SECTOR GUIDE: Construction toys

The construction sector remains the fourth largest super-category in the toy market, ranging from high spec robotics to traditional wooden blocks. ToyNews stacks up the latest offerings
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Mega Brands - 01844 350033

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Mega Brands is introducing a host of new additions to its pre-school and licensed lines this autumn/winter.

New characters in the Mega Bloks First Builders line include Billy Beats, Fire Truck Finn and Li’l Vehicles Ricky Race Car and Catie Convertible. Each kit features a selection of pre-school building blocks.

Mega Bloks Barbie’s new additions include a second collection of Barbie and Friends mini fashion figures, a storage case, a scooter and new buildable sets: Dolphin Adventure, Glam Salon, Horse Stable and Super Star Stage.

Ahead of the summer film release of Smurfs 2, Mega Bloks Smurfs will receive a packaging refresh, plus new buildable Smurfs.

Furthermore, Mega Bloks Halo, based on the popular Microsoft video games, will see the introduction of Office of Naval Intelligence : UNSC Light Assualt VTOL and UNSC Siege Bike. In-game lights and sounds will feature in buildable vehicles such as the UNSC Night Ops Gausshog, UNSC Anti Armour Cobra and UNSC Pelican Gunship products.

Mega Bloks Hot Wheels will also be unveiled this month, starting with the collectable Hot Wheels Ripcord Racers and Turbo Tubes with easy-build design. The full line includes Build and Rebuild and Smash and Crash features with unique characters, plus the larger Super Stunt Speedway set.

Finally, Mega Bloks Skylanders will expand with new game content and characters, including light core characters, vehicles and locations.

Q4 will introduce Mega Bloks Skylanders Swapforce with interchangeable and buildable characters plus new vehicles and locations. The toys are based on the popular Activision kids’ gaming IP.

Meccano - 01869 324956

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This September will see the launch of Meccano’s new technically advanced range of Evolution.

And to emphasise the new product’s dynamic nature, Meccano is investing in a rebrand with more modern packaging and an updated logo, designed to deliver greater in-store presence.

The new collection will feature five models: the Evolution ATV will retail at £29.99; Evolution 4x4 at £34.99; Evolution Tow truck at £49.99; Evolution Crane truck at £69.99 and the Evolution Helicopter will be priced at £89.99.

For retailers, Meccano is offering an in-store proposition including a branded free-standing display unit. Videos will be posted online and will be available for in-store visual displays.

LEGO - 01753 495000

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2012 saw the LEGO Group deliver year-on-year revenue growth of over 15 per cent for the fifth year running.

Product themes such as LEGO Ninjago and LEGO Friends contributed to the result, while LEGO City and Star Wars continued to be best selling product lines. LEGO City offers boys everyday heroes with Fire Rescue, Elite Police, Airport and Coastguard and Starter Sets featuring five minifigures, an ambulance, police motorbike, fire truck, accessories and a comic book.

Currently the number one Star Wars licence in the UK, LEGO Star Wars is being led by The Yoda Chronicles this year with an engaging series. A Yoda Chronicles Tour took place over Easter to engage families.

Legends of Chima boasts the company’s largest ever boys marketing campaign. Chima sees the fusion of animal warriors, minifigures and unique vehicles with a multi-play platform from video games to Speedorz packs, and board games to buildable action figures.

LEGO Friends is the story-driven character-based LEGO world targeting girls. The brand has seen much success within the girls market and overall
business portfolio.

2013 introduces Castle and the space-themed Galaxy Squad, while Hero Factory boasts more characters and updated models. Engagement is encouraged with LEGOLAND’s Hero Factory and the brain attack app, along with digital codes for the online game included in each pack.

The LEGO Super Heroes range sees LEGO partner with DC Comics and Marvel for a range of Batman, Spider-Man, Superman and Iron Man lines. The Story Mixer Batman board game will launch this August.
Meanwhile, a partnership with Disney sees the introduction of the LEGO Disney The Lone Ranger line. The partnership also presents two new Number Train additions: Disney Princess and Jake and the Neverland Pirates.

Also new this year, the LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line will include five sets based on scenarios, locations and vehicles reflective of the TV series.

Technic caters the older boys market delivering some iconic vehicles with authentic features and functions. 2013 sees some strong assortments including an F1 Racer, Mobile Crane MKII and two action vehicles with pull-back motors.

September sees the launch of Mindstorms EV3 (pictured), with full iOS and Android compatibility to enable control of these robotic systems via mobile phone. There are 17 different robots including Everstorm, Spiker and Reptar.

For younger kids LEGO Advent Calendars will feature LEGO City, LEGO Friends and Star Wars, while LEGO Duplo introduced new lines for toddlers in January.

