New K'NEX Collect and Build Series: Amusement Parks and Road Rigs

12/04/2008 at 07:00 AM ET

With two little boys milling about, I’m no stranger to building sets. One brand that we’re consistently impressed by is K’NEX, and their two new ‘Collect and Build’ series — Amusement Parks and Road Rigs — didn’t disappoint.

If you’re unfamiliar with K’NEX, think of it as an upgrade from traditional block building sets. The core of almost every K’NEX construction toy rests with a series of rods and connectors, but with the addition of wheels, pulleys and gears almost anything becomes possible. While looking at the finished product on the box can be a bit intimidating, the color-coded instructions make construction totally do-able. Just pay close attention to the age recommendations, because they vary by set.

The Amusement Park series is designed for children ages 7 and up, and includes four designs — Ferris Wheel, Speed Coaster, Octopus Whirl and Drop-N-Swing ($20 each). They are fairly involved — the ferris wheel set alone involves 478 rods, connectors and bricks, including micro parts, and measures over 18-inches tall when fully constructed. This series is great for a school-aged child who loves fairs and carnivals, and is looking for a way to kill some time during the cold winter months ahead. Each requires 2 ‘AA’ batteries, which are not included, to power the ride.

If 478 pieces is too much for your child to handle, consider the Road Rig series. Designed for children ages 5 and up, Road Rigs have roughly half the number of pieces as their Amusement Park series counterparts. There are four kits — Semi-Truck, Pick-up Truck, Dump Truck and Tow Truck ($20 each) — and they’re also powered by 2 ‘AA’ batteries. A K’NEX figure is included to ‘drive’ the truck.

We really enjoyed these new K’NEX sets because they’ve not only helped to build our son’s self-confidence, they also teach him the importance of following directions while working to improve his finger dexterity. That they’re just as much fun for us to tinker with as they are for him is a big, big bonus.

— Missy

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