Toy blocks and construction toys may lead to increased spatial skills, math skills, as well as creative, and divergent problem-solving says Gwen Dewar from Parenting Science. But with the increasing cost of Legos, many parents are left wondering what alternatives are out there that can take the place of this popular but expensive children’s toy.
Avoid Cheap Off-Brands
As a Father of five kids, I’ve had the chance to use quite a few building block and construction sets. My experience with most off-brand lego-alternatives hasn’t been a good one. Blocks that don’t fit correctly or stay in place simply aren’t worth using. The key is to find an alternative that either works with legos or is completely separate from them.
Why are Legos So Expensive?
With the average cost of a lego brick at 10.4 cents, a question you might be asking yourself is why legos are so expensive. Lego claims this is a result of the quality and safety of their bricks. I’d say that this is somewhat true as in their category, their quality is unmatched. They build a product to pass from one generation to another and do so with expensive plastics and molds.
In the case of licensed product lines like Star Wars, legos are more expensive because the established properties get a cut of what’s sold. Still, whenever there’s a way for companies to make money they do it. Lego Group is certainly no exception. How much does lego make off of each 10.4 cents brick? As a family-owned business, they aren’t required to disclose that information so unfortunately, we may never know. Still, it’s likely the amount is a healthy margin over what it takes to build.
2 Lego-Like Alternatives
Contents at a Glance
If you’re looking for something exactly like legos, you probably won’t find it. If that’s your goal, buy legos as there’s nothing better.
That being said if you’re like me and want a good alternative for kids that regularly lose, break, or even chew on parts, then these next couple items are for you.
KRE-O – Good Locking and Building Sets
If you want a lego alternative that works with lego bricks, I like the KRE-O brand for several reasons. Yes, there are more expensive alternatives, but the KRE-O set gives that perfect mix of inexpensive blocks with good Toy Lines. So, if your kids are prone to losing pieces, then, at least, you’re losing a piece from a $20 set rather than a $60 one.
Here are a few lines Kre-O is currently working with:
Kre-O Toy Lines
G.I. Joe – Exclusive to Toys “R” Us, the G.I. Joe line is popular and locks well with Kre-O and lego pieces alike.
Star Trek – No, it’s not Star Wars, but some of us like it just as much anyway. In addition, you get a space set without the Star Wars price that comes with legos.
Transformers – This line follows the successful and recent movies that were released.
Dungeons & Dragons – Based off of the insanely popular RPG. Whether they like the game or not, these pieces are a lot of fun.
|KRE-O Battleship U.S.S. Missouri Set (38977)||KRE-O CityVille Invasion Value 2 Pack||KRE-O Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise Construction Set (A3137)
Mega Bloks – Perfect for Toddlers
If you’re looking for the bigger type of lego blocks, I recommend the Mega Bloks brand. Both their big and small pieces are of good quality and have no issue locking together.
Cheaper Than Lego Blocks
What’s more is that Pieces for Mega Bloks are considerably cheaper than Lego’s Duplo set. The set featured below has 80-pieces and costs around $18 on Amazon while a similar 70-piece set from Lego Duplo costs around $25.
Whatever lego alternative you end up going with I recommend you stick with it. Some of the rods and other pieces simply fit better with those sets. If you’re simply building on to your existing lego collection, you might want to consider more basic sets.
Did you know?
The Mega Bloks brand is so much like its lego-alternative that it was sued back in 2005 by the Lego Group.
|Mega Bloks First Builders Big Building Bag, 80-Piece (Classic)||Building Blocks Build-a-Story 60 piece Tub||Mega Bloks Fast Tracks Racing Rig
3 Good Lego Construction Block Alternatives for Kids
Roominate – A Construction Set for Girls
Like many people, I first saw Roominate on Shark Tank a few months ago. The premise of it makes total sense. A building block and construction set for girls.
Improve Her Problem-Solving Skills
Girls love to play with building blocks just as much as boys do and my oldest daughter is proof of that. Despite that, most of today’s building sets are geared towards boys. This leaves some girls disinterested in the same sets that can give them a headstart in their creative and problem-solving skills.
It’s Roominate’s theory that some of this bias in building sets has lead to boys being 6 times more interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. They’re trying to close that gap with a product that appeals to girls.
With lights, motors, and modular pieces that allow girls to build and design just about anything they want to, Roominate is a great option for girls that love to build.
|Roominate Chateau||Roominate Townhouse Building Kit||Roominate Amusement Park
K’Nex gives your kids some of the best versatility you can have in a building set. Simply put, my kids have built everything from trucks to skyscrapers and have barely touched the surface. Add a few more sets in and you make it just that much more flexible.
The set I’m featuring is one of my favorite beginner sets for K’Nex. It comes with 375 pieces and is reasonable for around $20. It’s cheaper per piece than similar lego sets and, in my opinion, is every bit as fun.
Overall, it’s definitely one to consider in place of or alongside with legos. Expanding your set allows you to build a lot of motorized moving sets as well. The only problem with some of those sets is that kid tend to want to keep them together.
We’ve tried several of those including their Ferris Wheel and Coaster Sets and my 11-year-old son still tinkers with the coaster set.
|K'NEX 375 Piece Deluxe Building Set||K'NEX 2-in-1 Ferris Wheel Building Set Amazon Exclusive||K'nex 70 Model Building Set, 13419, 705 piece
I was first introduced to Magformer parts when my kids went to visit their Grandmother’s house a few summers back. While they live near to the beach we couldn’t get them away from these toys. The magnets give them a lot of possibilities for building and they’re just a lot of fun.
As they have magnets don’t expect for these pieces to be cheaper than legos. In fact, these pieces are quite expensive at around a dollar a piece. That being said, if you wait for a sale you should be able to find them for less than that.
I recommend you go with the Challenger set to start out. It has 112 pieces and comes on sale for around $80 on Amazon at its cheapest.
Magformers 112 Challenger Set
Honorable Mention – Knuckle Strutz
Not As Well Known But Good
Another construction set we’ve started using in my family is Knuckle Strutz. These aren’t as readily available or as well-known as the other lego alternatives mentioned in this post, but my kids like them enough that I thought I’d put them in here.
The primary reason I like it so much is that the pieces lock incredibly well. In addition, many of the sets come with as many as ten designs. It’s the quality along with versatility that truly makes these sets shine. While some of these have been discontinued over the years there are still several that are available on their website as well as at online retailers.
Overall it’s a set that has decent quality, great locking power, and a lot of versatility. My oldest son made about 20 different vehicles out of just one of the bigger sets. For this reason, we’re adding several more of these to our collection during the holidays.