Toy Lab

Technical toys: what's hot in 2022

Construction toys and system building sets for small and large master builders
Header Lego City Raumfahrtzentrum  aus 1010 Teilen – Lego City Space Center made of 1010 Parts (C) Lego

By Peter Pernsteiner

The world of creative building blocks is becoming increasingly diverse. Assembling tubes, stacking cork blocks, attaching magnetic cubes to each other, studying animal movements with articulated blocks or using click bricks to make a globe – almost anything is possible. For a long time now, the toy industry has not only focused on children between the ages of five and 15. Some manufacturers are appealing to children of crawling age with their clever ideas whereas other target adults who also enjoy playing with building blocks.

The building blocks made of cork are suitable for children from 18 months of age © Korko
The building blocks made of cork are suitable for children from 18 months of age © Korko

Big building blocks for small children

The 36 giant cork building blocks in the “Starter Block Set” from Korko are designed for children aged 18 months and above. They have eight different shapes and are also partly coloured. The building blocks come in a box with a large cork lid, which can also be used as a small seat in the children’s bedroom. Alternatively, there is a set of 60 pieces that comes in a larger storage barrel in the form of a nursery stool. (Korko)

The square, stable tubes of the “Cacapo Type E” (video) architecture system from Moby Dick, which is now also coming to Germany, are between 13 and 60 cm long. They are made of recycled paper and can be combined with flexible or rigid connecting elements made from plastic to form a wide variety of geometric shapes. They can be used to create small playhouses or role-play environments, such as the perimeter of a ship – and not only in kindergartens either. (Moby Dick)

Tublock Slider for individual marble run creations by pre-school children . © Eduté
Tublock Slider for individual marble run creations by pre-school children . © Eduté

Ball fun after building the ball run

Significantly smaller tubes now complement the tublock kits from Eduté for children aged 3 and over. They enable children to make marble runs easily. The new “Tublock Slider” system consists of holders for transparent tubes and quarter-bend pipes in bright colours that can also be attached to them. The tube holders can be stacked on top of each other with connecting elements or placed on stable base plates. (Eduté)

The 222 parts of the Fischertechnik Animal Friends set are made of 60 per cent renewable raw materials. © Fischertechnik
The 222 parts of the Fischertechnik Animal Friends set are made of 60 per cent renewable raw materials. © Fischertechnik

Fischertechnik has come up with kits to build race tracks for marble run competitions. The 698-piece “Marble Competition” set for children aged 8 and over contains newly developed wide high-speed flex profiles and 180-degree curves as well as forks and obstacles. What’s also fun to play with is a set for ropeway construction or the “Build Your Own Game” set for building various games – from a dexterity maze to a roulette wheel or a wheel of fortune. Finally, the Fischertechnik parent company has contributed the basic material for the first building set made of bio-polyamide from its sustainably produced “Greenline” dowel products. The 222 parts of the “Animal Friends” set consist of 60 per cent renewable raw materials. They can be used to assemble a lizard, a cat, a horse, a spider or a scorpion. Thanks to articulated building blocks, the animals’ movements can be recreated and studied. This set, which is manufactured in Germany, is the winner of the Sustainability category of the ToyAward 2022. (Fischertechnik)

Playfully exploring the issue of sustainability from the age of one. © Mega Bloks/Mattel
Playfully exploring the issue of sustainability from the age of one. © Mega Bloks/Mattel

Learning about climate protection at an early age

Sustainable thinking and climate protection are now even taught to children as young as one year old. The “Eco House” building and learning set from Mega Bloks consists of 92 maxi-sized bricks. It contains parts for a house, four figures, a rollable electric car, two bicycles, a greenhouse, solar panels and two rotating wind turbines. The building blocks of the set have been produced in an environmentally friendly way from at least 56 per cent plant-based materials and the packaging as well as the playbook that’s included are made of 100 per cent FSC-certified paper and cardboard.  (Mega Bloks)

Urban planning for pre-school children with Greenscape Village architecture kits. © Arckit
Urban planning for pre-school children with Greenscape Village architecture kits. © Arckit

Shortly before they start their schooling, Arckit wants to teach children about planning environmentally friendly cities in a playful way. This is made possible by its “Greenscape Village” architectural construction kits. Single-storey and multi-storey houses or entire cities are created from plastic elements on base plates with printed water and green areas. The kits come with matching windmills, plants and figures. For older children, the range offers more detailed building sets with themes such as “GO Eco”, “Coastal Living” or “Mountain Living”. (Arckit)

Beautiful things can be conjured up from simple basic shapes of the Labolud construction kit © Nathan
Beautiful things can be conjured up from simple basic shapes of the Labolud construction kit © Nathan

Aesthetics from simple forms

The pre-school years are the years in which toddlers are meant to hone their fine motor skills, concentration, spatial awareness and their sense for the aesthetic. The “Labolud” construction kit from Nathan shows that this can be achieved even with simple basic shapes. The system of 20 different shapes was developed in cooperation with 22 kindergarten employees and shows, for example, flowers or cars that have a very special touch. (Nathan)

Magnets keep the Magicube Shapes elements firmly together © Geomag
Magnets keep the Magicube Shapes elements firmly together © Geomag

The new “Magicube Shapes” magnetic building block system for toddlers from the age of 12 months consists of just four basic shapes. Made from recycled plastic, the cubes, triangles, quarter arcs and hemisphere elements stick together with the aid of magnets. And for designing cars, the 25-piece basic building set from Geomag includes two magnetic axle plates with easy-to-attach wheels. (Geomagworld)

The LEGO® Ideas The Globe for adults is 40 cm high and consists of 2,585 parts © Lego
The LEGO® Ideas The Globe for adults is 40 cm high and consists of 2,585 parts © Lego

Building block worlds for every age

Lego has brand-new products for all generations, starting with a “Police Station with Helicopter” from the Lego Duplo range for children from the age of 2. The set contains 40 large building blocks for this age group – including two figures, a dog, a three-piece car and a helicopter. The 117-piece Duplo fire station is similarly designed. Children aged between 6 and 7 will be thrilled by the “Moon Rover”, the “Moon Space Station”, the “Moon Research Base” or the “Space Centre” from the City range. The space centre has 1,010 parts for a rocket with launch pad, a control centre, an observatory and more (see photo at the top). The “app-controlled transformation vehicle” with large caterpillar tracks is an all-terrain highlight from the Lego Technic range for children aged 9 and over. Harry Potter fans can enjoy the “Hogwarts Magic Suitcase” with mini figures and many parts for recreating film scenes. Grown-up Lego fans will enjoy the “Globe”, which costs just under EUR 200. It consists of 2,585 parts and reveals the world in a completely different way. Thanks to Technic elements, the roughly 26 cm globe can be rotated properly in the 40 cm high globe frame. Also included are nine tiles printed with the names of the continents and oceans. They can be attached to the surface of the globe and sparkle atmospherically in the dark. (Lego)

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