10 Best Building Toys of 2019

best overall rating
  • Comes with zipping storage bag
  • Not a stepping hazard
  • Large, interlocking pieces
premium choice rating
  • Movable parts
  • Step-by-step guide for 70 creations
  • 702 pieces
great value rating
  • Not a stepping hazard
  • Idea booklet
  • 500+ pieces

In a world of floors strewn with painful surprise LEGOs, you might want to look into some new building toys for your kids. There are many LEGO-like toys, and some of the best building toys similar to LEGOs cost way less! Kids building sets come with a huge variety of shapes and creative possibilities. While not all the building toys for kids featured on our list are totally painless to step on, many of them offer fun new takes on construction toys.

There are pieces with suction cups, rotating and extendable parts, and even ones that have plastic nuts and bolts. To find the best of the best, we’ve searched through reviews by parents who have watched their children put these toys to the test. We’ve also researched how safe these products are (looking into the small parts and whether or not they’re free of BPA or other dangerous toxins).

Want something more challenging? Try a Meccano set.

Below are the top ten building toys for toddlers and kids that even parents are crazy for. You’ll find information on the basic age range, safety, shapes of the pieces, and the number of pieces for each toy.

View the Best Building Toys, Below.

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1. Mega Bloks 80-Piece Big Building Bag

Mega Bloks 80-Piece Big Building Bag

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These 80 colorful kids blocks—storable in a large, PVC-free zipping bag—are some of the best building blocks for toddlers who have not mastered their fine motor skills.

Age Range

These large toddler construction toys are good blocks for kids between one and five years old.

Safety

The blocks are free of BPA and PVC. They are obviously large enough to pose no choking hazard. As for the safety of your feet, these are large enough that they’re not a stepping-on hazard.

Shapes

This is a toy like LEGO blocks when you consider how the blocks interlock from top to bottom. They have curved or angled sides, making them good building blocks for kids to make animal shapes. Just look at the ads for fun building block ideas!

Number of Pieces

There are 80 pieces, all of which are compatible with other Mega Bloks sets.

Why We Like It
  • Comes with zipping storage bag
  • Not a stepping hazard
  • Large, interlocking pieces
  • 80 pieces, compatible with other Mega Bloks sets
Recommended Age
1 years +
Dimensions
12 x 6 x 14 Inches
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2. K’NEX 70 Model Building Set

K’NEX 70 Model Building Set

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Toys like K’NEX make great kids builder sets for older kids. Their complex construction makes them ideal building toys for teens and adults.

Age Range

These kids building toys are for kids age seven and up. The small pieces would be difficult to snap together for small children.

Safety

K’NEX toys are BPA free. There are enough small pieces that they’re labeled a choking hazard for kids under the age of three. According to the manufacturer, the pieces are all made in America and are tested to quality and safety standards. And yet, these are toys like LEGOs that are painful to step on!

Shape

This set includes the “classic” pieces, made up of rods and connectors that snap together in interesting ways. With “wheels, rotors, wings, and tracks,” it’s simple to make parts of K’NEX creations move. There’s a booklet with 70 designs that each have easy-to-read instructions.

Number of Pieces

With 702 pieces, it’s very easy to build multiple projects at the same time. This makes the set ideal for multiple users. All the pieces can be stored in the treasure chest container that the pieces are packaged in.

Why We Like It
  • Movable parts
  • Step-by-step guide for 70 creations
  • 702 pieces
  • Treasure chest container
Recommended Age
7 years +
Dimensions
16 x 7.8 x 10.5 Inches
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3. VIAHART Brain Flakes 500 Piece Set

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VIAHART takes an unusual but effective turn with their Brain Flakes building set for kids. The pieces are flat and snowflake-like. But you’ll be surprised by how much can be created.

Age Range

These are building toys for five-year-olds and up. Many children under five would not have the fine motor skills to combine the flakes together.

Safety

The 1.3-inch discs are a choking hazard for kids under three. They are all free of BPA, lead, heavy metals, and phthalates. As an added safety bonus, they are totally painless to step on.

Shape

The colorful discs look like snowflakes or flower petals. With a little planning, the user can make very complicated shapes like trees and animals. There is also an idea booklet.

