Military Building Sets from Sluban

January 10, 2013
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Okay, we’re going off the grid a bit on this one.  We’re gonna take a look at some knock-off lego sets direct from China.  The company that put these particular sets out is called Sluban and I imported them via the nifty site a2ztoystore.com , they feature building block sets, transformers, and super hero toys with a distinctly asian flavor.  We’ll have a look at some of the wackier offerings soon, but this time around we’re gonna look at some military-esque sets that have more than a slight resemblance to vehicles from a certain evil terrorist organization and some real american heroes.

Packaging is about what you’d expect, that is to say cheap.  Flimsy cardboard outer box with a cardboard tray containing plastic bags filled with the pieces.  Some decent pictures of the sets featured on the box and writing I cannot decipher, so I have no idea what the set is actually called.  On the back is a picture of a cross section of a small child’s head with lines pointing to various sections of his brain.  I like to think it is showing the specific areas of the brain the high lead content will attack, but that seems a poor marketing strategy.  Instructions are pretty standard fare and easy enough to follow.

Okay, so the big question is how do the actual bricks stand up to LEGO?  Well, the answer is a mixed bag.  Some of the pieces feel just like LEGO bricks.  Firm, snap together well, crisp.  Other pieces feel more like Mega Blocks.  A bit softer, not so much a “snap” together feel, more of a “squish” together feel.  All in all, the sets feel somewhere in between Mega Blocks and LEGO.  Worlds better than Kre-O at any rate.  The sets are solid builds if not really inventive.  These are straight forward, no cutesy builds.  It reminds me a lot of a Mega Blocks build.  Not necessarily clever, but more than serviceable.

The mini-figs are the disappointment.  Clearly they are cribbed from a LEGO fig, but very cheaply done.  The plastic is extremely flimsy on the figs and arms and legs both tend to just pop out if you look at them cross-eyed.  The accessories however are nice and feel like LEGO pieces.  Nice to have some weapons and futuristic helmets.  The printing on the figs that have it is fairly well done, if not quite LEGOtastic.  The faces clearly are trying to evoke LEGO without completely copying it, and looks odd, but strangely hilarious in that toddler that looks like an old man kind of way.

Okay, what attracted me to this particular set is the inclusion of two vehicles that clearly look to be inspired either directly or indirectly by G.I. Joe vehicles, namely the classic Water Moccasin and Cobra Gunship from the Joe movie.  They are fairly simplistic, blocky, and plain, but I still kinda dig em.  Sure a huge part is how cheap they were (around $22 for the set imported) and getting something on the cheap always makes it look better, but these are fairly decent.  If anyone remembers the BTR era, and no with Kre-O, you know how poorly designed and executed military stuff can be in building block form.  As cool of an idea as G.I. Joe LEGOs are, what we’ve been handed so far frankly sucks.  These sets renew my faith that it could be done.  Are they perfect, no.  But you can see where with a bit of tweaking, we could get really cool G.I. Joe themed building sets.

Your mileage is gonna vary on how much you dig something like this.  It’s not a great set, but for the money, you’re gonna be hard pressed to get better bang for your buck.  The mini-figs aren’t worth much, but the sets are a nice build that leaves you with a solid toy that I can attest is 4 year-old proof.  If you got a hankering for something a bit different, I’d recommend these, especially if you can put together a big enough order to make shipping not a killer.

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