Building blocks are a classic toy that most kids over the age of 12 months are likely to have or have played with at some stage. Mega Bloks are a straight forward lego style chunky set of colourful blocks that come in a variety of shapes and sizes and inter lock. The child (or parent) can build towers, walls or any strange shape that their creative little brains come up with.
The blocks link together well and hold their form. Despite this they generally are easily pulled apart by little hands so there aren't tantrums and tears when a toddler can't pull the bloks apart. I'm assuming all kids have a similar strength to my son (he develops a vice-like grip when I try to wrestle my car keys off him).
As well as being used as building blocks, they have been used as something to chew (though they are all far too big to be a choking risk), something to bang on the table (or any other available surface), something to hide in parental shoes, and something to throw at the cat. I can confirm that they are very useful for all of the above 'somethings'.
The big red plastic tub that the bloks come in is obviously very useful for tidying away the bloks, but is also useful for putting over your head and walking into furniture. I don't know if this will influence your decision on whether to buy it or not.
My son has played with the bloks since he was about 9 months old and continues to today (he's now over 18 months old). I imagine they will continue to hold good playing value for a couple of years yet (the tub suggests ages 1 - 5). We have a couple of other mega bloks products and they are all compatible with the mega bloks in this tub.
I suppose the main downside for this toy is fairly obvious and is only a downside for a parent or guardian rather than the child playing with it - it's messy. The bloks will go everywhere unless you have them in a confined space. We are forever retrieving them from under the sofa, behind the tv, in the washing machine, in the cat's water dish etc. etc. Also they make wonderful trip hazzards, but I guess this is all fairly obvious stuff.
For about £15 for this big tub I feel it is good value for the play time and durability you'll get from this toy.
When purchasing toys for my boys Mr Lools and I often struggled as there is so much choice and we had lots of opinions from friends and family as to what are the "best toys". One item everyone agreed on was plastic building blocks and that they were a "staple" play toy. After much searching for Duplo which was the brand of plastic block I had been familiar with as a child I realised that actually Mega Bloks were the "brand" now and I found myself purchasing the 85 Maxi Mega Bloks tub.
***85 Piece Maxi Mega Bloks Tub***
The description of the 85 Piece Maxi Mega Bloks Tub is "a maxi tub which includes 85 big Maxi building Bloks. It is the perfect toy for your little building fan that is just learning how to build with their own two hands."
The 85 Piece Maxi Mega Bloks Tub is basically a range of different sized large plastic building bricks, very much like Lego just for toddlers. The pieces come in a range of sizes, from pieces with 1 rigde on top to large 4 ridge pieces. The blocks come in different colours which are red, yellow, green and blue. You can purchase different colours (for example girly pink blocks) but this product appears to be unisex in its colours. The blocks also come in a plastic rectangular storage tub which looks like a large Mega Blok with its ridged lid. You can get a yellow or red storage box however the blocks inside are standard and are the same colours.
The tub states the toy is suitable for children aged between 1-5 years old.
A large number of retailers sell Mega Bloks products. The 85 Piece Maxi Mega Bloks Tub is available from Mothercare, ELC, Toys R Us, Smyths, Boots, Tesco and Asda to name a few. The price of the 85 Piece Maxi Mega Bloks Tub varies between retailers and it is definitely worth shopping around for as there always seems to be a special offer on this product. ELC state the RRP for this product is £30.00 which I feel is extremely expensive considering you can pick up a box for around £15. We shopped around and during the pre Christmas 2010 sales we picked up the cheapest box for £9.00 (we have 3 boxes of these in total!).
We first bought the 85 Piece Maxi Mega Bloks Tub for my boys for Christmas 2010. At this time they were only 11 months old but by the time we got the blocks out to play with they were almost 12 months old. For a young child I feel Mega Bloks are completely safe and I would feel completely happy allowing a child of around 9 months that can sit unsupported to play with the blocks as they are large enough to pick up and even the smallest block does not present a choking hazard as it is around 3cm square by around 6cm long. Although at such a young age the entertainment value would be limited and I feel younger children seem to prefer to throw and chew the blocks rather than build with them.
