“ Theme: Creator „
LEGO is never the cheapest toy on the shelf, but the quality is always high. As far as toys go, it's difficult to find construction sets that offer the same durability and potential for creativity as LEGO.
Generally LEGO comes either as a set, with detailed instructions on exactly what and how to build, or a brick box, where you're usually faced with a large number of basic bricks, and perhaps an inspiration sheet.
There are positives and negatives to both, which I won't delve into here. Suffice to say that the Creator line of LEGO seems to fill a gap by sitting between the sets and the freestyle boxes. Creator kits generally contain a mix of basic and unusual bricks designed to make three different models. Full instructions are included for the three variations of the theme (robots, in this case) which means a greater amount of play and building time. It's particularly useful for those children whose first question is 'what should I build?'
~~What's in the box?~~
There's 149 bricks in total, and they're mostly smaller pieces in red, black and grey. Basic bricks seem to have been kept to a minimum, with the focus on curved, triangular, grilled and jointed pieces. There's a few ratcheted joints and ball joints which my niece (aged 6) stated "would be good for making other stuff 'cause robots are boring aren't they?" Sigh. The highlight is, of course, the light brick. It's lit by pressing a button at the back of the brick, and is surprisingly bright. It's also orange, rather than yellow as it appears on the box.
The instructions for all three builds are split across two fairly thick booklets, and as usual for LEGO they're clear and follow a logical, easy step-by-step pattern. There are no irritating stickers included, which was a bit of a relief as I find them a horrible faff, and my niece refuses point blank to try to use them as they always end up wonky.
I've built all three and as an adult, it won't take you very long to complete one (I image 20 minutes or so, much of which will be hunting for small pieces!). The age range on the box is 7-12 years, which I think is about right. My niece is 6 and generally only plays with LEGO when she visits me, so she did need a little help when it came to the joints. She stated that the different shapes and small bits made it complicated to build, but that it was fun all the same. I image kids aged 6/7 upwards should have no problem with this if they're familiar with LEGO, but there's still enough complexity to keep them quiet and absorbed for a reasonable amount of time (particularly with three different robots to build!).
Given my nieces rather disparaging remarks about the dullness of robots, I wasn't expecting her to really take much interest in this set to be honest. However, once she realised she could build a robot cat, instead of the more standard looking robots, her opinion did change somewhat. This might have been due to me telling her it was actually a robot dog (she would happily give up all her toys for a real dog).
The flexibility of the robot (each has very manoeuvrable arms, legs and head) and the added bonus of the light brick meant that this toy received quite a bit of play time. Our little robo-dog was walked all around the flat, with his light up nose searching out dark corners. There was wonderful fun to be had in trying to destroy Auntie PiratePix's retinas. It was popular enough to be taken to bed, and is apparently very good at lighting up caves (read: illuminates well under the covers). Robo-dog/cat has been adopted as a part-toy, part-nightlight companion.
I bought this set at Tesco for just under £14, as it seemed like good value, and with my niece due to stay for a visit, I needed no other encouragement to add to my own shameless stash of LEGO :) It's available for anywhere from £10.99 upwards, and I believe represents excellent value for money. There's a lot of potential building and play here, and I can see it going down particularly well with kids in the 7-10 age range. If you have a youngster into the likes of Transformers and similar toys then this 3-in-1 rescue robot is bound to bring some excitement on Christmas morning.
(Review also posted by myself on Ciao.co.uk under the username PiratePix)