Trends in Toyland: K'NEX and Sesame Street

K’NEX is going to launch a new line of preschool sets that feature Sesame Street characters. Unlike traditional K’nex sets, these include more building “bricks” (you know like the other guys) – that will make the sets easier for young builders. They look like fun–we’ll look forward to trying them with our testers.

Diary of a Toy Tester

Truth be told I really didn’t play with too many toys as a kid. I much preferred playing in the bottomless sandbox outside of our house. I was big on flooding — mud being one of my ultimate play mediums. My older brothers had also left years of treasures behind (mostly spoons) but sometimes there were Hot Wheels cars and plastic animals to unearth. I also spent a lot of time chasing frogs and salamanders…and bugs. (Probably why I’m always fascinated with the bug and butterfly kits that arrive every spring.)

So as an adult it wasn’t lost on me that my “job” was now to test toys. I’m always amazed by the number of toys that don’t do what they say they’re going to do. How could someone spend so much time making and marketing a product that doesn’t deliver?  So many of the products we see each year never get beyond this point.  We’re also big on directions. If the directions aren’t clear to us, how can anyone expect an 8 year old to follow along?

So when we started, I decided to take on a building set. Could I follow the directions for a Lego kit that had hundreds and hundreds of pieces? Well it took me until 1 o’clock in the morning the first time–but I did it! And I loved the experience. In fact I recommend trying a building set as an adult. It’s fun and very satisfying. I know lots of people feel that way about cooking something (I didn’t get that gene). I’ve always wanted to have a Lego building party for grown ups–and see what people would come up with. Kids have no problem getting started–they just build. I have a sense that a group of grownups would be more guarded if they were given no set plans to follow.  The sets we have on our Platinum List this year–really do require two sets of hands. Both Ferris Wheels from Lego and K’nex make great projects for two–but I’m suggesting a smaller set that you can do on your own. So next time you’re walking down that aisle, try a set.