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kid playing with LEGO alternative, plus plus puzzle building pieces
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7 Toys To Try If Your Kid’s Obsessed With LEGOs

They’re just as creative and fun.

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Have you ever heard of a child being disappointed in receiving a LEGO set for a special occasion or just because? They’re adored by children of all ages, and it’s the one toy brand that parents will never say no to or argue that kids have too much of. Kids love LEGOs because they’re simply awesome and fun, and parents love them for their children because it keeps them distracted (and quiet) for long stretches of time and is a solid STEAM activity, without being advertised as such.

But as enthusiastic as you are about your child’s one-track mind, you might be in the market for LEGO alternatives for your kids for a few different reasons. One, they can be quite expensive, especially for larger, more complicated sets for older kids. And two, variety is the spice of life — you want your child to at least experience other toys and activities to challenge them in different ways.

For those who are looking for toys like LEGOs, but want something different, here’s a roundup of LEGO alternatives to consider. They aren’t knock-off versions of LEGO, but completely different toys that have overlapping qualities to the popular Danish bricks in functionality and benefits in that they:

  • cater to children and adults
  • come with age-appropriate instruction manuals to create specific projects but also encourage free play
  • are visually interesting and can be displayed
  • encourage the use of fine motor skills

Basically, these toys are mainly like LEGOs in that first there is a process of creating and building a project that one must complete before they can actually play with the toy, and the building element is just as fun (if not more) than playing with the final product.

If you know someone who likes to build, follow instructions (but sometimes make up their own stuff, too), and play with the figures and sets they build, they might love any of the following toys that are like LEGO in spirit, but their own unique thing.

Pix Brix

Pix Brix puzzle pieces are cube-shaped, about double the size of a LEGO figurine head, and connect by sliding and stacking together. Like LEGO, they have their own Artist series which allows you to recreate artworks like Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night in pixelated form, amongst other famous artworks. You can buy sets by theme, from individual dinosaurs to an entire farmland setup, or grab a tin of assorted pieces to come up with your own creations. Fun fact, they are actually compatible with the LEGO system, so you could combine the two to create something truly unique.

Plus-Plus

Plus-Plus pieces look like 3D basic puzzle pieces that slide together in very direction. You can connect them flat to create an image (as you would puzzle), or slot them sideways to build out 3D sets and shapes. They even have a puzzle-by-numbers series for those who enjoy puzzling. I gifted one of them to a tween once, and it was a big hit. The standard size is about the size of a postage stamp, but just like LEGO has the DUPLO series for younger kids, Plus-Plus has BIG, their oversized puzzle pieces that toddlers can more easily grasp and play with.

K’NEX

K’NEX is not new to the toy world by any means, but kids still love them — the more interactive and grand the finished project, the better. This particular set is a classic — I still remember building out the K’NEX ferris wheel when I was a child. It’s especially great for kids who show to have an interest in engineering. Like LEGO, the STEAM experience is strong here, and it will really help kids process the basics of engineering on a whole new level, all through play.

Bristle blocks

Bristle blocks, sometimes called sticky or thistle blocks or bricks, are a great option for the youngest LEGO fans — they are even easier to play with than DUPLO. The pieces are larger than LEGO bricks and softer, and more forgiving when it comes to trying to attach pieces together. As long as the “bristles” from two pieces are facing each other when pressed together, they will hold onto each other. Unexpected bonus: they are not painful to step on.

Clixo

Clixo pieces behave a lot like cardstock paper (they sit flat but are flexible and can be bent in any direction), and they have strategically placed magnets placed on them. Kids can peruse manuals to build out animals, shapes, vehicles, and more, but they’ll also love coming up with their own projects and having these pieces interact with items in their toy chest. I’ve seen my 6-year-old create helmets and boats and use pieces to reinforce other structures (like a zipline) using random toys and supplies. The magnetic power on these are pretty strong, and the flexibility and unique shapes of Clixo pieces makes it possible for kids to create a lot of unique and interesting things.

Bendy Builders

The Bendy Builders kit from Excellerations really emphasizes the idea of free play. It includes an assortment of colorful bendable tubes ranging from 2-12 inches, wheels, and plastic and wooden pieces to connect pieces together. The tubes are incredibly bendy — they can be bent or coiled in any which way — which really makes it possible to create any shape. An included booklet includes inspiration images of objects (a flower, plane, whale, etc), but kids will start figuring out how to bring their own visions to life before you know it. My kid’s built everything from wearable wacky glasses to roller skates to The Eiffel Tower. Sometimes she even uses them to tie her little brother up.

Magnetic Tiles

I’ve seen kids put their architectural and engineering skills to the test to create buildings taller than them using magnetic tiles. Unlike LEGOs which come in a variety of shapes and sizes, magnetic tiles are pretty straightforward but the possibilities are vast, and because each unit is much larger than a LEGO brick, builds become grander much faster. Both the ASMR experience of hearing pieces “click” together, plus the feel of them gravitating towards each other satisfies in a way that LEGOs don’t.

Something to note: There are several brands of magnetic tiles on the market, and while many of these vary slightly in make and size, they are, for the most part, pretty interchangeable. Each brand also offers unique accessories and series (from clear tracks to create ball runs to glow-in-the-dark pieces). This MagHub set is one of the best bang-for-your-buck option out there, but don’t feel like you have to stick to one brand if you’re building your child’s collection of tiles over time.

It’s no secret that LEGOs are in a league of their own. But these alternatives to LEGO will satisfy the creative, curious minds of kids who love to build, create, follow instructions, and build to play, and are worth giving a shot.