queen-anne-revenge

Building Strong Families

Working on a project together is a great way for families to connect and spend quality time together. This week, we review some of our new favorite building sets.

Construction Runner and National Geographic Dinosaurs (Laser Pegs)

laser pegs dinosLaser Pegs kits are compatible with traditional building systems, but they add an element of light (and, in some cases, sound), which makes them unique. The Construction Runner comes with a power base and plenty of pieces to build eight different machines (one at a time), including a front end loader, bulldozer, and a crane. The Dinosaurs kit is a lot bigger, and, in addition to the base, contains enough pieces to build 24 different dinos (again, one at a time), including a few we’d never hear of (Tapejara and Sauropelta, for example). Once you install the batteries (which aren’t included), your creations will flash, blink, and generally astound. Both are for ages 5+. Construction Runner retails for about $23; Dinosaurs for about $45. http://www.laserpegs.com/

Galax-Z Zooboddysey (Alex Brands)

zooboddyseyWith ZOOB, you don’t just build something and put it on a shelf. ZOOB’s unique ball-and-socket-type connectors, let you twist, turn, move, and redesign your creation—activities that help bring your playtime to life. ZOOBOdyssey (a nod to Stanley Kubrick’s movie, “2001: A Space Odyssey”) is one of the stars in the Galax-Z line, a constellation of building kits with, as you might guess, an outer space theme. This kit contains 34 ZOOB pieces, a few important accessories (engine turbines, wing blasters, and more), a ZOOBonaut, and instructions for creating a number of different spacecraft, including a Robo Battle Station that transforms into a Time Warp Traveler and a Planet Observation Tower with an Interstellar Searcher. For ages 6+. $34. http://www.alexbrands.com/

Real Construction Deluxe Workshop (Jakks Pacific)

real constructionIf you’ve ever used real tools—hammers, saws, and so on—around young child children, you know how much they want to help. And you know how much you worry about them hurting themselves or someone (or something) else. With Real Construction kits, those worries are gone. These innovative kits allow your child to safely measure, saw, hammer, nail, screw, and assemble pretty much anything he or she wants. Real Construction Deluxe Workshop comes with a variety of pieces of “Kid Wood” (dense polyethylene foam), plastic tools (saw, hammer, screw driver, square), hardware (screws, nails, hinges), and plans for eight projects. Unfortunately, those plans aren’t nearly as clear as they should be, but there are very detailed instructions on the website. The pride and joy on your child’s face at having built something from scratch is priceless. Ages 6+. Prices vary. http://realconstructiontoys.com/

ICONX 3-D Metal Model Kits Queen Anne’s Revenge (Fascinations)

iconx queen anne's revengeFascinations has created several lines of building kits that are aimed squarely at builders who are looking for a challenge that traditional systems have a tough time providing. You start with several sheets of amazingly detailed, laser-cut metal. And after a few hours of thoroughly satisfying hand-eye- and fine-motor-skills-intensive work, you’ll end up with an even-more-amazingly detailed creation. In this case, it was the Queen Anne’s Revenge, the flagship of the 18th century pirate, Blackbeard. This ship is part of the ICONX line, which are especially advanced and not for the impatient. Other ICONX kits include the Taj Mahal and a stunning motorcycle. If you’re looking for something to warm up on, try their easier-to-build Metal Earth line, which include buildings and cars that are a great introduction to the techniques you’ll use with ICONX. Ages 14 and up. Queen Anne’s Revenge retails for about $16. But prices for other kits vary widely. http://www.fascinations.com/

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