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Monday, February 6, 2012

Product Review: Mega Bloks

Up until a few weeks before Christmas, The Boy hadn’t shown much interest in building blocks apart from knocking down the towers of wooden blocks that The Hubby and I built while playing with him. That changed one afternoon in late November when we attended a birthday party of a friend’s son who is a few months younger than The Boy. For the birthday boy I had asked his mum what he liked, and she immediately replied, “Something he can build” so I went out and found a lovely big bag of Mega Bloks (suitable from 12 months) The fact that the blocks are nice and chunky and brightly coloured means that your little ones should enjoy playing with them and exploring the shapes and colours, they’re easy to click together and create something, and the fact that they came in a handy bag (with a handle) meant that when the fun is over and the toys are packed away they have a convenient storage bag which can be easily transported if you want something you can take away from home with you for entertainment (Always a bonus for me, as some friends don’t have babies and some family members don’t have anything suitable for The Boy to play with, so we’re forever carting toys around with us when we go out!)

As soon as the Mega Bloks were opened and the birthday boy delightedly playing with them, The Boy jumped in as well and forgot his shyness (until that point he’d been attached to me or The Hubby) Within a few minutes a group of five young children were in a circle on the floor, the Mega Bloks between them, building and playing together happily.

The shop I’d brought this set of Mega Bloks from is local to home, and a couple of weeks before Christmas I headed in there to see whether I could pick up a bag for The Boy. Unfortunately they had none of the bags left, but they did have a fabulous pull-along cart containing Mega Bloks as well as the police station playset. At the time I didn’t have the car with me and the pull-along cart was too big to contemplate walking home with (I could have pulled it I suppose, but that would have got the wheels dirty before The Boy had even seen it!) I wasn’t keen on the police playset as it seemed to include more accessories than Mega Bloks themselves, so I didn’t end up buying either.

My mum phoned that night and excitedly told me that my dad had found a bag of Mega Bloks in a local charity shop (it turned out to be the same style bag I’d brought for the birthday gift) He’d snapped it up straight away as he knew I was looking for some for The Boy, and then to add to his delight the people in the shop had found a second bag (this one a smaller size) and given him a really good deal since he straight away said he’d take both. I was pleased that The Boy would have some Mega Bloks for Christmas as it seemed something he was suddenly very interested in.

On Christmas morning, The Boy was thrilled to open two bags of Mega Bloks and quickly he and The Hubby were building all kinds of things with them. Another gift from my parents caught my eye as the paper didn’t quite fit around I could see it appeared to be a box of Mega Bloks. The Boy opened that one and to his absolute delight discovered it contained the In The Night Garden Mega Bloks set, which comes complete with Iggle Piggle, Upsy Daisy and Macca Pacca characters, as well as a carousel and bridge to build. Many, many happy hours came from this discovery, The Boy apparently even more pleased when he discovered that all the blocks could be used together, and giant walls of colour were built upon which the Night Garden characters were sat. (The Boy is a big fan of In The Night Garden, in particular Iggle Piggle, and he was very impressed with the characters that were included in this particular set). There weren’t that many actual blocks in this box set which was a bit disappointing considering the size of the box itself, however since you do get the characters and carousel it doesn’t leave much space in the box for too many blocks.

A couple of days later saw us travelling to visit The Hubby’s sister for our Christmas celebrations, and The Boy had a very big present waiting for him there! It took him a while to open it (he tries so hard to unwrap presents carefully, as if he thinks the paper is part of it and he doesn’t want to damage it!) Once he had opened it though, inside the paper he was delighted to find the Mega Bloks workbench!

The workbench starts off as a big red plastic Mega Bloks box with a bright yellow lid. Inside you get a selection of Mega Bloks, plus a screwdriver, hammer and spanner, and two shelving units. Using the blocks and the shelving units you build your workbench using the box as your base, and the tools can then be stored in their own special shelf. The Hubby and The Boy built the workbench as soon as they were able to, and both were thrilled. It has provided many happy hours of entertainment, and The Hubby’s sister was very pleased that she’d got such a winner of a Christmas present for The Boy (completely on a whim – she hadn’t known about his recent love for Mega Bloks, nor did she know he’d already received some for Christmas)

The Mega Bloks workbench needs the benefit of at least another bag of blocks to make it more fun, as included in the box you don’t get that many, and The Boy does like to build a good, tall tower of blocks at every opportunity! Once the workbench is made up there are no leftover blocks, so The Boy likes to build the workbench and then use his other blocks to make his own additions.

Mega Bloks is something that The Boy has introduced me to, I wasn’t aware of this product before becoming a mummy (I remember Duplo, the younger version of Lego, and thought that was the only option!) However these great value bags, the Night Garden box and the workbench have shown me that Mega Bloks know their customers well and understand what makes a good toy. Bright colours, ease of use, plus familiar additions such as the stickers for the Night Garden ‘Ha-Hoos’ and the characters make these fun, practical and great value for money. The fact that I can pack them into their own carry bag or box for storage and transportation puts another big tick in the box for me and I expect many more Mega Bloks sets to be introduced to our household before The Boy grows out of them! They don’t mark despite lots of use and abuse, and if they get dirty or sticky (we all know what toddlers are like!) since they’re plain plastic you can either wipe them over or (as I do) plonk them in a bowl of warm water with washing up liquid for a quick clean. (Remember though if you’ve put stickers on the blocks they won’t fare well in water & washing up liquid!) As The Boy gets older you can go on to the more grown up versions of Mega Bloks, with the blocks becoming smaller and more difficult to connect together, encouraging the development of dexterity and problem solving. I would recommend these to a friend and will be making further purchases myself, both for The Boy and for any friend’s birthdays!

I rate Mega Bloks four out of five, improvement only to be made by getting more blocks included with the sets, though due to the economical prices of the bags of blocks you can easily (and affordably) add to the collection.

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