Pros: I'm having fun and love the depiction of a city
Cons: design is frustrating for a small child, pictures are too limiting for an older one
I Must Confess
I have spent much more time playing with these blocks than my daughter has. While Her Royal Highness enjoys blocks in general, she is only seventeen months old and not ready to appreciate the real charm of this set. Although at the time I told myself I bought them for my friends with older children who come to visit, I can no longer deny I bought them because I liked them, I wanted them, and I am the one who plays with them.
These wooden blocks by Imaginarium caught my eye on the shelf at Toys 'r' Us because of the bright colors, attractive pictures, and the metropolitan hipness of the concept. While my husband and I chose to move to a rural area to raise our child and our dog, I love living in the city and miss our former urban lifestyle. The Wooden City Block Set reminds me of one of the things I loved, which was the diversity which can be found within one city block.
Loft Space For Rent
This set includes a mat with a road and some landscaping printed on it to build your city on top of, four cars with rolling wheels, a few blocks in solid colors, and a couple of bridges. The rest are squares and rectangles with architectural features painted on them. If put together by style, your city can include a modern high rise, a hotel, a few storefronts, old-world style condos, and a brick apartment building. The pictures on the blocks are so attractive that I like to set up the city as a decorative feature in my daughter's bedroom. Of all the toys I could use for ornamentation, I think this is much better than one of those terrifying china dolls I see on high shelves in many little girls rooms. My city looks cheery and whimsical when set up on top of her dresser, but if children want to play with it, they are allowed.
I Suppose You Can Play With It
Her Royal Highness likes to look at her city after I have built it and tell me stories about all the buildings in her alien language. At least, that is what I think she is doing. She points and jargons to me about what she sees, but she could be asking me "Mom, didn't you have anything better to do with your time today than play with this toy you have intentionally set up too high for me to reach?" However, until HRH decides to speak my language rather than her own, I can only assume that she enjoys it visually. She gets a lot of enjoyment out of playing with the toy cars, which are simple, chubby, and colorful with easily-rolling wheels. Currently, the taxi lives beside her diaper changing station and entertains her enough to keep the complaining to a minimum as she endures the indignity of this chore throughout the day.
If HRH is given the whole set to play with, she enjoys them as much as any other wooden blocks. The age range of this toy is raised considerably by the design of the blocks, which I think is a flaw. They are not cube shaped, but are twice as tall as they are wide when the pictures are facing out. To build the three and four story buildings pictured on the box, the blocks must be stacked on their narrower side. I wish they were cube shaped and had pictures on all sides of the block, not just one. HRH isn't even close to the comprehension and fine motor skills required to use the blocks for building a city, but that doesn't detract one bit from the enjoyment of building yet another leaning tower. A three and four year old who visit my home like these blocks. The three year old has trouble stacking the blocks on their narrow ends, but the four year old does all right. Once they have built a city, they want to run the cars around on the road. This leads to frustration, because the slightest bump will make all the blocks fall over. If they were cubes and the pictures were on all sides, any child old enough for blocks could build cities.
What age child are these blocks for? I don't know much about children older than my toddler, but I imagine a five or six year old would be old enough to enjoy the pictures, design a city, and build it. However, for older children, this toy seems so limited. A constructed city is not stable enough to play with the cars afterward, so the fun is in constructing it. I'm afraid a child with an active imagination and a desire to build would get bored of these blocks, because they are too specific in their purpose and there aren't enough of them. I must conclude that the target audience for this toy is ... Me.
Despite the drawbacks, I have not been disappointed by this purchase. I can't deny that I bought the blocks for myself, and I enjoy them every day. I find it soothing to put the city together in different ways, and they are an adorable yet sophisticated accent piece in my daughter's bedroom. I can't recommend a toy that isn't particularly fun for children, but since it has been such a pleasure to me, I can't complain about it either.