Number of Pieces

There are over 500 pieces in each jar of Brain Flakes, making it easy for kids to have multiple ongoing projects.

Why We Like It
  • Not a stepping hazard
  • Idea booklet
  • 500+ pieces
  • Stored in jar
Recommended Age
3 years +
Dimensions
5 x 5 x 8 Inches

4. PicassoTiles 60 Piece Set

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These magnetic, stained-glass-style panels can make beautiful 3D patterns.

Age Range

This building toy is recommended for kids age three and up, but please see our choking hazard warning below.

Safety

Many parents complained that the tiny magnets on the sides can break off (it is not clear if these parents received counterfeit products, but we’ll warn you anyway). Otherwise, the pieces are large enough that they wouldn’t fit in a child’s mouth. They are BPA-free.

Shape

The shapes include triangles and squares. They’re all flat and have magnets on the edges. They are ideal for creating buildings and come in translucent shades of red, orange, blue, green, and purple.

Number of Pieces

There are sixty pieces in each set. Obviously, more sets can be bought if you want to build bigger.

Why We Like It
  • Beautiful translucent design
  • Not a stepping hazard
  • Strong magnets
Recommended Age
3 years +
Dimensions
2.6 x 11 x 18.9 Inches

5. Melissa & Doug Wooden Building Blocks Set

Melissa & Doug Wooden Building Blocks Set

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The Melissa and Doug company is known for making some of the best baby blocks around. These wooden building toys for toddlers come in 9 colorful, stackable shapes.

Age Range

These kids building blocks are good for children ages three to eight.

Safety

Since all the pieces are a bit on the small side, very small kids should be supervised. These blocks have no “choking hazard” warning featured, but it never hurts to be safe. There’s no BPA in this product.

Shape

Like the Mega Bloks 80-Piece Big Building Bag, these wood toys are stackable shapes that do not interlock with each other, making them prone to falling down. There are rectangular prisms, cubes, cylinders, semi-circles, arches, and different sizes of triangles and planks. These shapes are pretty small. For example, the cubes are about 1 and 1/8 inches.

Number of Pieces

There are 100 blocks, though again, they’re not particularly big.

Why We Like It
  • 9 shapes
  • 100 blocks
Recommended Age
3 years +
Dimensions
9 x 3.5 x 13.5 Inches

6. Fat Brain Toys Squigz Starter Set

Fat Brain Toys Squigz Starter Set

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This is another interesting take on building sets. Their suction cup design makes them toys kids and adults love.

Age Range

The suction cups of Squigz make them great connecting toys for toddlers. They are made for kids three months old to fifteen years old, according to the manufacturer.

Safety

They’re silicone rubber, and there’s no BPA. They’re marked as a choking hazard for kids three and under. The smallest pieces, the orange ones, are the only pieces that could conceivably get stuck in a little kid’s mouth.

Shape

There are eight shapes. They are all little balls with flexible rods that extend out and end in little suction cups. They connect easily to one another and also stick to solid, non-porous surfaces. Kids will have to give a pull to get the suction cups to unstick, resulting in a nice popping sound.

Number of Pieces

This starter set has 24 pieces. The Deluxe sets have 50.

Why We Like It
  • Unique suction cup parts
  • Eight shapes
  • Flexible
  • Sticks to many surfaces
  • Fun popping noises
Recommended Age
3 years +
Dimensions
7.6 x 4.5 x 4.5 Inches

7. ToyVelt Dinosaur Toy Building Set

ToyVelt Dinosaur Toy Building Set

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These are building toys for boys and girls who love dinosaurs. It’s a set of six dinosaurs, all preassembled. They’re fun to take apart with the toy tools and then reassemble.

Age Range

Kids three and up will have a fun time with these dinosaur-themed construction toys.

Safety

The little plastic bolts in each of the dinosaurs are definitely a choking hazard for kids three and under. These toys do not contain BPA.

Shape

Of the six dinosaurs, there are 2 T-rexes, 2 ceratops, and 2 brontosauruses. Each of them has different colors to each of their parts. There are four screwdrivers and a lot of bolts to each dinosaur. The simple design makes these toys you can build again and again.

Number of Pieces

Each dinosaur has around a dozen pieces. These include the legs, body head, tail, and the spikes on their backs. All of these are put together with plastic bolts that are easy to undo with the screwdrivers.

