April 24

How to identify fake LEGO parts



Here at BrickResales, we don’t just sell pre-loved LEGO parts – we also buy them. Taking on literal tonnes of LEGO parts means we’ve become really good at spotting genuine and not so genuine pieces. BrickResales team member Ed shares his tips for how to identify fake LEGO parts.

“There are two types of clones in the world of construction brick toys: legitimate brands and copies,” says Ed. “There are a few ways to tell genuine LEGO from the copies.”

Here are Ed’s top 9 tips for how to identify fake LEGO parts:

Look for the LEGO logo

The LEGO logo is found on the studs of almost every piece of LEGO. Legitimate brands may have their own name there, often moulded in a way that looks a little like ‘LEGO’. Look closely to check – a bright light might help. On very small pieces the logo might be absent, or interrupted by a mould mark so it looks a bit like ‘L.GO’. Some clones have no mark at all, making them much easier to identify.

  1. LEGO pieces with logo vs. clone pieces without
  2. LEGO round plate with logo interrupted by mould mark vs. clone piece with no logo

Look for moulding information

LEGO pieces also have moulding information, usually inside or underneath. There may be a copyright mark (Ó), or another LEGO logo and numbers referring to the moulding machine and position in the mould, which LEGO uses for quality control. Other brands may have single numbers or nothing.

  1. LEGO Tile underneath showing brand and mould information
  2. Clone tile with no brand or mould information

Look at the size

LEGO pieces are a standard size so that they can work ‘in system’ with each other. Most clone brands are compatible, but some are much smaller. If a piece looks like LEGO but is half the size, it’s a clone.
Whatever you do, don’t try to connect your genuine LEGO parts with clone brands and fakes – the microscopic difference in the size of the studs can cause the bricks to crack or split when forced together over time.

Look at the spelling

LEGO sets always have the LEGO brand on the package, and legitimate clones will have their brands clearly marked too. But if the package has brand that looks like LEGO but is spelled wrong, that’s a clone. The same thing goes for the set name or the licence. If the box spells ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Avengers’ wrong – or has something that looks like it comes from those shows but no name – it’s a clone too.

Look at the Minifigures

A Minifigure has a distinct design and shapes. Other brands may look very different, but unfortunately some are direct copies. LEGO Minifigures have the logo on top of the hips (between the studs), on top of the neck of the torso and, on newer figures, under the feet. If the head has a solid or hollow stud, the logo will be there as well – although some LEGO brand heads have a perforation there for safety if a child swallows it (please don’t eat your LEGO!).

  1. Clone figure and LEGO Minifigure obvious differences
  2. LEGO Minifigure with logo
  3. LEGO Minifigure heads with brand on Hollow Stud and Solid Stud
  4. Clone figure pieces with no logos

Look for inconsistencies

If you are familiar with LEGO, you might begin to notice that clone brands sometimes make pieces or styles of set that LEGO doesn’t. These could be bricks that are different shapes or themes that LEGO will not make as toys. For instance, LEGO does not make army sets like realistic tanks or aircraft carriers. Some companies also have licences to make brick toys for properties that LEGO does not make, such as computer games or horror movies.

Look at the quality

Some clones are good quality, but another sign of a copy is poor moulding. Clone pieces may have scars or tears where the pieces were broken off the mould frame, or have ‘flash’ – thin areas of plastic which have leaked between the halves of the mould and are still attached to the piece.

  1. Clone Star Wars animal with flash from gap in mould

Look out for custom work

There are companies and hobbyists who make custom items compatible with LEGO. Some of them use genuine LEGO pieces, which they print or paint to make popular characters or special pieces for holidays, city scenes and so on. These are sometimes very good quality (you get what you pay for) so if you find a Minifigure or printed brick you know LEGO has never made, but it has the LEGO logo on the pieces, that’s probably custom work. Interestingly, if you find a LEGO piece that has been custom electroplated by a hobbyist it will be one of the few times a piece feels heavier than a regular chrome coloured LEGO piece.

Sometimes an organisation will sell or give away custom sets made from genuine LEGO pieces. These could be replicas of a company’s trucks, or limited-edition souvenirs of a LEGO exhibition. If they use the word LEGO, it is to denote that the pieces are genuine. They should not have the LEGO logo anywhere on them. This is different to big businesses like Bunnings or Woolworths selling brick sets to promote their own brands. They are careful to not label those sets as LEGO, and they are clones.

  1. L to R LEGO Iron Man Custom Iron Man printed on genuine LEGO clone figure not so obvious differences

Look at the advertisement

If you are thinking of buying a LEGO set online and you aren’t sure if it is the real thing, check the advert for the word LEGO. Listings for clones may say things like ‘compatible with major brands’ or ‘non brand bricks’ even if the set looks like a direct copy of a LEGO set. Look the set up at the LEGO website or major retailer to get an idea of the price. If a website is selling a new set for a fraction of the price, it’s either a clone or an outright scam. You would lose your money and your personal information!

There are lots of resources for checking whether pieces are genuine LEGO: the LEGO website, fan sites like Brickset which publish news and reviews, and social media like Facebook and Reddit. Ask there and you should get some good advice.

Curious about selling your LEGO parts with BrickResales? Click here for everything you need to know.


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