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When my son added a couple of the k'nex Mario kart products to his Christmas list I was a little more than wary because in the past we have had mixed reviews with kits that involve building something specific. Whilst we have had bad results we have also had some good results and so when I saw the k'nex yoshi and standard building cart set in Smyths toys when they had a 20% off everything in store event I decided to purchase it for him for Christmas. This is my review of the toy.
==What is it?==
K'nex is a building system which has been around for quite a while to my knowledge. As my son loves to build toys such as k'nex and Lego are often high up on his list of desired items and so when he saw the Mario kart range he decided that he wanted both Mario and Yoshi so that he could race them. The kits provide you with all of the pieces you need to create a kart and the figure you have chosen and of course you are given instructions on how to build it as well.
The products are licensed with Mario kart wii and so you can be sure that the karts and the figures will look very similar to the ones that you may be familiar with if you have played Mario kart in your life.
The kit comes in a thin cardboard box which is thinner at the top than at the bottom which makes it a pain to wrap up but it does make it handy to hold I suppose! It has an almost handbag shape to it if that makes sense! On the front of the box there is a large picture of the kart made up which was really good I felt because it gave me a good idea of what it would look like once built whilst I was umming and ahhing in the store about whether to buy it or not. The k'nex name is featured on the bottom right of the box but the main focus on the front of the box besides the large photograph is the Mario kart wii name.
We are told on the box that this kit is suited to those aged six years and older and I would say that is quite a fair guide. Of course a younger child could tackle this kit with assistance from an adult but I find that in my son's case he does prefer to tackle things independently so that he can take pride in the fact that he did it on his own.
There are just 65 pieces in this kit and so it isn't the biggest project a child is going to tackle and my son actually opened it on boxing day and once he had laid the pieces out on the floor he got stuck in straight away and managed to build the cart from start to finish in around fifteen minutes. Whilst my son is really good at construction type activities at seven years old I did think that it would take a bit longer to construct this cart on his own and was a bit disappointed that it didn't take longer. I paid around ten pounds for this kart in Smyths as it was on offer but I know the usual selling price is around £15.00 and I think for the most part you are paying for the brand names and associations here.
The instructions were clear and simple for my son to follow which was a positive because my main issue with k'nex products in the past is the fact that the instructions are nowhere near as good as those from Lego. I think as this was a simple set though they were able to slow down the instructions and show clear pictures.
What I found a little odd with this set was the fact that the pieces used to make the kart are pretty much like Lego bricks really and I have an association with k'nex that it is cog type pieces and sticks more than the brick type pieces. As my son is comfortable with K'nex he was able to pop these pieces together quite quickly but I would say that you need to be mindful that no brand of bricks seems to go together as well as official Lego and so sometimes if the kart crashes or if my son or I are a bit heavy handed bits will fall off the kart. It is easily rectified of course due to the simple design but it is something to note none the less.
There are some stickers included with the set to make the kart look like an official Mario kart and sadly these don't stick on as well as they could or should. They don't look too messy and it isn't something that bothers my son really but when I look for the nitty gritty when I come to review the kart this has to be mentioned as it may put some people off.
As I mentioned at the start of this review you do get a figure to build as well depending on which product you bought and as we bought the green Yoshi kart my son had a Yoshi to build. This is basically just like making a larger scale Lego mini figure and involves slotting two halves of the cute green dinosaur together. What is odd though is the fact that for Yoshi to sit in the kart in a race he needs to have his legs taken back off! I think it would have made more sense to perhaps have bending legs and a kart that worked around this because we have no idea where Yoshi's legs are currently as he is usually just sat in his kart waiting to race!
Whilst I have moaned about a few little niggles with this product when the kart is actually completed and ready to be played with I think it is quite good. It is a good sized kart for the money you have paid and looks like the real karts do on the Mario kart game. The Yoshi figure is incredibly cute even when he is "legless" and again bears a good resemblance to the karts on the computer game! What is most important though beyond all of this is how good is the toy to play with and I have to say that my son really enjoys playing with these karts! I would say that on it's own there is probably not a whole lot of fun to be had with the car but when you have another kart to race against it opens up a whole new level of fun where the family can get involved too!
The kart features a pull back motor action so that you are able to actually make them go without pushing them and this feature works really well and consistently. It won't work on our carpet but then I think that is the case for any pull back type car and so my son races them in our hall way where we have laminate flooring. We did try racing them in the kitchen but they crashed in to a unit and we lost one of the parts temporarily under a unit and so I would advise to race them where there is good space and limited opportunities for them to crash and lose pieces!
My son has enjoyed playing with this kart and he has even mentioned that he may like some more in the series as well. Whether as time goes on he will forget about them I don't know. This kart isn't played with all the time and is currently sat on my TV unit with the Mario one but he will get them down and race them especially when he has friends round.
I think if you can get this product for around ten pounds then it is a good buy for a construction fan or someone keen on Mario kart but anything more than that and I would say it is a bit over priced. Currently on amazon this one costs £14.99 and has a £4.62 delivery charge but it is worth checking the site from time to time. The product is available for the same price in Smyth's.
Thank you for reading my review!