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Building Block Toys: Build Like A Professional [And Why it Matters]

Building Blocks Toys

Toys are not just for kids. This is what I learned as I embrace the North American culture. Toys are equally appreciated and are good learning tools for teens and adults, too!

Growing up in the Philippines in the 90’s, it is customary that toys are just for kids under 6 years old. As soon as I reached school age, my dad threw away all of my doll toys. Apparently I’m too old to play with toys. I never had techie toys when I was a kid. It was a luxury for us to have a toy with a remote control. The closest I got was a crying baby doll with her eyes open when stood up & and close when laid down. My husband, Lito, was the same. He was telling us about a wheel of an old bicycle that he used to roll using a twig as his toy. At 40 years old he was still excited to have his very first remote controlled helicopter. He was equally excited as our 8 year old son to play with their very first coding robot (see article Max the Next Generation robot) and their very first set of Lego building blocks. In fact, he actually bought the Lego City Coast Guard Patrol for himself, although he claims that it was for our then 5-year old son. Obviously, it was just a cover up reason for him to buy this over $300 Lego set.

The truth is: there’s always a kid inside every teenager and every adult. It is the part of us that is carefree and loves fun.

Now that I’m an adult, I find myself too much overwhelmed with my worries, plans and to do list on a daily basis that there’s no time to enjoy what a single day has to offer. I had to remind myself about this wonderful quote from an unknown author:

“Don’t let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past or the future. By living your life one day at a time, you live all the days of your life.” For me it takes effort and proper mindset to enjoy playing toys with my toddler and tween. I kind of envy parents who effortlessly enjoy playing toys with their kids. This undoubtedly fosters better parent-child relationship by opening up a 2-sided communication about topic that is enjoyable for both, instead of a 1-way “do this”, “do that” type of communication.

What I learned is that being truly interested in the toys the kids are interested in can definitely helps in effortlessly playing the toys with them. Those moments are priceless! Those are the moments I wish my sons remember me even when I’m gone.

As a parent, I also want to ensure my sons are learning while having fun playing. I want to equip them as much as possible to get them ahead of their game in their future challenges in school and in their professional career. However, skills about coding, electronics or construction can be boring to learn at any age if there’s no motivation to learn it. Motivation for adults can be a need to learn the skill or knowledge as part of the job or as part of the academic requirement as a teenager. For kids the motivation is purely fun, they actually learn without them knowing it. I think this is the best and the most natural way to learn because it tends to be a second nature by experiencing the application hands-on even before learning the principles & theories behind it.

Say by playing billiards, without knowing the kinetic equation or Newton’s second law of motion beforehand, you can understand that you have to position your cue at a certain angle to hit the target ball to go into the pocket. Relating this experience to learn about physics in school will be a lot easier. Translating this knowledge about physics would mean designing a machine that is useful in real life application.

During my college years, part of the Engineering curriculum is Engineering Drawing, which is often referred to as “blue print”. In this course we had to learn how to visualize and draw the top view, side view, oblique view as well as the orthogonal, auxiliary and isometric projection of a mechanical part, to which I struggled a lot! Thank goodness I’m a metallurgical Engineer, not a mechanical engineer!

Learning this particular engineering skill is greatly enhanced by actually looking at real 3D object and positioning it on the top view, side or oblique view. I think this is exactly how playing with building blocks at a young age can help in better visualization and creativity, which are vital components in the Engineering discipline. I believe that teaching the brain early on in life gets a long way.

So go on, indulge yourself and your teens and young-at-heart hubbies to play toys that support the STEM learning! They’ll surely have fun playing without them knowing that they are actually learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

I have scoured the internet to find the coolest building blocks toys for the big boys & girls in your life.

LEGO Creator Expert Roller Coaster Building Kit

This Lego Creator Expert Roller Coaster garnered the prestigious 2019 Toy of the Year Award by The Toy Association. Who wouldn’t be excited about this giant fully functioning Roller Coaster that is equipped with working chain-lift model and packed with authentic details! This building kit measures over 20in (53cm) high, 34in (88cm) wide and 16in (41cm) deep. It comes with 4121 pieces including 2 trains with 3 cars each train, 11 mini-figures including riders, ride attendants, spectators, smoothie stand and a cotton candy cart. The structure has big dips and 3 train track levels for an exciting ride.

Chain-lift can be cranked manually to lift the trains up and gravity pulls them down. For a more tireless play, you can motorize it by upgrading the set with the Lego Functions M-Motor and LEGO Power Functions AAA Battery Box, which are sold separately. If you’re in for more realistic play, upgrade it further with Lego Boost creative Toolbox to add movement sensor and realistic sound effects, where you can program the movement of the trains using your smart phone device and when they reach the right point, cheerful sounds of the excited riders will come out of your smart phone.

