I’ll start with a brief background of how it’s bumped up on the original LEGO under the Lepin brand.
The turning point was the release of the most expensive in the history of the LEGO Technic series 42056 Porsche 911 GT3RS, released as a collectible model at a price of $ 300.
It is worth noting that in the CIS countries a set costs up to $ 500, while the set has no features – whether it be motorized functions, pneumatics, or a huge amount of parts. With a quantity of 2,700 parts, this is far from a top-end kit (I remind you that the 42055 Rotary excavator contains almost 4,000 parts + electronics at a price of $ 200), and the price of a Porsche is unreasonably high. In addition, the design of the model is very controversial. Front and side really lookslike a Porsche – but behind the model has many flaws in the design study.
I will also note the main function on which LEGO was given the main focus – the branded gearbox Porsche PDK, an analogue of which they tried to embody from LEGO, in the form of sequential 6-speed gearboxes. The idea turned out to be a complete failure for LEGO. Not only is the instruction erred, and 2 and 4 gears are mixed up in places, so the gears themselves are switched very inaccurately, the mechanism occupies a third of the model, and the motorization of this all becomes completely useless and is accompanied by a crunch of gears. In general, the model came out extremely advertised and unreasonably expensive.
So what is this all about? This is where the Chinese company Lepin comes into play, which, a month after the release of the LEGO kit (June 2016), releases an absolutely identical copy of the model, Lepin 20001, but at a price of $ 100! (Now prices are even lower). So why pay more? Yes, you do not get a beautiful box with high-quality printing, instruction with the history of the creation of the Porsche 911 series, but otherwise – the same parts, and assembly instructions.
Those who want to save money and buy a Chinese equivalent. Lepin acquired an extraordinary popularity, and the company decided not to limit itself to one model and expand the range – having now stole more than 50 sets from LEGO, and having released them under its Lepin brand. Lego fans were indignant. I agree that Lego overcharged the price, but to steal (otherwise you will not call it) someone else’s product and produce under your brand without paying a cent to anyone – to put it mildly, it is not fair. But this is the whole of China, and this is one of the reasons why the “Chinese” is cheaper.
- Chinese do not pay for the license.
- They do not spend either time or money on development – they simply steal the finished one made by someone before them.
- The Chinese really have worse quality! They save on raw materials, on the manufacturing process, and at the same time produce millions of copies – to reduce the cost of production.
In addition, the Chinese have gone even further, and began to copy not only from LEGO, but also from fans of this brand. So they copied the MOC models of Lego designers such as Madoca, paulvandebulk, stefan_betula_pendula, NKubate (Nathanaël Kuipers), LForces, JKBrickworks (Jason Allemann) without paying them anything for their work.
As you can see, the technician series is also popular among adults, for whom LEGO is not just a designer, but a tool for implementing technical solutions. Some even manage to make money by selling instructions for their MOC models. To use the Chinese analog is not at all that. Why? Let’s find out!
LEPIN Technic 20053
For the review I will give an example of the Lepin 20053 set. The model is extremely interesting because of its availability (one of the cheapest sets) and the abundance of electronics. This is a copy of the model from Madoka – MOC-6604 Hatchback Type R, one of the most talented LEGO-designers, and there is not a drop of exaggeration. As stated above, Lepin stole his model (and not one), and released it in the form of his own sets. I note that Madoka always places on the network free instructions on their models and a list of all the necessary parts for assembly. By the way, I advise everyone to collect at least one of the creations of Madoca1977 – it’s worth it!
Also, the choice for this model fell due to the lack of reviews and objective reviews. All reviews on aliexpress (where they sell this junk) are positive. No wonder – the sellers are ready to appease you as you please for a good review, so as not to lose the reputation of the store.
By the way, Lepin had its own official website for selling designers, but prices are higher there than on AliExpress.
The first. Perhaps the main reason for the popularity of Lepin, which has already been mentioned – the price. The model cost $ 35 with delivery! The cost of a similar model from Lego is about $ 200-250, since it will be necessary to re-buy separately parts and electronics.
Second. The model we bought. And now shipping. Delivery took exactly … 54 days from the date of payment for the order on AliExpress. In general, it is not enough to wait. If you plan to buy such a set as a gift, then this is clearly not an option, you need to order with a huge stock of time.
Third. Packaging. As they say “meet on clothes.” Packaging Lepina – postal envelope with cellophane, in which put the parts sealed in bags. Yes, this is not a LEGO branded box with beautiful prints of the model. But let’s say – this is not a weighty criterion for everyone.
The fourth and most important is the kit itself with the parts.
Get ready for the fact that the set in the picture and the fact that it has come to you may differ in color. Specifically, in this model, the orange panels differed shade.
Electronics is often non-working (we will come back to this). And this is almost a standard situation for Lepina.
