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K'nex Bricks


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#1 Peppermint_M

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 08:06 PM

As noted in a previous thread K'nex have their own stud 'n' tube brick elements in their building system. I found this set in ASDA for £1.97 (or $3.20 or €2.30). It comes in a small carton with a rack hole punched in the top:
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The box has a parts count and an image of the contained model.
The carton held a single polybag of parts:
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The polybag held the instruction sheet and the parts, here sorted by type.
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A close-up of the bricks:

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As you can see, they have rounded edges, central holes along the brick and an ‘X’ shaped stud. The plastic is a decent quality and they can combine well with Lego bricks. However they aren’t as shiny or bright as fresh from the bag Lego.

A shot of the instructions:

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I found these instructions to be very unforgiving. They were quite hard to follow and some details were near indecipherable, especially the placement of the pegs and pins.  While Lego would have an exploded view of a fiddly step, or a sub-step for a section that needed assembly, these K’nex ones do not. To complete a 45 part set it only has 5 steps! Maybe I found it hard because I am a novice with K’nex, having never really built with them, but then again an impulse set like this should be a bit more accessible for beginners considering it is likely to be the sort of set they would pick up.

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Here is the completed model.  It’s pretty cool, the propellers at the ends of the wings spin really well and the whole thing looks good. One minor issue is how “extra” the bricks look in comparison to the framework of the wings and tail. It gives the impression that the bricks were forced into the construction somewhere to cash in on the popularity of brick based construction toys. Sadly this might be the case.
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Here is the plane with a brave pilot from Lego Town, stepping in from his day-job as a road sweeper to bravely venture out in this odd little plane. The minifig sat and gripped onto the studs as well as any Lego brick but he looks even more tracked on that the bricks themselves.

There were two other sets in this carton based collection, a car and a smaller plane. The car had a 44 piece count and the even smaller plane 15! All had the same price. There were also some slightly larger sets priced at just under £4. These were packaged in plastic wheels in cardboard sleeves and were a collection of go-karts that combine to make a larger truck.

I have to say this set is quite unimpressive. Although the plane looks good, the bricks just detract from the smoothness of the construction and are certainly out of place. On my rating scale I would give it a 4 out of 10: Interesting construction but  low aesthetical value.
I am still open to other sets as it is an interesting method of combining the struts and clips framework of K’nex with the bricks of Lego. The two together adds many possibilities for construction of non-traditional shapes and frameworks that Lego doesn’t have the capability for (a Rollercoaster for example).

Well, I hope you found this review informative . I hope to be objective with these non-Lego construction brick reviews and avoid bias based purely upon my love of Lego (even if I do compare the two). I apologise for the photos being taken with the parts on my Laptop, my building area in the loft is far too hot today.

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#2 larry marak

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 11:13 PM

Nice little impulse set.  As the price goes up, the piece to price ratio drops with Knex sets.  I suspect the set designers over at Knex still haven't he knak of assigning artisitically appropriate roles to brick and stick in their contstruction.  The largest brick-heavy sets they've issued are the Road Rig series, in which about 60 percent of the vehicles is brick and plate.

By the way, they have also released 4 mosaic sets, a continuation of Lego's recent Mosaic releases.  Transclear baseplates and many hundreds of 1x1 bricks, accompanied by just a handful of micro-knex elements to provide a 3-d or motion aspect to the mosaic sets.  These are called Picture Brick sets by Knex (Hasbro in the U.K., Tomy in France).

#3 prateek

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 02:40 AM

everything in this set is good, except the bricks :tongue:

#4 Sinner

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 03:25 AM

I really don't understand K'nex. I always had a certain respect for them as K'nex did their own thing... but then they do this!  :sick:  I've seen a lot of these in stores and call me a closed-minded fanboy if you want, but they look horrid. K'nex really should stick to what they do well...





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#5 Natman8000

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 04:46 AM

View PostSiegfried, on Jun 27 2009, 11:25 PM, said:

I really don't understand K'nex. I always had a certain respect for them as K'nex did their own thing... but then they do this!  :sick:  I've seen a lot of these in stores and call me a closed-minded fanboy if you want, but they look horrid. K'nex really should stick to what they do well...
Agreed totally. I think that the old K'nex structures that were gigantic were great. Now that they have to resort to this... it must mean that they a somewhat desperate. Maybe the other stuff just isn't selling?
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#6 Peppermint_M

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 04:11 PM

I think the worst part of the set is the large red brick. If that had been swapped for a plate the whole thing would have looked much better.
It was nice to be presented with a building challenge for less than £2. Haven't spent more than two minutes on a Lego impulse since I was about eight.

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#7 larry marak

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 06:51 AM

. Maybe the other stuff just isn't selling?
[/quote]

Natman, During the 2008-9 Christmas toy selling rush, only two construction toy companies saw major gains in sales.  Lego was up 30%, Knex was up 20%.  MegaBrands, Best Lock, Erector, Playmobil, and Revell (yes, they make a building system, using cardboard elements!!!!! and plastic stays) all did worse during the recession than the previous year.  The addition of bricks to Knex's palatte seems to be working for them.

#8 Peppermint_M

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 07:51 AM

I'm liking the connectivity of the bricks and struts, I messed around with the parts the other day and althoug I couldn't make much (still a K'nex novice...) it was fun and provided a new challenge. My head still works in bricks though  :tongue:

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#9 larry marak

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 05:24 AM

View PostPeppermint_M, on Jul 1 2009, 07:51 AM, said:

I'm liking the connectivity of the bricks and struts, I messed around with the parts the other day and althoug I couldn't make much (still a K'nex novice...) it was fun and provided a new challenge. My head still works in bricks though  :tongue:


Just an update, the next 8 K'nex (mainly) brick sets are out, the Racecar Rally and Aircraft Series.  They feature, among other new items to brickdom the 1x24 brick!

