Lepin are a Chinese company who make fake Lego, based on existing Lego sets. I have been reading about Lepin for a while. In all honesty, having used fake lego on very small builds several times, i considered them a high risk investment. But after reading a couple of half decent reviews, i decided to give them a go. I ended up buying the Larger version of the Hogwarts castle by Lepin, from a Spanish outlet. It cost £120, and the Lego version is £350. So just over 1/3 cost.
Being distributed from Spain, i didn't face any import duties. It arrived in about 2 weeks, in a plain cardboard box. Anyone expecting Lego style packaging would have been rather shocked. Photo one shows how it presented, around 100 bags in a shabby brown cardboard box. So i was a little nervous. Not wanting to sort through 100 bags every time i needed a new one, i decided to sort them out into sets and store them grouped into sets of 5 in ziplock bags. This has worked very well.
The very first thing you have to do in the instructions is to build 1 minifigure, which has a beard and hair. The hair they include is the wrong style (it's very different to the picture), and too big to allow both the beard and hair to fit the head at the same time. Let's just say that i was now very worried about the future for this set.
Generally speaking, the plastic is good quality and very good colour. I would say around the same quality and colour as lego - if it weren't for the branding, i doubt i could tell the difference visually. In using Lepin, I would say it is ever so slightly tougher, with less give than Lego. Pieces fit slightly tighter and, after a few hours use, I feel it in my hands. However, i would say this is no bad thing. Possibly one piece in every few hundred has trace edges from the moulding process, but these are very slight and fragile, and no issue to remove. About 3 of the bags are unnumbered. So i am waiting to find out where they belong. They used the right numbering on the bags, but substituted the letter "q" for the number "9" on about 15 bags. That took me a while to figure out.
Cutting to where i am now: I am on bag set 39 of 48, so around 5000 pieces out of 6020 in, and every one of the pieces, except 1 coloured stud, has been there. But it hasn't all been plain sailing. After building the core of the main tower, you need to build and apply 6 sheets of cladding to the outside. These ended up slightly shorter than the tower, but not short enough to fit on the next stud down. I laboured with this for around 4 hours, often ending up with the tower in pieces. I ended up having to remove a single layer of Lego from the height of the core of the tower, and now the cladding is slightly longer, bows slightly and doesn't fit right - it would likely collapse with a knock. I believe this points to the manufacturing tolerances inherent with Lupin, and never seen on Lego in my experiences. But, even with all of that, i would accept it for a saving of £230.
Overall, my main intentions going forward were to buy the Super Star Destroyer, but i wanted a test set first. At this point, i would have to say that i have no intention of buying Lego for any expensive sets. It's just not worth 3 times the price. I just wish i had bought the Lepin Falcon 18 months ago, and saved myself £400.
Unboxing - note the beautiful graphics on the main box...
So Lepin as a brand and logo, is banned in the UK. Note the stickers over the Lepin logo on the instruction manuals. By the way, the instruction in the manuals are identical to Lego. Let's just say it; they are Lego's instructions.
The Great hall, The Chamber of Secrets and the changing staircases.
Note the flying Dementors.
If you zoom in on the last photo and look at the centre of the main tower, you can notice the bulge.
This is about half the model constructed so far.