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Cheapo Toy Review: Best Lock Military Artillery Unit

Knockoff Legos have been appearing left and right lately. While some, like Megablox or Cobi are of very good quality, others are much worse. They don’t fit together well, don’t stay together or don’t come apart easily (if at all). What category will today’s toy fit in? Only one way to find out!

For lack of a proper name I’m calling this the Best Lock Military Artillery Unit. It was listed for five dollars, but I picked it up for $1.99 at my local Tuesday Morning store. If you’re unfamiliar with Tuesday Morning, picture a Big Lots but with no organization to anything in the store.

The back list provides an inventory of the pieces and how to assemble the little figure. Which actually is kind of weird because the figure comes already assembled. Of course, the diagram does come in handy because the figure is cheap as all get out and comes apart very easily, but we’ll get to that later.

Here’s what you get: a handful of parts, the instructions, the mini figure and a sheet of stickers. The stickers are singularly useless since they are so big. Putting them on means covering several blocks at a time making it that much harder to take apart and reuse the blocks.

I was rather impressed with the instructions. They were easy to follow, and as you can see here, they actually gray out the parts you’re not actively working on in the current step in order to prevent confusion. The more upscale Lego knockoff Cobi does the same thing as well.

Here’s a comparison between the Best Lock soldier and a Lego minifgure. They’re about the same height, though the helmet is down so far that it pretty much covers the eyes and most of the face.

And the back of the figures. The vest is removable but I wouldn’t recommend trying as this knockoff figure is very shoddy and brittle. You see the weird shape of the soldier’s legs? There’s a reason for that…

This happened after I tried to bend the figure’s legs for the first time. I didn’t use any sort of excessive force either, the leg just popped right off. It’s easy to put back on, but it’s wobbly and easily pops off again.

The helmet is removable as well, revealing the soldier’s shades. I gotta say the fact that these guys have noses kind of freaks me out. They just look weird.

And here is the finished model. Please note the grey cylinders and black caps were extra pieces I stuck on afterward. They are not in the original design. It went together okay, though there is not enough support for certain pieces during the construction process and they break off easily. In particular the gun barrel and the center pieces above it are not very secure and is VERY easy to break off. Actually they’re not easy to keep on in the first place, and make construction extra difficult.

And you see those wheels? They don’t move. Not at all. So your gun is going nowhere fast, and you might as well park it in front of a VFW hall as a monument.

So here’s the finished piece (plus the extra parts) compared with the box. It matches pretty well. However, the stickers are a big let down. It looks good on the box, but again, the stickers are so large, that applying them would pretty much prevent you from pulling the pieces apart and using them with any other Lego or knockoff sets you have.

Speaking of other sets…

Was the box being truthful when it said it “works with other brands?” Yes, it was. In the picture above you the brown and dark grey pieces are Lego bricks I fitted onto the model. They worked pretty well and went on and off okay. You could use these to fill out another building project you are working on.

So what is the final verdict on the Best Lock Military Artillery? If you can find it for $1.99 US like I did, then go for it, otherwise I wouldn’t bother. While it is compatible with other brands, the wheels don’t move and it falls apart pretty easily. Also the stickers are useless and the figure is almost dangerous since the legs fall off and expose pointy parts that can hurt a child.

If you can find this cheap, then ditch the figure in the trash as soon as you get it (especially if you have younger children). Still this is an okay way to entertain yourself or your kids for an hour or so, and would do okay filling out a larger diorama.


Cheapo Toy Review: Build It Stainless Steel Racer

I love going to dollar stores and looking through the toy aisles. Part of this goes back to the time I collected weird bootleg toys, but overall I just like seeing what they have. Sometimes in between the ripoff Barbies and keychains from a movie no one liked you’ll actually find something interesting.

This column is going to be about the those rare interesting toys.

Building toys are very hot now, with the hottest being Lego followed by it’s Megablox and K’Nex competitors. But before Lego there were other building toys. One of these predecessors was the Erector Set (or known as Meccano in the UK). Erector sets are kits full of metal parts, nuts and bolts allowed children (or bored adults) to build all sorts of toys. However, due to the fact that it included so much metal, these sets were often pretty expensive.

Enter the “Build It Stainless Steel” series. These toys are a series of cheap erector type sets. They supposedly include all the parts, nuts and bolts you need to build a complete model. They even include the tools you’ll need. As for the quality of all this, well… you’ll see.

I picked up the Build It Stainless Steel Racer set from a local Dollar Tree. Originally I was going to send it to my favorite British Youtuber since he’d reviewed similar things before, but I decided to spare Ashens the pain, so I decided to review it myself instead.

This is what the box looks like. Fairly standard. It says 6+ on it, but I can’t see any six-year-old sitting still long enough to put this thing together. It’s more suited for an older child; at least an eight-year-old, maybe older.

There are four sets in this series in all. I picked up the Racer one. I gotta say, I am very disappointed by the lack of Engrish on these boxes. The Build It creators found a good English translator to write their copy.

This is what you get inside: two bags of parts, a tiny Phillips-head screwdriver and a fairly useless wrench. There is also a small pamphlet with some not always clear instructions and an inventory of parts. The unclear instructions are another reason why this set should only be for older children. Most younger kids won’t have the patience to sit and puzzle out what is going on.

And here is the finished product. Building the thing took me about a half hour. In some places I had to actually put the screws in backwards. When I tried putting it together the way the instructions said, the resulting space was way too small to tighten the bolt. Even using the included tools didn’t allow me to get everything tightened up.

Another problem I encountered was in assembling the wheels. You’re given four long bolts, and you’re supposed to put the wheel on first then a nut as a spacer, then add two other pieces and the final bolt. The problem though is that the bolt you’re given only has threads on half the length of the bolt, so it’s almost impossible to get the spacer nut all the way down. This causes the wheel to slide back and forth on the bolt and makes it very hard to get the final nut in the sequence on.

According to the instructions and the package the wheels are supposed to sit flush with the screw. Whether by luck, or just a lot of effort, I managed to get one of my wheels to sit like it was supposed to, but the other three didn’t want to cooperate. On the picture above you can see the difference between the wheel that worked on the left and the one that didn’t on the right.

I will say this, it did end up looking like it said on the box. Too bad the racer is too small to fit any Lego figures though. I guess my mini-figures will have to take the bus instead.

So that’s the Build It Stainless Steel Racer set. Don’t listen to the box; this is NOT for younger children, and it probably won’t keep older children occupied for very long. The set has some problems, but the wheels do roll freely, and will eventually it will all fit together with some fiddling. The resulting model is kind of cool looking, if small.

Overall, not a bad value for a dollar, but I wouldn’t pay much more than that for it.

Have any cheapo toys you want me to review? Please leave a comment and let me know what you want to see!