Kid's Hands-on Review of the Best Building Block and Construction Toys of 2023

Review of The Best Building Block Toys

Building blocks are toys that can inspire creativity and imagination. They help children improve their hand-eye coordination and spatial imagination and promote their cognitive development, spatial awareness, social skills, and problem-solving skills.

In order to explore this interesting world with my 5 years old daughter, I purchased different brands and types of building sets and personally experienced each one before writing the following reviews. Through these reviews, I hope to help you understand the characteristics, advantages and disadvantages, and suitability for children of different ages and interests of these building block toys.

In this article, we will introduce several mainstream building block toys, including:

LEGO Classic / LEGO Duplo

BLOKS Craft Master 

MEGA Bloks / Wooden Blocks

Other Blocks

We will evaluate them from multiple aspects, such as appearance design, material quality, building experience, creativity and playability, educational value, and user experience, and make a comprehensive comparison and recommendation for different types of building blocks. We will also recommend suitable building block toys according to different age groups and needs to help you choose the right building block toys for yourself or your children.

Large Granule Blocks - LEGO Duplo

I bought two Lego Duplo sets in total, one being the "Deluxe Brick Box" when my daughter was 1 and a half years old and the other being the "Frozen Ice Castle" when she was almost three.

The Deluxe Brick Box is designed specifically for toddlers around 1 and a half years old. At this age, children are in the stage of trying and exploring, and the Deluxe Brick Box can encourage them to stack and create. The set doesn't have a specific theme, which can stimulate children's imagination and creativity, as they can freely use these blocks to build their own world. The 85 pieces are also enough for children of this age to play with.

The Frozen Ice Castle is suitable for children two years old and above. From the design of the blocks, it can be seen that compared to the Deluxe Brick Box, the Frozen Ice Castle's shape is more complex and three-dimensional, which also means that the blocks are more challenging. However, because it is based on the "Frozen" IP theme and only has 59 pieces, the variety of shapes and scenes that can be created with the blocks is not as rich. Due to her love for Elsa and Anna, Nina felt a strong sense of involvement and occasionally used the castle as a tool for role-playing after it was built.

Exterior design and material quality:

  • Pros:
    • Vibrant colors: Bright and vibrant colors are attractive enough for babies aged 1-2 years old, making it easy to stimulate their interest in playing.
    • Large building blocks: For children under 6 years old, large building blocks are the best choice as their fine motor skills are not yet fully developed and their finger strength is weak.
    • Easy to insert and remove: The building blocks are easy to insert and remove, providing a good playing experience for children without causing frustration or pain.
    • Made of ABS material, sturdy, odorless, and has been played with for two years without damage.
  • ❗️Cons:
    • The building blocks are not smooth enough on the corners, which can be painful when stepped on or pressed.
    • The Frozen Ice Castle only comes in paper box packaging and does not provide a plastic box, making it inconvenient to store.

Building Process Experience and Playability:

  • Pros:
    • Non-theme building blocks are flexible and versatile, cultivating creativity and imagination through free assembly.
    • Theme scenes have a high degree of restoration and can be used for role-playing.
  • ❗️Cons:
    • The variability of theme building blocks is not particularly good and is not suitable for repeated assembly.
    • The number of common building blocks is relatively small. With the improvement of children's cognitive ability after the age of 3, additional building blocks need to be purchased as supplementary packages.
    • When non-theme and theme building blocks are assembled together, although they are generally compatible in terms of color and parts shape, their adaptability is generally not very good.

User experience and conclusion:

LEGO Duplo is one of the most popular building block toys, especially for younger children. Its large granule size makes it easy for children to build and create. The exterior design is colorful and attractive, with a variety of shapes and sizes available. The material quality is also good, with a sturdy plastic that can withstand rough play.

The building process experience is enjoyable and easy to follow, with clear instructions provided. The creativity and playability of LEGO Duplo is high, with endless possibilities for building and creating. The educational value is also significant, as children learn spatial reasoning, problem-solving, and fine motor skills through play.

The user experience is positive overall, with children enjoying the building process and the final product. But if you want your child to keep playing duplo as they get older, you'll need to take the time to learn about the product line and buy the different expansion packs to get a better experience. The only potential downside is the cost, as LEGO Duplo can be more expensive than other building block toys.

Classic Blocks - LEGO Classic Large Creative Brick Box

I have always been a loyal user of LEGO, and have assembled dozens of LEGO sets over the years, so I have a deep emotional attachment and preference for LEGO. When my daughter was four years old, Nina thought that the shapes that could be built with Duplo were relatively limited, and she kept building the same shapes and scenes, which became dull and uninteresting.

I bought her a set of LEGO Classic. When I bought LEGO Classic, I thought its size was between regular LEGO and Duplo, but after I received the product, I found that its size was exactly the same as regular LEGO. After playing with it a few times, Nina put it aside and didn't use it for a long time. Later, I gave it to my brother's child (6 years old).

