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Clone Brands Train discussions

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It's certainly interesting to see how clone brands attempt to ride off the success of Lego with near-direct copies of certain elements. I'm not planning on getting any clone brand sets [There's really only room in my budget for Lego :devil: ], but it's almost scary how they manage to create seemingly direct copies of certain Lego parts!

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I mean, that train baseplate looks just about exactly the same as a standard Lego one.

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Typical Chinese industrial design philosophy. Intellectual property means nothing to them, why go to the effort of designing something when you can reverse engineer someone else's, make an almost similiar quality copy of it, and sell that at a price that undercuts the original?

In my view, they are riding heavily on Lego's coat tails due to the fact that a) some people (buying for children etc) can't distinguish between this and Lego, b) people who can't or aren't willing to pay Lego's prices and will accept the cheap and nasty knockoff.

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It was just like Christmas morning this morning because the local courier guy delivered my Banbao Trainsets :sweet::grin:

The sets are the 8228 Freight Set and the 8221 Hi-Speed Passenger Train Set. These are the only two trainsets Banbao makes, but they do have a basic track set and a points/switches set as well which I didn't purchase this time around. They also make an individual City Railway Station Set too, though I have no plans to buy it.

The importer and distributor for Banbao in New Zealand is a business woman who decided to become the local distributor after her kids were given some Banbao sample sets and as they really enjoyed playing with them she thought it worthwhile to investigate the brand further.

Because I'd purchased quite a few Banbao sets from her in the past she also gave me a free 8223 passenger coach set to go with the Hi-Speed trainset which I thought was really nice of her.

The trainsets have a complete set of motorising components in the set box along with radio control gear so they can be remotely operated.

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My original idea with buying these sets was to mine them for components, but now that I've been able to source Lego motor blocks and PF parts through Bricklink for waaaay cheaper than they cost here in NZ I'm starting to strongly consider assembling the locos according to the instructions and making use of them. One thing in their favour is that the locos in the sets are Electric and not Diesel (never been keen on diesels). A major electrification project was undertaken here in the Central North Island not so long ago and the locos used on the Main Trunk Line are all overhead electric traction these days. Soooooo I thought if I made my 1920s NZGR steam loco and rolling stock models as well as the vintage old style station and yard be the property of a preservation society I could then still lay track and overhead wire supports for a modern day mainline. We have a vigorous preservation scene here in NZ so all this is quite plausible.

Well apart from the Hi-speed train as we don't have anything like that at the moment, but I'll just say the layouts set in 2015 and we do now :laugh:

I've decided to review the Freight set first and after that I'll review the Hi-speed passenger set provided I haven't bored everyone to tears the first time around.

Edited by Locomotive Annie

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I know i'm looking forward to your reviews - if nothing else, there's always something new to see and maybe copy.

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As it's not a good day for model flying(my other hobby). I'll use my new camera to get some inside pics of the enlighten trains.

I know some people might not like "clone" brands, and believe this is Blasphemy. Once one has bought all the Lego, this is the next best thing...

One interesting fact, they use doors! Saves the passengers having to walk through solid surfaces to get to their seats. Quite novel design also on the windows. All the motifs are printed straight onto the bricks. Looks better and won't get unstuck. Even the windows have curtains and detail.

I reckon Lego should "clone" some ideas from here.

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Major toht on a train!?!?

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I like the silver roof, except for the swirls in the plastic. With better quality flat silver parts it'd be awesome. I don't like that the bogeys don't match, but I suspect that's due to the 9v motors being added and they come from the factory matching.

Overall designs are ok but a bit plain. Granted, I'm coming from Emerald night, Maersk, and Horizon express. They compare well to the Lego kid sets like the cargo trains and the 7938 passenger train.

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What I find hilarious is they are so lazy they cannot even make their own oil company:"Entan"?!? With the same logo? You've gotta be kidding me.

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From the pictures the roof of the green wagon looks like a cheap plastic and the characters don't seem to have the precise tolerances of their lego cousins ...or I'm wrong? :look:

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i have some of the elighten stuff, bought this when i was getting back into lego. looked good for the price. They look ok and if you cant aford lego they are an ok sub for them. I gave my stuff now to my 4y/o to use as i dont like it now lego looks much better.

This big big issue i had with these was the bricks dont stick together aswell as lego, as in the model breaks easyer. So kids playing with them you spend alot of time fixing them. I need to find a night where i can get these of my boys and put them in the bin.

But yes they are copys but Megablocks are no diffrent they are a nice brick and they do some nice kits i have a few.

money for value is spot on. They are cheap to buy and are as good as what you pay for no diffrent to lego you pay for what you get.

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What I find hilarious is they are so lazy they cannot even make their own oil company:"Entan"?!? With the same logo? You've gotta be kidding me.

