Lego has the brick building toy sector all sewn up, right? Wrong. Yes, they might have the household name, the movie tie-ins, the computer games and so much merchandising that you’ll bankrupt yourself trying to buy it all, but they don’t have miniature bricks. Japanese toy company Kawada Co. Ltd have found a tiny gap in the Lego-saturated market and given the world Nanoblocks. The small-scale building kits are available in a variety of sets and themes including ‘Sites to See’ – a much better alternative to Lego’s architecture bollocks – and the animal series. The kits build like Lego and look like Lego, but structurally are slightly different – not just in scale but their brick shapes vary too. Hard to track down and definitely addictive - here’s 8 reasons why Nanoblocks are ace and make Lego look like the money grabbing, over-priced plastic brick peddling gits that they are.
1: Money talks
How much Lego can you get for eight quid? Feck all, that’s how much. For £8 or less you can grab yourself a kit from the animal, dinosaur or musical instrument Nanoblock series and spend about an hour happily building. Value for money! Lego kits of a similar price take approximately 5 minutes to build, and, if everyone’s honest with themselves, the cheap ones are more than a bit shit. You’ve got to be forking out some serious wedge to get anything semi-decent in the Lego world. Even a bucket full of the stuff costs £20 and is full of random bits you won’t need.
2: Size matters
So, you’re a Lego fan? I’ve got two words for you – no, not those words, these - ‘urban sprawl’. Lego takes up a lot of space. It starts innocently enough with the Simpson’s House – the gateway drug to a Lego kingdom and is a mammoth piece of Lego real-estate - and then you start eyeing up the Lego Creator series and maybe a Lego castle might just add a touch of old fashioned charm. Before you know it you’re one of those wankers that’s forked out £25k for a loft conversion so you’ve got somewhere to display your houses made of plastic brick. No need for any of that carry-on with Nanoblocks – each kit takes up so little space you can buy as many as you like without turning part of your house into an indecently expensive Lego shrine.
3: This Great White Shark
Reason number 3 should begin and end with this picture … Moveable jaw, fins and tail all in glorious miniature. To build something like for like with Lego you’d definitely need a bigger boat … erm … well, bigger house maybe. The point is, it’s a mini great white shark with moveable bits. All Nanoblock need to do now is make a mini Orca boat, a Chief Brody, a Quint and some air tanks … Smile you son of a bitch!
4: You can now buy ‘adult toys’ with zero side-eye
Roaming around a Toys-R-Us without a child in-tow essentially means you’re on some sort of register before you’ve even reached the Lego aisle in most stores. Yes, we could buy our building blocks online, but we shouldn’t be outcasts because we’ve chosen to build things out of plastic instead of the alternative: Spawning 2.4 kids and dragging them around a well known out of town toy store so they can ungratefully spend our hard earned money. No, we’re far too busy actually having fun, spending our disposable income and enjoying life without the hassle of nappies, crying and sleepless nights to worry about. All that aside, Nanoblocks are ace because they crop up in adult shops where we can freely roam without a nervous mum eyeing us disapprovingly for buying building blocks at the age of 35. They’re an adult toy that doesn’t require batteries or a trip to Ann Summers in a balaclava. For that they must be applauded. I wouldn’t however suggest using Nanoblocks as an actual ‘adult toy’ – you’ll be the talk of A&E for months if you turn up with a brick built meerkat stuck somewhere it shouldn’t be. They’ll know you didn’t ‘accidentally fall on it’. Trust me.
5: Everybody loves a challenge
Each little nanoblock kit takes up to a hour to make and the tiny wee pieces make it all the more difficult. Add to that the sometimes bewildering, yet brilliant, instructions fettered with Japanese symbols and odd diagrams and you have yourself a challenge far more difficult than anything Lego can cobble together. The pieces are so intricate that placement is key, one wrong move and the whole piece can crumble in your big old clumsy hands.
6: Colour me happy
Lego’s architecture series is just plain dull. Fact. What did we all learn that time they projected Gail Porter’s arse onto the Houses of Parliament? We learnt that fusty old buildings look much more exciting with a bit of colour – especially if that colour happens to be in the shape of a moderately famous woman’s arse. Nanoblocks, clearly (but most likely not) inspired by Gail Porter’s cheeks have given Big Ben, and other dull global landmarks, a colour-packed makeover making them far more exciting. The only way you can make the Lego architecture kits more interesting would be to papier-mâché a picture of a semi-naked lady onto them, and frankly that’s just weird.
7: Alternative and different (ie. actually cool)
Every man-child of a certain age is all over Lego at the moment. The collectable mini-figures, the Simpson’s House, the Bricking Bad tribute to Breaking Bad – they’re all on every geeky, beardy, Lego loving blokes wish list. But really, do you need to follow the herd? You’ll be laughed off the Antique Roadshow in 20 years time if you turn up with any of those ‘collectable’ pieces you’re hoarding away in the hopes of cashing in the big monies and sweeping Fiona Bruce off her feet. That pipe dream aside, Nanoblocks are already appreciating in value as some of the earlier kits were made in small numbers and people want to complete their collection.
8: Go big or go home
Ok, ok … so sometimes bigger is better. And the good folks at Nanoblocks understand this, which is why they’ve made their advanced hobby sets. Who wants to build a model of the Titanic out of bricks without having to make space at home by throwing away the sofa? Me, that’s who! Now you can as well. The 1,800 piece kit retails at around £50, looks bloody gorgeous and even comes with mini buildable icebergs. Break out your Celine Dion CD (we all know you’ve got one), build your Titanic in front of an open freezer (for that authentic chilly breeze) and sing ‘My Heart Will Go On’ until the neighbours complain.