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Monday, February 24 2014 08:01

Review: MEGA BLOKS 1-2-3 Learning Train and Learning Cube Assortment...

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In the roughly four-and-a-half years since I became "The Rock Father," it's been interesting to see just how much innovation and change has come to the toy aisles (actually, all the baby/kids sections) in such a short period of time. While it's easy to say "they didn't have that when I was a kid!," the same can be said for my two girls - who arrived just three years apart. You don't think that building blocks and bricks aimed at the youngest of architects would change that much, but they sure do, and the latest offerings from MEGA BLOKS certainly show that. It was just about four years ago when we first purchased a big bag of basic, pastel bloks for Addie, and now there's a whole FIRST BUILDERS line just bursting with possibilities.

First Builders CollectionThe folks at MEGA BLOKS recently sent us a trio of new items for review here in The Rock Father's State-of-the-art Toy Testing Facility (our house), all of which are just starting to arrive at retail right now as a part of their Spring 2014 Collection, from which many new items made their debut at New York Toy Fair last week.

Bonus: Check out THE ROCK FATHER Review of MEGA BLOKS' Firetruck Finn

Geared toward builders ages 12-months+, the FIRST BUILDERS line is designed with toddlers in-mind, with perfectly-sized blocks that are just right for little hands. 

1-2-3 Learning Train (MSRP: $19.99) Available now via Target (aff)

This 50-piece set introduces children to numbers 0-9, all while providing plenty of opportunity for mix-and-match imaginative play. The numbers and some additional accents are provided as stickers, and do need to be applied by a grownup to make sure they wind up in the proper place.

When built as-suggested, the train includes the engine and two cars, while additional blocks and base plates (which double as the lid for the box) become a fun tunnel for the train to pass through. Honestly, as cute as it is, our 1-2-3 Learning Train hasn't been able to stay in it's original form - and that's perfectly ok! While Little Finley (20 months as of this writing) has a ball mixing and matching pieces, even four-and-a-half year-old Addie enjoys this set as well (even though she's onto "Big Kid Blocks").

builders1

First Builders Learning Cubes: Learn My Vehicles and Learn My Animals (MSRP: $7.99)

These affordably-priced, 14-piece sets are based on matching fun. Like the 1-2-3 Learning Train, stickers should be applied by a grownup, but the Learn My Animals set allows little ones to match baby and parent animals, while the vehicles set presents "halves" of different rides (police car, school bus, ice cream truck, etc) that need to be paired-up. The major difference on the latter set is that it includes two, four-wheeled bases, so that your little builder can become a little driver. Mix-em up, and it won't be uncommon to find an alligator driving a train, or a hippo commanding a police cruiser. 

First Builders

Rock Father-Approved! 2014These sets are all Rock Father-approved, and more information about them and their counterparts can be found on MEGA BLOKS' official website.

Note: As these sets are brand-new and just starting to make their way into proper retail channels, please beware of third-party "marketplace" or "auction" sellers that may be attempting to cash-in by selling these for more than MSRP. They'll be in stores soon enough.

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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