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[Toys] Which is better: Lego Duplo or Mega Bloks?

2011 July 28
by MieVee @ MummysReviews.com

Lego Duplo and Mega Bloks

LEGO and Mega Bloks are the two best-selling plastic interlocking blocks for children nowadays. When I was 5 years old, an aunt gave me my first small box of LEGO, which quickly became my favourite toy.

After LEGO’s monopoly in the market for so long, Mega Bloks arrived as a formidable competitor. So which should you buy for your precious toddler — LEGO DUPLO or Mega Bloks? Today’s article shall compare the two to see how they have met up to toddler Vee’s and my challenges.

Why Play with Blocks?

In my opinion, simple building blocks are among the best toys for a child because they:

  1. encourage creative play — her imagination can run wild building things she thinks of, do role play, etc.
  2. help her learn about colours, shapes, sizes, dimensions, balance and more
  3. develop fine motor skills (especially pincer grasp) and strengthen the hand muscles when she fixes and takes the blocks apart — pre-requisite to learning how to write, and with neat handwriting
  4. develop social skills — pour out a bucket of blocks for a group of children and they’d need to learn to share the pieces, while interacting with one another’s building project
That’s why when young children drop by our place, I’d definitely bring out lots of blocks. They’d usually get super-excited and start entertaining themselves.

About LEGO DUPLO and Mega Bloks

LEGO DUPLO and Mega Bloks sets

Currently, Vee has 4 sets of LEGO DUPLO, 1 set of Mega Bloks maxi and 1 set of Mega Bloks mini:

  • LEGO DUPLO Basic Bricks 6176
  • LEGO DUPLO Creative Bucket 5538
  • LEGO DUPLO Legoville  Deluxe Train Set 5609
  • LEGO DUPLO Legoville Garbage Truck 5637
  • Mega Bloks Classic Bag (maxi) 80 pieces 8468
  • Mega Bloks (mini) Thomas at the Sodor Fair 10516

In case you think we’re that crazy over blocks, half of the above are gifts for the boy.

This is a quick comparison of the general features:

Mega Bloks maxi Mega Bloks mini LEGO DUPLO
Material Information inconclusive
PVC-Free, Phthalates-Free (Source)
Information inconclusive
PVC-Free, Phthalates-Free (Source)
Primarily ABS plastic
Started phasing out PVC since 1986
(Source)
PVC-Free, Phthalates-Free, Lead-Free
and Fire Retardant-Free (Source)
Starting age From 1 year old From 3 years old From 1.5 or 2 years old
Variety Very wide:
- basic blocks
- theme sets
- cartoon character sets
Very wide:
- basic blocks
- theme sets
- cartoon character sets
Very wide:
- basic blocks
- theme sets
- cartoon character sets
Price of basic blocks ~USD20 for 80 pieces ~USD10 for 80 pieces ~USD20 for 80 pieces
Country of origin Made in Montreal (Canada) and China Made in Montreal (Canada) and China Made in Denmark, Hungary,
China and The Czech Republic

Notes:

  1. LEGO DUPLO and Mega Bloks mini are of similar sizes and are compatible with each other.
  2. The regular LEGO bricks and Mega Bloks micro are smaller and also compatible with each other, meant for older children above 4 years old. Both are not compared in this review.

Our Detailed Comparative Review

Rating Guide: Oh no!     ★★ Poor     ★★★ Fair     ★★★★ Good     ★★★★★ Excellent!

(a) Packaging: This compares the packaging for basic bricks only.

Mega Bloks maxi ★★★★ Mega Bloks mini ★★★★ LEGO DUPLO ★★★★★

Mega Bloks maxi comes in a large zippered plastic bag. Though the bag is reusable, it needs adult help until the toddler can open and close the zip around the bag with ease.

Mega Bloks mini comes in a large zippered plastic bag or plastic bucket. We haven’t tried both because the box we have is a Thomas Train set, packaged in a cardboard box. Toddlers tend to rip such boxes apart easily, so I prefer more resilient packaging.

LEGO DUPLO comes in cardboard boxes or plastic buckets. I like the bucket, which is lasting and keeps the blocks well-organised. The 4 round knobs on the cover allow Vee to easily open and close it.

Overall, my favourite is LEGO DUPLO’s plastic bucket with handle.

(b) Size:

Mega Bloks maxi ★★★★★ Mega Bloks mini ★★★★ LEGO DUPLO ★★★★

Mega Bloks maxi pieces are HUGE. These are good for Vee from 1 to 2 years old when he was just learning to fit pieces together and fingers aren’t that strong.

From about 2 years old, he started playing with Mega Bloks mini and LEGO DUPLO, which are of similar sizes, and require stronger fingers.

Mega Bloks mini may contain small parts not meant for young toddlers still mouthing things, so are more suitable for 3 years old. Actually, I think they should remove these parts and make the mini suitable for 2 years old.