Why We Like It
  • Great for dinosaur lovers
  • Fun to take apart and put together
  • Allows kids to work with (plastic) tools
Recommended Age
3 years +
Dimensions
13.5 x 11.7 x 6.6 Inches

8. Marble Genius Marble Run Set

Marble Genius Marble Run Set

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Think of Rube Goldberg machines, a little toned down in complexity but still fun. That’s what you get with the Marble Run Sets that allow kids to connect pieces to run a marble through.

Age Range

These are fun building toys for 4-year-olds and up.

Safety

We did NOT find any information from the manufacturer that said these sets are BPA-free, so take care. The marbles are a choking hazard for kids under three.

Shape

The shapes are colorful, translucent pieces that can be combined into lots of patterns to run several marbles through. There are eight bases to build off of. There’s also the Free Marble Genius Instruction App that has 9 building guides as well as challenges. This set is compatible with the 60-piece Starter Set, the 125-piece Extreme Set, the 20-piece Booster Set, and several Accessory Sets.

Number of Pieces

It comes with 85 pieces and 15 glass marbles.

Why We Like It
  • 85 colored, translucent pieces
  • 15 glass marbles
  • Instruction App with guides and challenges
  • Compatible with other Marble Genius sets
Recommended Age
3 years +
Dimensions
13.5 x 11.7 x 6.6 Inches

9. ETI Toys Engineering Building Set

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The very colorful ETI Toys Engineering Building Set comes with interesting shapes that can be bolted and screwed together easily. Like many builder kits for kids, this is a STEM toy that can help with spatial learning and other skills.

Age Range

These are good toys for kids age three and up.

Safety

The smallest parts are a choking hazard for kids under three. The parts are all washable. They’re lead, phthalate, and BPA-free (on their Amazon page, the seller warns of less safe counterfeits).

Shape

The shapes vary quite a bit. Similar to the ToyVelt Dinosaur Toy Building Play Set, the parts can be bolted together (and screwed together). Everything can be stored in a portable storage tub. This set also has an 80-page instruction eBook. There are 12 designs broken into three difficulty levels.

Number of Pieces

There are 101 large pieces.

Why We Like It
  • Washable parts
  • Bolts and screws
  • Portable storage tub
  • 80 pages of instructions (eBook)
Recommended Age
3 years +
Dimensions
10.4 x 7.1 x 4.2 Inches

10. ZOOB BuilderZ 125 Piece Kit

ZOOB BuilderZ 125 Piece Kit

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The Zoob BuilderZ set has pieces that lock together in interesting combinations. The pieces can be moved around in various ways (a lot like those moving, snap-together K’NEX pieces).

Age Range

This toy is for kids six and up.

Safety

It is NOT clear whether or not this toy is BPA-free! It’s also a choking hazard for kids under three years old.

Shape

ZOOB shapes include axels, gears, and joints. The snap together toys combine in 20 different ways. Kids can build toys that rotate, extend, and spin around. There are 5 instruction guides with 30+ designs. The ZOOB shapes are inspired by the nucleotides that are the basis for our DNA.

Number of Pieces

There are 125 pieces.

Why We Like It
  • 20 basic shape combinations
  • Rotatable, extendable, spinning parts
  • 30+ designs in instruction guides
Recommended Age
6 years +
Dimensions
12 x 2.8 x 12 Inches

Buyer’s Guide

Not all building sets for kids are created equal. Some are obviously meant for toddlers while others are for much older kids. Related to that, some sets simply aren’t safe for very young children who like to put things in their mouths. Those two are your most important concerns, but then you can consider the individual shapes and what they can create.

Last, there’s the number of pieces you’ll get. So below are our four factors: age range, safety, shapes, and number of pieces. We’ll go into detail on all of them to help you find the right toy for your child.

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Age Range

The first thing to look at, besides safety, would be age range. An eight-year-old will, in all likelihood, have no interest in simple building sets for toddlers that could otherwise thrill and challenge a smaller child. So consider your child before selecting a set. How old are they? Do they have the patience to put together hundreds of pieces according to a detailed instruction set?

You’ll also have to consider their fine-motor skills too. K’NEX are hard for very small children to snap together. On the other hand, the Squigz suction cup toys are easy to stick to almost anything. It just takes a little force to pull them apart from each other. Those stacking, non-interlocking blocks make great building for kids around three and under.

