My kids really enjoy building type toys, and I’m a big fan of them as well since they have lots of educational and creative value. W, our six-year-old, tends to like a larger variety of building type toys (not just LEGO). The Plus Plus Learn to Build Line looked really intriguing to me and felt like something he would like to check out, and Plus Plus sent us a copy of their Learn to Build Sports Set for reviewing purposes.
What Is the Plus Plus Learn to Build Sports Set?
The Plus Plus Learn to Build Sports Set is a building toy for ages 5-12 and has an MSRP of $24.99. It uses a simple building piece design to create a variety of building projects. This set is sport themed but can easily be combined with other Plus Plus Learn to Build Sets to make other things too.
What Comes in the Plus Plus Learn to Build Sports Set?
The Plus Plus Learn to Build Set contains the following:
- 380 Building Pieces in 9 Colors
- 2 Baseplates (Tan and Green)
- 1 Guidebook
- Double-Sided Play Mat
The idea behind the Building Pieces is that one shape that looks like two plus signs next to each other has a huge variety of building possibilities. They’re small, brightly colored plastic pieces close in size to a LEGO but slightly softer plastic. This set has nine different colors: blue, red, yellow, white, black, brown, clear, orange, and a fair-skin tone color. It’s enough variety to make lots of different things.
The Base Plates are in tan and green and are good for trying to stabilize taller structures. They’re a harder plastic than the Building Pieces and certainly sturdy enough for play.
The Double-Sided Play Mat is definitely sports-oriented and is about the consistency of tagboard. It’s the one item I’m less certain on the durability of, so I might reinforce ours with some laminating sheets to extend its chances of surviving lots of play sessions.
The Guidebook is also really helpful. It’s comparable to what you would expect from a LEGO kit, but it does contain ideas beyond just building a particular step-by-step project.
Overall, I like it and I feel like the components are decent and likely to be good for lots of play with the exception of the Play Mat.
W got to work quickly on putting together a little soccer scene. The steps in the book were really good at showing what pieces and how many would be needed while giving good diagrams of where the piece would go. W is in that stage where sometimes the building steps go smoothly and at other times he needs help with a section or a few steps. Overall, with guidance, we got a soccer goal, ball, and two people made.
The flexibility of the pieces is certainly a nice feature, although it does mean pieces sometimes shift a bit during construction, but W did decently overall. Building each project didn’t take too long either. I think it took about 15-20 minutes for us to get the little soccer scene set together. He then proceeded to happily play with his little soccer scene for a while before starting to take it apart and try to free build.
One thing we liked is the book had other suggestions. It showed how to build one soccer player but had a picture with an alternate design letting you know that by swapping out colors you could make different people including skin-tone variations. The book included designs for basketball, football, and hockey as well. What really impressed me is that the back to book showed a selection of animals or other ideas you could make with the same color pieces from this set, underlining that just because the project instructions are sport-related, that doesn’t mean that’s the only way to play.
Overall, I think this is a win. The set doesn’t take up much space (I could fit several sets within a freezer bag easily) and sometimes I need something W can take to his room and play with at his desk when the boys need a break from each other. Building toys like this are a calm activity that promotes lots of brainpower. I think the neatest take away is how the pieces may all be the same shape, but they stack and connect in a variety of often flexible designs. In an age where a lot of toys seek to get more and more complicated with electronic components and battery-operated features, the Learn to Build line goes in the other direction, showing how innovation and creativity can make the simplest of ideas so much fun. The set is well within a nice price range for a building set type toy and is the kind of thing I think a lot of kids would enjoy. The best part is if you get more sets (or even duplicates), you simply end up with more pieces to work with.