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.
The 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”).
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.
These 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.