The World of Warcraft Mega Blok sets will make you miss LEGO bricks
We, as a people, have been spoiled by LEGO bricks. During the writing of this article I went on a mini-research binge to find out why LEGO bricks are so much better than the competition. “The LEGO manufacturing process is so precise that only 18 out of 1 million LEGO bricks produced is considered defective,” Neatorama told me. That’s cool! “Production of LEGO bricks with Acrylonitrile Butadine Styrene (ABS) began in 1963,” an official page stated. “This matt finish plastic is extremely hard, has a scratch and bite-resistant surface, and is ideal for keeping the bricks connected. LEGO labs regularly monitor the high quality of the ABS for the bricks.” I’m starting to think that a lot of engineering went into these simple plastic bricks. “When production begins, the granules travel through tubes to the injection molding machines. The machines use very accurate molds—their precision tolerance is as little as 0.002 millimeters,” HowStuffWorks said. LEGO spent much time working out how to make each brick as close to perfect as possible, and that’s why each brick feels so good in your hand, and connects with its brother and sister in such a satisfying way. The joy of the best toys is in the details, and LEGO bricks are made in an environment filled with detail-oriented people. I only bring this up because the World of Warcraft sets were made by Mega Bloks and, despite the high price of the models, there seems to be a little more than .002 millimeters difference between the bricks.
Get out your tools
I was sent the Goblin Zeppelin Ambush model kit, complete with three model figures. “Get ready for battle with Krazzle, the Goblin Rogue, and Light Hoof, the Tauren Paladin, featuring the highly collectable Judgement armor. Or stage a counter attack with Darkhowl, the Worgen Rogue, with his buildable Alliance crossbow as he plans a sneak assault on the Zeppelin,” the marketing materials stated. The kit also came with a random piece of loot in an opaque black plastic bag. I opened it and found a shield. Neat? The model carries a suggested retail price of $65, and comes with 310 pieces in total. How do you make a Zeppelin with only 310 pieces? Simple, make the balloon two large, custom slabs of plastic. This is another way LEGO has spoiled us; their designers do a great job creating each licensed model out of (mostly) standard LEGO bricks. Seeing how each model was designed is part of the fun, and last year my family enjoyed the LEGO Star Wars Nativity Calendar, where you get to put together a small Star Wars ship or character made up of only a few pieces. The designs were clever, as it really only takes a few pieces to make something that looks very much like the Millenium Falcon. The Mega Bloks set is almost more plastic toy than something you need to construct. The other problem was that the pieces simply didn’t fit together very well. I enlisted the help of my son to put together the kit, and he’s a veteran of damn near every intricate LEGO set that has been created in the past few years. He knows how to keep his head down, focus, and build neat things out of the tiny bricks, even when the instructions are pages of complex notes and tiny illustrations. He had trouble getting many of the Mega Bloks to fit together, and in some cases I had to force the pieces into place. The pieces simply didn’t feel like they were uniform, and much force had to be applied in some cases to get things to fit together. In one extreme case a plastic piece had to be slid into a slot on the bottom of the ship, and then a plastic peg from another piece had to click into place, locking the two pieces together. The problem was that nothing fit well together, even with my son and I working together to try to force the pieces. I ended up getting out pliers to expand both openings before everything fit together well. Once the model was built completely, everyone wanted to play with it. The little weapons really fire, and my son had fun swapping the armor on the little guys. The problem was that while half the pieces fit together too tightly, the other half of the bricks didn't want to stay together, which led to pieces constantly falling off and the ship having to be repaired. If you absolutely must buy this kit, be aware that it works best as a display piece and not as a functioning toy. The model doesn't look bad, and World of Warcraft is a powerful franchise, but once you get used to the precision and nearly perfect manufacturing process of LEGO bricks damn near everything else feels short. I shouldn't need to open my tool box to put together a LEGO-like model. Mega Bloks needs to step up its game.