LEGO has also partnered with The Hobbit for a line of construction sets.

Maps Toys - 01483 776006

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Maps Toys introduces new additions to its construction toy range, Bloco, with a futuristic Robot, a Velociraptor and a Cats and Kittens set (pictured, left).

Bloco is a range of interlinking foam pieces that can be connected at any angle. The new sets join the already available collection of Marine creatures, Wildcats
and Reptiles.

Toobeez is a 57-piece kit featuring tubes and spheres that can connect to create various different shapes, including covered structures such as tents and more.

And Squashblox is a range of soft construction panels for toddlers, doubling up as a play mat for babies with storyboards that hold felt figures.

Tomy - 020 87227300

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Tomy’s K’Nex kits have enjoyed global success for over 20 years, and with new additions to its range this year, the firm aims to continue providing building fun for kids aged three to ten years old.

After bringing gaming app phenomenon Angry Birds to reality with K’Nex, Tomy has seen strong sales of the four Angry Birds Assortment packs and three themed building sets.

Aimed at the over fives, each structure pieces together easily, allowing kids to build a range of pig houses. They can then create their own slingshot to fire the Angry Birds at them.

K’Nex also presents a range of traditional construction sets for children aged five and upwards including the already popular moving Amusement Park Sets.

The easy-snap K’Nex rods and connectors let kids assemble models while helping with the development of creative and fine motor skills.

Character Options - 0161 6339800

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Character Options’ construction banner Character Building introduces a brand new concept this year:?
Lite Brix.

Targeting both boys and girls, Lite Brix uses multi-coloured LEDs that when pieced together complete a flashing electrical circuit. Lite Brix are also compatible with all other brick brands.

The boys range includes the Space Trooper Robot (pictured), the Super Jet Fighter, the Fire Rescue Station and the Lumi Star Racer Car.

Meanwhile, the girls collection features the Radiant Runway (also pictured), a multi-coloured flashing catwalk, the Candy Lites Set, a flashing sweet shop, and the Lite-Up Mansion, where sleepovers can be held.

The range will launch with a heavyweight TV schedule, press sampling, print advertising and a highly interactive online campaign pitting boys against girls in the Lite Brix challenge.

Character Building is also growing its collection of play-sets and constructible micro figures, as Manchester City signs to its Sports Stars series. The Doctor Who range expands with all 11 Timelords joining the line-up and the Monster vs Zombies collection adds goo to its unique play pattern.

Haba - 0161 3049555

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Haba provides a range of construction toys from building blocks for pre-schoolers to more technically challenging projects for the pre-teens.

Haba’s XXL Pack Building Blocks Technics is a 177-piece construction kit featuring colourful blocks, propellers and wheels, allowing kids to create a host of mobile designs.

The Coloured Building Blocks Maxi is Haba’s introductory line including brightly coloured shapes from rectangles and triangles to columns and bridges, encouraging architectural design from an early age.
Other sets include the Hall of Mirrors and large 59-piece Castle set.

Meanwhile, Haba’s Building Block Worlds encourage role-play with sets such as the Ghost Tower and Knight’s Castle featuring dragons, horses and mini knights, as well as a large 85-piece set complete with turrets and archway. Similarly, the Noah’s Ark allows children to construct an ark with 18 different pairs of animals.

Other Haba sets include the Ball track Construction Set – winner of a 5 to 7 Educator Gold Award – and the Basic and Starter Domino Packs.

Meroncourt - 01462 680060

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This month UK distributor Meroncourt presents a range of pre-school construction toys from Italian toy firm Clementoni.

Clammy Farm Characters and Blocks is a farm-shaped box containing two characters and seven soft construction blocks. Designed for ages ten to 36 months, the elements can be stacked or slotted together, helping to stimulate children’s recognition and motor skills. It retails at £12.99.

The Clemmy Plus Play Set Soft and Safe Petrol Station includes a car, character and petrol station blocks and is designed to construct together to encourage imagination and play. The set includes 15 soft building blocks and retails at £12.99.

Clementoni Disney Mickey Mouse Baby Stacking Rings retails at £12.99 and aims to develop motor, stacking and sorting skills, alongside colour and shape recognition.

Finally, the Clemmy Plastic Build Blocks set features 60 soft, squashable, chewable building blocks and retails at £15.99.

Triqo - +353 91 521857

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This collection of flexible triangles and squares can be connected together piece-by-piece to allow kids to create three-dimensional shapes of various designs and sizes.

Its flexibility means children can create toys, pictures and shapes with the aim of inspiring creativity in boys and girls aged five and older.

Triqo is made of strong yet flexible polypropylene, a fully recyclable material suitable for children to play with both indoors and outdoors.

The construction toy retails in packs ranging from ten-piece collections to boxes of 250 and prices start at £3.49, encouraging collectability.

