Beyond the Blocks: Innovations in Construction Toys

August 27, 2013 | From robots and race car tracks to life-sized forts and miniature houses, today’s innovative construction toys go beyond basic blocks, allowing kids to unleash their inner engineer, architect or designer.

“While kids have loved building for generations, construction toys are more popular than ever thanks to an expanding array of available options for kids of all ages, interests and abilities,” said Adrienne Appell, Toy Industry Association (TIA) trend expert.  “Today’s top building toys and games are both educational and engaging – many incorporate hands-on design, imaginative play, skill-building techniques and so much more!”

According to NPD Group point-of-sales data, the building sets category grew nearly 20% in 2012 … and with many manufacturers diversifying their existing building lines, or designing construction toys for the first time, the category is expected to continue its growth through 2014. Many of the “Construction Crazy” examples listed here were first spotted at TIA’s 110th American International Toy Fair and are expected to stay hot this holiday season:

  • LEGO Friends Heartlake Pet Salon (LEGO Systems)
    Little builders can customize the Heartlake Pet Salon, decorating and setting it up however they choose. The construction set features mini-doll figures, a rotating grooming table and grooming tools, bath tub, birdhouse, shop counter, accessory stand, water dish and faucet, and more.

  • Color Buttons Pegging Game (HABA)
    A unique and colorful game that aids children in stacking and encourages creativity and color / height arrangements. The kit includes a pegging board and 30 color buttons that can be stacked to create a stable tower.

  • 14 in 1 Educational Solar Robot Kit (OWI, Inc.)
    Kids can build a solar powered robot into 14 different modes, including a multitude of comical and functional movements. Unique accessories and parts enable the robot to move on both land and water. Powered by the sun – no batteries required!

  • Tagamoto Enforcer Road Set (Innovation First International)
    This construction set includes more than 65 easy-to-connect track pieces and accessories. The police car and red race car included with the set are both powered by high-
    tech, vibration technology and an innovative code-reading system.

  • Creature Bots (Faber Castell, USA)
    The Creature Bots kit enables young engineers to create, customize and construct three moveable models that chomp, flap and grab. They are easy to build thanks to a sturdy chipboard construction – just fold, snap and customize with stickers.

  • GIGO Block – Space Adventure (Magnote Corporation)
    Combine unique blocks with moveable joints to build a space robot. Each box contains 90+ pieces and 2 figurines, as well as a Japanese manga (comic strip) that links together three episodes … Collect all three episodes to create a super robot.

  • Build-a-Bouquet (Green Toys)
    Budding florists can create countless floral arrangements with the Build-a-Bouquet set from Green Toys, a company with eco-friendly manufacturing processes. 

  • Marble Run – Deluxe (Plan Toys, Inc.)
    Kids can build a fantastic marble run with this brilliantly colored 30-piece set, and then watch eco-friendly marbles spiral and hop down the various pieces of track.

  • Crazy Forts – Glow in the Dark (Everest)
    Crazy Forts come with 25 balls and 44 sticks that connect to create a structure – just add sheets and a fort is born! The structure glows in the dark for added excitement.

  • Red Toolbox Treasure Chest (Reeves International)
    A wood-building kit that allows kids and parents to build memorable experiences together, this beginner level set is designed for children 8 years and older and can be combined with Red Toolbox’s six-piece tool set, which contains ergonomically-sized tools made just for little hands.

  • Cityscape Building Set (Urban Canvas)
    Young designers and aspiring architects will be drawn to the innovative and versatile Cityscape Building Set, which features images of the waterfront view of NYC on one side, and detailed close-up views of skyscrapers on the reverse.

  • Hello Kitty Cruise Ship (Mega Bloks)
    A 200-piece building set that encourages children to construct a luxurious cruise ship with ladders up to the upper-deck pool, set up the dining and lounging areas, then choose where the included Hello Kitty and her friends will stand or sit.

These are just a few examples of the many “Construction Craze” toys that are trending right now. For more information about toy trends and play, regularly check TIA’s website.

TIA members who would like their toys featured in future articles and slideshows are invited to consult the Editorial Calendar and submit product information to TIA’s Jackie Retzer.