I had completely forgot about the existence of Stickle Bricks until my brother in law and wife bought the Junior Super Builder Bucket for my kids last Christmas. These were a great present and my kids love them and they brought back fond memories of my Stickle Brick which I enjoyed playing with as a kid.
~The Box and Contents~
The Stickle Bricks come in a large red storage box with lid. There are 75 bricks inside of various sizes and types, including:
Square Stickle Bricks of 1 x 1 inch in two varieties, hollow and solid
Rectangle Stickle Bricks of 2 x 1 inch
Axels with a wheel each side
Round disk-like Stickles, about an inch in diameter
Triangular shaped bricks, about half the size of the square ones
Long thin Stickles, about 2 inches in length
Boy and girl heads for making people
~How the Bricks Work~
The bricks (except the disk, axel and heads) have Stickles on each side therefore bricks can be placed together from all angles. This is one aspect of Stickles that set them apart from Lego as there is far more flexibility in what they can make. They are also really easy to put together and pull apart and can be placed on each other at all angles.
~What Have We Made?~
Cars, trucks, walls and towers etc are a favourite for my kids, they have made all sorts of weird and wonderful looking modes of transport! Once my kids have made a vehicle they then do imaginary play with it. My daughter is currently very into making little stick people and then making stories up for them and giving them name. My son who is two is more than happy just sticking loads of Stickles together and making a tower is something completely imaginary to him.
Occasionally my husband, who is a big kid when it comes to these type of toys, makes something when then kids have gone to bed for a surprise the next morning. Usually he makes a house or castles which the kids love waking up to find.
In their basic form Stickle Bricks are just a pile different sized shapes and bricks, waiting for some little hands to fix them into an imaginary scenario. All the articles I have read suggest that creative play is extremely good for small children and simple toys which demand their thought to make them into something more are best. Stickle Bricks are constructive and facilitate creative play.
The box states that the bricks are suitable for children 2 and over. We had these bricks when my daughter was 4 and my son was 18 months. So I would say tow and above would be about right, as I had to be careful with my son and son of the smaller parts to start with. I do think that these will be a toy which keep coming out for many years, I can certainly remember playing with these bricks when I was around 8 or 9.
A great toy which was an excellent choice of present the bricks have been very well used. Looking on the web this box of Stickles costs around £30, which I think is good value for the amount of play we've had with these.
Flair Sticklebricks are one of the best early construction toys out there, yet they're really quite hard to come by these days for some reason. Perhaps that's because of the instroduction of Playskool Clippos, which are similar although not really the same. They use the same construction principals, but they're aimed at a younger market and lack the wheels and people that Flair Sticklebricks have.
Also, these are an older toy which pre-date the likes of Magnext and Galt Octons - perhaps that's part of the reason why they are less common these days? Regardless, you can still purchase them from some places - primarily from educational stockists as well as second hand from car boot sales and the like.
The basic concept of this toy is simple yet very effective. The bricks are like giant blocks of velcro (slightly different attaching system but just to give you an idea!). You press any two bricks together, and they stay together until you decide to pull them apart. If you don't push them together firmly enough they won't stick, but most toddlers will be able to successfully manage this I think.
The bricks come in all different shapes and sizes including the basic squares, rectangles, circles and triangles - as well as some more specialist parts like people's heads, wheels (mounted on axles), and a limited array of animal shapes too. There are also base plates available which are great for building on - or using as roofs for houses etc.
The bricks are all brightly coloured and well constructed. They go together easily and they pull apart easily too. This toy doesn't come with any instructions - it relies entirely on a child using their imagination. They start off by mashing the bricks together in rows or towers as toddlers, and build up to creating houses, animals, vehicles and robots as they progress through to school age.
These are such a great, simple toy - I wish they'd make a comeback. Kids are given so many instructions these days, they need more toys like this that let them allow their imaginations to take over.
One of the many toys my youngster was given for Christmas was a large box of Flair Stickle Bricks. Stickle bricks have been going for many years and I even had some as a child so knew the amount of time a child would have fun playing with them (and the fun I could have alongside them!).
