So I think I have finally reached Toy Nirvana. I've found that elusive thing: the toy that really does tick all the boxes, and with any luck will keep both parents and children happy.
What I like in a toy is that it's got creative potential and stirs the imagination. But I don't like too much mess, and lots of bits that become crunchy underfoot and end up in that great big hoover bag in the sky.
Oh, and if it could encourage my son's reading skills, that would be just peachy. And if it's pretty sturdy and you can play with it in lots of diffierent ways, that would be fine and dandy too.
Can one toy really do all these things?
It seems that for once it can. And what makes this one different from the start is that you need to look for it on the book shelves, not the toy shop.
I'm talking about the new Brickmaster series of books published by DK. This product is really a hybrid toy and book combined.
It looks like a regular book, but when you open it, the left hand side is really a box full of Lego pieces. The right hand side of the book contains the instructions for making various models, with a short story wrapped around it. There are enough instructions to prod the imagination, but not so many as to stifle it.
There isn't a huge amount of text, so it's great for boys just getting to grips with reading. In a way it functions like the Where's Wally books, which are designed to entice reluctant readers with minimal words and lots of fun visuals.
When your boy has finished playing with this, the pieces can go back in the box, and the whole thing fits neatly back on a shelf. So no excuse for stray bits that lurk on the floor to damage mummy's bare feet in the morning. This Is Important.
Lego Brickmaster by DK is available in Castle and Pirate versions, each containing 140 bricks and two figures, which can be used to make up to 15 models. Widely available in shops now or online here. Priced around £16.99
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