Though the LEGO DUPLO Creative Bucket 5538 states 2+ years old, it contains 4 small flowers, which are definitely not meant for toddlers mouthing things. You may want to keep these flowers away.

LEGO DUPLO Basic Bricks 6176 doesn’t contain the small flowers, so the labelled 1.5 years old is age-appropriate.

Here’s how the sizes compare:

LEGO DUPLO and Mega Bloks compare sizes

(c) Fit:

Mega Bloks maxi ★★★★ Mega Bloks mini ★★★★ LEGO DUPLO ★★★★★

Mega Bloks maxi fit rather loosely together. This means a 1-year old can easily put the pieces together. But some pieces fit very loosely, so the structure would come apart when holding it, which would frustrate an older toddler. Perhaps that’s why Vee doesn’t play with the maxi blocks anymore after he started with the tighter-fitting DUPLOs and minis.

Mega Bloks mini fit tighter but don’t click together as perfectly as LEGO DUPLO. 1 small piece at the ferris wheel carriage keeps dropping off, which irritates me.

Mega Bloks Thomas at the Sodor Fair loose piece

LEGO DUPLO has an almost-perfect fit. Vee’s structures hold up well, while he can take them apart rather easily too. The secret ingredient to this:

In the manufacture of LEGO bricks the machine tolerance is as small as 10 my (0.01 mm). — LEGO Group, 2010 (Source)

(d) Compatibility:

Mega Bloks maxi ★★★★★ Mega Bloks mini ★★★★★ LEGO DUPLO ★★★★★

Mega Bloks maxi is compatible with Mega Bloks mini and DUPLO. Just make sure it’s right on top.

Mega Bloks mini is compatible with the even smaller Mega Bloks micro. It’s also compatible with LEGO DUPLO and the regular LEGO pieces.

Essentially, this means an older child can play with a mixed buffet of Mega Bloks (maxi, mini and micro) and LEGO (DUPLO and regular). Though he might ignore the maxi ones like Vee because they do seem quite babyish.

Below shows Mega Bloks mini fitting well with LEGO DUPLO:

LEGO DUPLO and Mega Bloks compatible

(e) Quality:

Mega Bloks maxi ★★★★★ Mega Bloks mini ★★★ LEGO DUPLO ★★★★★

I like the bright basic colours of the Mega Bloks maxi in the Classic Bag. They allow 1-year old Vee to differentiate and sort the colours easily. The quality of the blocks is also good.

Mega Bloks mini has fainter colours — not to my liking. The plastic feels more light-weight than LEGO DUPLO, and the Thomas Train set we have is certainly not as well-made.

LEGO DUPLO has bright solid colours; the pieces feel very sturdy with a highly-consistent quality. As a reference, my LEGO blocks are still in superb condition after 20+ years. They’ve been washed and Vee plays with them at granny’s place!

And I was the one who fell in love with the Deluxe Train Set 5609. Super thrilled when we finally bought it with a stack of credit card shopping vouchers that halved the price. The eye to detail in its engineering still wows me when Vee and I play with it.

LEGO DUPLO Legoville Deluxe Train Set 5609

(f) Overall Value:

Mega Bloks maxi ★★★★ Mega Bloks mini ★★★★ LEGO DUPLO ★★★★

This is a close fight.

Mega Bloks maxi has no competitor right now since LEGO has discontinued its QUATRO range in 2006. (FYI: The 75-piece LEGO QUATRO Bucket* has gained collector’s status, selling at a whooping USD499.90!) For a 1+ year old, maxi is a good choice.

Mega Bloks mini is less perfect than LEGO DUPLO. The lower price (almost 50%!) justifies the difference. If on a budget, this is suitable, but more for 3 years old because of potential loose pieces.

LEGO DUPLO is of top-notch quality, available at higher prices. If you want the quality at a budget, then go for the basic blocks in cardboard packaging. These are good from about 1.5 years old.

Overall, this are my preferred choices:

  • 1 year old: Mega Bloks maxi
  • 1.5 to 3 years old: LEGO DUPLO
  • 3 years old: LEGO DUPLO then Mega Bloks mini

As a cost-conscious Mummy, I’d give cartoon character sets a miss (be it LEGO or Mega Bloks) because they cost significantly more with no added educational value.

Personally, I’m wary of buying very low-priced blocks from unknown manufacturers. I’ve seen wheels fall off from similar blocks of poorer quality, which could pose a choking risk. Also, these could contain harmful chemicals such as PVC and lead. Stay safe!


Summary of Review:

Mega Bloks maxi Mega Bloks mini LEGO DUPLO
What we like about it
  • Only oversized blocks for 1 year olds in today’s market
  • Easy for young toddlers to handle
  • More affordable than LEGO DUPLO if you want a large number of basic blocks
  • Very good quality, likely to last till your grandchildren are born
What can be improved
  • Include more larger pieces in pack, reduce number of smallest piece
  • Better quality, especially no loose-fitting pieces. This would make it suitable for 2-year olds.
  • Remove small flowers that are a choking hazard for 2-year olds

Toddler Activities

  • Download LEGO Duplo colouring and activity sheets here
  • Download Mega Bloks colouring pages here

Get Your Own

LEGO DUPLO and Mega Bloks are available in major departmental and toy stores.