PROS

  • Offers a tireless, realistic play with authentic details on top of the creative and challenging building experience
  • Compatible with LEGO construction toys and LEGO building blocks for more creative play
  • Building Instruction manual is well-written and clear to understand

CONS

  • Very expensive, costs a lot more in Amazon website (some sellers) than Lego website on the same item
  • Upgrades to automate the set costs more money
  • Not strong enough to be picked up as one assembly without breaking some pieces once assembled

CDX Blocks Cyclone Roller Coaster Building Block System

Cyclone Roller Coaster

Meet CDX Blocks Cyclone Roller Coaster Building Block System, the best alternative to the Lego Creative Expert Roller Coaster in my opinion. It is a fully functional roller coaster equipped with a working hand crank and gear-powered chain to reach the highest peak and operates through the dips, the slopes and right back into the chain via gravity. It comes with over 900 pieces including 3 coaster cars, custom designed blocks and standard block components. The basic kit creates a huge 46″ long, 12″ high, and about 12″ deep structure, which can be easily expanded using the expansion packs and can also be motorized using the Lego Functions M-Motor and LEGO Power Functions AAA Battery Box, which are sold separately.

PROS

  • Price is cheap, costs 1/3 of the price compared to Lego counterpart
  • Expandable and flexible track system, thanks to its compatibility with Lego blocks and all standard interlocking brick system
  • Sturdy assembled structure, can easily picked up and place to other location without falling apart
  • Comes with a step-by-step instruction manual

CONS

  • Upgrades to automate the set costs more money
  • Does not include the option of programming the rail car movements and capability to integrate sound
  • Lacks mini-figures and details for a realistic play
  • Issues reported about difficult to understand instruction guide

LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle Building Kit

Relive the Harry Potter series with this astounding 6020 pieces iconic Hogwarts Castle replica, featuring authentic details of classrooms, towers, Whomping Willow, Hagrid’s hut and 5 buildable boats. It also includes 4 LEGO Harry Potter mini-figures: a Goodrich Gryffindor figure, Helga Hufflepuff figure, Salazar Slytherin figure and Rowena Ravenclaw figure, 27 micro figures, 5 Dementors, Aragog and Basilisk figures and a buildable Hungarian Horntail figure. Assembled Hogwarts Castle replica measures over 22in (58cm) high, 27in (69cm) wide and 16in (43cm) deep. It also garnered the prestigious 2019 Toy of the Year Award by The Toy Association.

PROS

  • Compatible with all other original LEGO construction toys and LEGO bricks for creative play
  • Packed with very intricate details, makes a wonderful display piece

CONS

  • Very expensive, costs a lot more in Amazon website (some seller) than Lego website on the same item

LEGO Technic Rough Terrain Crane Building Kit

Feel the power with this 2-in-1 heavy-duty rough terrain crane, which can be rebuilt into a Mobile Pile Driver. Both construction toys are motorized with LEGO Power Functions that is included in the building kit. The rough terrain crane has stabilizer legs, 1-meter extendable boom and working winch and measures over 39in (100cm) high, 25in (66cm) long and 10in (26cm) wide in working position, and over 10in (27cm) high, 29in (76cm) long and 7in (20cm) wide in driving position. Mobile Pile Driver measures over 9in (24cm) high, 19in (50cm) long and 7in (20cm) wide in driving position. This kit comes with 4057 pieces to build the most realistic Rough Terrain Crane with authentic details with power functions and manual functions for a realistic play.

PROS

  • Compatible with all other original LEGO Technic building sets and LEGO building bricks for creative construction
  • Controlled using both motorized & manual functions

CONS

  • Expensive

Arckit 180 Architect Model Building Kit

Building blocks toys

Arckit 180 Architect Model Building Kit is a re-usable free-form model system designed for more serious and advanced builders and model enthusiasts. It is used to build a modular, educational and an impressively detailed house model structures up to 180sq.m/1900sq.ft to scale using over 350 pieces.

PROS

  • Includes instruction manual and component storage system with one component tray
  • Extendable design by adding components from other Arckit system component sets (sold separately)
  • Offers FREE online access to Arckit tools: Arckit Digital Components in SketchUp3D and Arckit Arckitexture

CONS

  • Parts are challenging to assemble and disassemble, which can easily breaks

Every item has its own pros and cons and every individual has own unique preference and interest.

Which one do you think is a perfect toy for the big boys & girls in your life? Share your thoughts below! 🙂

Posted in Building Blocks, Engineering Kits, Teens, Young adults

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