Now, the construction category by default is one that's long-been rife with similarly-themed competition. Still, when it comes to bricks, LEGO flat-out owns that aisle despite their reputation for coming at a premium price. The folks at MEGA Brands have been taking heat from kids and collectors alike for their MEGA Bloks (disclosure: I've done work for them) for years, and that pre-dated Mattel's 2014 acquisition of that company. Hasbro got into the mix by bringing their Kre-O stateside (a rebranded version of the Korean Oxford Bricks), and then you've got countless smaller companies that are all peddling sets that are "compatible with major brands." Because the construction category is such a unique beast, I almost wouldn't give Zuru's MAX BUILD MORE a questionable look, but their recent history of derivative toys makes me say, "come on, guys, really?"
Even the box they come in is a knockoff very close to a LEGO tub, but even closer to a K'NEX box (they called and would like their beveled edges back). And the logo and figures? Jazwares is probably wondering why these look suspiciously similar to their ROBLOX line.
Renee Lee, Director of Global Marketing for ZURU, explained, “The founding principle behind MAX is providing the best quality bricks at an unbeatable price. MAX is designed for savvy parents who don’t want to break the bank to give their little ones the best in imaginative brick play. We’ve created a cheeky, up-front brand to appeal to moms which will launch with humorous, relevant content across social and digital media - all driving to our exclusive retail partner, Walmart.”
Again, appreciate the idea, and the construction realm would pretty much be given a pass if it weren't for all the other similar toys that Zuru is putting out of late. "Cheeky," yes - I've seen the "tired mom" commercial for MAX BUILD MORE, but here's another thing... kids know. Some will call these things "LEGO" by default (Coke/Pepsi), but others will know that they're not LEGO and boldly point that out. Back in the day we'd say "generic."
Zuru Toys is a company with a great story and they're a company whose efforts I've supported in the past. They have the ability to do better. Going forward, here's hoping we see more Bunch O Balloons and less MAX BUILD MORE.