The Stickle Bricks come in a few different varieties. This particular one is 'Junior Super Builder' and contains 75 pieces of differently shaped pieces of stickle brick, each slotting together easily whether it be side to side, back to front or side to front. Each of the bricks are different colours with interlocking edges and sides. The edges can be a little sharp at times and have been known to break off so this needs keeping an eye on. As well as the smaller shapes (which vary from triangle shaped to window shapes) there is also a bigger rectangular shape (two included in this box) on which works as a base to build the different things upon.
The bricks are very simple though hold hours of fun and help with both imagination and creativity. So many things can be made with this set from cars (some little wheel bricks are included which actually go around!) to people to whatever else can come from the childs mind. It is amazing to watch my youngster building something that you never even thought could be made. The only disadvantage to having this set is that they go everywhere - literally! I have found bricks in my shoes, under the sofa and even somehow in the fridge! Of course, if you want even more pieces than you get in this set, any Stickle Brick set matches up to these to continue the fun of building.
These Stickle Brick boxes can be found in a few different sizes and seem to range from around £10.00 to about £20.00 depending on size and variety. £10.00 may seem a lot for a box of bricks though these really do entertain children for hours and they learn whilst building which is great.
Fully recommended for both boys and girls probably from the age of 18 months plus.
When i found out my newly turned 2 year old son had a bucket of stickle bricks for his birthday I think i was nearly as excited as he was!
It was a bit of a slow grower for him, on the day he was not really interested, prefering to play with those other classics - the tea set and the trampoline, but once the birthday fuss and fun had dies down the stick bricks have been a consistant daily success with all the family.
They are nice and chunky and easy for little hands to hold and put together due to the great spikes, you can stick any two pieces together anyhow, there is no lining up of the prongs to make them fit together, he can just shove them at each other and they stick together which is very satisfying for him, and takes away the element of frustration that can come from trying to play with his brothers lego and being unable to fit it together! They are lovely bright colours, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, which makes for great imaginative play for all ages.
My 4 year old daughter gets involved too, prefering to make more elaborate models of spaceships or cars, or sometimes just pretending the circular pieces are biscuites and cakes for her dolly (stickle bricks victoria sponge cake anyone?)
On top of that my older 2 children occasionally have a go too. They are 6 and 8 and play with the younger ones with the sticklebricks adn also sometimes use them to improvise a light saber!
I really think that these are a good value toy, that appeal to all ages. They will get so much play, I think they would do a child at least 5 years of intensive and occasional play, if not more!
The bucket is a really handy size too, with a little handle, and we have found it perfect for taking on long trips to visit relatives or to entertain them at weddings.
Now call me a mean mummy, but when my 2 year-old sits down for a Stickle-Brick session I am likely to start acting like a big bully and push her off so I can have them all to myself! In fact, when my little girl was given her first ever bucket of Stickle Bricks (present from Nana last Christmas), it was her dad and I that spent an hour kneeling on the living room floor constructing wonderful edifices such as pagodas (me) and breweries (daddy). Ahem. She was a wee bit too little then, at one and half, but she started really getting in the bricks a couple of months later.
Stickle bricks are very brightly coloured plastic shapes and come in many forms. Most of them are square-ish or rectangles, but there are also triangles, frames for doors or windows and a whole host of other strange animal-related shapes too. We have some butterflies and a rabbit, for example! They are in funky primary colours which appeal to young children and make the tricky task of learning colour names a bit more fun and stimulating.
What makes Stickle bricks so great for tiny hands is that you don't have to have much dexterity in order to get them to stick together (which is perhaps why daddy can still make breweries after having a couple of Christmas drinkies....) Unlike Lego, where you need to align a bump with a hole pretty accurately in order to achieve a stick, stickle bricks are covered in thin, bristles - kind of like a very large version of Velcro but without the hooks! The bristles slot together any which way, so you can ram them together with no finesse whatsoever and still achieve spectacular results (sometimes appearing to defy gravity!) The pieces are relatively soft - they don't cripple you when you stand on them, but they are sturdy enough not to be bent in half by destructive delinquents.
