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A look over the edge – MOULD KING trains

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Meeting Zhang Jie at the LEGO store in Shanghai

Early 2019 I met Zhang Jie at the LEGO store in Shanghai. He is a LEGO train fan and MOC builder from Shanghai in China. And some of his designs became official sets produced by the Chinese company MOULD KING. Zhang Jie was so kind and send me the total of 6 sets for review. For me the first contact with non original LEGO bricks.

QJ Steam Locomotive (12003) and C70 Gondola (12003CX)

The QJ Steam Locomotive from my point of view is the most complex and challenging model compared to the NJ2 Diesel Locomotive and the CRH2 Highspeed Train. In all sets you can clearly see many details and building techniques only an advanced MOC builder will use. Some of them will remain hidden when the model is finished so it is only for the fun while building the model.

As accessory for the QJ Steam Locomotive a C70 Gondola is available. This model comes with only black elements, even the "lipstick" comes in black and is used for some nice details on both sides of the car.

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QJ Steam Locomotive

My pros:

  • (+) highly detailed steam locomotive model with working pistons and connecting rods
  • (+) remote control options using either a 2.4 GHz remote control (without speed control) or a Android/iOS app (with speed control)
  • (+) 2 separately controlled motors for different speed levels
  • (+) 8 straight and 16 curved tracks included in the main set, 8 straight tracks included in the accessory set
  • (+) 17L thin liftarm in metallic silver as super-long connection rod for all 5 wheels
  • (+) Carbon fibre 3L axles with more strength to connect the 2 L motors with the differential gear
  • (+) In my box the sticker sheet came both with white (useless) background and transparent background
  • (+) stronger clutch power compared to LEGO bricks (will be harmful when disassembling such a model)

My cons:

  • (–) Hi resistant clip-in wheels on the tender and technic pin wheels on the gondola (at least the 2 L motors have enough power to pull this train, but more gondolas of that kind would be impossible)
  • (–) Difficult building while trying to cover the cables from the motors inside the boiler (the instructions, which are clear to follow, do not show the cables)
  • (–) The first wheel is only attached using a flex axle. This is good for negotiating curves but the construction is not stiff enough to keep the 1-axle boogie in straight position on switches
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QJ Steam Locomotive
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QJ Steam Locomotive
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C70 Gondola (12003CX)
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C70 Gondola (12003CX)

 

 

CRH2 Highspeed Train (12002) and Dining Car (12002CX)

The CRH2 Highspeed Train (12002) and the Dining Car (12002CX) are models of a modern Chinese high-speed train.

The CHH2 comes with 2 units, a end unit with a streamlined driver's cab and a passengers' car with a pantograph. As accessory a separate sold dining car is available. The basic design of this train is 8-wide and in combination with the relative short units it looks a bit squeezed. The end unit is powered by a standard train motor in the first boogie (which is too weak to run this train with reasonable speed). A nice detail is the hidden magnet coupler in the streamlined nose which allows you to connect the end unit to another end unit.

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High-speed train

My pros:

  • (+) remote control options using either a 2.4 GHz remote control (without speed control) or a Android/iOS app (with speed control)
  • (+) 8 straight and 16 curved tracks included in the main set, 8 straight tracks included in the accessory set
  • (+) stronger clutch power compared to LEGO bricks (will be harmful when disassembling such a model)
  • (+) some nice details inside the units like comfort seats or the bar in the dinning car

My cons:

  • (–) Hi resistant wheels with technic pins and the heavy weight of the units just allow super slow speed for this high-speed train. The wheels hardly spin. If you want this train to be a good running model you need to rebuild all wheel sets.
  • (–) The relation between the 8 studs width and the relative short length of 42 studs makes the units look a bit odd.
  • (–) The magnets are to weak to hold the train units together, the rolling resistance is just to big. (Neodymium magnets would help a lot.)
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High-speed train
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High-speed train
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High-speed train
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High-speed train
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High-speed train
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High-speed train
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High-speed train
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High-speed train

 

 

NJ2 Diesel Locomotive (12001) and KD25T Air-conditioning Generator Car (12001CX)

The NJ2 Diesel Locomotive (12001) and the KD25T Air-conditioning Generator Car (12001CX) are models of a Chinese train.

