TDmonthly Magazine!
June 2004 | Vol. III - No. 6


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Construct, Deconstruct and Reconstruct: Building Kits for Everyone


Construction kits build more than just miniature houses, castles or play sets. Constructing a replica from a kit, builds not only spatial reasoning skills, it builds team coordination and encourages children and grown-ups to work together toward a common goal. There’s no limit to a one’s imagination with some of the newest building kits and who knows – they may even inspire future architects or engineers.

Not Your Grandmother’s Doll House

Art House ($199) by StoryBoard Toys (ToyDirectory), is an imaginative arts project that is perfect for creatively engaging large groups or individuals. The walls to the Art House are transparent and hold letter-sized paper, allowing kids to essentially “draw on the walls” in order to design the interior of the house. Kids create the backdrop for any type of building they like, then add outside accessories (not included) for a three dimensional lifelike atmosphere. The Art House comes standard with the Firehouse and Country Cottage Décor Kits. The Viking Longhouse, Horse Barn and Japanese House Décor Kits ($18) come separately. Each kit comes with numerous features to accent the house. The Japanese House Décor Kit is highly artistic and educational, featuring high quality anime illustrations, a coloring book with paper dolls, anime/manga art techniques, and tutorials to familiarize children with historical and cultural themes. Storyboard Toys will also be releasing a School of the Arts Kit ($18), which has content useful for teachers’ curriculums.

A-maze-ing

From Connectable Color Tubes, LLC (ToyDirectory) comes Toobeez (53 piece kit; $139.99), designed to “connect” friends and families as they build anything from forts to obstacle courses. The Toobeez kits consist of several spheres that work like joints to connect colorful tubes at different angles. The tubes and spheres are easy to assemble and easy to store, with one large Toobeez Storage Bag. Kids can add on to their original kit to make castles bigger, or mazes more intricate. The Toobeez are so functional, they can be used to create just about anything for indoor or outdoor play. As an educational tool, Toobeez assist in developing motor skills and problem solving.

Building off the popularity of Block N Roll marble maze, Taurus Toys (ToyShow) released a new 40 piece starter set ($14.95) for Block N Roll. The starter set includes pieces like the alternator, x-cross, see-saw and drop thru. These pieces help construct endlessly exciting marble mazes.

The newest creation from the CoolBlox Corporation (ToyShow) is CoolBlox Mini ($20-$25). CoolBlox Mini functions just like the full-sized CoolBlox but as 1/8th of the regular size, it’s small enough to fit into the palm of a child’s hand. The blocks are the same soft foam CoolBlox that interlock together like a puzzle but on a smaller scale than regular CoolBlox.

Miniature Thrills

Winner of “The Toy Man’s Choice: Best of Show” Award, is the “RollerCoaster Tycoon” RollerCoaster Construction Set ($159.95)from Miniature Amusements (ToyDirectory). The set allows construction of a highly detailed, physically functional mini coaster, where carts race down the track, just like they do on those thrilling metal monsters in the amusement park. A full line of accessories are available and there are virtually unlimited possibilities in circuit design.

Natural Creations

Also from Taurus Toy (ToyDirectory, ToyShow) are the Zoo-End habitat ($19.95-$39.95) Each kit serves as an atmospheric replica of an animal’s habitat, featuring the environmental surroundings appropriate for each animal. Four kits are available: Komodo Dragon ($19.95), Penguin ($39.95), Monkey ($25.00), and Gorilla ($49.95), with more lines coming soon. Kids can arrange the Zoo-End habitat as a zoo, once they’ve collected all of the kits.

Dream Home

From Ikken-Ya is a miniature house kit ($130) that lets people create their own dream house. Unlike some models homes, where construction is according to a predetermined design, the Ikken-Ya product allows the individual to literally create according to their own imagination. The basic set includes a house foundation; floor; wall prop; wall panel; roof; door; stairs and accessories. An optional set is also available, for adding on to one’s house. Overall product size is 20cm x 20cm x 25cm and its miniature plastic blocks are detailed and fit intricately together. There is no need for glue as pieces simply “plug-in” to each other.

Build It Up, Then Tear It Down

The Advanced Engineering toy set ($59.99), by American Toy Company is a construction kit favored by the professionals. Not only does it let amateur engineers and architects of all ages build the structure of their choice, it helps them knock it down too. The kit includes 244 building pieces that builders (or demolishers) can use to construct a variety of structures. Designers can choose from Modern Black Glass, Blue Gothic Stone or Red Brick as the exterior of the building and multiple kits can be purchased to construct a corner block of skyscrapers, restaurants and more. Similar to the famous implosions of Las Vegas casinos, the Advanced Engineering set demolishes buildings up to 10 feet high. The rack-bar plunger box at the base of the building and the activator plunger cable allow for a “Side to Side Implosion,” a “Center Implosion,” or the “Split in Half Implosion.”

My Favorite Robot

Every kid has dreamed of building their own life-sized robot friend. ROBOTICS & THINGS (ToyDirectory) has a series of ROBOTIX Educational Sets that are Space-Age, Motorized, Modular Contruction Systems for the building of one’s very own life-size robot, robotic creature, or robotic vehicle. Each set comes with numerous parts that are interchangeable and expandable with all other parts, an Instruction Manual plus high and/or low speed motors that can be added to the wheels, mouth, legs or any other body part or location to make it move and communicate. The ROBOTIX 5000 Robot Commander ($299.99) includes 5-Motors, an Integrated Controller and enough components to build a 5’ tall robot. The ROBOTIX Education Booster Pack ($169.99) includes over 150 parts that can be used with all other ROBOTIX models and consists of a 5-Switch Integrated Controller, 2-Switch Controller, 1-Switch Controller, 4-High-Speed Motors, and 7-Power Cables. There is no end to the potential of these educational models and sets that range in cost from $39.99 to $299.99. ROBOTIX Educational Sets can be very elementary or engineered at the most advanced levels.








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