We are builders around here. I remember growing up fascinated first by the old fashioned building blocks and then by Lincoln Logs. I built everything with my Lincoln Logs, and my mom still has them in the original box, much taped up. Mister Man is the same way, and we’ve gone through various stages of building toys. When I introduced K’NEX to the wee ones this past weekend while we were home for Thanksgiving, Mister Man was beyond thrilled with them.
When I first showed him the tub, he was excited to see what he could make. The K’NEX value tub has 521 different building pieces along with a guide to help you build all sorts of creations using the included pieces from a see saw to a photo frame to an alien to a praying mantis and more. It’s available exclusively at Toys ‘R Us for a suggested price of $24.99.
Once I opened the tub and dumped the parts into it, I was surprised by how … small 521 pieces actually is. There’s a lot you can make with them, but they don’t take up a lot of room. At first I was almost a little bummed that there wasn’t more to it, but then I realized how many more K’NEX could fit into this tub for storage going forward, and I was happy the tub was so large in comparison to the size of the pieces. Yes, it’s a marketing thing to have a big tub for 521 pieces, but I’m ok with that.
After flipping through the booklet, the wee ones decided to make the see saw first. One of the things I move love about K’NEX is that they are designed to be much more 3D than other building blocks and are so flexible that you can have them move in so many different ways, even bending to make a flower with petals. The fact that the see saw is perfectly balanced and actually moves just like a real see saw intrigued all of us.
That said, the directions aren’t so simple. They are not nearly as clear as some of the other instructions I’ve seen with other toys. Mister Man is an expert builder, however, and he wasn’t too fazed by them. I was able to figure it out after staring at it a bit (after the first step, the already completed pieces are shaded white – I spent a good five minutes looking for the white pieces that didn’t exist before I figured that out). Little Miss, on the other hand, whined and gave up because it was too hard for her. K’NEX are aimed at ages 7 and up, but she’s 8. That said, it really depends on the child. After she watched Mister Man long enough, she gained confidence to at least help him find the pieces. For younger children, this may really be a parent and child type toy, however.
Mister Man quickly and impressively built his see saw, however, and he was immensely proud of his creation. The wee ones both took other toys and used the see saw to measure to see which is heavier, as well as playing with it like a see saw with stuffed animals. I thought it was pretty cool how the K’NEX see saw had playing applications beyond the obvious build it and “ooo, look what I made.”
Without dismantling the see saw, we were able to build other projects, as well. Mister Man made the small dinosaur, and then – using a little creativity as some pieces were used in the other projects – made the praying mantis. The coolest thing about the praying mantis is that the arms actually extend using a lever that you build into the body. That right there is what separates K’NEX from many other toys.
The wee ones also had fun just making and building things. Little Miss, not surprisingly, focused on building things like swords and numchucks, while Mister Man managed to build a functioning bow and arrow without using directions. The K’NEX value tub is a great way to introduce children to the world of K’NEX, and I can definitely see how this is one that will continue to be played with at our house!