A rather surprising email arrived in my inbox a few weeks ago from a PR company that represented a toy inventor in QuÃ©bec, Brik-a-Blok Toys. Seems they have a sort of human-size Lego set and were interested if I’d like to have a look. Here’s a pic from their site:
What I didn’t expect was that not only would my girl enjoy it, but my 9yo son looked at it and rather than saying “uh, whatever” responded “cool!” and immediately started building and crawling around in it. He’s bigger than she is, of course, so those turns were hard for him to negotiate (which of course makes me even more suspicious of the Hollywood action film trope of people wiggling through air conditioning ducts. In fact, I think that’d be pretty darn hard! But that’s another story…).
I let them have free reign in our pretty small townhouse and it didn’t take long to realize the greatest limitation with the Brik-a-Block toys: you really need a lot of space to enjoy them.
As you can see in this picture, they took over the kitchen and laundry room in short order, even with the 2x2x2 room they built at the end of the tunnel:
What I wish they had, though, were some ‘window’ panels or different pieces that can work as doors. With every single piece edged with hinge elements, any sort of “hole” tended to affect the stability of the assembly. Now, to be fair, they do include little plastic stabilizing clips too, but my kids were more into building – fast – than in building rigid and stable.
Oh, and our cat found the entire experience fascinating and he’s still trying to figure out why we now have tunnels in our house, tunnels plenty of big enough for him to hide in and still keep a beady little eye on what’s happening in the house.
Now the down side: we were sent a 46-panel system to review. Nice, but I didn’t realize that they’re a rather hefty $179.99 plus shipping. That’s an expensive building toy and the chances of me buying a second set so my kids can expand their constructions? Not too likely at that price point.
Is it overpriced? I don’t think so, but I do think that the price (almost $4/panel) is going to limit the Brik-a-Blok system to affluent parents and higher end kindergartens and preschools. Don’t know if it’s the fact that they don’t have large-scale production facilities yet, but if there was a way to drop the price in half I think they’d have a big winner on their hands.
For now, if you have the money, the space and kids that like building, this is a pretty fabulously cool toy for ’em.
Learn more: BrikaBlok.com.