Most pieces are around a centimetre thick, but lengths and widths vary. Some pieces, for example are up to 10cm long. So, as you might be able to imagine, it's possible to build some quite hefty structures if you've got enough bricks. My "Infant Super Builder" tub contains 46 bricks, which is just about enough to build a medium-sized brewery. A word about the tub itself - this is made of a good heavy-duty too, and is fantastic. I say this as so many toys these days don't seem to come with any kind of storage and the bits get lost in the bat of an eye. The Stickle Brick tub is part of the toy itself, as it's brightly coloured and shaped like, well, a very large Stickle Brick! It also has ample room left over; there is no squashing of pieces in order to get the lid on, and no frustrating "only-one-way" order of packing in the bits. Simply hurl them in with gusto and slam on the lid, and hey presto your living room is tidy again. In fact there is enough space to accommodate a few other random toys that might be lying around on top of the telly or in your video recorder slot - very useful for those impromptu visits from the neighbours (you know the ones, them that NEVER have a speck of dust out of place!)
Stickle bricks help with kiddies' motor skills, creativity, sorting, colours, and in the case of my daughter, the endless "put things in a bag and take them out again" game, which I'm sure must be useful for something... Actually her current favourite is making a sort of Stone Henge type thing, which is actually quite dramatic! They are fun, cheap, safe and a little bit timeless. I remember playing with them myself as a child (oh, no sorry, that was last Christmas... )
Available from all over the place (my mum found ours in a charity shop, brand new!). www.toysdirect.com do a tub for about £13. Suitable for ages 1½-4.
There are all manner of kiddies building toys on the market and it feels like at one point or another my kids have had them, whether it be Lego, MegaBloks, Clemmy bricks.............one of the many varieties they've owned, and one I also played with as a child, is Stickle Bricks.
Stickle Bricks are brightly coloured plastic shapes covered in lots of little spines, when 2 of the bricks are put together the spines interlock holding the bricks in place, generally they come in brightly coloured buckets complete with carry handle and lid which are great for storage and can usually hold more than the supplied contents. The individual contents itself can vary from bucket to bucket and include base boards for house building and such like, long rectangular pieces, triangles, squares, small discs, finger like sticks and even extras like heads, eyes, feet and hands (very Mr. Potato Head) A bucket will cost anywhere from £9.99 and can be bought in most toy stores including places like Argos, even all these years later this toy remains popular and widely available.
Stickle Bricks have been around for years and I was secretly pleased when my son received 2 buckets as gifts when he was younger knowing that I could play with them too, of course only to show him how to use the bricks and encourage his imagination you understand.......ahem, anyway, despite him only being 2 when he received the bricks it didn't take long for him to realise what needed to be done and with a little demonstration from his Daddy and Uncle, who probably played with the bricks more that day then he did, soon started making different shapes and animal creations from the bricks. The bricks kept his attention for several hours as he sat happily making different things and proudly showing them off and they have remained a popular toy for my children since then. Christopher is now 4 (well almost) and my little girl, Elsa, is now 2 but they still love playing with the bricks, naturally Christopher's building abilities have improved over the years as he's played with the bricks and he's now making cars and houses, and men with really, really long arms and legs..........you just have to love kids imaginations, Elsa is learning fast from her brother and is often the one asking to play with the bricks, prompting him to join in.
We have had our 2 buckets of stickle bricks for several years and they are in great condition, ok a few did get chewed on by my mothers puppy but the rest are still doing good, very occasionally I might notice one of the spines had snapped off but with so many other spines on each brick they still hold together well, even though the bricks are suitable from 12 months of age I recommend you make sure you watch really young children with the bricks as you don't want them putting one of these in their mouths just in case there is a loose spine you don't want them swallowing, not that they're sharp or even a choking hazard (they're very small spines) but you just don't want your babies chomping on plastic. Naturally with any kind of building brick they can get spread around a lot which can be frustrating as a parent but of course you can just use this as a training exercise for your little ones in how to tidy up their toys after use.