May not be the full number of parts in the kit. But sellers on Ali will gladly send you the missing parts, reputation and your feedback is more precious to them. This makes me happy. But the parts will have to wait again around 54 days.
Lepin Parts Quality
How many reviews I read that “the quality is almost the same as that of Lego,” “for their money, excellent sets.” Even this prompted me to buy Lepine out of curiosity, since everything in the picture really looks very good. But my verdict is this – the people who wrote it apparently LEGO saw only in the pictures.
The quality of materials leaves much to be desired. If the molds of parts, probably stolen from Lego, allow us to do more or less accurate molding of parts (and not all), then the material itself is of poor quality. Even by touch plastic is completely different. If you ever held the original Lego in your hands, then I guarantee you, even with your eyes closed, you distinguish LEGO from Lepin.
Especially strongly differ soft axes and tubes. They are made of non-elastic material, close to caprone or plastic. The material is hard, the parts are connected with great effort.
Connectors are made poorly. Seams are visible, the color of black plastic is faded. The holes for the connections with the axes are inaccurate, and they are very tightly connected to both Lepin and the original Lego.
The panels are similar to Lego, but some are too matte (in the photo), others are glossy and were slightly scratched, even being new (clearly seen on the assembled model). Also 1 panel was curve and curved at the end. Curved panels (orange and purple) are most similar to Lego in quality and color, there are no problems with the connection.
Pins, beams, frames have acceptable quality. The only thing is – somewhere around 5% of the pins had weak fixation and did not snap so tightly.
Link falls for the hinge due to the lack of “stops”. Both hubs – LEGO
Traction (link) and pins for them – made the worst. On the one hand, it is very tight to hold, making the moving element worse, on the other end, the stopper dangles and is absent (or rather, it is, but insufficient), and the thrust falls through the mount (clearly visible in the picture).
Gears. Same as LEGO in appearance. But plastic is more fragile, worse is the accuracy and quality of the casting. The gear wheel on 12 teeth broke with a servomotor after 5 turns, breaking one link. The gears from which the gearbox with the differential is assembled remained intact, since the load is less there, but there is a development on them, and the plastic began to wear out.
By the way, the gears in the differential rotate with force, not free as in LEGO. It turned out some imitation of the differential lock, but because of this, the load on the motor and gearbox has increased.
Specifically, this set of 20053 attracted me with an abundance of electronics (which is very expensive in Lego) for a small price. You get:
- A battery with a USB cable for charging (there is no charging unit itself);
- Remote (and on the radio, and not IR as in LEGO Power Functions);
- The receiver is also on the radio;
For comparison. At this price, you only buy a servomotor from LEGO. And that’s it! And then a complete set of electronics and parts for assembling a model!
Servomotor was not fastened to the body. As a result, it did not work normally – there was no return to the center, sometimes it did not work at all. A motor tapped in the case – as if it was not fixed there. Then the motor stopped working altogether – I had to completely disassemble it and rebuild all internal gearboxes myself. By the way, removing the motor case turned out to be easier than ever – it was glued with super glue (and not clicked as in LEGO), which cracked under a slight push.
After all the manipulations, the motor began to work stably and regularly, but it is desirable to glue the body then (Lepin does it from the factory 😄), otherwise it collapses.
Also, the motor does not support discrete adjustment – in simple terms – you can only rotate it to the extreme positions, and you can turn the servomotor to an intermediate position for smoothly adjusting the rotation of the wheels, or limiting the rotation (for example, if used with the SBrick), it is simply impossible! The motor starts not responding, and returns either to zero or to the extreme position.
L-motor. There was immediately a worker, the body is almost completely identical to Lego, but without a logo. The only difference is in the back cover, where the wire comes from – it is white, not gray. In terms of power, the model went with a Chinese motor even 15% faster.
After half an hour of driving – the model began to produce an unpleasant creak when driving (clearly audible on the video). There were suspicions that this is the creak of the gears in the gearbox of the electric motor. However, this sound is made by rubbing elements – axles and gears. Plastic erased a little during long driving. But LEGO also suffers from this, all the same ABC plastic is not designed for such loads.
The L-motor gets very hot during operation (just put your finger on the case to feel it), and after 10 minutes the smell of burning wiring appears (in case of continuous operation). My assumption about this is that the Chinese motor consumes more current than the Lego motor, due to which it is more powerful, but at the same time it heats up faster and the battery packs very quickly. I note that the LEGO motors are also heated, but a little less, and at the same time they do not emit the smell of burning.
As a result – the motor is significantly more powerful than Lego, in terms of reliability – as long as there are no complaints. Fully compatible with LEGO, SBrick, BuWizz. Heating is not critical, I think it will not break it down, for this it will take hours of continuous work, and the battery will not push it.
