September 25, 2009

WHAT THE STUFF TOY REVIEW

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200 Piece Wooden Building Set Review- 4 of 5 Stars

SUMMARY
To play with CitiBlocs, kids need only imagination and gravity to build, stack and create their own fun.  The cut blocks of wood are "green", crafted from New Zealand pine.  The simplistic blocks are meant for solo play or a family fun session with grandparents and siblings.  Through play with the blocks, grownups are encouraged to introduce kids to architecture, history, mathematics and science.

CitiBlocs are designed for children ages three and older.  CitiBlocs are manufactured in Vietnam and come in a variety of seven different building sets - from a starter box of 52 pieces to a large box of 1000 pieces.  Each set comes with a color building design guide. 

INDIVIDUAL CATEGORY RATINGS

EASE OF USE      

CitiBlocs are designed for children ages three and up.  With that in mind we had children of a wide variety of ages work with the blocks, and the results back in this category were mixed.  Yes, younger children were able to handle the blocks, but they definitely had a hard time trying to build or stack - especially looking at the samples in the included guide.  On the other hand, we found that children ages 8 and up definitely enjoyed creating their own sculptures, while children older than 10 enjoyed working to mimic the designs in the guide.
So....are CitiBlocs easy to use?  Well, children can use them right out of the package - no batteries required - just imagination.  Younger kids may be better off with bigger building blocks (or parental assistance will definitely be required), but the older your children get the more engaged they will be by this toy.

DURABILITY     

Five stars for sure!  Short of the family dog stealing a few blocks and biting away there is no cause for concern in the durability department.

VISUAL APPEAL     

This was another tough category for CitiBlocs.  Compared to high-tech or brightly colored toys, CitiBlocs are not the first toy kids will navigate too.  However, once our children were able to see some of the structures they could make, the challenge was on.  And believe us, the kids were excited.  It just wasn't love at first sight.

FUNCTIONALITY     

The sky is the limit when it comes to the designs that can be constructed with CitiBlocs.  On the other hand, all of the blocks are the same size and same color, so this is definitely a different take on a building toy.  Between the doors, windows and wheels kids are used to playing with Lincoln Logs, a CitiBloc building experience may take a little convincing.  But again, once they start building your kids imagination can run wild!

COST EFFICIENCY     

Our review team was definitely taken back by the $50 price tag for CitiBlocs.  In a blind survey our parents priced this set between $20 and $30.  Yes, the blocks are extremely well made, and yes they are all the same size, but we heard more than once: "$50, for wood?".  Most of the parents agreed if you have a child that loves building and loves models, this is a great tool for learning and growth, but it definitely is expensive.

ORIGINALITY     

It was hard for some of our parents to call CitiBlocs totally original - like we said before, they've had years of Legos and Lincoln Logs.  And kids start playing with building blocks at a very young age.  All in all, none of our kids had seen blocks like CitiBlocs, but building with toy blocks was nothing new for them.

OVERALL RATING     
This was a tough one to offer a rating to as CitiBlocs fell right in between three and four stars.  CitiBlocs are really a fun and engaging building toy.  Our reviewers felt that the target age is a little young, that this toy would definitely serve older kids better.  And with a price tag that was much higher than our parents expected didn't help bring the rating up any higher.  With all that said, give a child who likes building with blocks or models a set of CitiBlocs and you will be absolutely amazed at the structures they can create! 

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