Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Product Review: K'Nex Ambulance Rescue Set

My boys have lots of construction sets. The Rhino has just turned 13 and he will still grab some blocks and make a tank, or a tower for his army guys to defend from a tank, or an airplane to blow up the tank that's attacking his army guys...you get the picture.

But--and I don't know why, exactly--we really never tried K'Nex building sets. I think that maybe I was a little intimidated when they were younger, seeing the huge creations that some K'Nex sets made. I remember one set, in particular, with a roller coaster, that I thought was astounding, and very cool, but which I also secretly thought must be incredibly difficult to build.

Here's what I didn't know: K'Nex, first of all, has building sets for all ages, not just those challenging super kits. And, more importantly, K'Nex were designed from the beginning to be easier to put together than the more expensive name-brand construction sets.

So K'Nex sent me a couple sets, and I chose the smaller and, I hoped, easier one, to test out: The Ambulance Rescue Set.And, wow, was it easy! I had the Rhino, home sick from school one day (don't even get me started on the sick days we've had this year), time me on my trusty stop-watch, while I unhurriedly built the models in the kit. Let me start by saying that one of my favorite features is that most K'Nex sets let you build more than one model, and that includes this set, which retails for only $4.99. You can build either an ambulance or a helicopter, and I was able to build each one (starting from scratch, after having separated all the parts again and NOT cheating at all), in less than seven minutes.

The parts snap together easily, and they stay together. They don't, for instance, break apart in the middle while you are trying to snap on that top or bottom last piece, which I have had happen with other sets a lot. And the models are really cute when they're done!

We switched places, and the Rhino took his turn. He slipped up on one step, but still he was able to easily follow the directions, which are set out in colorful picture style, so your child doesn't have to be old enough to read (the Ambulance Rescue Set is intended for ages 5+). The Rhino finished the helicopter in around 9 minutes, which had him beaming, because he loves helicopters, and I couldn't even get him to take it apart and try the ambulance, because he wanted to play with the helicopter.

So he ran and brought some bricks from his other construction toys and made up a similar model out of them--and then he "crash tested" it against the K'Nex helicopter.

That's right, he "flew" them (basically threw them up in the air) and let them crash (BAM! Into the floor) to see how they did "under crash conditions". And you know, I didn't stop him, because that's how real kids play with their toys.

And K'Nex ruled the day! They, as the Rhino said, "Utterly Pwned." These creations really do stay together much better than their competition. Occasionally, a rotor would come off of the helicopter after multiple crashes, but the competition simply couldn't hold up at all under those conditions. It invariably broke up into a big crashed pile o' bricks every time.

My Take: K'Nex are easy to put together; we found them better than other construction sets for ease of connection. They are also very affordably priced, with the Ambulance Rescue Center running just $4.99. I liked that you could make either an ambulance or a helicopter with just the one set. Directions were easy to follow. A+!

The Rhino's Take (Kid's Point-of-View): The K'Nex Ambulance Rescue Center really held up to a lot of abuse! The helicopter didn't fall apart while I was trying to snap it together, and it didn't fall apart when I crashed it. I'm looking forward to making the ambulance, but I'm still enjoying the helicopter. A+!

We loved K'Nex so much, we're going to give some away! K'Nex has provided us with the coolest of the cool, the Dueling Racers 136-piece building set, complete with two motors! This fantastic kit lets your child build two model race cars at once and then pit them against each other. And you could WIN it! Stay tuned to Cool Moms Rule! for details on this upcoming giveaway.

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