LEDs. There are no complaints. Shine is excellent, the form factor is 1in1 Lego. Only the color of the wires is different (1 red 1 black – in Lego are both black) and connectors – dark gray – in Lego black.
Battery. Externally, a complete copy of the LEGO 8878, but completely in gray. The photo shows small scuffs and gray spots – yes, it was in that form that it came “from the box” (more precisely from the package). In general, it is surprising that with such a low set price, it comes with a rechargeable battery and a wire for charging it from USB. But what’s the catch?
When the first full charge – the battery is charged up to 8.5 volts. This is a pretty good indicator, at the level of Li-Po from LEGO, but the latter gives a little more – about 9V. In general, the model went fast, but not for long. The battery discharges rapidly, in 10 minutes of continuous driving the voltage drops to 8 volts. For 20 minutes – up to 7.5V, after half an hour – up to 7V. An hour later, the “torment” machine ate went. On a soft surface like a carpet, I could not even budge. Voltage dropped to 6.7V.
The battery charge lasts about 3 hours – charged from the power supply for 5V and 1A. Giving a greater charge current did not dare and decided to charge in a very gentle mode because there is no marking or specification on the case. By the way, the weight of the battery is very small, about 50 grams, which indicates a low density of electrolyte and battery capacity. On the vskidku I can assume that the capacity of the order of 500-800 mAh.
Remote control. This is just what I was pleasantly surprised. Lepin uses radio control, the radius of action of which is about 20-30 meters, and even outside the line of sight. This is much better than the antediluvian IR control that is used in LEGO Power Functions. Works fine and without problems.
The model is interesting in the assembly, every part is used with maximum functionality. There are solutions with non-standard application of parts, a minimum number of frames and beams, and a maximum of connectors and small parts are used. Good playability and well-designed design. Minus model – perhaps alone – the lack of suspension. But I will emphasize again that the model is the merit of Madoka, and not Lepin.
In general, the model assembly is acceptable, but there are nuances due to the quality of the parts. As a result, I had to replace both gears that go from the servomotor to the Legovsky, both thrust from the steering mechanism, rear wheels (leading) also from Lego, since they have more tenacious tires. Replaced all the axes with a length of 6, 8, 10, 12, since the parts were dressed on the Lepin axis simply with tremendous effort, or they could not be joined at all. And then how to disassemble it – I can not imagine, I probably would have to use pliers.
Lepin instruction example
Instructions. If the LEGO has 1-2 assembly steps per page, then the Chinese, in order not to waste paper and ink, combined up to 4-5 assembly points in 1 step. If you are an experienced designer to understand it will not be a problem, but for a child it is extremely difficult.
Although the set is purchased new, the parts look like used. All shabby, in small scratches. Especially noticeable in the black parts, panels and beams. Why so – I do not know. Or such a production, or a package played football at customs. But the fact remains. My 1998 sets of LEGO look newer than the 2018 LEPIN production.
Is it worth buying a Lepin?
Is Lepin worth the money? Is it really a savings?
If you want to buy a designer for a child to assemble a model 1 time, 30 minutes was played and that’s all – perhaps yes. But why then choose a designer – buy him a radio-controlled model or a collectible typewriter!
LEGO is first and foremost a constructor. It implies the possibility of repeated assembly, variability, and a flight of fancy for design. Infinite versatility. Buying 1 set it is possible to assemble up to 3-5 full-fledged models, from absolutely the same parts, showing a little ingenuity.
Will Lepin live hundreds of assemblies? Will electronics live hundreds of hours of work? I doubt it. Lego will live. And if something breaks – you can order any part for free through LEGO Service with delivery. By the way, LEGO is positioning its designer as a toy with a lifetime warranty!
The Chinese kit requires the replacement of some parts, there is a rather high percentage of defects with servomotors, but if this is fixed, a good set is obtained for the game (for its price). As a designer, Lepin is still not the best choice, the pleasure of assembling is less than that of the original LEGO, everything is not so clearly connected, the quality of plastic is worse. Everything is worth its money, miracles do not happen. Perhaps the most ideal budget option would be to take electronics from Lepin, but assemble a model from the original LEGO parts.
Therefore, if you buy a designer for the long term, the LEGO is ultimately more profitable, even at a price that is not so affordable. And I want to note that you will not sell the used Lepin kit even at half price, but at best for a third of the cost (if everything does not break there). The cost of the used LEGO is 20% cheaper than the new set (average), but after 3-5 years, since the set is no longer available, even used sets in good condition are 1.5-2 times more expensive than at the time of purchase . If you have a new set, and it is 10 or more years old – the price tag can grow up to 5 or more times. If you don’t believe me, just look at the cost of the Model Team series sets or the UCS Star Wars sets!