I have written here before about our great love of Keva Planks. The newest toy in our household, BionicBlox, are planks with a twist: plastic connectors that allow the planks to stick together at a range of angles and that make for much sturdier structures. I don’t normally accept free products for review here, but (as regular readers know), we’re poor at the moment. I had a strong suspicion that these would be a big treat for Noah–so he got a free BionicBlox “50 Piece Explorer Kit” (thanks!), and you get this here review.
- Cost. The 50-piece kit is not really big enough to let you explore the possibilities here, and the 100-piece kit runs $50.
- The planks aren’t as nice as the Keva ones.
- Easy to use. By which I mean–these are fun, and a child can start building successfully right away, but I wouldn’t want all our plank play to be about the connectors. I enjoy the challenge of balancing the planks themselves in beautiful and complicated ways, and I think figuring out that challenge is good for children. (I should note that Keva Planks are spendy, too, at $40 for 100 or $50 for 200. But you can do a lot with a hundred planks. If I had to choose one or the other because of cost or space, I’d stick with the plain set. Theoretically, you could buy just the connectors–20 for $15–and use them along with Keva Planks, but we’re unwilling to risk the possibility of damaging the planks through long-term attaching and detaching … and we want to preserve plank-only play separate from BionicBlox play, both good in their own ways. Our concern about damage may be unfounded, but then the only way to know is to risk it.)
- Irregularities in packaging. The 50-piece set is supposed to include be 30 planks and 20 connectors. The first set we received included 21 planks and 20 connectors; the company sent us a second set to make right, which was nice, except that this one had 29 planks and 19 connectors. So, if you order anything, I’d count the pieces before beginning play. On the upside, though, Noah actually got two free sets, which made him extremely happy.
- A sound concept. We like simple, open-ended toys. BionicBlox are building toys in the family of Keva Planks and Legos (but with none of the bizzaro gender stuff of Lego’s recent decades).
- Fun! As soon as the package was open, Noah started building in a state of delight. He’s made lots of things in the past couple weeks, including a pet carrier, a bookshelf, a ladder, and abstract structures, and he keeps going back to them. Unlike structures made from planks alone, these stick together if you pick them up, which is neat for some forms of pretend play.
- Chunky enough pieces that you don’t have to obsess over whether the curious baby’s going to choke on them. Unlike Legos.
- Easy to use.
- A great big set of these would be fantastic for a daycare or school setting, where multiple children may be building together in a hectic environment and where hard-to-knock-down or very large structures would be high-value. They could also be useful in the context of learning about architecture.