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Construction Toys 

Construction Toys: specifications, types

Age

Age recommendations are rather conditional, but it is still not recommended to deviate from them. So, building blocks for older children may contain small parts that a curious little child can swallow. At the same time, sets for little ones are easy to assemble and uninteresting for adult children. And an age-appropriate construction set can be too complicated and uncomfortable, upset or even scare the baby.

Note that the age category to some extent also characterizes the maximum age...at which the constructor can be useful. For example, a set for 1+ and 2+ is unlikely to attract an 8-year-old or even a 7-year-old elementary school student, and a complex design of 14+, 16+ and even 18+ often turns out to be interesting even for adults over 30 and even over 40. However, even within the same age category, much depends on the characteristics of a particular set, in particular, on the type of game. And there are options for designers for any age. In addition to those listed above, there are also 3+, 4+, 5+, 6+, 9+, 10+, 11+, 12+.

Preference

Many thematic designers nowadays belong to one of two categories — for boys or for girls. However, we emphasize that this division is only a general recommendation, and not a strict rule; and when choosing, it is worth putting in the first place the interests of the child himself, and not this convention. Moreover, the manufacturers themselves are increasingly moving away from dividing their products by “gender”. In particular,...many sets that were previously considered purely "boys" — for example, "Police Station", "Space Shuttle", "Combat Robots" — are now increasingly categorized as " unisex " (that is, equally suitable for both sexes). ).

As for constructors that do not have a clearly defined theme, for them the “unisex” option is indicated by definition.

Material

The main material used for constructor parts.

Plastic. Relatively inexpensive and at the same time practical, safe and, as a result, a very popular material. Plastic can be given any colour, it is light, pleasant to the touch and does not emit harmful substances in contact with liquid, in addition, it can be used in quick block connections (see "Type of connection").

— Metal. The main advantage of metal is strength; in addition, it is c...onsidered a more "solid" and "adult" material than plastic. On the other hand, metal does not tolerate moisture well and can corrode; rust is not dangerous for the skin, however, small children tend to put both parts and their own hands into their mouths. It is difficult to equip metal parts with quick-release fasteners, most often you have to use nuts and bolts — an option familiar to some from Soviet designers (see Screw connection). Metal constructors are considered suitable only for older age categories, and in such cases, complexity is often considered not a disadvantage, but an advantage.

— Wood. Most wooden construction sets are designed for young children and are "building kits" in which the parts are not fastened together, but simply stacked on top of each other. However, more advanced kits are also produced — from parts of complex shape that are assembled into a specific design (for example, an airplane or a dinosaur skeleton); such sets are designed for the older age group. In general, wood as a material is pleasant to the touch, looks good even when unpainted, and some consider it safer and “environmentally friendly” than plastic. Among the shortcomings in this case can be called a relatively high cost and a tendency to absorb moisture; however, the latter is often compensated by special processing.

— Ceramics. Construction sets with ceramic parts tend to look like miniature "young builder's kits". The parts themselves are miniature bricks and other similar elements, their connection is carried out by an adhesive method (see below), and they are assembled from such kits mainly as buildings, although there are also simply sets of parts (see "Type of game"). At the same time, many kits also include metal parts with other types of connections, but they play an auxiliary role.

— Rubber. Rubber, on the one hand, is a soft and safety material, on the other hand, it is poorly suited for complex structures with small joints. As a result, constructors made from this material are usually kits for the youngest children, using the simplest magnetic connections (see below).

— A rock. The material most often used in "construction" designers, assembled by installing parts one on top of the other. The stone is durable, pleasant to the touch, and its large weight in this case is an advantage — buildings made of such material are stable, they do not fall apart from drafts or small tremors. At the same time, this material is not suitable for parts that need to be fastened together; this is one of the reasons why it is used infrequently.

EVA polymer. In the case of designers, the features of this material are softness, elasticity and resilience. This provides additional features for games. At the same time, in most designers from EVA, parts are installed one on top of the other, and not fastened together, but there are exceptions — for example, cars or animals assembled from soft parts of a special shape.

Game type

This item allows you to evaluate the general features of games and activities with the designer.

Most often, the type of game is indicated by the general theme to which the set is dedicated. In this regard, the following options are most popular: air transport and equipment, water transport, military equipment, in the animal world, railway, buildings (shops, gas stations, residential buildings, etc.), space, Minecraft, land transport and equipment. /cartoon characters, police and bandits, fire service, princesses, plants (flowers, trees), entertainment complexes, robotics, knights, pirates, weapons, rescue service, construction, science fiction, fantasy. Sets that have a specific theme, but are not related to this list, are usually classified as a "plot set".