At 12 months old my boys seemed to chew and throw the blocks. In fact their favourite game was to tip the large storage box over and place the blocks in and out of the large box. Obviously the picking up of the blocks aided with their motor skills but it wasn't until both my boys were nearer 14 months old that they wanted to build with the blocks.
Within the tub there is a variety of different blocks size wise. There are the smallest blocks which have one ridge, some with two ridges, some with three and the largest blocks have four ridges. Unlike Lego you do not get thicker and thinner blocks and each of the blocks is the same width only a different length. At 14 months old my boys were starting to build in their own fashion which usually meant they would push one brick onto another and simply connect two blocks together and then take them apart again, and then put them back together. The design of Mega Bloks makes this very easy to do as it does not take a lot of force but once attached the blocks stay together.
My boys are now approaching two years old and over the last month they have seemed to have developed a real interest in their Mega Bloks. When the blocks are out I usually find myself building structures alongside my boys but they now are playing very creatively and putting 6-10 bricks together and telling me what they have made. Usually when they tell me they have made a car or a robot it doesn't resemble these items but it shows they are using their imagination as they play with the bricks. When I play with the boys I also ask them about the colour of the bricks they are playing with and they can tell me the four different colours and we also count the bricks so there are definitely learning benefits associated with the Mega Bloks in addition to them being a very fun toy.
For most of 2011 we only had one tub of Mega Bloks and I feel for two children aged between 12 and 18 months this was an ample amount of blocks to build different creations with and for them to share the blocks. For one child the 85 piece tub is definitely enough to build different towers, house type structures, robots and vehicles. We now have another two boxes to add to our collection (one bought by myself another bought as a Christmas gift) which I feel gives my boys more opportunity to be creative and build larger structures as they get older and play with the blocks when we have other children visiting.
My boys are approaching two years old and I feel that they will get a lot of use and enjoyment out of the Mega Bloks over the next few years. On a number of occasions I have looked after my friend's little boy who is 3 and a half and the Mega Bloks tub and contents are a great way for keeping him amused. Looking after 3 children under 3 and a half is made a lot easier by playing with these blocks as they have universal appeal to older children in addition to young toddlers.
The storage tub that comes with the 85 piece Mega Bloks set is very handy and means you have somewhere you can store the bricks when they are not in use. I would say the tub is a good idea in theory but the lid does not stay on and simply lifts off. As a result you need ensure the tub is stored upright to prevent all of the bricks spilling out. The tubs can be stacked and we have our three tubs stacked in the corner of my boys bedroom. However there have been occasions when these tubs have been knocked over (think double toddler tantrum) and as a result bricks have spilled everywhere, which as a parent is frustrating and means you have a lot of bricks to pick up.
I do feel that the Mega Bloks bricks are very durable although I must admit if you directly compare the Mega Bloks bricks to Duplo bricks I feel Duplo is made to a much better quality as the plastic is slightly harder, shinier and just feels more solid. However a child will not notice the difference as this difference is so slight. Our Mega Bloks have been thrown and chewed for almost a year now and have suffered no damage. Because the bricks are made from a hard plastic they can very easily be wiped over or put in warm soapy water to clean if they get dirty from sticky fingers.
I would definitely recommend Mega Bloks, especially the 85 piece Maxi Mega Bloks tub to other parents of young children and also to those looking to purchase a gift for a toddler.
At £9 for a large tub, and for a toy that I feel my boys will get a lot of use from I think the 85 piece Maxi Mega Bloks tub is an excellent purchase. The bricks are made to a good quality and are durable. Because of the different sized bricks and different colours there are endless building possibilities which provides hours of entertainment for young children and I feel aid a child's development. The large plastic storage tub is also a very handy addition with the toy and I prefer to the plastic carrier that come with other Mega Bloks sets.
My only real criticism of Mega Bloks, is that if you compare with Duplo (which we had a small set of) is that the plastic blocks do not feel as strong and lock together as well in my opinion. However this is only a very slight criticism and I feel that for a toddler they are unlikely to notice this "difference". With this particular Mega Bloks product I like the storage tub that comes with the blocks but the lid is not totally secure. We have a number of these tubs in my boys bedrooms and if they accidentally knock the tubs over or the box is not put down upright the lid falls off and
A toddler essential, hence the three large tubs we own!
......Yes We Can!
