Let’s be honest: when it comes to hobby construction, there are few strong alternatives to LEGO when it comes to quality or range if you want to build complex models from snappable bricks. However, the best LEGO alternatives are decent and cheaper options for kids who just want to play and have fun!
The best LEGO alternatives for kids
In 2010, the LEGO company lost its final appeal in the European Court of Justice, meaning it did not have exclusive patent rights over its studded toy bricks. This lost appeal opened the doors for a host of other companies to launch similar products.
Many of these alternatives represent better value for money, so you’ll get more pieces for the same cost, and it won’t be a big deal if your kids lose a few. Many are also excellent options for different ages and skills levels, and some offer licensed sets with popular TV characters.
Nifeliz takes its name from two Spanish words: “infancia”, meaning childhood, and “feliz”, which means happy. The Chinese-based company is best known for its excellent vehicle-inspired sets. It also offers a wide range of other types of products, including botanical and fossil kits and modern and historical architectural sets.
Most Nifeliz kits are labeled as ages 16+ and are generally pretty complex, with hundreds of tiny pieces, so they’re best suited to older teens. Furthermore, these sets generally don’t have the same level of detailed instructions, so a bit of experience is also helpful.
They do, however, offer excellent value for money. Niflex offers well-made and generally high-quality kits with similar themes as LEGO at a lower price point.
German brand BlueBrixx specializes in collectible Star Trek, historical sailing ships, and architectural landmarks. Most of these are more complex designs best suited to teens and adults, and they even have motor-powered car models for more experienced brick builders.
However, their diverse range also includes sets suitable for younger kids and beginners, with fantasy, botanical, and modern building themes. We also love their adorable mini architecture sets, which make a great desk or windowsill ornaments.
They have a large number of bricks-and-mortar stores across Germany, and you can also order their products online.
COBI’s sets are fun to build and educational: they are recreations of real historical icons. The Polish brand range includes NASA space shuttles, classic cars, WWII aircraft, the Concorde, and the Titanic.
Despite the complexity of these projects, some are suitable for younger brick builders, starting at eight years old. Although many are arguably more appropriate for teen and adult model makers, they’re a great way to teach young people about mechanics, engineering, and history.
WANGE, or Wange Education, is a Chinese company that offers LEGO-like brick building sets, mostly focused on architecture and iconic landmarks. Kids aged six and over can have tons of fun building famous spots, from the Roman Colosseum and the Taj Mahal to New York’s Flatiron building.
The brand also offers brick sets across a range of other themes, such as vehicles, military, as well as TV and video game characters. Though offering somewhat more basic designs with fewer features compared to their top competitors, WANGE kits are sturdy, high-quality, and affordable.
The Italian-based company offers large building blocks for toddlers that aren’t dissimilar to LEGO’s famous Duplo range. Their products are Duplo-compatible and very similar in design, though the colors are slightly different.
Their brick sets come in sturdy plastic tubs, complete with a lid that acts as the base to start building designs. Along with basic brick kits, they also have a range of cute sets in child-friendly themes.
The brand’s products are high-quality, safe, and lead-free. Although they’re slightly more affordable than Duplo, Unico’s products are still relatively expensive, so this isn’t really a cheap option.
6. Brain Flakes
Brain Flakes is a relatively new brand that was launched in 2010. Their disk-shaped pieces have slots around the outside, allowing you to build 3D models and sculptures.
The large, simple pieces are suitable for kids aged three and over, who can use them to make trees, flowers, cars, buildings, and more – their imagination’ll only limit them! Sets also come with detailed instructions for making all kinds of designs to get them started.
K’Nex’s building sets are made up of various styles and shapes of bricks, connectors, and other pieces, quite different from the rectangular blocks you may be used to. This gives a rather more realistic building experience, though it can also be more challenging for younger model builders.
However, once they get the hang of it, your kids will be able to make all kinds of interesting skyscrapers, amusement park rides, and even working crossbows and other toy weapons (which shoot soft foam darts). They also have sets geared at various ages and skill levels, starting with the Kid K’Nex range for ages seven and up.
Nanoblock is a line of high-quality micro brick sets produced by Kawada, a Japanese toy company founded in 1952. You can use these blocks to create a range of stunning 3D projects, from food, furniture, and everyday items to video game characters and Bonzai.