... well I guess they do that deliberately. That makes them look even closer to original LEGO.

Regards,

Thorsten

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I have quite a bit of Enlighten rolling stock now as well as a growing collection of Enlighten minifigs. I've found that the quality of the Enlighten minifigs to be good, they fit together well, don't fall apart like those by Liago do, and the printing on the torsos and faces while sometimes plain is very well done. Generally I've found the clutch on Enlighten bricks to be good and in some cases actually to be superior to Lego, Some aspects of the design of the passenger carriages, eg. 628, are weak with the side that is hinged to access the interior, but it is possible to build the coach so it doesn't open which makes it much stronger. The Enlighten goods wagons are frank cribs of the Lego MOT wagons, but on the other hand Lego doesn't make them anymore, so I guess all Enlighten is doing is filling a gap in the marketplace that is starved for readily available brick built goods wagons that can be purchased individually outside of a complete set.

I'm no great fan of diesels, but I'm awfully tempted to buy that green Enlighten diesel because it's such a nice design and looks good in a very English prototype sort of way. The other Enlighten diesels no; - we did have similar kinds of diesels here in New Zealand, but they were all over dark red with speed whiskers in gold so there's not enough in the way of suitable bricks in these sets to even make a start in on building representative models.

At the moment I'm assembling the Banbao trainsets I've just purchased (and yes I will be posting a review of the freight set soon) and I'm really enjoying myself. I'd purchased quite a lot of Banbao before, - their military sets back when I was still brick wargaming, - and it's very plain that Banbao have been working hard to improve their product. The bricks in the trainsets have a new logo mark on the end of the studs that I haven't seen before and the new Banbao bricks have a different feel about them as compared to the older ones I have. The clutch is very much improved and the bricks hold together very well. Banbao have also developed a new minifig design which they call 'Tobees' and these assemble in a way that is completely new. The Tobees can also pivot at the waist which is entirely new. Banbao are still making minifigures that match in well with traditional minifigures, but they share the same assembly method and design as the Tobees as well as being able to pivot at the waist.

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The chap in the hat and the green shirt on the extreme left is a new Banbao minifig with pivoting waist and the rest are all the new Tobees; - all except for Olivia on the end of course! So whatever the scrap Lego had with Banbao was, the result is that Banbao now seem to be working to establish their own unique designs and improve quality which can only be a good thing.

The strange thing is though the Banbao Freight trainset has Tobees and the Hi-speed train set has minifigs so I'll be very interested to see if these minifigs are the new design or the old design (haven't opened the box yet, - great willpower on my part, yes?). The Tobees aren't quite my cup of tea and since I have more than enough traditional minifigs to staff my railway I'll just be packing them away in my storage crates for my grandchildren to play with........ When I actually get some grandchildren that is!

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I've been waiting for my MOT locos to arrive from Bricklink and as a result a general lack of working brick compatible steam locos about the place can make a girl go searching in far away lands for a way to keep the freight and varnish moving without breaking the bank. I'd heard of the loco made by Sluban before, but going by what the moan brigade had to say about them they were not only cheap and nasty, but were likely to bring about the fall of Western Civilisation as well. Not believing a bar of it I ordered two from Hong Kong and they arrived about two weeks after placing the order.

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Sluban trainsets are a little strange in that the loco is sold individually with a circle of track; - much wider radius track than Lego I hasten to add, - and if you buy either of the two sets of brick built rolling stock you get further pieces of track that allows you to make an oval of track. I didn't want any of the rolling stock sets because to put it bluntly the wagons just look plain odd and even if they built up perfectly and rolled sweetly I couldn't see me using them for anything else except being a source of spare bricks.

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Besides Sluban sell track packs which are a really good deal so I didn't need to buy any sets of odd looking wagons just to get more track. Sluban track is around 0.5mm wider in gauge than Lego, Enlighten and Banbao's trackwork, but in practice this isn't a problem. The loco fits nicely on Lego & etc's straight track, but doesn't like the curves which are too tight for an 0-6-0 with all flanges on. Sluban doesn't make points/switches, but I've figured out a way to modify Banbao points so they will work ok with these wee locos.

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The individual loco sets come without decals as it's only the Sluban sets with locos included that have stickers in the box. This suited me fine as I will be decorating these little locos to look like they belong on a Kiwi branchline such as the Kotanga Tramway. What particularly drew me to these locos is that they are proportioned to represent a narrow gauge locomotive being 7 studs wide, 13 studs high and 24 studs long (not counting the cowcatcher). Even bone stock out of the box they don't look so bad at all .parked alongside my single Fairlie and 'F' class loco.

