Daenerys and Drogon… MEGA Construx
I am about to commit AFOL sacrilege. I imagine fans cringing and purists crying out in rage. This Dragon Week entry is a MEGA Construx product review. That’s right, this is the first non-LEGO® building kit ever reviewed here at True North Bricks. Why, you ask? Well, I am planning to build a killer custom dragon. Consequently, I am building several brick kits in order to learn techniques. I saw Daenerys and Drogon on liquidation at Chapters. It was 50% off. For that price, I figured why not? The box art shows an impressive beast. I thought I’d stray to the dark side and see how a MEGA Construx dragon compares to the LEGO® models. Will I learn anything transferable to my LEGO® MOC? Read on to find out.
DAENERYS AND DROGON SUMMARY
- NAME: Daenerys and Drogon
- SET #: N/A
- THEME: MEGA Construx Black Series – Game of Thrones
- COST: $99.99 CAD
- BRICK COUNT: 735
- MINIFIGURES: 1
- RELEASE DATE: September 1, 2019
DAENERYS AND DROGON QUICK REVIEW
- VALUE: 91% (A LOT of build time at a good cost-per-brick.)
- BUILD: 80% (Brick coloration varies a lot, instructions confusing, but nice model.)
- MINIFIGURES: 60% (Nice figurine, but you only get one with no accessories.)
- ENTERTAINMENT: 70% (Perceived lower quality, but a fun playset.)
- OVERALL SCORE: 75% (Satisfactory set.)
DAENERYS AND DROGON REVIEW
I do not know how much MEGA Construx sets usually go for. I have never built one before. However, I can make comparisons to similar LEGO® sets. The Drogon set originally cost $99.99 in Canada and consists of 735 bricks. The resulting cost-per-brick is $0.136. Compared to LEGO® Brand sets, that is fairly average. Based on all the sets reviewed here at True North Bricks, our LEGO® average is $0.138. Consequently, I rate the value of Daenerys and Drogon at 81%.
In terms of build time, I spend a whopping four hours and 23 minutes on this set (263 minutes). That is a LONG build for a set of this size. At full price, each minute of build time cost me $0.38. I don’t think I have ever gotten that much assembly time value out of a LEGO® set. Comparatively, the average cost-per-minute of build time that I see with LEGO® kits is $0.84. Now, there are several reasons why this build took so long that relate to the build experience. As such, I will detail them in the next section. For now, I will say this set provides an excellent amount of build time for the price. I rate that at 100%.
This set provided me with a lot of build time for the price.
At full price, I rate the overall value of Daenerys and Drogon at 91%. Of course, I did not pay full price for this set. I got mine for $50. At that price, the cost-per-brick shoots down to about $0.07, bringing the score up to a solid 100%. You will have a hard time finding this set these days, especially at that price, because Mattel retired the set. There is no denying that compared to a LEGO® set, this kit provides a lot of build time at a good price, even without a discount.
We already established this set took me a long time to build. Partly, that resulted from an unfamiliarity with the bricks. Yes, the bricks are different. The brick shapes are more varied with a number of very similar little pieces. However, the process itself is the real difference. Firstly, the instructions are simply not as clear. The LEGO® Group has ironed out instruction clarity to an art after decades of producing sets. While the MEGA brand has also been around for a while, it still trails in building instruction clarity. The instructions combine multiple steps in one. While they color code studs to show brick placement, I still find the process more confusing than LEGO®.
Secondly, the bricks are all the same or similar in color. When you build LEGO® sets, they intentionally use brightly colored bricks in places you cannot see from the exterior. This helps you orient yourself in the instructions. It also helps you differentiate between bricks faster as you build. Drogon is a sea of dark grey. It is hard to find the pieces you need at times.
Oddly, I had a lot of large bricks leftover after finishing.
Thirdly, the numbered bags do not properly coincide with the steps in the instructions. You may be told to open bags one and two. However, when you reach bags three and four, you still have a load of bricks leftover from one and two. Some of them appear in later steps… some of them don’t. I have a lot of bricks leftover after building Drogon, and I have no idea where they go. Maybe I missed them in the confusing instructions, maybe they are just extra. All I know is that if I have that many large bricks left over from a LEGO® set after building, I have done something really wrong. However, Drogon looks complete…
Alright, enough about the differences between LEGO® and MEGA. Let’s talk about the dragon. I have to admit, Drogon looks impressive. There are a number of bricks used to make it that LEGO® does not produce, so recreating it exactly with LEGO® would be difficult. But some of the techniques are adaptable. I love a lot about this design. The rear legs are probably my favorite part. The legs were the weak point on the Fire and Water Dragons from the LEGO® Group. While I liked the leg design on the Skull Sorcerer’s Dragon, I like Drogon’s legs much more. In particular, the feet look great. Far better than the LEGO® models.
The leg design is a real highlight of this set.
The wings are also great. Much like the LEGO® models, the wings are cloth. However, they are a different material. These ones are a bit silkier. Additionally, the detailing and coloring is amazing. However, the cut is not quite the right size for the frame design. It wrinkles in places. On top of that, the ball joints used to attach the fingers of the wings are not very sturdy. More than once, they popped out of place while I was posing the dragon. Otherwise, the wings are fully poseable and maintain their position well. Perhaps the most impressive aspect is their sheer size, 89.2 cm across.