With the entire world of imagination in their hands children can have hours of fun with Stickle Bricks, they're very durable toys lasting many years and being plastic are easy to keep clean. I can definitely recommend them especially for those children too young for regular Lego or for those unwilling to be restricted by the building options available with regular square/rectangular shaped building blocks. My only complaint really would be that to have real fun with the bricks and create some truly great results you need more then one bucket of the bricks, other than that they're great.
Check them out here- http://www.flairplc.co.uk/pages/stickle.shtml
When I was in primary school I used to love playing with stickle bricks, building different things but I had not seen them for years so I thought they didn't do them anymore until I was looking through the Argos to see what I could buy the twins for their birthday and there they were, the big kid in me went out and bought them, not sure if it was more for me or the twins though!!
~~~~~ Contents ~~~~~
The stickle bricks came in a bright orange plastic box with a bright green lid and blue handle. Inside the box there are 100 pieces of the stickle bricks in various shapes, sizes and colours including 4 hands, 2 hats, 3 eyes and 4 different heads.
~~~~~ What I think ~~~~~
When I was younger I used to love playing with these and they would keep me entertained for ages. The twins seem to enjoy playing with them too though they haven't quite grasped that you can make different things with them as when I build them something they seem to enjoy breaking it up more but they are only young yet and I'm sure they will build things as they get older.
I would reccommend buying these for children as it keeps them entertained for quite a while and gets them using their imagination when thinking of things to build.
I think the only bad thing I can think of about these is they are a pain to tidy away after younger ones as when the twins do eventually get bored of playing with tem they seem to scatter them all over the room so I have to go around collecting them all up - that may be just my kids though!
~~~~~ Price ~~~~~
I bought these for the twins from argos and they cost £14.99.
~~~~~ Contact info ~~~~~
Flair leisure products plc
0845 456 1775
Stickle Bricks in the UK are known as Bristle Blocks in the US, but here we call them Sabras (meaning a prickly pear - the fruit of a certain cactus which is soft and sweet on the inside, but thorny and sharp on the outside. Sabra is also the word we call a native born Israeli, because we too are thorny and sharp on the outside but soft and sweet on the inside). My three sabra children grew up with these bricks, and I'm sure that those of you with kids today are familiar with these, as well. But in case you aren't, I shall endevour to tell you more about them here.
What are they like?
Imagine, if you will, colourful pieces of plastic that has little nubs on all six sides of it. That's basically it. The nubs are spaced just far enough apart from each other so that when you push two blocks together, the nubs slide next to each other. But these nodules are also set closely enough together so that when you do this, they also stick the two blocks together - almost like velcro. These nobs are set in lines, much like the bristles of a brush (and that's probably where the US name comes from).
Just so you know, you won't hear any clicking sounds when your kids play with these, which means that they should (and do) come apart about as easily as they go together. Mind you, it does take a touch of effort for them to stay connected, but since these aren't meant for kids under the age of 24 months, that shouldn't be a problem for most kids.
What's good about them?
Firstly, they come in very attractive, primary colours - red, yellow, blue, green and I've even seen purple and black as well. This attracts young children to them visually - making them curious to touch them. That is, of course, the first step towards play - catching a child's eye - and this toy succeeds in this area. Next, they are easy to use, which makes it a low frustration type of toy, which is also encouraging for younger kids. I found that this took some of the burden off of me as a parent since I didn't have to be right there all the time to help my offspring put the things together or pull them apart (which is the major problem with Lego for littler kids).
These come in lots of different shapes, some of which are quite creative. For instance, I've seen butterflies and flower shaped pieces which are very cute. Moreover, some of the pieces are outlines of shapes - like a square which has an extra four sides of hairs on the inside you can stick other pieces onto (or is that into?). Another thing is that you'll find one side of a piece has an even number of rows of these whiskers while the opposite side has an odd number of rows of barbs. This means that - in theory - you could stick a whole bunch of them together, with even rows stuck to odd rows, to make a large flat or tall construction.