Note: The following review is only applicable for children aged 4-6.

Exterior design and material quality:

  • Pros:
    • Vibrant colors: Lego's color schemes are indeed beautiful, pleasing to both adults and children;
    • Reliable materials: Made of ABS material, sturdy and durable, with no strange odor.
  • ❗️Cons:
    • Too small, too small, too small! Therefore, the edges of the corners and blocks will become sharper.

Building Process Experience and playability:

  • Pros:
    • The abundance of bricks and parts allow for the creation of great effects;
  • ❗️Cons:
    • Too small, too small, too small! It's difficult for children aged 4-6 to build it and get a sense of achievement and interest.

User experience and conclusion:

For children aged 4-6, the size of these Lego classic sets can still be challenging. It requires fine motor skills and strength in their hands to press and disassemble the pieces. As a father of a 4-and-a-half-year-old, I do not recommend Lego classic sets for children under 6 years old. Even if you want your child to try, I suggest buying a Lego set that costs less than $10 to try first.

Because the pieces are too small, it presents another problem - it's difficult to build something that looks impressive. For example, Duplo and Bloks have large pieces and a variety of special-shaped parts that only require a few steps to build a castle that looks big and beautiful. This inspires children, giving them a sense of achievement and interest in playing with blocks. On the other hand, Lego classic sets require dozens of steps to build a castle (and there are no instructions, so children have to rely on their imagination). This requires children to consider more details and to concentrate for a long time, which can be frustrating and discouraging if they have no patience or sense of achievement.

Several 4-6 year old children I know who received Lego classic sets were initially happy to play with them. However, after a short period of time, they were discouraged by various reasons such as hand pain, difficulty in assembly and disassembly, and not being able to build what they wanted. But ultimately, it is because they did not feel a sense of achievement, so they could not stimulate their interest, let alone develop their abilities.

Transformable Blocks – BLOKS Craft Master Collection​

Bloks Master Series-Playground set was a birthday gift for Nina when she turned three, which I accidentally found while I was preparing her gift. What attracted me the most was its title, “Gradual progression from simple to complex to free-building”, because at that time Nina was fond of playing with Duplo blocks, but mostly just for simple play. As she grew, Nina began to have some pre-constructed scenes and goals, such as building a hotel, building an amusement park, and so on. However, due to a lack of understanding and skills in using the blocks, she always stayed in the “Dad help me” stage.

When my daughter Nina was three and a half years old, I bought her the Bloks Master Series-Community set again. It wasn’t until I wrote this article that I realized Bloks had been with Nina for over a year, and during this time, it has always been in our play area.

Exterior design and material quality:

  • Pros:
    • Vibrant colors: The color scheme is very nice but slightly softer than that of LEGO;
    • Large Blocks: The bricks are even bigger than Duplo;
    • Reliable material: ABS plastic, the same as the material used in LEGO blocks
    • Smooth Corners: The corners are rounded much larger than Duplo, which is safer;
    • Plastic storage bin: Convenient for children to tidy up and organize by themselves;
  • ❗️Cons:
    • ……I really didn’t find cons to it, which is why I decided to share it with more people.

Building Process Experience and playability:

  • Pros:
    • Children can build themed scenes in just 20 steps, sparking their interest.
    • With 250 blocks offering a hundred different shapes, it keeps the play experience fresh.
    • Features three amusement park scenes and fifteen social scenes, encouraging role-playing. It Provides long-lasting play without the need for additional expansion packs.
    • The large-sized blocks have rounded edges, ensuring safety and peace of mind.
  • ❗️Cons:
    • No English version of the instruction manual (English PDF version available for download).

User experience and conclusion:

Nina is now four and a half years old, and the toy blocks she plays with the most are Bloks. As I observe her, I realize that children naturally enjoy playing with Bloks block toys because they can experience joy while playing.

Because Bloks building toys is the only brand I have seen that has a complete guide for building block toys. This guide is different from building instructions, as it divides the entire gaming journey into three stages: step-by-step building, creative challenges, and free creation. Through this guide, children can develop an interest, learn about the various uses and techniques of the parts, and ultimately have the ability to create high-quality designs freely. This is what I think is the biggest advantage of Bloks building toys. After Nina opened the box and saw nearly 300 pieces in front of her, she was a bit puzzled. However, she quickly built the scene by following the instructions step by step, which gave her a sense of accomplishment and sparked her interest. Then, she began the challenge tasks. Once she became familiar with the basic use of the parts, she could freely build. Moreover, the complexity and completeness of the free building are the best among all building block toys.