The torso also looks great. The form is life-like, yet fantastical at the same time. The spines all over are amazing. I even like the little rubber fins all along the back. They cause a small separation in the bricks though. I did not find any structural instability in their use. However, there is one section of the tail where you can see the separation. And speaking of the tail, sadly it is one of the weaker points. It is blocky, and the joints do not blend into the design as well as in other areas of the build. The same can be said for the neck. It does not taper nicely into the head. I much prefer the LEGO® tail designs for their ability to whip in a snake-like motion.
The rubber fins cause some separation between bricks, but it didn’t compromise clutch power.
The other issue I have with this model is the coloring. The bricks are all marbled. I don’t have an issue with that as such. However, the coloring varies widely from brick to brick. One brick might be dark grey, but the another of the same type appears almost red. Additionally, the paint job on the head lacks finesse. Particularly the red of the gums. It bleeds a little. Perhaps I am too ingrained in LEGO®, but I feel like MEGA tried a little too hard to be detailed. But it comes off looking a little cheap. There is something to be said about simplicity. Sometimes less is more.
Ultimately, the build process was confusing, making the process long. The wings look great but have some minor structural issues. I also do not like the tail and neck much. It’s not that they’re bad, but they are blocky. The coloration of the bricks and paint on the head is also not great. Despite all that, I can’t deny that Drogon looks impressive. There are a few interesting techniques too. The highlights are really the main torso and the legs. I would be lying if I said I did not like this model. I rate this build at 80%.
Daenerys and Drogon comes with only one “Minifigure”. Truthfully, it more of a small action figure than the minifig you’d expect in a LEGO® kit. Daenerys features 12 points of articulation, compared to the seven seen in standard LEGO® characters. MEGA brand also made some effort to make this character’s build and facial structure similar to that of actress Emilia Clarke. Is it better than a LEGO® Minifigure? It is different. I think whether or not it is better depends on personal preference in this case. I love LEGO® Minifigures. Additionally, I love that I can customize, mix, and match my Minifigure parts. Daenerys is limited in that regard. However, Game of Thrones fans might enjoy that she looks more like the actress than a Minifigure ever would.
All things considered, Daenerys is a detailed figurine. Her hair features molded braids, and her torso has printing that mimics fabric texture. Additionally, she wears a skirt composed of supple plastic that does not hinder leg mobility much. Sadly, she does not come with any accessories. Additionally, unlike a LEGO® minifig, she only sports one facial expression. I rate the character design at 80%.
Daenerys does not offer the mix and match potential of a Minifigure, but has more articulation.
One figurine in a 735-piece kit is not very good. Of course, I say this using LEGO® Group standards. I have never purchased a MEGA Construx set before. All the same, I wish this set came with more. If I rate Daenerys and Drogon based on my usual LEGO®-based scale, it doesn’t even register. We’re talking a negative value here. Games of Thrones is a retired MEGA theme, so I can’t easily make a comparison there either. However, the current Masters of the Universe (MOTU) theme looks like it averages around 210 bricks/fig. Consequently, the Drogon set does not provide many figurines even by that comparison. We are still talking a negative number in terms of score.
To be fair, since my rating system is entirely based on LEGO® standards, I will not give this set a zero in terms of brick-to-fig ratio. However, I still do not think it deserves a pass based on MEGA’s own MOTU theme. I rate the ratio at 40% overall. Averaging this with the design score gives an overall figurine rating of 60%.
Am I entertained by Drogon? Perhaps. I liked some of the build techniques and the dragon looks nice. Close inspection reveals color issues and paint job flaws though. However, it remains an impressive display piece for dragon enthusiasts and fans of Game of Thrones. MEGA products remain compatible with LEGO® bricks, so you can swap out Daenerys for a minifig as well. Will I keep this model built? The jury is still out if I like it THAT much. It is certainly not my favorite set, but I was impressed with it at the same time. I also think there is a lot of play value with this set. As a kid, I was not as much of a LEGO® purist as I am today. I doubt the brick brand would have phased me much. This would have just represented a really cool dragon for me as a kid.
In terms of my quest to learn brick-built dragon anatomy, Drogon was insightful. However, many of the techniques will be difficult to recreate with LEGO® bricks given the different types of pieces used. Additionally, the brick quality is different. I would never dream of mixing these with my LEGO® collection. I could be imagining it, but I think they feel like lower quality plastic… perhaps softer. I also found several bricks did not connect well and needed some wiggling to get in place properly. In the end, I cannot use these bricks for anything else. Consequently, Drogon offers no future build potential or entertainment. I rate the entertainment value at 70%.
OVERALL SCORE: 75%
Drogon provided a lot of build time for the price at a cost-per-brick not far off from the average LEGO® brick. However, considering you pay close to the same, the quality of the bricks is markedly different. While my opinion on this matter is purely subjective and not based on any actual proof, I think the bricks are lower quality for the same price. There are color and connectivity issues in my set, but I have no comparison to say if that is consistent across all MEGA Construx sets.
With that said, the model is nice when complete, and an impressive size. I like many of the techniques used to build it. However, several of those cannot translate in LEGO® brick form, given major differences in component pieces. Additionally, I have no use for these bricks. The perceived quality issues I have with the bricks mean I will never mix them with my LEGO® collection. Kids will likely enjoy it as a dragon figurine and playset though. In the end, I do like this build, but I do not love it. It also does not inspire me to buy more MEGA brand sets. What do you think of Daenerys and Drogon, or of MEGA Contrux in general? Let us know in the comments below or reach out on social media.
Until next time,
p.s. For other dragon related reviews from True North Bricks, click here.
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