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Review of Oxford Bricks Set KCH-0842: Namdaemun (Sungnyemun)


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#1 Brickadier General

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 05:16 PM

(Attn. Mods: If possible, I would like to have a poll in this review similar to that seen on those who review sets.  Thanks.  :classic:)
I recently happened to pick up a few Oxford building sets off of e-bay to see what they were like and decided that it might be nice to also post a review of each of them for the rest of the Eurobricks community to see.  Today, I decided to start off the reviews by checking out what I felt was the most interesting of the three sets.  Please read further to find out more about this set, and who knows.  Perhaps you too may be interested in purchasing this set!

Set Name: Namdaemun (Sungnyemun)
Set Number: KCH-0842
Manufacturer: Oxford of South Korea
Parts: 889 Pieces (hopefully I didn't miscount)
Stickers: 5 (plus 1 extra remaining after the build)
Minifigs: Three
Price: $41.99 U.S. before shipping from E-bay seller, A2zever (shipping was $38.99...Ouch!)
Build Time: Approximately 90 minutes


Background Information:
Before going further, I feel it is important to explain how the set is based on an actual building, similar to the way Lego has been producing famous landmarks.  This set depicts Namdaemun, a famous gate in Seoul South Korea constructed between 1395 and 1398 AD, which made it the oldest standing wooden structure in Seoul.  On South Korea's list of national treasures, Namdaemun was listed at the top at number 1.  However, on February 10, 2008, the wooden portion of the structure was virtually destroyed by a fire set by an arsonist, which you can see in this YouTube Video.  On the back of the manual of the Oxford set is a stamp with the date of April 14, 2008, which leads me to believe that Oxford produced this set to memorialize Namdaemun.  Perhaps they are even donating a portion of the proceeds to aid in the rebuilding?  I can't read Korean, so I have no idea.  Anyway, here is a picture of Namdaemun before the fire:
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The Box:
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Overall, the box is quite attractive, with the front featuring a nice overall shot of the gate in front of an edited-in city background.  The back of the box is also quite nice, featuring some pictures of the actual structure in front of a nice drawing of it.  It also features information about Namdaemun.  However, unless you can translate Korean, you'll have no idea what it says.  Below are pictures of the front and back:

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Additionally, the box is well designed.  When you open it, all you need to do is pull the flap out to access the inside, so you shouldn't end up tearing it.  If that wasn't enough, all of the parts are in a sturdy cardboard tray you pull out, and there isn't really very much "empty space," so the bags containing the parts will not really shift about.  In addition to being economical, this is really good for keeping the manual, which is placed under all the parts, in good condition.  Even though it had to ship halfway across the world to reach my doorstep, the manual remained in fantastic condition with no tears or significant bends or creases.

Instructions:
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As mentioned, the instruction manual was in fantastic condition.  You only get one manual, and it is thirty-nine pages in length.  The front of the manual is virtually the same as the front of the box, and the rear of the manual is the same as the back of the box.  Other than that, the manual is pretty well-laid out, and it's pretty easy to tell which brick goes where.  No color confusion here.  Each step has a small box showing you each piece you need, as well as how many of that piece you need for the particular step you are working on, similar to Lego's manual design.  It's always helpful to know what you need ahead of time.  

Stickers:
There aren't too many stickers, just enough to make the building a little more recognizable.  You only use one of the Korean lettering stickers, and it covers 2 1x4 black tile.  There is an extra one, in case the applied sticker gets lost or damaged.  The other stickers are for the front of the structure only, and each covers a single brick, meaning you don't have to worry about them falling off when you take the model apart.
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Minifigures:
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The Oxford minifigures are actually quite attractive, and these represent the guards that stood watch of the gate.  They're actually pretty good representations as evident by this picture. The central figure sports a robe made of a sturdy paper that comes already folded and mounted on him.  The figures are wearing specially made hats to represent the style of the guards' actual headgear.  As far as colors are concerned, the blue matches The Lego Company's (TLC) blue pretty closely, but the yellow is of a slightly darker shade than TLC's.

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Oxford minifigs can be taken apart in the same manner as Lego minifigs, but unfortunately the torso and leg assemblies are not interchangeable with Lego minifigs.

