Back in the days of my youth, I collected and played with Micro Machines. They are some of the few toys (aside from my Lego collection) that I retained into adulthood. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, Micro Machines are miniaturized versions of popular vehicles about as big as your thumbnail, much smaller than Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars which are scale models about as big as your thumb.
But I’m not here to talk about Micro Machines. I’m going to talk about Nanoblocks. I was just setting up the comparison to say that Nanoblocks are to Micro Machines what Nanoblocks are to Lego.
Super teeny tiny.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago my dad called me up to ask for my opinion. He runs a hobby shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan and he was curious whether he should stock Nanoblocks or not. So he handed me this set and asked me to put it together.
On a side note, ever since seeing the film “Big” with Tom Hanks, I have harbored a dream of being a toy tester. I jumped at the opportunity. (Not literally; I’m not an attractive jumper.)
Here are my thoughts:
In comparing it to Lego sets of comparable box size and price, Nanoblock sets have about 10 times more pieces. That is both a blessing and a curse. It is awesome because the more pieces you have, the more options for customization you have. So once you’ve built the set once, you can take it apart and build a bunch of other stuff from your imagination from the same set of pieces.
The downside is that if you drop a piece, you may not find it. Never attempt to build a set on a thick carpet. You might as well just open the package and dump the little pieces into your vacuum cleaner.
The sets take a bit more desk space while building, but less when the set is finished. When you set out to build, it is a good idea to clear about two square feet for sorting little pieces. When you open the box, the pieces are contained within several bags. Sadly, the bags are not split in a logical way between steps or sections (e.g. the space shuttle, the booster rockets, the launch pad), so you end up opening all of the bags and then you have to keep track of 500 little pieces.
They take time to assemble, especially if you have fat, sausage fingers like me. To give you an idea of how long it can take to build one of these sets, I spent about an hour or so in building the shuttle, tank, and booster rockets over the course of three lunch hours. I haven’t even started on the launch pad yet. People with more nimble fingers than mine would probably have an easier time of it, however. If you aren’t able to finish a set in one sitting, be sure to invest in a resealable bag to store the pieces.
The instructions are less of a step-by-step guide and more of an exploded view of the different layers of each model part. This took me a while to figure out because I am used to the Lego instruction books that dedicate a page each to adding one or two pieces at a time. The Nanoblock instructions take up less room, and though it was an adjustment, it didn’t take long to figure out.
They make good desk art. Where Lego sets are primarily aimed at a younger audience (I recognize that in spite of my love for them, I am not their target), Nanoblocks seem to be aiming at an older crowd. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that most of these sets will end up on some professional’s desk instead of in a youngster’s toy box, that is, if they don’t end up in the vacuum cleaner first.
The overall score:
On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is stepping a Lego and 10 is completing the coolest Lego set ever, I’d rate the Nanoblock experience as a 7. It was a challenge and rewarding to build. I’m happy to have the completed set on my desk. And if I ever want to break down my set, I know that I could build a number of other things with the 500+ pieces (instead of limited number of things that you can build from a single Lego set).