After all, little kids delight in knocking down their towers as much as they delight in building them. And again, their fine motor skills have to be considered. They probably don’t have the dexterity to take tiny pieces and press them together in a way that makes them stick. That’s why preschool building toys like Mega Bloks (basically giant LEGOs) will appeal to very young kids.

Construction toys for boys and girls like K’NEX, ZOOB Builderz, and even Squigz can be really fun for older kids, even adults. The advanced design capabilities of the first two are engaging enough for someone older. The last example, Squigz, are just plain fun with the pleasing popping sounds they make when you unstick them from things.

Safety

Once you’ve figured out what type of kid construction toy to buy, you can then find all the children’s building toys that are safe to use. Your main problem is that many construction toys for kids have very small pieces. As we all know, kids under three love to put things in their mouths, and these things can get swallowed or stuck. Even if you’re buying children’s building sets with small parts for an older kid, make sure they know to keep the pieces away from younger kids that may be in your home.

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Next, you’ll have to avoid harmful chemicals like BPA, PVCs, lead, heavy metals, and phthalates. Because BPA, found in many plastics since the 1960s, are still under review by the FDA, there are some toys that may contain trace elements of these. The only two toys that don’t say anything about being BPA-free are the ZOOB Builderz and the Marble Genius sets.  For the other eight toys listed, the manufacturers have said that they do not use BPA in their products.

However, if you’re ordering online, there’s a risk of receiving knock-off products made in foreign countries. These toys can be from places that don’t have federal regulations on harmful chemicals like BPA. Always inspect your packaging first. If the brand name or something else is misspelled, you have a counterfeit product that’s not durable or safe. Some brands, like ETI Toys with their Engineering Building Set, outline how to spot knock-offs right on their Amazon page.

This includes looking to see the exact size of the pieces (counterfeits have smaller pieces in this case). If you do find a counterfeit kids construction set, warn other buyers in your Amazon review! Informing them of this basic information will help them a lot.

Shapes

The shapes these various products take can be very telling. For example, they can tell you that a toddler won’t be able to connect a tiny K’NEX rod to another piece. Or they can tell you that they have too many small parts for a child under three. The shapes can tell you how complex a project could get. PicassoTiles are completely flat and connect via magnets on the edges.

This would make it difficult to build intricate designs. Kids can still have fun making buildings, but the tiles don’t really go beyond that possibility. The most exciting pieces are ones that can spin or extend. This is what happens with ZOOB BuilderZ toys. Likewise, K’NEX toys have moving parts.

Number of Pieces

This is pretty simple, but let’s talk about it for a minute. Some builder sets for kids have less than 100 pieces. Others have over 700 (like the K’NEX set). This is important when you consider that your young builder might want to make something very big. Or they might build more than one project at a time.

K’NEX sets obviously have the most pieces, and block toys for very small children have very few pieces. Brain Flakes come in jars of 500, and the PicassoTiles come with only 60 pieces per purchase.

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Conclusion

As you can see, you have many options when it comes to building sets for kids. There is a huge range in ages. From the simple Melissa and Doug blocks to the complexities of K’NEX sets, you’ll have to first assess what your child will be interested in. Then, individual shapes can form intricate designs. It helps if the set you buy has some sort of guide that teaches how to build these things step by step.

When a set has many diverse shapes (like K’NEX and ZOOB Builderz), that’s a good sign that there are very advanced designs to be built. On the same token, be sure that the set comes with a good number of pieces. There’s nothing more frustrating than having not quite enough pieces to finish a long project. This may cause a parent to have to buy an extra set!

So before that happens, check out how much you’re getting for your money first. Sometimes it’s a guessing game trying to figure out what your child will enjoy. We can only hope we’ve taken some of the guesswork out of your search for the best children’s toys. Happy building!

Expert Tip

BPA (bisphenol A) is a chemical found in plastics that can cause harm, according to the Mayo Clinic, to “the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children.” That’s why it’s especially important to avoid cheap counterfeit toys that may bypass government standards.

Did you Know

K’NEX toys were created about 25 years ago after inventor Joel Glickman was playing with straws at a wedding reception.