Pros: Easy to build with and take apart, building pieces are fun
Cons: Not enough pieces
I always seem to be disappointed by Fisher Price. And I am not alone in this opinion, as my girls seem to feel the same way. For the most part our Fisher Price toys sit on the shelves and get very little play time before getting packed up and put away in the closet. And yet, on a recent shopping trip, more Fisher Price toys found their way into the sorry excuse for a shopping part at Kohl's. Living in a hotel for a week without much to do made me open my usually tightly shut wallet and buy my girls a few new toys. For my 1 year old I selected POP-ONZ Building System Jungle Block Bucket since it was on sale for 40% off.
What Are POP-ONZ?
POP-ONZ are a building system for young toddlers that can most closely be compared to plastic linking beads. Each building piece has at least one male "peg" end and at least one female "bowl" end. Snap the peg into bowl and you are building. The peg end has two styles. The one shaped like a fire hydrant allows you to build only in the direction that the top points in. There are also pieces with round ball shaped ends that allow you to building out in any direction.The building pieces come in a variety of shapes. The standard building piece are barrel shaped, but the sets include pieces shaped like animals and other objects familiar to toddlers.
Basics of the Jungle Block Bucket
This is a 12 piece POP-ONZ building system that includes a carrying case and building base plate. For building pieces this set includes 3 barrels, 3 animals and 4 fun shaped pieces. All of these pieces are sturdy brightly colored plastic. The building pieces vary in size depending on which one it is, but they would fill an area about 3" square. They are the perfect size for toddler hands and pose no choking hazard.
The carrying case is about 10" across and 8" high and has a cut-out for a handle. It is green and shaped like a mountain. The top half of the case is hinged and flips open to store the pieces. The blue plastic base (meant to represent water) fits on top of the bottom half of the case for storage. There is a small switch on the front of the case to lock the top down. The top of the case, like the base is covered in pegs to offer stability to whatever your child is building.
As the name of the set implies, this is a jungle themed playset. Two of the barrel pieces are plain but the third is decorated to look like an old fashioned wooden barrel. The animals included in the set are a blue monkey, orange lion and a purple toucan. The animal male ends are all ball shaped so the other pieces can build off at any angle. There is a triangle piece has a single female end on the bottom and two male ends that jut out at angles. There is a green piece designed to look like palm tree leaves that spin around a central tube. There is also a boat the rocks and a round piece that I suppose is meant to resemble a life preserver.
If you are looking to get your child their first snap together building system, this may be it. The pieces are easy to snap together, stay together and yet still manage to be easy to take apart. My 2 1/2 year old quickly got the hang of how to snap the pieces together, and just as quickly my 1 year old learned how to pull them apart.The younger one is even trying to figure out how to attached pieces to the bases.
I enjoy building with POP-ONZ as much as my children. I like that there is no pressure to build something that looks like something. When we build with other toys my older daughter is always asking me to build something specific. Without specific instructions to follow I can't make much of anything. With POP-ONZ we build just for the fun of sticking pieces together.
What We Like
We have tons of toys to build with: Duplo blocks, Tinker Toys, wooden blocks and the dreaded Peek-a-Blocks. It is fun to building with something that allows you to build at multiple angles. The lion piece allows you to build horizontally off of its ball shaped paws. No longer are we restricted to the vertical Duplo or wooden block towers. The snap together system means our creations do not come tumbling down from an accidental bump.
Our Duplo sets come with bricks with animal faces, but this set has blocks that are actually shaped like animals. My older daughter isn't left guessing from a vague face what the animal might be. In fact all of the shapes are interesting and give my younger daughter a lot to grip on to, unlike the smooth Duplo towers.
This is one of the few toys that the three of us can enjoy together. My older daughter and I race to build with the pieces before the younger one gets her hands on to destroy our work. There is some imaginative play for my older one. Not only is it a building set, but it is a play set as well. She is a fan of Dora the Explorer and she likes to do some make believe with the animals. The case also has a window on the front designed to look like a waterfall.
All of the pieces are smooth plastic with rounded corners. My older daughter loves her Tinker Toys but the sticks are a little too dangerous to include the younger one when we build with them. I am also happy to report that there is very little pain involved if you happen to step on them.
The pieces are all easy to clean. While taking them home from the hotel, our POP-ONZ were the victim of a luggage accident. I simple tossed them all in the kitchen sink for a quick soak and dried them off with a towel and they were as good as new. There are no stickers to worry about peeling off since all of the animal faces are molded and painted. And, unlike our Peek-a-Blocks water doesn't seep inside where it doesn't belong.
What We Don't Like
This set comes with only 10 building pieces and I am having trouble finding additional sets anywhere. Ten pieces is a nice start, but we run out of pieces quickly when we all play together.
Despite what Fisher Price may claim, I can't fit all of the building pieces into the carrying case. I have tried numerous times to find the proper way place the pieces in to get them all to fit, but I haven't had any luck yet. In fact all of the pieces don't come in the case when you open up the toy, they are in a plastic sleeve inside the box.
This isn't going to be one of the toys that gets years of use. Because the building system is simple it won't offer a lot of challenge to preschoolers. The recommended age is 18 months and up and that seems about right, although even younger children can enjoy the set with help. But I would guess that by about 3 years old the novelty of building with different shaped pieces will wear off in favor a more traditional building system.
This is a great introduction to building systems. There pieces are much easier to put together than Duplo blocks and the resulting structures are full of fun pieces and go off at all different angles. The faults with tis toy are minor and as far as I am concerned this Fisher Price toy is a keeper.
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