Having used Chinese made trainsets of various kinds as a source of bits for more serious models for some years now I found no surprises with this little Sluban loco. Compared with most of the ones I've seen this Sluban loco is actually reasonably good. It runs on 3 voils and takes two AA sized batteries in the boiler, the battery compartment is very cleverly hidden beneath a panel in the boiler top which is accessed by undoing a screw inside the funnel. As is usual for this kind of loco it is powered on the rear driving wheels which have rubber traction tyres. The other two driving wheel pairs are just along for the ride and are unpowered. This little loco has one piece side rods that pretend to be coupling rods, connecting rods and valve gear all in one. Nothing I haven't seen before in other Chinese trainsets, it's just that Sluban actually manage to make quite a convincing job of it and they don't offend the eye at all. On the cab roof there are two switches, one for fwd-off-rev and the other turns on the train sounds chip. One of the first things I will be doing is removing the sound chip and speaker because the sound effects are terrible and I can assure you they won't be missed by anyone unless they have a serious hearing deficiency. The loco also has a working headlight with a LED not a bulb. The headlamp body is just a featureless plastic box, which is a pity because most of the other details are reasonably convincing.

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With the aid of a small Phillips screwdriver and my Swiss Army knife I found it wasn't too hard to dismantle a Sluban loco. They come apart quite easily once all the screws are all removed and the wheels are gently eased off their axles. The only tricky part is removing the cab roof from its clips, but after a bit of a fiddle I persuaded it to come off without any damage. At this point you may now unscrew the sound chip from inside the boiler, clip the wires and throw it as far far far away from you as it's possible to do it.

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Inside the loco body you will find three pieces of steel barstock intended to provide some traction weight, two pieces of grubby sponge rubber which help pack the motor/gearbox assembly inside its casing and of course the sound chip and speaker which you should have thrown away by now.

The motor and gearbox casing stands vertically inside the firebox/boiler end and the gearbox is well packed with white lithium grease. The gears are made from white engineering plastic and there is a spring loaded overun clutch on the final drive axle to protect the mech against being overloaded or stalled. By the way if anyone is wondering why there is a black 6x2 plate in the picture, this fits into the rear of the cab so your minifigs have something to stand on so they won't fall off. The plate is released once the bodyshell is split apart.

I'm going to perform experiments on the loco I've taken apart and will be seeing if I can fit it up for radio control using parts from a toy car. There is certainly plenty of room inside the bodyshell for fitting the necessary bits in. I've got some other mods in mind as well to make it more 'bricky', so purists please check that your heart meds are up to date or else don't look because I won't be held responsible for any sudden health related trama you might suffer :innocent:

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Thanks for the photos of the 'Tobees' Annie, I've not been to the store in awhile and haven't seen those here yet. The HUGE market I like to browse in is way down south so it's a bit of a struggle to get down there. I'm looking forward to your review of the BanBao train set. What did you pay for that, can I ask? It's about US$ 50 in the stores here in Beijing and less than that online ($ 35 maybe, I forget). I'm kinda off BanBao to be honest but that train could be ok. I wish Sluban or Enlighten would come out with a decent RC train set.

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I'll be finishing the Freight train reveiw soon bjtpro. I have most of the photos taken for the reveiw (can't take photos for toffee) and then it will just be writing it all up.

The Freight trainset cost $NZ145.00 and the Hi-speed Passenger train cost $NZ113.00. For what comes in the box the price isn't so bad, but as always here in New Zealand it's the shipping costs that pushes the price up. Sounds like your Beijing prices are a steal to me and you should go for it.

Advert your eyes now purists for I've been making one of my Sluban locos 'bricky' With the the aid of a razor saw, magic type hi-tech two part activated plastic glue and a broken 24 stud Englighten train base I've converted the Sluban mech and lower chassis half so anything I please can be built on top of it.

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This is all very experimental and WIP, but I'm aiming for a loco to haul logging disconnects and flat wagons of sawn timber. Essentially I copied the idea of a 2nd hand government railways loco in timber industry rebuilt guise with a plain squared off oversized cab and extended bunker for carrying slabwood for fuel. The added pony wheel under the bunker is also a fairly typical industry mod too. I may rebuild it in either brown or grey yet, it's just that I didn't have quite the right bricks when I was trying things out last night, It would great if Lego did curved slopes or even ordinary slopes in a corrugated iron finish, because that's what these locos usually had for a cab roof.

The batteries will be going in the bunker covered by some of these http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItem.asp?P=2431pb243 and these http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItem.asp?P=2431pb132 and these http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItem.asp?P=6636pb057. The cab is large enough to hide a r/c board from a toy car so it will be fun to see if I can get all this to work.

I don't like the Sluban cylinders and even though I've sawed them about to make them smaller they still need to be cut down a lot further yet..

I'll post more pictures once I've been able to whip this loco a little more into shape.

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I have most of the photos taken for the reveiw (can't take photos for toffee) and then it will just be writing it all up.

