LEGO vs FLEGO – Jungle Cat Edition
A while back, I got a couple of the LEGO City Jungle Exploration sets. Having a degree in wildlife biology put these sets on my must have list. I bought the Jungle Half Track Mission (click here to read my review) for the panther. I also bought the Jungle Exploration Site (click here for my review) to get the leopard. At the time that I planned my purchases, the Jungle Air Drop Helicopter was not available in Canada. It was released a couple of months later, but I decided not to get it for budget reasons. However, tigers are my favorite big cat, and the tiger is only available in the Jungle Air Drop Helicopter set. So, I went to Bricklink and ordered just the tiger for myself. I spent quite a bit of money to get these three cats. It would have cost me even more if it weren’t for Bricklink. I would imagine that many LEGO fans out there are also wondering if all that money is worth it, especially since the knockoff Chinese brands are also producing these cats for much cheaper. For me, it was a no brainer. I wanted the real LEGO versions, and the sets they came in. But, for review purposes, I also ordered myself a set of the FLEGO (fake LEGO) versions in case anyone out there is wondering if they are worth it or not.
When you order a set of the FLEGO Jungle cats, they come in separate little bags. You get a leopard, a panther, a white tiger, and a regular tiger. The white tiger is interesting, because it is not available in LEGO form. Another difference from the LEGO versions is that the FLEGO cats come disassembled. The LEGO cats come pre-assembled in a separate little bag from the rest of the bricks in the set. I am not opposed to having to assemble the cats, but it made one major flaw obvious right from the get-go. The FLEGO pieces do not fit together as seamlessly as the LEGO versions. This is most apparent in the back legs, where there is a permanent gap between the pieces that no amount of squeezing will eliminate. All of the FLEGO cats have this same problem. They also all have rough ridges along many of the seams.
In terms of the mobility of the FLEGO cats, their rear leg and neck joints move with about the same ease as the LEGO version. However, when placed on a flat surface, the LEGO cats all stand level and firm. As soon as I placed the first FLEGO cat on my table, I noticed it wobbled. When I bent down to eye level to examine it more closely, I noticed that it also leaned to one side. After assembling all of the FLEGO cats, I found that they each did the same. This begged the question, how well do they attach to LEGO pegs if they can’t even stand firm on a flat surface? The answer was not too well. You can get the cats to attach to a LEGO baseplate, but it takes a little bit of force.
I have to say that I was intrigued while ordering these that there was a white tiger in FLEGO. As a biologist, I know that white tigers have no conservation value these days, given the level of inbreeding they have endured. However, I have always found these animals beautiful in their own right, and wish that we had not ruined their genetics. So, I was happy to get a FLEGO version. The printing on both the FLEGO white tiger and the regular, orange one is the same. The white tiger is printed on white plastic (obviously), and therefore does not need the white detailing that its orange counterpart has. I really wish that they had gone the extra mile and printed the eyes of the white tiger blue. In terms of how they compare to LEGO, the stripe patterns are identical. Oddly enough, the eyes and nose are not exactly the same on LEGO and FLEGO, but both look fine. The paint quality is, however, another issue. As with other FLEGO I have reviewed, the paint seems thin in places, and nowhere near as vibrant as in the LEGO version. The edges of painted sections are also not as crisp in the FLEGO version.
The leopard follows the same pattern as the tiger. The paint job is a little sloppy and thin, but, again, the pattern is the same on both LEGO and FLEGO. The eyes and nose of the FLEGO leopard match those of the FLEGO tiger, which is again a little different from the LEGO leopard.
Though not apparent in the photo below, in the panther the difference in plastic becomes really apparent. The LEGO panther has a nice sheen to it. The FLEGO panther is quite matte by comparison. Again, the eye paint is not as vibrant as on the LEGO version either.
In terms of the price, you can’t beat the FLEGO cats. If you want to get the real LEGO ones on Bricklink, they will cost you $10-20 depending on which cat you want, and then you will have to add on shipping. Or, you have to buy them as part of set, which is fine if you want the sets. But, buying all three sets that contain a cat will cost $375 CAD, before taxes. The FLEGO versions cost me $12 with free shipping. I also got a FLEGO camel in the set (based on the one from the Prince of Persia sets). That is $2.40 a figurine.
Are these FLEGO cats terrible knock-offs? No, they are not. They are not as good quality as the real LEGO ones though. They suffer from many of the same flaws as other FLEGO I have reviewed. The paint is not as vibrant, and the detailing is a little shoddy. The plastic is inferior quality. The sculpts are also not perfect. Each cat leans a bit, and wobbles when placed on a flat surface. It also takes a little force to get them to connect to LEGO studs. But, again, they are not THAT bad. When the City Jungle theme reaches retirement, FLEGO will be a cheaper, and dare-I-say acceptable, substitute to avoid the over-priced secondary market.
As always, feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below. Until next time,