.  When I was in school, there was a bar in town that decided to name itself after a Star Wars character...that lasted about a week before Lucasarts swooped in to force a nothing-sized bar that no one had ever heard of in a podunk college town to change its name.  

23 minutes ago, Frank Brickowski said:

Problem is, LEGO has been taking legal action against different people in Germany over the past 2 years in a very unlikeable fashion,

Is there a way to take legal action against someone in a likeable fashion?

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 hours ago, DadsAFOL said:

Do you have any examples?  I wasn't even aware that there was a EU-based competitor/clone company operating.   Are they producing more appealing models?  Are they producing average models but at a lower price?  Most AFOLs will be aware of bogus bricks but at least here in the US I haven't even heard there was competition ramping up in Germany.

See below. None of what is sold in/from German-based retailers is illegal, it's all legit. Cobi (from Poland) is the only brick brand producing exclusively in the EU - their quality in any regard is on par with LEGO at the least. Then there are legal Chinese brands like Xingbao, Wange, Sluban, Kazi, Zhe Gao, Mould King, CaDa, QMan and many more. On average they're sold at half the price of LEGO and they have their own portfolios, own designers etc. Brick quality mostly is not as consistent as LEGO's, but they are getting better like every month. Meanwhile LEGO is getting worse in terms of color consistency, so all is kind of in balance ... 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.




×
×
  • Create New...