The brand offers kits for various age levels, including many options for younger builders to more advanced sets for older teens. The well-made, high-quality sets come with detailed, step-by-step instructions, making them suitable for all levels, including absolute beginners.
MEGA is one of the best-known LEGO alternatives, with a wide product range that almost rivals the original brand’s themes, variety, and quality. Owned by toy giant Mattel, the Canadian brand has plenty of fans, but it also has its critics, largely LEGO purists who see MEGA as a poor imitation.
However, these products are far from being cheap knockoffs: their products are well-made and versatile, with a price advantage over the “real” thing. Though slightly more affordable, MEGA products are not significantly cheaper than LEGO, it is worth noting.
MEGA offers value-for-money products for all ages, starting with large blocks for toddlers up to much more complex sets.
Hong Kong-based toy company Sluban offers LEGO-reminiscent sets at a significantly lower price point than the original. Their lightweight bricks are surprisingly sturdy once constructed, with kits marketed to kids between six and 12 years old.
Compatible with LEGO bricks, their sets cover similar themes, including vehicles, buildings, and military, but with a more limited range than several of their competitors. Sluban’s products also come with cute mini-figures, though these aren’t LEGO-compatible.
Geared towards younger kids, as the name suggests, Magna-Tiles sets are made up of magnetic tiles. These versatile pieces can fit together in virtually any way you like, allowing you to build a wide range of projects.
Their kits are also stem-approved, helping young minds to develop as they tap into their creativity and make unique designs. Their sets are suitable for kids aged three and up, and their versatility makes them great for older kids too.
12. Mould King
Mould King stands out for their quality construction, intricate designs, and cool gadgets. Though not the cheapest option, some of their sets include powered accessories, such as motor kits for operating vehicles.
The brand’s versatile range has everything from Sci-Fi star destroyers and historic Dutch sailing ships to modern streetscapes. Given the complexity of these designs, it’s unsurprising that Mould King’s sets are rated for teenagers and adults only.
Check out some of the other options on this list if you’re shopping for younger children.
13. Fun Little Toys
Fun Little Toys are more basic, affordable building brick sets suitable for younger children. Along with mixed kits of bricks in various colors and sizes, you can also buy the brand’s sets across themes such as animals and musical instruments.
Although not the best quality or the most interesting designs, Fun Little Toys’ products are sturdy, durable, and come with a low price tag. They make excellent stocking or party bag fillers, or to give to your kids as an introduction to brick building before they graduate to something more complex.
KRE-O offers a range of building sets at affordable prices, with blocks that are compatible with LEGO. Having said that, as with most “LEGO-compatible” sets, they tend to work better with their own bricks than with others.
The brand’s range includes a range of famous characters from TV and film, including Star Trek, Transformers, and Dungeons & Dragons. KRE-O also has it’s own modern streetscape range, Cityville Invasion that’s a great option for younger brick builders.
This German brand is an excellent alternative to the LEGO Technic line, offering high-level technical building sets for kids and teenagers. These educational sets are not only fun to build, but they also teach children about engineering and physics.
Their marble run and reactive kits have working parts that your kid can trigger, manipulate, observe, and learn. They even offer stem-rate robotic kits for beginners which are equally great for the classroom as well as self-learning.
Another brand focused on younger builders, Burgkidz’ products are suitable for toddlers as young as 18 months. The German company offers large building block sets and kits like cars, boats, and castles.
This brand offers educational and interactive sets like marble runs and vehicle tracks. Another of their stand-out products is their 5-in-1 Multi-Activity Table, with a tabletop that doubles as an activity base for your little one’s building projects.
One of the most affordable LEGO alternatives, but don’t be fooled: their products are also high-quality. On the downside, their range is limited, mainly focusing on cars, guns, military, and engineering sets.
Their Car Technic line comes with an optional remote control, so your kids can build a working vehicle and have fun driving it around.
What’s the best LEGO alternative?
Some of the best LEGO alternatives are high-quality, with a similar range of themes as the legendary Danish, for a lower price point. Other options offer an entirely different experience, unique shapes and educational opportunities.
Burgkidz and Magna-Tiles are ideal for toddlers and young children. If you’re looking for something very similar to LEGO, MEGA, Mould King, and Nifeliz are a good bet.
On the other hand, for a unique experience that will teach your kids about engineering and physics, take a look at K’Nex and Fischertechnik.
Once you’ve decided on a LEGO alternative to buy, use it to make this funky DIY cufflink project!