READ REVIEW OF BLOKS Craft Master Collection​

Super large building blocks – Mega Bloks

Mega Bloks was given to Nina as a gift by her early education teacher when she was less than one year old. To be honest, I didn’t like this set of building blocks at first because of its strong but not bright colors, cheap-looking materials, and mediocre texture. But the following days completely overturned my perception, as Nina played with Mega Bloks the most every day. This surprised me, and I kept observing and thinking with curiosity until I saw Nina playing with wooden blocks and getting a little frustrated after accidentally knocking them over. It made me suddenly realize that the interlock of Mega Bloks can make stacking blocks more stable and easier to experience the joy of “success” and the fun of toys. Of course, I’m not saying that Mega Bloks are better than wooden blocks, but that each of these two types of blocks has its own advantages and disadvantages. Let me tell you about them.

For some time afterward, there were some interesting changes in the scenes where Nina played with Mega Bloks and wooden blocks. If she played with building block toys by herself, she would choose Mega Bloks and sit on a mat, trying various “studies” and showing them off to people around her when she felt satisfied. If she wanted to play “stacking fun” with me or her mom, or wanted to play “falling Tower” game, she would choose wooden blocks.

Exterior design and material quality:

  • Pros:
    • The materials are bio-based resins, which are safer and more environmentally friendly.
    • The blocks are as large as their name suggests, making them perfect for children aged 1-3 to play with.
    • Although they appear to be very large, they are actually very light and are suitable for children aged 1-3 to play with. Even if they collapse, they won’t hurt anyone.
  • ❗️Cons:
    • Some of the blocks don’t loosen up after they are stacked, while some do, but it doesn’t make much of a difference.
    • The colors are too strong and not very appealing, but that’s just a matter of personal taste.
    • The material’s texture doesn;t look too good, but it doesn’t really affect anything.

Building Process Experience and Playability:

  • Pros:
    • The design of the building blocks is very simple, which is very suitable for children aged 1-3, satisfying their need to try building more.
    • The blocks are very abstract, which can stimulate the imagination of children aged 1-3.
    • Interlocking blocks can reduce negative emotions caused by accidental bumping for children.
    • The interlocking strength is relatively weak. Although sometimes it is not very sturdy, this is a better design considering the strength of the fingers of children aged 1-3.
  • ❗️Cons:
    • In terms of gaming experience, I really think Mega has done well enough.

User experience and conclusion:

Nina is already four and a half years old, but she still occasionally plays with Mega Bloks. Perhaps this is because she is used to this toy or because she misses it. However, by observing Nina’s entire playing process, I have completely changed my view of Mega Bloks. I realized that Mega Bloks has already fully considered the needs of children aged 1-3. For example, these building blocks have bright colors, are made of environmentally friendly materials, are convenient for children to take large blocks, the extremely lightweight ensures safety, and interlocking does not require much force. In addition, Mega Bloks can also stimulate children’s imagination and creativity, as they can use these building blocks to build their own desired items. Overall, I think Mega Bloks is an excellent toy for children aged 1-3 years.

Wooden Blocks

The wooden building blocks that Nina plays with are not brands that are sold globally. They may not be available in markets outside of mainland China and Hong Kong. Therefore, I am only sharing some suggestions with you when selecting this type of building blocks. If you have any questions when making your purchase, please feel free to contact me at any time.

Purchase Advice

Wooden building blocks are perhaps the most common and traditional type of building blocks, and they are often the first set of building toys that children receive. However, just because they are common does not mean that you should buy them indiscriminately, as wooden building blocks may pose the highest risks of all types of building blocks.

The safety of wooden building blocks mainly depends on their paint.

The safety of the paint on wooden building blocks is crucial, as it may contain harmful chemicals and dyes that can be dangerous or pose safety risks to children. Harmful substances can harm children in three ways:

  1. They contain solvents that can produce dangerous vapors or fumes known as VOCs (volatile organic compounds, Formaldehyde, Benzene, Xylene, etc ).
  2. The surface coating of wooden toys has not been peeled off, and toxic substances remain on the hands when children touch them. These substances can then enter the eyes or mouth through the hands, a process known as toxic substance migration.
  3. The surface coating of wooden toys peels off or dissolves with water or grease on children’s hands and enters their mouth or eyes. This is known as paint peel strength.

Therefore, when choosing wooden toys, I recommend choosing natural coatings. Natural pigments are often extracted from natural plants and used to dye wood through immersion or spraying. The only disadvantage is that the colors are not as bright as those of ordinary paints, but they do not contain toxic chemicals, so parents can rest assured that their children can play with them safely.

Some parents may argue that some paints are labeled as “non-toxic paints,” but I personally do not recommend them.