#10 Nikau

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 02:41 PM

Sad, K'nex used to be the only really different construction system. I remember when it was quite popular here, around the time of Town jr. Profits probably dropped and they were forced to do a megablocks. It's telling though that there was a whole aisle of Lego at the store and only 2 sets of K'nex hidden down the back of another.

#11 larry marak

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 05:20 PM

Latest K'nex brick design breakthrough.  In the above mentioned aircraft set, in the spy plane model, K'nex introduces double sided friction pins that lock seamlessly into the tubes of knex bricks (K'nex brick tubes are open at the top of the brick and beveled at both the top and bottom of the tube).  These new pins allow you to seamlessly connect bricks bottom to bottom!   After 50 plus years of Afol complaining, someone has finally come up with the equivalent of a zero thickness doublesided plate!!! :-}. :classic:

Edited by larry marak, 20 August 2009 - 05:21 PM.


#12 Sinner

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 01:04 AM

View Postlarry marak, on Aug 21 2009, 02:20 AM, said:

After 50 plus years of Afol complaining, someone has finally come up with the equivalent of a zero thickness doublesided plate!!! :-}. :classic:
Do you have photos? From your describing it sounds more like a double-sided brick...





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#13 larry marak

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 09:21 PM

View PostSiegfried, on Aug 21 2009, 02:04 AM, said:

Do you have photos? From your describing it sounds more like a double-sided brick...
  

Unfortunately I just have a webtv, not a computer, so I can't upload digital photos.  Knex continues to release new kinds of brick elements almost on a monthly basis.  Today I received a Dinosaur 20+ model set that included more of the above mentioned double sided friction pins for tube to tube building as well as 3 new elements, teeth pins (ala viking horn teeth, rather similar), a new sound brick (dino roar) and something entirely new, a contoured plate designed to snap in place over a contoured slope, allowing you to give vertically slit eyeballs to your Velociraptors!

#14 prateek

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 10:47 PM

Now, most of the body of some models are made of bricks instead of the K'nex pieces  :angry:
Link of pics

EDIT: And they have minifig clones! :oh3:
Pic of fig

Edited by prateek, 08 September 2009 - 10:49 PM.


#15 Darth Legolas

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 11:02 PM

View Postprateek, on Sep 8 2009, 06:47 PM, said:

Now, most of the body of some models are made of bricks instead of the K'nex pieces  :angry:
Link of pics

EDIT: And they have minifig clones! :oh3:
Pic of fig

Wow, I knew they had minifigs, but now they're becoming blatant rip-off's. That's pretty sad. And they don't even have regular K'nex sets that much!  :cry_sad: I really respected them, once, but this is just pathetic.
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#16 Peppermint_M

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 07:44 AM

I don't know why it is pathetic. K'nex still has its major method of combination included, it has just moved with the popularity of brick based. Megablocks has Strux, Lego even had Z'nap for a while.

If your market moves to another sort of thing, then you follow suit or lose custom, (that's why Lego have so many different themes, the market moves from one sort of thing to another all the time). The figures look interesting, are there any IRL pics? I saw them in Walmart on holiday (no bag space to bring back construction toys) and wondered how they looked.

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#17 Corvus

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 01:11 AM

That's really too bad. :sceptic: I used to love K'nex. They were a construction brand that had their own designs and style.  They were really fun to build with, too. I'm not sure I like the mix of the two pieces; they just don't fit in.

Actually, K'nex used to have a 'brick built' fig of their own- it had its own torso and had, and had little joints that you stuck K'nex pieces onto to make fully articulated arms and legs.
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#18 larry marak

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 06:48 AM

View PostMr. Mandalorian, on Sep 10 2009, 02:11 AM, said:

That's really too bad. :sceptic: I used to love K'nex. They were a construction brand that had their own designs and style.  They were really fun to build with, too. I'm not sure I like the mix of the two pieces; they just don't fit in.

Actually, K'nex used to have a 'brick built' fig of their own- it had its own torso and had, and had little joints that you stuck K'nex pieces onto to make fully articulated arms and legs.


Yes, the K'nex man, and its successors, the K'nex commanders with a more articulated head piece.  The company now uses the term K'nexman for its version of the minifig.  Every set now except the coasters is a combination of bricks and sticks now.  The best brick sets are 90% brick (Road Rally, Air Action series) the best stick sets are the Moto Bots which use brick elements for decorative effect only and are 90% standard and micro-scale K'nex.  


One thing that's a lot of fun to watch is the new brick elements coming out from Knex almost every month. Their most recent innovations are the 1x24 brick, the contoured tile (snaps over a contoured slope to modify it), version 2.0 of the brickbased 3volt motor with forward backwards switches and a clutch for puting the vehicle in gear or in neutral, and the double-sided friction pin, that allows you to build tube to tube with bricks.

of course, it you want true oddities, like the 11x19 plate or the 1x5 brick, you need to look at the new output from Best Lock.  Their new, post Chengu earthquake supplier out of Chunking is producing a host of never before seen lego compatible elements.

Larry Marak, unofficial bricklink curator of clones

Edited by larry marak, 10 September 2009 - 06:51 AM.




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