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Oxford and Lego minifig heads, on the other hand, are completely interchangeable.  An Oxford head will fit on a Lego torso and vice-versa, which is nice since the Oxford heads look cool.

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Minifig hands, to a certain degree, are not interchangeable.  If you look at the Lego hand (Left) and the Oxford Hand (right), you will see that Oxford's is slightly shorter.  This means that while Lego hands fit in the arm holes, they will not clip into place due to their excessive (in comparrison) length.  And while Oxford hands completely fit Lego arm holes, they are slightly loose.

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Oxford minifigs are compatible with Lego parts (as demonstrated here). However, some parts seem to fit slightly looser in the Oxford minifigs' hands than in the Lego minifigs'.

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By contrast, Oxford minifig accessories fit extremely comfortably in the hands of a Lego minifig.

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Oxford minifigs are also compatible with custom accessories, such as these pictured from BrickForge.  Weapons generally seem to fit loosely in the hands of the minifig.  So do most of the headgear pieces, especially the turban.  However the helmet on the middle minifig was a nice fit.  Overall though, it seems that Oxford's minifig parts use slightly different dimensions than Lego minifigures, as Oxford accessories fit perfectly on Oxford minifig hands and heads.

Parts:
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A great thing about the bags in the box was how like-parts were grouped together in the same bag.  It made sorting the parts all the more easier, as you can see by the picture above.  That's all 889 pieces there!  As you can see, the bulk of the set consists of more "basic" bricks and plates.  As far as colors are concerned, the brown and light and dark gray are very similar to the old original Lego colors, and the green is a good match too.  For a clone-brand, the quality of the plastic is also quite high, not equal to Lego, but very, very close.

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These specialized parts may be of interest to some people.  From left to right; a special angle piece, a wall with "stone texture," special corner slopes (perfect for oriental buildings), and inverted slopes with "grating" patterns on them.  My personal favorite would have to be the special corner slopes, and the set comes with eight of them.

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The Accessories come on sprues and are easy to detach.  You only need the two spears and one sword for the guard.  That leaves you with an extra sword and four bow and arrows.  They're really nice, except they seem a bit over-sized in proportional comparison with the minifigures.  The hats are nice as well.

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Extra Parts you will have when finished building.

The Build:
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Two of the baseplates the building is constructed on.  There is also a third and narrower one that goes in between them.  These actually made the beginning of the build slightly annoying because they would sometimes want to separate from the bricks (I was building on a carpet), so a single baseplate would have been preferred.  As the build progressed, and the structure became more sturdy this became less of a problem.  Overall, it wasn't that complex to put together, but it did take a while to put it together, and it was a fun build.

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Lower portion of the structure

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The First Floor

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The First Floor with roof and plates added.

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Working on finishing the second floor.

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Finished the roofing of the second floor.

Design Comments:
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The overall look of the building is aesthetically pleasing and is a very nice representation of Namdaemun.  However, if you looked at the picture of the actual building, you would see that this model is not to minifig scale.  I think that it would have needed to be around twice as large.  Even with that in mind, the minifigs still look quite nice in front of it.

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The back of the building.

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By looking at the side of the building, you can really see what I mean here about this not being to minifig scale.  Those are the stairs, and that hole is supposed to be a doorway.

Conclusion:

Build: 8/10  While there is nothing overly-complex about this set (no advanced building techniques) its sheer volume of pieces means you will be spending a long time putting it together.
Design: 8/10  Again, the baseplate issue made early steps a bit of a pain, as bricks wanted to separate from it in the beginning.  However, once you attach the plates to the top of the first floor, the problem is less of an issue, and the finished product is very sturdy.  And the quality of the plastic is very high, making Oxford one of the most durable of the clone brands.
Playability: 6/10  The completed set seems more for displaying.  However, the minifigs and their weapons leave some minor room for making them duel with each other I suppose. :wink:  But I still decided to not knock the playability rating lower than 6 because with 889 pieces, it leaves plenty of room for creativity in building other things.  It should at least get some points for that.
Minifigs: 9/10 The minifigs are really nice looking, with some pretty cool prints for the torsos and heads, and they are exclusive to this set.  They also are very good representations of the real-life guards.  Plus, the degree of interchangeability with Lego minifigs makes them even more appealing.
Price: 8/10 Okay, so why would I rate this so high with an overall price of $80.98 US?  Well if you take into consideration that there are 889 pieces and divide that number from the overall cost (shipping included), the cost per piece comes to about $0.09 for each piece.  Compared to Lego, it is not that bad, and true, this may be a clone brand, the quality is still very high.  Therefore, I still think it's a decent price.