Paints can be divided into: Oil-based paints, Acrylic paints, and Latex paints. Due to the manufacturing process and raw materials: VOC in Oil-based paints, titanium oxide in Latex paints, and heavy metals (mercury, aluminum, vanadium, chromium, etc.) in Acrylic paints, it is difficult to make these paints completely non-toxic and harmless. It is very difficult for parents to distinguish whether these paints are completely non-toxic and harmless when purchasing.

Therefore, when parents choose wooden building blocks, it is recommended to choose blocks that are painted with natural dye or blocks in their original wood color. By the way, when it comes to the surface treatment of wooden blocks, it is better to choose those coated with natural oil instead of those coated with transparent varnish.

Other various shapes of interlocking building blocks

Because of my curiosity, I purchased various types of building blocks for Nina, such as magnetic building blocks, snowflake building blocks, and interlocking building blocks. Nina was very happy and excited when she first received the gift, but after playing with them once or twice, she put them aside. I personally think there are mainly two reasons for this:


Have you noticed that no matter whether a toy is fun or not, children always want to have it when they see it? Children always think that the toys in other people’s hands are more fun than their own toys. Many toys are discarded after a short period of time despite being exciting at first.

The biggest attraction of building block toys for children comes from the endless possibilities of these blocks. Each time there are different ways to play with them, and each way creates a different shape, and each shape has a different appearance.

According to Wikipedia, building blocks similar to Lego can be combined with each other in many ways. Two same-colored 4×2 bricks can be arranged in 24 ways, with three this is already 1560. The number of combinations increases to over 85 billion with only seven same-colored 4×2 bricks, as a paper from the Mathematics Department of Aarhus University states.

Therefore, only building blocks with a design similar to Lego have the greatest variety of possibilities, which also provides children with more possibilities to create. Of course, this is what I understand as the source of novelty.

1. Martin Wolf (2014-03-16). “Die Steine der Weisen” [The Philosopher’s Stones]. Der Spiegel (in German). Vol. 12. Der Spiegel. 125966695.
2. Sören Eilers (2005-04-07). “A LEGO Counting problem”. Aarhus University. Retrieved 2019-06-09.

Sense of Accomplishment:

Do you often encounter children asking you, “Dad, do you think what I did is good?” “Mom, do you think I did well today?” The two main evaluation systems for children before the age of 6 come from family and self. When children ask for the opinions of family members, it means that their own evaluation system has given them a sense of accomplishment, and they need the recognition and praise of family members.

The source of a child’s sense of accomplishment comes from being able to freely create and build their own ideas and concepts while playing with building blocks. When they complete a structure or model they envisioned, they feel proud and satisfied because they have transformed their imagination into a tangible work. Therefore, whether building blocks can relatively easily and quickly realize a child’s ideas, and whether the realized ideas look beautiful and realistic, is the basis for a child’s sense of accomplishment while playing with building blocks.

As for the different shapes of building blocks on the market, there are mainly two problems. First, they are very limited in scope: some are suitable for building structures, while others are suitable for building animals. If you look carefully at their pages, you will often find that they can only build certain types of things. However, a child’s imagination has no boundaries or constraints. Second, these building blocks are generally too abstract and complex, making it difficult for children to form self-identity or find resonance with those around them.

Therefore, I suggest that if you have traditional interlocking building blocks like Lego or Bloks at home, you can buy these building blocks as an extra, but don’t just buy these building blocks.

Comprehensive Comparison and Recommendations

Brand Size Material safety Playability Repeatability Overall Rating Age Appropriate
LEGO Classic Small ABS 4 3 3 10 6+
Lego Duplo Medium ABS 4.5 4 4 12.5 3+
Bloks Master Large ABS 5 4.5 5 14.5 3+
Mega Bloks Extremely Large bio-based resins 5 4.5 3 12.5 1-3

Buying Guide:

  • If you are selecting building blocks for babies aged 0-1, wooden blocks are the preferred choice. However, please pay close attention to the safety of the outer coating of the wooden blocks. It is recommended to choose plant-based coloring. If you cannot confirm the safety, it is suggested to buy unpainted wooden blocks.
  • If you are selecting building blocks for children aged 1-3, Mega Bloks (an 80-piece set is sufficient) is the preferred choice because Mega blocks are big, light, safe, and can satisfy the needs of children aged 1-3 for stacking and trying.
  • If you are selecting building blocks for children aged 3-6, the Bloks Master Series is the preferred choice because the unique “complete building guide from simple to complex” of Bloks enables children to develop various abilities through games. Boys may be more interested in the playground set, while girls may be more interested in the community set. In addition, if you prefer the Lego brand and are willing to invest more time and money, Duplo is also a good choice.
  • If you are selecting building blocks for children aged over 6, Lego Classic is one of the few good choices. However, unless your child is a Lego fan who likes various themed sets, it is not recommended to buy themed Lego because they are limited in improving children’s abilities after they are assembled according to the instructions and placed on the display shelf.

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