review: Grin Studios iiFun Build A Buds Scorpio (101 Pieces)

scorpio-egg-1

April may be over, but “Easter eggs” of sorts can still be found at Target stores in the form of these iiFun “Build A Buds” (as they’re called on the website, but not anywhere on the ovoid packaging) from Grin Studios. They won’t be found in Target’s bargain area or their seasonal area. I found them tucked away in the Outdoor Toys aisle with some other budget-conscious trinkets. This particular Build A Bud is named Scorpio.

scorpio-egg-2

There are four Build A Buds in the series. Two are loosely, loosely modeled after dinosaurs.

scorpio-contents

An instruction sheet and the parts are held inside the egg with a wrapper. The parts are unbagged, so take care while opening the egg or be prepared to look in the remote corners of your workspace for errant parts.

scorpio-x3

It should be quite clear that Scorpio’s design is more than a little bit inspired by Lego’s Mixels. As a matter of fact…

41515_main

… Scorpio is essentially the Mixel Kraw from Series Two with some minor modifications and substitutions.

scorpio-vs-flexers

Scorpio doesn’t look all that out of place with its legitimate Mixel counterparts.

Conclusion

The retail price for these Build A Buds is USD$3, which is not a bad price for a building block set. Unfortunately, the price seems like less of a bargain when compared to the Lego sets that Grin Studios is baldly aping. The retail price for a Mixel is generally USD$5.  Are you really paying that much more to get the real deal?

Then there’s the matter of parts quality. There’s a softness to the feel of some iiFun elements and the clutch power is on the weaker side. I would rate it somewhere around the same as Enlighten’s parts: not horrible, but not Lego. Paying a couple more dollars for better clutch seems like a reasonable choice. I will say that Grin Studios did a pretty good job matching element colors with Lego.

How exactly do you pronounce “iiFun?” Did Grin Studios try to trademark “iFun,” find out that it was already trademarked, then just add another “i” to the beginning of “iFun” instead of going with a different name? If that’s the case, then it’s a little telling about their business philosophy. The alterations made to the Kraw model aren’t driven by any artistic motivations, nor are they made to improve upon the preexisting design. It’s done to save a couple of cents with as little creative thought as possible. Grin could at the very least have changed Scorpio’s colors and tried to mask their unoriginality.

I don’t know if that level of that level of indifference should be rewarded with your dollars, even if the asking price is negligibly less than that of Lego. I would not in all likelihood buy a second Build A Bud. That’s the trouble with first impressions: you only get to make one.

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