Overall Score: 8/10 Overall, it's a very nice set commemorating a cool historical structure from Asia with parts that could be very useful for Lego fans.  There are some minor issues that I would've like to have seen done differently, mainly the baseplate issue, but it's still a fun build.  Things like the high quality of the parts, part and minifig part compatibility with Lego parts, and a nice price per part ratio also make this a nice set to check out.

Where to buy? As said before, I bought this set off of e-bay from user a2zever, who lives in South Korea where Oxford sets are made.  Currently, they are the ONLY person on e-bay selling Oxford sets, so if you're interested I advise you check their store out, because Oxford sets are very hard to come by and seldom show up on e-bay.  You can buy the set here.  They have multiples, as well as other Oxford sets available in their e-bay store.  

I really hope you enjoyed this review, as it took me awhile to put together.  I'm not sure if I'll be as thorough with the other sets reviews.  It all really depends on your interest I guess.  So please let me know what you think of my review, as well as your thoughts on this set.  I'd really like to hear them.

#2 Zarkan

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 06:40 PM

Thanks for the wonderful review, Brickadier General.  :thumbup:

Honestly, Oxford looks to be the best lego clone ever made. From what you and other people have said, the quality is exceptionally high for a clone brand, and the entire package (box, instructions, pieces, design) is comparable to lego standards. It's especially nice to see that this brand seems to be inovating as well as copying - some of those unique molds are amazing and would look awesome in lego MOCs.  :thumbup:

Seriously, if Oxford was brought to the US, I bet they'd run Megabloks out of buisness - the latter company is now at it's lowest quality ever, and I doubt it will last much longer.  :tongue:

Edited by Grevious, 22 December 2008 - 06:40 PM.

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#3 AgentRick57

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 10:26 PM

Actually I think some Oxford sets were released under the new Best-Lock line if I'm not mistaken. I also really like their trains, as they remind me somewhat of the 12v line
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#4 Brickadier General

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Posted 24 December 2008 - 11:37 AM

View PostGrevious, on Dec 22 2008, 06:40 PM, said:

Thanks for the wonderful review, Brickadier General.  :thumbup:

Honestly, Oxford looks to be the best lego clone ever made. From what you and other people have said, the quality is exceptionally high for a clone brand, and the entire package (box, instructions, pieces, design) is comparable to lego standards. It's especially nice to see that this brand seems to be inovating as well as copying - some of those unique molds are amazing and would look awesome in lego MOCs.  :thumbup:

Seriously, if Oxford was brought to the US, I bet they'd run Megabloks out of buisness - the latter company is now at it's lowest quality ever, and I doubt it will last much longer.  :tongue:
You're welcome, and I'm glad you liked it.  I will try to get around posting another review, hopefully soon.  And I wish they were readilly available in the West.  :cry_sad:

View PostAgentRick57, on Dec 22 2008, 10:26 PM, said:

Actually I think some Oxford sets were released under the new Best-Lock line if I'm not mistaken. I also really like their trains, as they remind me somewhat of the 12v line
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I think they've licesensed them to reproduce certain parts, but I'm not so sure about sets.  I'd have to look further into that.  I've seen pics of those trains before and think they look great too.  I think they've been discontinued though, because the last time I was on the Oxford website I couldn't find them.

#5 Eilif

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 11:09 PM

Sorry to drag up an old thread. I had to express how happy I was to see this set reviewed. I tried to get a friend of a friend to get me a copy in Korea, but he wasn't able to.  Now that a2zever is out of business, it looks like there's no way to get one now  :cry_sad:

If you have any other oxford sets, I'd love to see them reviewed.

As for Oxford sets appearing in the USA, it's a complicated issue. It appears that Oxford is being copied by several brands.  Sluban, in China makes copies that even copy some of the box art. Very similar to what Enlighten/Shifty/Brick does to LEGO.  