Of course, since these are for smaller kids, the prickles on these aren't sharp, so they won't hurt your kids hands when they play with them. They're made of a softer plastic than Lego, so if you step on them with bare feet, they won't hurt your soft soles as much. However, the plastic isn't so soft as to be bendable so they won't lose their shape, either. Finally, because there are so many shapes, there are an endless number of combinations that your kids can put these together into, making it a very creative toy indeed.
What's not so good about them?
Firstly, most people will mention that the hairs on these do have a tendency to come off with prolonged use. While that doesn't happen too often with the age group that these are intended for (since the kids who are old enough to play with them aren't going to be using them as teething rings), it does happen if these are used a great deal. And if a younger child chews on them, they could very well swallow a broken-off piece. Still, a missing nob or two won't stop kids from playing with them, and the bits that can come off aren't large enough to choke on.
Another thing I noticed is that perhaps the manufacturers of this toy were a tad too enthusiastic regarding the various shapes that these come in. To my mind, smaller youngsters don't need as many strange and unusual shapes as you get with these. I believe that instead of encouraging creativity, these actually tend to limit it. What I mean by that is that if there were less funny shapes, kids would have to think harder about how to use the more basic shapes to make more elaborate buildings. From watching my kids use these, I noticed that they tended to prefer using the squares, bars and rectangles and hardly ever used the triangles, circles and frame-like pieces. I also noticed that because of this, they tended to stop their play sooner because they didn't have enough of the basic shaped pieces to continue making the things they wanted to make. Of course, you could buy more buckets of these, but you'll still end up with a bunch of pieces that your children won't be as interested in using.
This brings me to the next not so good' bit - their longevity. While slightly older kids will find uses for the unusually shaped pieces (for instance, my daughter loved to use the triangle piece to brush her dolly's hair), you still really can't make very sophisticated constructions with these bricks. This means that a 3 or 4 year old will start looking for a set that can adapt and expand with their ever growing imaginations. While the junior bucket does come with things like axles and wheels, these are still limited by the way that the bristles hook together, which constrict movement. When that happens, you're going to find that these blocks have begun to lose their charm. This is mostly because they never made any sets more advanced than the junior bucket, and it seems to me that the developers for this product never intended for these to be more than a beginner's building toy - unlike Lego which can even be enjoyed by adults. I'd say that by the time your children are about 4, you'll be sweeping these from underneath furniture and picking them out of the lint filter of your dryer, and tossing them into the bin - at least, that's what happened in my house.
What's my bottom line?
Call them what you will, these blocks, bricks or sabras are inexpensive and fun for very young children to learn the basic art of building. They are colourful, attractive, durable, and easy to use. But in the long run, if your kids are really into building things, I suggest that when they outgrow these (and they will, quite quickly), you invest in Lego, Lego and more Lego. Three stars, but still recommended.
Thanks for reading!
Stickle Bricks are produced by Flair which is a subsidiary of Hasbro. These are available just about everywhere that toys are sold. Even on Amazon I found the infant builder bucket for £8.99, the junior builder bucket for £14.99. These are also available at Agros, Toys-R-Us, The Early Learning Center and many more! The prices are almost all the same everywhere, with £ 8.00 for the infant bucket at ELC being the cheapest but their junior bucket is £ 15.00 - a penny more than anyplace else I saw.
The UK webpage for these can be found at http://www.flairplc.co.uk/pages/stickle.shtml and from that page you can purchase these on line at http://www.toys4you.co.uk (which showed all items as being out of stock when I looked there) or http://www.mailorderexpres.com where they sell the infant builder bucket for £9.99 and the junior bucket for £14.99 as well as an infant bag for £9.99.
Have you any idea how hard it was to find as many words to describe the bristles on these things?
Davida Chazan © March, 2005
For little hands with big imaginations. Sticklebricks are the perfect first construction toy for babies and toddlers. Theyre bright and attractive to look at, and easy to put together and pull apart. With a variety of shapes and sizes, the very young fin