Why not join the Reviewers Academy? There's some good stuff in there about how to take good photos with minimal equipment. I was allowed in (so just about anyone can get in!) a month or so ago, unfortunately I've not really had time to pursue it properly.

Have fun, Joe

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just get 2-3 desk lamps with some bright energy saves and you will be away even with a cheap cam. get a cardboard box and cut out the left and right side and the top and tape over some baking paper. get an A1 sheet of paper and tape it on the insdie of the box and you have a light box for about $50 thats if you have to buy the lamps. If you have lamps mabye 5-10nz not even that.

Put a lamp on each side and on over the top, then take picks and they will come out nice. I take alot of pics of my warhammer in this way and it works with anything.

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Thanks for the photo tips Lazurus, I'll have an experiment and see if I can improve things.

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'Try it again Harry,' says Olivia after her third attempt at trying to get the loco to start.

Puss has been trying to do his best to tell them that the main switch is in the off position, but no-one seems to be taking any notice.

Sorry, the review has been delayed as I have house guests at the moment, but as soon as I get a a clear afternoon to write everything up I'll post the Freight train reveiw before my keyboard even gets a chance to cool down.

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I actually have to say that i like the design of the Enlighten Green passenger coach, but I do not like the look of the bricks it is built with. I don't know they just look a lot cheaper somehow and even in the photographs you can tell the bricks are not as well made as the real LEGO ones. Having said that the actual model is OK, i could see myself trying to make it but with LEGO bricks instead. I like the idea of printing the curtains and that onto the windows as well. If LEGO did that we could probably build a better quality version of this coach to the same design which would be very nice indeed.

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I saw a Knock off set being sold at a musuem in Baltimore. I thuoght it was legos at first becuase of the logo. :wacko:

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I actually have to say that i like the design of the Enlighten Green passenger coach, but I do not like the look of the bricks it is built with. I don't know they just look a lot cheaper somehow and even in the photographs you can tell the bricks are not as well made as the real LEGO ones. Having said that the actual model is OK, i could see myself trying to make it but with LEGO bricks instead. I like the idea of printing the curtains and that onto the windows as well. If LEGO did that we could probably build a better quality version of this coach to the same design which would be very nice indeed.

I have three of those coaches still in the boxes which I intend to assemble to use as an express set ; - not for use with my 8 wide NZR locos, but just as a rake of nice coaches I can run with any other 6 wide locos i might fancy building. My impression is that they are a really good design of coach and I personally like the printed curtains on the windows. So far with my forays into heretic clone territory I've found the clutch on Enlighten bricks to be very good unlike some makers such as Ligao and Wange whose bricks often fit together quite weakly and only serve to disappoint the purchaser.

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In terms of heresy, I have quite a soft spot for Enlighten: apart from the blatant copies (train, pirates and space), they do quite good original sets. Although I'm not interested, their army line is quite good. I started buying Enlighten because I wanted to exend a freight train for my son and thus got the rip-offs. Then I dicovered their originals... If the brick quality were a bit better, then these sets would be fantastic.

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I nearly caved the other day - my hand hovered for quite a while over the 'Buy it Now' option for Enlighten's track packages; a great deal cheaper and more convenient than Lego's own. In the end, however, despite their apparent quality, I couldn't bring myself to do it, and ended up plunking down an 1/3rd more on old 4.5v track.

My dilemma is rather silly. I've no issue with using third-party AFOL made parts like Lifelites and the like - in a sense, Enlighten is no different. Were I needing track for more than just the yearly holiday display I put together (no room for a permanent layout!) I'd probably give in.

I'll report back if I ever venture to the dark side. :blush:

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I'll report back if I ever venture to the dark side. :blush:

Hi Sixoh,

it is not the dark side - it is an alternative. Who knows what comes out? Maybe you like it maybe not. As simple as that - in my opinion.

Best wishes,

Thorsten

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it is not the dark side - it is an alternative. Who knows what comes out? Maybe you like it maybe not. As simple as that - in my opinion.

Best wishes,

Thorsten

I have to agree with Thorsten on this. While I'm pretty purist myself, it all depends what you want to get out of the hobby.

Locomotive Annie clearly want's a running train layout that looks like her prototype. She uses anything that helps her meet that goal.

I find the challenge of building out of pure LEGO is part of the fun, and I've seen the bar slowly rising on the level of detail we can achieve modeling real prototypes, but clearly there is a limit. I have no problem with using BBB wheels, am still a bit on the fence about the valve gear, but will probably use them in the future.

If we look back at the level of detail in train MOCs ten years ago we've come a long way, and part of that is due to experimentation with cutting flex and stickers and third party parts, and modified electronics and power solutions. Continuing to do so will continue to grow the hobby.

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