In addition, Triqo presents the Triqo Deco range, a set that allows kids to decorate their own Triqo with a choice of ten different colours.

Furthermore, new additions to the range have been planned for later this year, with the innovative Triqo Trax coming to the UK in the autumn.

Banbao - 020 87316050

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Following its launch at Spring Fair this year, BanBao is already reporting positive feedback from retailers across the UK.

With a range of sturdy plastic construction bricks and sets, the toy is compatible with the majority of other construction toys on the market.

BanBao is targeting both boys and girls with its collection of sets ranging from police, fire and rescue and trains, to its Loving World collection, which combines ‘pink’ with ponies, pets, flowers and romance.

The construction toy range also features a community of characters called ToBees, with distinctive short legs and friendly faces.

BanBao is planning other new launches later this year, with a space-themed set and a pre-school range also in the works.

Halilit - 01254 872454

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Winner of the Construct and Craft category of the 2013 Toyology Outdoor Toy Awards, the Interstar construction is a set of interlinking pieces aimed at children three and upwards.

Kids can build their own creations or follow the guides to build suggested models using the Master Builder tub, the Ring sets or any of the four themed sets. These include Wheels, Animals, Bricks
and Geometric sets.

The Interstar range has been extended with the launch of four new themed sets and can be played with separately or mixed and matched. Each colour-themed box contains 48 pieces and features a selection of Kingdoms, Racers, Safari or Space themes.

Revell - 01442 890285

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This year Revell launches a clutch of model kit licences, including Red Bull, Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and Virgin Galactic, alongside nearly 100 new land, sea and air kits.

Beginners can snap together the pre-painted components of the Star Wars EasyKits, with a range of Star Wars vehicles available, including the 1:30 scale X-Wing Fighter.
The space theme is continued with the U.S.S. Enterprise kit from the new movie: Star Trek Into Darkness.

The aircraft range features military planes and helicopters from Red Bull, while the sea range features the US Navy Skipjack nuclear submarine, the RMS Titanic and a revamped Pirate Ship EasyKit.

Revell is also pushing its motorsports line and its newer educational brands: the Leonardi da Vinci collection and exploration of animal anatomies including Crocodile, Tarantula and Human Body.

Alyss Toys - 01285 762039

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Alyss Toys is now the exclusive distributor of Schaefer Toys’ Mic-o-mic, a construction toy that has hit the market with all
new packaging.

Each Mic-o-mic model is now encased in a black litho-laminated front opening box, displaying graphics and images of the finished products within.

An educational toy designed to target the individual abilities and skills of children, each Mic-o-mic kit comprises of individual textured parts that are connected by pins and clips to create an array of models including helicopters and ships.

The range has joined Alyss Toys’ portfolio of construction products that includes Plastwood Magnetic Construction, Bilibo, Quercetti, Safari,Plasmacar and The Orb Factory Sticky Mosaics.
US?distributor International Playthings is also enjoying success with Mic-o-mic across the pond in the US.

Great Gizmos - 01293 543221

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Great Gizmos offers an introduction to construction play with the Plan Toys 50 Blocks set, a collection of blocks, columns and stairs allowing children to create architectural designs.

Kids can build a castle with the Fairytale Blocks set with purple turrets and pink flags. It also includes a wooden horse and carriage.

For boys the Castle Blocks set features four turrets, coloured bricks, bridges, soldiers and horse.

The chunky building kits from Plan Toys offer kids wooden blocks in either the 30 Piece or 60 Piece Construction Sets.

Meanwhile, Zoob is a moveable modelling system that snaps and pops together to form joints and limbs. It can be used to create a range of models including the ZoobMobile Fastback H2H line of pull-back motor cars, and also the creative Zac the Zoob Alien Creature toy.

Also available

Green Board Games presents a range of construction kits including Robotime Dinosaurs and Solar Planes, and the new Build and Drive Remote Control Vehicles and Build and Learn Animals; Muddleit Ltd presents a range of real miniature bricks and mortar from German firm Teifoch with washable, re-usable bricks and metal construction sets from Eitech; Two new ranges from Playmobil target both boys and girls with a Police and Hotel range of construction sets; Asobi is the proud distributor of Calafant’s buildable castle made from sturdy yet flexible cardboard; BigJigs’ My Tool Bench provides kids with home improvement role-play featuring clamps, nuts and bolts and tools. Also available is the Junior Tool Box and Carpenters Tool line; DKL presents its Wonderworld Wooden Toys and Miniland Educational sets, a range of building blocks featuring characters and wheels; Finally, Thames and Kosmos Construction kits tackle different topics with telescopes, microscopes and binoculars, as well as hovercrafts and R/C vehicles.

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