Also, the type of game can be indicated by the technical features of the constructor itself. There are few options here: mazes with balls (marble run), soft modules, sets of parts, as well as scientific and educational kits.

In most cases, the features of a particular type of game are already clear from the name, and you should not dwell on them further. However, technical features, as well as some thematic options, are still worth considering more closely:

— Sets of parts. There are two types of constructors in this category. The first is kits without thematic specialization, consisting of universal parts and allowing you to assemble a wide variety of designs (usually even standard instructions provide 10-20 assembly options, and the actual possibilities are limited only by the child’s imagination). The second type is single parts or sets of several parts, sold separately, but not representing a full-fledged designer; they are bought either to replace lost parts from the set, or to supplement the set with some new features (for example, to introduce a new character).

— Scientific and educational. Designers of this type can also be called "educational": while entertaining the child, they at the same time give him knowledge of the basics of mechanics, electrical engineering or even cybernetics / programming. A classic example of such a constructor is a kit for assembling working electronic circuits.

— Maze with balls (marble run). A set for assembling a track along which the balls roll. The track itself is an inclined chute, which can be supplemented with jumps, obstacles, forks and other specific elements. The size of such a constructor can be different — from the simplest gutter for 1 – 2 elements to a set of several dozen parts that can be connected in a new way each time, building routes of different shapes. Sets are available for several parallel chutes, allowing for "competitions".

— Soft modules. Constructors, the details of which are made of a soft material (usually EVA polymer). Such details, usually, have a rather large size: from some sets you can assemble a whole “fortress” inside which a child can fit. Also note that during assembly, soft modules are not fastened together, but are placed one on top of the other, like building bricks (although other assembly options may occur). Constructors of this type are designed mainly for the smallest; here it is worth noting that the soft material makes the parts as safe as possible and minimizes the risk of injury.

— minecraft. Constructors dedicated to the popular computer game Minecraft. Objects and characters in such a game are made up of rectangular blocks and have a characteristic angular shape, which makes it easy to release them as constructors.

– Transport (air, land, water). These types of games are indicated for sets that are not related to a narrower topic. For example, an ordinary civilian aircraft will be classified as air transport, and a similar aircraft in military coloring will be classified as military equipment.

— Weapon. This kind of constructors allows you to collect copies of firearms — similar in size to the original, and often also capable of firing special safe "bullets" (usually a spring mechanism is used for this).

— Entertainment complexes. Sets of this theme reproduce playgrounds, attractions, water parks, etc.

— Fantasy. Science fiction in the broad sense of the word, where technique and technology play an important role. Constructors from this series can be dedicated both to "technology in general" and to a specific work; one of the most popular options is Star Wars.

— Fantasy. Sets on the theme of "sword and magic" — as opposed to traditional "technical" fiction. Relatively rarely associated with certain works, but often have their own original mini-plots (sometimes uniting a whole series of constructors).

— Knights and Pirates. Regarding this option, it is worth noting that the knights in such designers look more or less historically authentic; warriors from fairy tales and fantastic stories are found in sets from the fantasy category.

— Cartoon characters. The term "cartoons" in this case is conditional — such constructors can also be dedicated to cinema (typical examples are "Harry Potter", superheroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or even "adult" works like the series "The Stranger Things").

— Construction. This type of game is indicated for designers who reproduce construction sites or construction equipment. If we are talking about a “young builder's kit”, from which a building model is assembled, such a kit belongs to the “buildings” category.

Number of pieces

The total number of parts included in the delivery of the designer. At the same time, the calculation, usually, also takes into account the details that make up individual characters (torso, arms, legs, head, etc.) — despite the fact that the figures are most often delivered assembled and are not designed for disassembly during normal use . Also note that the kit may include several spare parts, in case of breakage or loss of any of the main elements.

Number of characters

The number of characters included in the delivery kit of the designer. In this case, a character means a figure of a person or a humanoid creature (for example, an alien or a robot). Animals do not formally belong to the characters, therefore they are indicated separately, in the notes to this paragraph; the exceptions are anthropomorphic (humanoid) figurines, which differ from people only in facial features, the presence of claws and tails, etc. Also note that this category does not include cre...atures whose assembly is the main purpose of the constructor. For example, if the constructor is designed to assemble a humanoid robot, and the mechanic of the robot is made in the form of a separate figure, then only the mechanic will be considered a character.
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