There are certain toys that I would consider essential additions to every toddler's toy box and included in this is a set of construction bricks. There was a time where the only choice when buying these bricks was Lego and more specifically their Duplo range for toddlers. Then Mega Bloks made an appearance, with ranges for all ages from the teeny, tiny blocks for older children to the Maxi Blocks that are suitable for toddlers over the age of one. We picked up this tub of 85 Maxi Mega Bloks for the now 16 month old Freddy just after Christmas in the ELC sale for a very reasonable £7.50 (under half price) and gave them to him for his first birthday.
When we bought the bricks they were available in two different tubs, red or yellow with the actual contents being the same in both. For no particular reason we chose the yellow tub, which was securely closed by two plastic strips that needed to be cut before the bricks could be accessed. Once these strips are removed there is no way of securely closing the tub, as while there is a lid, that lid does not lock tight. The tub is formed of smooth and fairly tough plastic that is easy to wipe clean (as are the bricks). While it probably wouldn't survive an adult jumping up and down on it, it certainly has survived being turned upside down as used as a seat and support by 16 month old Freddy.
Measuring in at approximately 20cm by 40cm and 20cm deep, when opened the tub is filled by an impressive number of bricks of varying colours and size. I was actually pretty impressed with just how full the tub was, often with sets like this you'll find there's a large tub and only a handful of bricks, so it certainly felt like we'd got our money's worth. The bricks are made of a fairly tough plastic, easy to wipe clean and a good size for little hands to use. But they are nowhere nearly as well made as Duplo, which is a shame because as far as I can tell Mega Bloks have pushed the baby Duplo out of the market.
There's a good selection of different sized bricks meaning that, with a little imagination, you and your toddler can build a number of different models. The bricks are easy for even the very youngest to fit together, the knobs on top of the bricks fit into the hollow bottom of the one above. They are also easy to separate after the model has been built and it's time to put away. What I especially like is that along with full height bricks there are a number of half height, which adds another dimension to model making. The bricks range in size from a single brick (approximately 3cm square and 6cm high), through two by one (both full and half height), to three by one, all the way up to four by one and two by two.
When he was first given this set of bricks Freddy really didn't have a clue what to do with them, but had immense fun emptying the box across the living room. As there are so many bricks they easily spread over quite a large area and as is to be expected it does hurt if you accidentally tread on one with bare feet. It also takes me a fair amount of time to put them all back in the box at the end of the day. No matter how much fun I try and make it look, I've not managed to persuade Freddy that putting the bricks back in the box is a good game. I've spent many hours sitting on the floor with Freddy playing with these bricks and I've built some quite impressive towers that are taller than Freddy. I've also managed to build a very basic house and a robot, so there's plenty of scope for imagination as Freddy gets older.
At the moment Freddy has just about got the hang of connecting two bricks together, but he loves to pull apart models that I have made. He also loves to bang them together and crawl round the room with a brick in his mouth. Even with such basic play he is learning especially when I join in. At the very lowest level these bricks are encouraging Freddy to improve his hand eye coordination, dexterity and imagination as he slowly begins create his own models. At a further level by talking to him while he plays, I'm introducing many more complex ideas such as colours, counting, bigger, smaller, over, under, top and bottom. It's a well known fact that young children learn best through play and these bricks are fantastic for that. From my experience with my (much) older children, I know that as he gets older Freddy is most likely to use these bricks for purposes other than the manufacturers intended. I've seen Mega Block bricks used as play food on more than one occasion.
I genuinely believe that every toddler should have some form of construction brick in their toy box and these from Mega Bloks seem to be of excellent quality. Personally I would have preferred to have bought Freddy some bricks from the Duplo range as I remember they were even better quality, but sadly the very youngest range no longer seems available. Saying that the Mega Bloks Maxi bricks are still durable, looking as good as new after four months play, the perfect size for little hands and fairly reasonably priced. My only real gripe with this set is there is no way of locking the box closed. So if asked whether I would recommend this particular set, I would have to say yes, but keep an eye out for the price. I paid £7.50 for Freddy's tub, the current price is £15 (still reasonable) and apparently the standard price £30 (extortionate), oh and this particular tub seems to be exclusive to ELC. So I'm giving the Mega Bloks 85 piece Maxi Tub a very healthy four stars out of five.