Budget Brick Review - Grafix Block Tech Part 1
Today's Budget Brick Review is something a bit funky. It's the first part of a three parter and this is today's part:
Block Tech are a sub-brand of Grafix, a pretty well known name, which itself is a sub-brand of a company called RMS. I've got six of these things to review, well seven if you count the duplicate I accidentally picked up because these things kind of all look the same to me. Some of them I picked up at The Works, a high street book and stationary clearance store, and one of the pound stores, I think Poundland, but I'm not sure. The two I bought from The Works cost me £2 each, so I was kicking myself a bit when all of them turned up in a pound store.
Oh well, it happens.
The Block Tech Sports Shift GLX is not really something I'd have picked up if it wasn't for the fact that a) It's cheap and b) I review this stuff. Anyway, it's a brightly coloured hot-rod-ish sports car with a massive spoiler stuck on the back. The plastic wheels look a bit rubbish, but there are some vaguely useful bits if the box is to be believed.
The back of the box has the same photo of the car and background graphics as the front, just with a slightly different layout. There's also a whole load of extra text on there, most of which isn't of much interest. There is however one bit of text clearly missing.
Apparently nobody at the factory knows what that space is mneant for. Not a great start.
More generic backgrounds and still no product shots on anything other than the front or back. Tsk, tsk.
Opening up the box reveals this lot. Bag of bits? Check. Instructions? Check. Thick cardboard inner that looks like a scaled down but otherwise identical version of the one in the terrible, terrible, atrocious, ridiculously bad Weagle set? Check!
The instructions are clear and simple. No complaints here, other than the fact that the colours don't match up with the picture on the box. So, if the instructions use one colour scheme and the box uses another then what does the actual model use?
A different colour scheme to both of them of course!
That looks like the right amount of bits and bobs to build the car on the box though, so it's clearly beating that Weagle set. That said, half an Enlighten set fished out of a storm drain near a chemical waste plant would beat that Weagle set, so that's probably not saying a whole lot.
I really don't like that Weagle set.
Those parts are not dirty. They have not been scratched up. There is no funky light source making those patterns. They may well have been made of recycled bin bags and funnily enough a bin bag is exactly where these parts are going when I finish doing these reviews.
I don't know how clear this is going to be to everybody else because my camera hasn't really done a great job here. (It's clearly the camera's fault and not the photographer's because that would be unthinkable.) Those two blue pieces there, both from the same set, are different colours. In person it's quite noticeable. Either a) they're using two or more different factories who aren't using the same materials or b) they are really rubbish at getting their colours to be at all consistent between batches of parts. Either way, that is a major failing on their part.
Grafix, you are not doing well so far.
Oh dear. Things aren't getting any better here. There are three clear shades that make up their white pieces. Never mind doing a comparison between their colours, Lego, Mega Bloks and other brands. They can't even colour match their own parts.
Well, at least the stickers are correct, right?
Oh. Only half of them. Hmm...
Well, there haven't been any molding issues so far. That's good.
Grafix, you suck.
Grafix, your stickers suck.
I mean, really suck.
Really, really suck.
If you ignore the stupid colour issues, the stupid sticker issues and the stupid recycled bin bag curvy sloped pieces, this set isn't actually bad and I even got a free 2x4 flat piece thrown in.
Unfortunately, that's rather a lot of stupidness to ignore, in fact quite a bit more than I'm willing to. This set gets a three out of ten a great big “DO NOT BUY” label stuck on it.
Will the Thunderbolt GLX be able to pull things back and prove that Grafix can do a good job at this whole construction toy thing? At this point they'd have to pull off something rather special for my opinion of them to come up to anything you could call positive.
The back of this box is much like the back of the last box, right down to the missing batch number.
Again the sides of the box show an extention of the front and have a complete lack of product photos, or anything relevant to look at really. I supposed you can admire the weird lens flare without any pesky distractions that way.
Wasn't that nice?
Anyway, at this point I'd like to draw your attention to a graphic that's on all of these sets.
In their defence they don't say their high quality, but that “other” there does kind of suggest that they consider Block Tech to be a “leading brand”. I'm not convinced so far.
The instructions all see pretty... hang on.
What the hell? o_O
That doesn't make any sense at all.
This time there are only two different shades of white, which I suppose is a minor improvement. The black pieces however...
Well, they're not as hideous as the last ones, but would I use them in a build? Hell no!
Despite all the issues these sets have had so far there is something funky about them. Now, from what I've gathered researching various brick toys online those style plates and bricks were created years and years ago by one of the 'major brand compatible' companies to get around Lego's patent on the basic brick system, you know, the one which has expired now and that you don't have to avoid anymore. This system isn't quite as good as the way Lego do things, but as a way around the patent I suppose it was a pretty neat idea.
Why would anyone use it now though? There's no patent anymore on the other way. It just doesn't make any sense at all. Also, if this system is newer doesn't that mean that this one is more likely to have an active patent on it, assuming of course that anything exists of whichever company it was that developed that way of doing it?
Also weird: one red piece, which you can't even see when you finish the model. Why?Anyway, here's the final model without any stickers on.
Yes, I'm quite aware that it's incomplete. That would be because whereas the first set had an extra 2x4 plate this set was two 2x4 plates short, so there was no way attach the front window or the transparent orange slopey bits. They did very helpfully include a 2x3 and a 2x6 though, which is nice except for the fact that what I really needed was those 2x4 parts the instructions said I was suppposed to have.
So what about the stickers?
Like the last set the stickers only half match the box art. Unlike the last set I actually planned on using one of the stickers, the yellow and black diagonal stripes. That's one of the ones that's not actually included by the way.
In a surprise twist the stickers actually work this time, which unfortunately is not enough to redeem this thing that uses a less secure method of connecting the bricks, that is missing two rather important parts, that has pieces which I do believe are made out of recycled bin bags and that was apparently packed by someone who suffers from colour blindness. Also, is that a recoloured part of the Top Gear logo on the front?
I gave this set zero out of ten. If it turns out that this was one that I actually paid £2 for then I'm downgrading that to minus one out of ten.