The NJ2 Diesel comes with 2 units, the locomotive and a passengers' car. As accessory a separate sold air-conditioning generator car is available. The basic design of this train is 7-wide and in uses a huge amount of dark green bricks. One of the 3-axle boogies of the locomotive is powered by a XL motor which doesn't allow high speed.

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Diesel train

My pros:

  • (+) remote control options using either a 2.4 GHz remote control (without speed control) or a Android/iOS app (with speed control)
  • (+) 8 straight and 16 curved tracks included in the main set, 8 straight tracks included in the accessory set
  • (+) Stronger clutch power compared to LEGO bricks (will be harmful when disassembling such a model)
  • (+) Lots of dark green elements, even a few which are not available from the Danish benchmark company.
  • (+) The relation between the 7 studs width and the length of 44 studs works much better then the 8-wide high-speed train.

My cons:

  • (–) Hi resistant clip-in wheels and the heavy weight of the units just allow super slow speed for this train. The wheels hardly spin. If you want this train to be a good running model you need to rebuild all wheel sets.
  • (–) Some magnets are to weak to hold the train units together, the rolling resistance is just to big. (Neodymium magnets are only used on the locomotive.)
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Diesel train
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Diesel train
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Diesel train
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Diesel train
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Diesel train
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Diesel train
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Diesel train
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Diesel train

Verdict

For me this was the first time building with non-LEGO bricks. In a positive way I am surprised about the good quality of the bricks. Shapes and colours are ok, some tiles are not super shiny but ok. Some white elements on the high-speed train show some black scratches and the transparent elements are like the new way LEGO is producing transparent elements. The clutch power is very strong, I would say stronger then original LEGO. Which is fine for the build and the final model but will become a nightmare if you want to put such a model apart. Interesting to see are shape-colour combinations which do not exist from LEGO or are hard to find. The transparent 1x1 Technic brick from the steam engine or the dark green 1x1 plate with clip from the diesel engines are good examples I would love to see from LEGO.

The controls, either using the standard bang-bang remote control or the app are very much the same as LEGO offers. I haven't had connecting issues with my iPhone and the standard control app from MOULD KING worked well.

The QJ steam engine is probably the most complex brick build steam engine on the brick market. The piston and connection rod design is great, a 17L thin liftarm is just a dream element. This is way beyond being a toy and you need a bit of patience to get this engine run smoothly with all the moving elements. Maybe not a model to let run for hours on the next public show, but it is an eye-catcher anyway.

The biggest issues were caused by the power concepts in high-speed train and the diesel train. Here the motors, either a standard train motor or a XL Power Functions style motor are to weak to speed up such heavy models on bad wheels. To solve these issues I would go for some better spinning wheels first, maybe older LEGO train wheels added with some extra ball bearings.

Finally what I liked is the fact that you get at least two sets which go together as a major set with a train or large steam engine and with an accessory wagon or unit. Both come with plenty of standard straight and R40 curved track elements. The accessory sets only come with 8 straight tracks.

Will I buy more MOULD KING stuff in the future? No. Their total product range with live size weapons is not something I want to support. And besides Zhang Jie's trains there has been so many stolen designs from LEGO and LEGO fans which turned into sets by Chinese third party manufactures. Original designers rarely get credited for their intellectual work by the companies earning money with those sets. If LEGO is turning down it's quality and keeps on struggling with it's VIP concept and the Chinese companies focusing on their own designs it might become a game changer in the future. But for now I prefer third party manufactures which come up with great additional elements, wheels or straight and curved track to extend my LEGO hobby.

 

Thanks to Mould King und Zhang Jie for sending the trains for review. All opinions expressed are my own.