Wednesday, October 21, 2015

We are helicopter parents... That is, we love to build helicopters!

My kids love building-type toys. Sometimes it's just a box of bricks, blocks, logs, or what-have-you,  but usually these units come with directions for creating a particular thing, such as a vehicle or structure. 

Recently they have received a new kind of engineering toy called Maker Studio.
I was happy to learn about these because they are more up to date than Lincoln Logs, more novel and way less genderized than Legos, and do they even make Tinkertoys any more?  Maker Studio sets are very welcome in our home, and trust me that we don't typically welcome more plastic pieces across our threshold. 

Each package has a variety of versatile pieces, such as rods, flat bars or girders, round gears or wheels, washers/connectors, and more. All the pieces have holes in them for the rods to go through. The wheels and washers can be attached to spin or be held in place. The girders have holes from one end to the other and come in different lengths. I like that at this smallest level there are choices and variables, because those choices just increase exponentially as you add pieces. 

However, my favorite part of this series of toy sets has to be that all the creations in the instructions have a base platform of trash. You read that right. They ask you to find discarded packaging like yogurt cups, toilet paper tubes, or pasta boxes and plug in the aforementioned plastic parts. 

I'm impressed and was very surprised to learn that each set has multiple things to make. The first set of these our kids acquired was this Winches Set, and had instructions for making a tow truck, jeep, well, or crane out of the provided pulleys and gears and one's own recycling bin offerings. The more recent set the kids got was this propeller set which guides them to make a plane, biplane, helicopter and windmill. I dug into this set with them at the home of some family members. We thought we had brought what we needed, that being the pop bottle fuselage. Once we opened the kit I realized we needed tape, some cardboard and scissors, too. While it was frustrating at first, I guess it shows how ubiquitous these craft supplies are because my aunt had them. Still, I wish they had described these needs on the Maker Studio box rather than only inside in the instructions. The one other criticism is that there was just a diagram showing to cut out cardboard wings, but I had to guess how long and wide they should be. 

So when this toy tow truck or airplane get all banged up from rough play (because it's fun to crash airplanes and trucks have to go on rough roads sometimes), do I have to lecture to be more careful with their toys? Nope. Rip the Maker Studio parts out, and send the kiddos scrounging in the recycling for a brand new model to build. 

**I received this wonderful product in exchange for my unbiased review**

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