Based on their slightly lower quality parts, the The "Just Kidz" (a KMART brand) and Best Lock appear to be clones of Oxford. Based on the sets they produced, it's very likely that Just-Kidz is produced by Best Lock.
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#6 Brickadier General

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 04:57 AM

View PostEilif, on Feb 18 2009, 11:09 PM, said:

Sorry to drag up an old thread. I had to express how happy I was to see this set reviewed. I tried to get a friend of a friend to get me a copy in Korea, but he wasn't able to.  Now that a2zever is out of business, it looks like there's no way to get one now  :cry_sad:

If you have any other oxford sets, I'd love to see them reviewed.

As for Oxford sets appearing in the USA, it's a complicated issue. It appears that Oxford is being copied by several brands.  Sluban, in China makes copies that even copy some of the box art. Very similar to what Enlighten/Shifty/Brick does to LEGO.  

Based on their slightly lower quality parts, the The "Just Kidz" (a KMART brand) and Best Lock appear to be clones of Oxford. Based on the sets they produced, it's very likely that Just-Kidz is produced by Best Lock.
Hi Eilif.  I'm glad you liked my review.  I won't be able to get reviews out on the other sets for awhile because I'm pretty busy.  I do have pictures which I haven't posted, and I may just settle on uploading them for all to see rather than go into a full-blown review.

I've seen the Sluban brand before and actually accidentally bought a Sluban tank thinking it was Oxford, and the quality of plastic was horrible (plastic was very brittle).  I've never heard of Just Kidz before, but I do know that BestLock did something like get a license from Oxford to use some of their molds and probably even designs (some of the tanks look very close to Oxford).  

And I have good news for you.  A2zever is not out of business, and you can get the set I reviewed.  The last time I checked a few days ago, they even had some of the newer military vehicles, some of which featured new mud-guard pieces.  So anyway, now you should be able to get that set!

#7 Lordofdragonss

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 07:37 AM

Oxford Bricks... One of the best Lego fakes.
I had just one set (Pizza car), and I must say I am impresed about a quality of bricks and elements. And accesories are pure win! In Pizza car I get Fork, knife and even little spoon!
Thanks for great knock-off review, I waiting for more :)

For more sets look here: http://www.brickshel...ry.cgi?f=246976
Castle sets are cool.
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#8 Eilif

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 04:25 PM

View PostBrickadier General, on Feb 18 2009, 10:57 PM, said:

I do have pictures which I haven't posted, and I may just settle on uploading them for all to see rather than go into a full-blown review.

I've seen the Sluban brand before and actually accidentally bought a Sluban tank thinking it was Oxford, and the quality of plastic was horrible (plastic was very brittle).  I've never heard of Just Kidz before, but I do know that BestLock did something like get a license from Oxford to use some of their molds and probably even designs (some of the tanks look very close to Oxford).  

And I have good news for you.  A2zever is not out of business...
So anyway, now you should be able to get that set!

Thanks for the info.  If you decide to post pictures, that would be great too.  Good to hear that a2zever is not out of business for a while they were off ebay.  It looks like all the shipping costs have been slashed.  It still seems a bit steep for a clone, but the sets are pretty enticing, and they have one of the ancient Korea sets that looks awesome!

As for Justkids, it was a Kmart store brand (no longer being sold as far as I know) that sold sets that were identical in every way to the Best Lock sets that were coming over at the time.  They had 2 or 3 sets each that were repackaged versions from the Best-Locks military, police and fire themes.

For further reading, here's a thread on Lugnet about Best-Kidz
http://news.lugnet.c...-brands/?n=2777

and here's a forum where I visit/post periodically that has the best info on clone brands.
http://bloks.hyperboards.com/index.php
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#9 CP5670

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 08:34 PM

What do those grays look like? Are they the same as old Lego grays?

I think high quality clone brands would be a serious option to consider for MOCers looking for basic parts in old gray. These have become increasing scarce and expensive on Bricklink as the years have gone by. Although at the same time, I'm not sure these Oxford bricks are quite up to Lego standards. There is some visible color variation among identical parts in your pictures.



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