If there's a single toy category that makes me long for childhood, it's the construction set. This week's Toy Fair in NYC gave us ample opportunity to check out the latest developments in building blocks for kids. Here's a roundup of our favorites.
Mega introduced Xtreme Sports, a series of kits for building both street terrain and stunt parks for skating and biking. Flair Pipe (pictured), one of the action set assortments, comes with a full pipe that can be built into various half pipe configurations. The real kicker for the Xtreme Sports set is the trade-marked MicroMotion controller which lets kids float tricks without their fingers getting in the way of the action. Xtreme Sports will be available through retailers beginning this spring.
Outside the Mega booth, a Halo Wars mascot wandered about, a harbinger of toys to come. With the first ever construction toy sets based on Halo Wars, MEGA has produced a slick collection of figures and vehicles that's certain to please die-hard gamers. The series will hit retail shelves this summer.
Lego, the industry giant, was one of the few toy companies to report growth last year. It's no surprise. The company has been at the forefront of construction set design for decades. One of our favorites from the sprawling booth was the new Power Miners series (be sure to follow the link for hilarious Lego animations).
What continues to amaze us is the level of real-life detail Lego designers bring to their creations. Designers researched and visited mining sites to bring a level of authenticity to these toys that's simply awesome. The 235-piece Thunder Driller (left), which retails for $29, features a working bi-directional drill head similar to those used in tunneling.
K'nex, another construction set behemoth, also had a sprawling booth. Their product line-up, categorized by age based on the complexity of sets, boasted new Collect & Build Air Action, Racecar Rally and Moto-Bot Series but it was the new roller coaster kits that got our attention. New to their Thrill Rides this year were the Lava Launch Coaster and the Loopin' Lighting Coaster. The former comes in at over 4 feet high and produces a volcanic sound that's sure to drive parents mad; the latter is comprised of over 500 part and boasts over 17 feet of track. Both will be available this fall.