Tag Archives: boys

If You Build It… You’ll Have Fun

There’s nothing that says “play” better than a construction kit—and nothing that says “great way to spend time with your kids” either. So it’s no surprise that so many different manufacturers making so many different kits out of so many different materials. This week we take a look at one kit that’s traditional—in a very innovative way, and two that actually have an agenda.

Knuckz Delux (KnuckleStrutz)
knucklestrutzBefore you even open the package and start building, you’d better clear your calendar because you’re going to be need a few hours, but the time will fly. KnuckleStrutz kits are traditional in that you have a variety of pieces that you can assemble to create something. But those pieces are like nothing we’d ever seen before. KnuckeStrutz are incredibly well made: they fit together snugly—and stay that way until you take them apart to build something else. We also marveled at the engineering brains behind KnuckleStrutz who created so many pieces that can go together in so many different way.

The Knuckz Delux comes with more than 300 pieces and instructions for building two very intricate things—a fire truck and big rig truck. On the website, there are instructions for 13 more creations, including robots, motorcycles, dune buggies, and even a helicopter. The printed instructions that come with the package are sometimes hard to read, but the online PDFs are much easier. And, of course, there’s no limit to what you can create without instructions. Challenging, engaging, and great for building patience, dexterity, imagination, and parent-child relationships. Perfect for rainy days, or any other day, for that matter. Recommended for ages 6 and up, but kids under 8 or 9 will definitely need help with the instructions and may need a little assembly assistance. Kids over 10 will be able to help dad or mom when they get stuck. $78, for ages 6 and up. http://www.knucklestrutz.com/

Goldie Blox and the Parade Float
Goldie Blox and the Spinning Machine
goldieblox parade floatThe folks behind Goldie Blox are very open about their mission: To inspire the next generation of female engineers, and along the way, they hope to help girls develop the spatial and building skills they’ll need. Each kit focuses on slightly different (but somewhat overlapping) skills. Goldie Blox and the Parade Float ($20 on Amazon) is designed to demonstrate wheels and axles, gear action, and vehicle design. Goldie Blox and the Spinning Machine ($29) also works on wheels and axles, but adds in force, friction, and tension. Besides the pieces, each kit contains a story book in which Goldie, her friends, and even their pets overcome challenges by building various machines. The idea is to tap into girls’ verbal skills to help them discover and develop hand-eye and engineering skills.

goldieblox spinning machineWhat a terrific concept. Although meant for girls 3 to 9, we recommend Goldie Blox for the lower end of the range. Older kids may be frustrated by the stories, which will appeal much more to little kids, the small number of pieces (there are only around 30 in each kit), and the pieces themselves, which don’t always stay together as long as they should. But little girls and, perhaps, some boys who don’t mind pink tool belts and ribbons, will love Goldie Blox. http://www.goldieblox.com/

New Year, New Toys for Boys

This week, we take a look at some fun toys aimed mostly at boys. We’ll get to the girls soon.

Transformers Rescue Bots Beam Box
transformers beam boxVideo game-themed toys are all the rage these days—especially the kind that bring the toy and the player into the game—and Hasbro has joined in the fun with the Transformers Rescue Bots Beam Box (why do manufacturers insist on such long names?). Rescue Bots were created for smaller hands and have fewer intricate parts. The unit comes with a controller and one figure, Optimus Prime, who is your main character inside the game. There are five games to play as Optimus, all of which are easy for little hands to control. The starter set, which includes Optimus and the console, retails for $49.99, with additional figures available for $6.99. Available at your favorite brick-and-mortar or online toy store.

Beyblade Shogun Steel Octagon Showdown Battle Set
shogun arenaThis toy has been around for a few years, in several variations, but boys still love it. Here’s how it works. Two opponents each launch a “warrior” into an “arena” by pulling on a zip-pull ripcord. The warriors spin furiously like tops and bash into each other until only one is still moving. Sounds like something that could get pretty old pretty quickly. But no. Boys will play this game for hours and hours—and for weeks and weeks. And because it’s so engaging, it’s a great way for dads and moms to log some really fun quality time. The Octagon Showdown Battle Set comes with two Shogun Steel BeyWarrior battlers, the arena, ripcords, and two collector trading cards. Retails for $35 everywhere.

The Ugglys Pug Electronic Pet
ugglysWe did a column a few weeks ago on gross toys, and this one fits right in. Most little boys and their dads (along with some little girls and their moms) who’ve played with it have had a little too much fun, giggling as if they were watching Comedy Central. The Ugglys Pug Electronic Pet is all about noisily bodily functions, most notably gas and burps. Your child, spouse, father, or self can control the timbre of said gas as well as the pitch and how long the sound will go on (there are 30 choices). There’s also an added feature that makes the Pug ring like a telephone or buzz like a bee at random moments. Oh, and he’s a handpuppet too. Does life get any better than this? At retailers everywhere for $35.

Trash Pack Wheels Junk Yard
Another late entry into the fun-yet-gross category, the Trash Wheels Junkyard Play Set features a series of toys that are shaped like and look like garbage, but often with faces. An odd concept, but kids and adults love it. This goes well beyond Sesame Street’s trashcan-dwelling Oscar the Grouch. Think “old socks with ugly facial expressions” or “dirty banana peel that looks constipated.” There are also garbage bins, toxic waste canisters, garbage trucks, and more—every one of which is a huge crowd pleaser. But wait: What if you need to repair the Trash Wheel? With the Junk Yard, you can fix it, scrap it, or crush it into a piece of scrap metal (most boys like that option best, but no worries—it doesn’t actually crush anything). The set comes with two Trash Wheel Vehicles and a place to garage them. Not for kids who still put everything into their mouth, but fun for everyone else. Retails for about $20 everywhere.