You may also check the prices at Amazon here (below are affiliate links*):

P.S. Coming up next: More reviews on Vee’s blocks and building toys

Sharing time: What are your favourite blocks? Feel free to share in the comments box.

Disclosure: Mummy’s Reviews™ is a review site that receives compensation if readers make purchases from affiliate links (these are marked with an *). If we receive compensation from the companies whose products we review, this would be disclosed. These compensation help to maintain and grow Mummy’s Reviews™. We test each product thoroughly and give marks according to our experience with it. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

Special Announcement: Singapore’s Takashimaya Baby Fair has started again from 27 Jul 2011! For details, read this updated baby fairs list (item number 6). Happy shopping!

26 Responses leave one →
  1. July 28, 2011

    I grow up playing Lego.
    but I think regardless what brand is as long as the child’s mind and creativity will be enhanced, that all matters.

    • July 28, 2011

      Certainly, we’re always open to new & innovative brands, as long as it’s safe too. Think the safety part is quite lacking in many manufacturers nowadays, including some big name brands. :)

  2. Kim K permalink
    December 10, 2012

    You answered every single one of my questions about Mega Bloks and Lego!! Thank you sooo much!!

  3. anthony bull permalink
    February 3, 2013

    When you’re child moves on to actual Lego from Duplo, the game becomes completely different. The creativity then becomes about building a cohesive town where the minifigures can have lots of adventures, as opposed to the simple creativity of building something basic, and “avoiding the cartoon characters”.

    • February 4, 2013

      Thank you for your input! We’ll explore playing with Lego when Vee is older. Building a cohesive town with lots of adventures sounds fun!

  4. Jennifer permalink
    February 25, 2013

    thank you for this excellent comparison between the types of blocks!

    this’ll probably sound weird to any non-glider-owner… but I’m actually a childless grown adult, looking to purchase toddler-sized blocks (rather than teensy tiny Legos) for myself in order to make (reconfigurable) toys for my sugar gliders (I don’t want the tiny stuff because it would take forever to build glider-sized stuff).

    it really helps me to know that the blocks are compatible with each other and that the mega blocks mini is the same size as lego duplo (I needed to be sure they weren’t the size of normal legos)… knowing that the duplo blocks fit together a little more snugly is an extremely helpful answer to a question I hadn’t even thought to ask!

    • March 22, 2013

      Hi Jennifer, thank you for your very interesting comment! I’d never have thought that this comparison post would have helped a sugar glider owner. Have fun with your gliders. :)

  5. Hd Luc permalink
    April 19, 2013

    Thank you so much for this very well written review. I’ve been a Lego fan for years since I grew up playing with Lego. When my baby boy was nearing his first birthday I wanted some good learning toys and naturally searched the Lego Duplo range for something suitable but found they weren’t suitable until he got a bit older so I got him some Megabloks instead. It never occurred to me that the bricks of these two brands were actually compatible and could be mixed. Thank you for bringing this to my attention with this review.

  6. May 17, 2013

    Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said
    “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and
    screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.

    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had
    to tell someone!

  7. Udayan permalink
    July 10, 2013

    This was an amazing super informative review! Thanks for putting time into this. It definitely help in my making the best decision for our son and niece and nephew! I have lots of blocks to purchase! Thank you so much!

  8. Jimmy permalink
    July 16, 2013

    I have 2 kids now. When i got the first one i bought him a bunch of lego. it was expensive and at this time i didn’t feel it worth the price (you can find cheaper bloks). It was ok. But when the second came up, i bought him Megabloks, because it was cheaper. And today, i realize a few things. Now i understand why LEGO is LEGO and why i spent a bit more at this time. After 6 years, the lego blocks looks like brand new. the fit is perfect. On the other hand, megabloks … i also bought a vehicule to build together with my first son. and once again, i was disappointed. too much tiny bloks, the playbook was too complicated for a 6yrs old kid… and the price was too expensive for what it was. i dont think i will have another kid ! but i hope my comment could help someone out there.

  9. December 18, 2013

    Love the review! My daughter is 16 months and we are debating whether to get more mega blocks (which she loves) or try Lego Duplo.

    Could you explain to me how the Mega Blocks are compatible with the Lego Duplo blocks?

  10. Richard permalink
    August 18, 2014

    Nice review
    But in my opinion the mega blocks is not worth the dollars, I had lego 20 years ago and my son had for the last 5 years and my wife decide to give a go to the mega blocks, rated for 5+ but I find very hard and useless manuals .
    Cheers

  11. Ken permalink
    October 18, 2014

    Hey MieVee, Thanks for sharing such an informative review with us. It’s really helpful for me to know that the best comparison between Lego Duplo and Mega Bloks.

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