Ask any knowledgeable LEGO collector what the global brand’s most notorious copycat might be, and one of the top answers would be Lepin of China. This brand in particular was a priority target of The LEGO Group in establishing their presence in a major Asian market. Already a major lawsuit has ended in victory for LEGO, cancelling Lepin trademarks in China and also the UK.
But the climax of this LEGO-Lepin struggle in China took place just last week. Police in Shanghai launched a raid on Lepin factories and warehouses in the city. Several people, including Lepin’s boss, were arrested.
The Shanghai Police related the events on their official page on Chinese social network Weibo. They posted a lot of photos too. Images consist of dingy warehouses with dusty Lepin boxes, crates of unattached minifigure heads and more. As stated, the head of Lepin, known only by his surname Li, was arrested with three others.
With assistance from police departments in Shantou and Shenzhen, Shanghai law enforcement uncovered 10 Lepin production lines, 90 brick molds, 630,000 finished Lepin sets, and 200,000 instruction sheets. The local authorities calculate the boxed Lepin sets to be worth 200 million Yuan/$30 million if they ever got successfully shipped out.
Lepin had not only been aping official LEGO sets these past years, they also are notorious for taking online-posted fan MOCs and turning them into their own “official” products. But with the Shanghai production raid, the nails are now getting hammered into Lepin’s figurative coffin. This great LEGO copycat could eventually become a sad memory.