review: Various Block Tech & My Blox Sets

dollar-review-cover

I recently looked over at my ever-growing pile of unopened and unbuilt sets and rounded up these items for today’s review. The common thread that runs through all of them is that they all can be found at retail for USD$1. The sets aren’t large enough to warrant writing a full-fledged review for each single one, but examining them in batches might be fun. Let’s find out!

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From left to right: Desert Storm Fire Blaster, Airport Sky Terminal Hydro Jet, Construction Crew Digger

The three sets pictured above were purchased from Dollar General. Even though I’ve been burned by Block Tech multiple, multiple times, I just can’t resist a USD$1 price tag. Let’s start with the positive…

… All the parts were there? The parts’ quality is what I’ve come to expect from my experience with Block Tech. Sadly, the same can be said of the sets’ design. Of the three sets, I would say the “Digger” comes off as being the most competently realized. That isn’t to say that it’s well built. I’m not sure why the aircraft is called the “Hydro Jet” as it appears to be some sort of ultralight helicopter or autogyro. Perhaps the most interesting thing to note about the Hydro Jet is the use of white goblets as the aircraft’s thrusters. One undocumented (and possibly unintended) feature of the Hydro Jet is the ability to adjust the position of the control sticks due to the fact that the vehicle is built upon hinged plates, and that gives minifigures better ability to reach the controls by swinging them to the sides.

Still, it feels like something is missing from these sets. Let’s have another look at one of the boxes.

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Note that the construction of the “Fire Blaster” differs from what’s shown in the instructions.

Putting aside the fact that I have no idea what sort of military ordinance the “Fire Blaster” is supposed to represent,  there’s clearly a minifigure shown on the box. Let’s zoom in on the lower right corner and enhance…

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Hmm.

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If there’s no figure included in the set, then what’s this guy doing even doing on the box? Did he photobomb the product photo? Otherwise, it seems like a really dishonest business practice. I suppose the point is ultimately moot since there’s no place for the minifigure to sit on the Fire Blaster even if Block Tech had any integrity and actually included one. Not true of the other two vehicles, though.


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Note how the firefighter is wearing its helmet backwards.

My Blox is a brand that I’ve seen at discount retailers like Family Dollar and Dollar General, but these particular sets were found at a local Dollar Tree store.

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All boxes contain one bag of parts and one folded instruction sheet.

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Amazingly, the mini-scale helicopter isn’t terrible. Both rotors do turn (as you might expect). The inclusion of the minifigure (semifigure?) is a bit puzzling since there’s no space for it to sit in the copter. Still, it’s to My Blox’s credit that they went that extra step to try and add a little more play ability to the set with the figure’s inclusion.

 

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The tank’s turret will rotate, but seating the figure prevents it from rotating.

The next three sets are essentially the same vehicle with cosmetic changes. The figures are identical to the ones found in the Block Tech Dinosaur Island set that I reviewed last year, but I’m not annoyed to find them in these sets as I was with the Block Tech set since these sets only cost a dollar and that set was considerably more expensive.

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The real standout of all these My Blox sets has to be this race car. The way it’s able to convey what it is with the small number of pieces is well done. The scale isn’t too cartoonish. The figure is decently scaled to the vehicle. Overall, it’s simple; but simple is a positive in this case.


falconman-vs-falconman
Left: Old Falconman
Right: New Falconman

Last but not least, we have these Block Tech minifigures that I recently found in the bargain area at the front of Target. Some readers of this blog may recall that I reviewed a similar product back in October, also purchased at Target. Block Tech has made a few notable changes to these figures since last year, however. For one, the  minifigures now have a stud fused to the top of their heads rather than using a hairpiece (or a 1×1 round circular plate, in Falconman’s case) to plug the gaping hole normally found in the old Block Tech heads.

smasher-vs-smasher
Left: Old Smasher
Right: New Smasher

Block Tech’s new head design also apparently necessitated the creation of a new hairpiece for the figures. Smasher’s new ‘do looks to be a casting of a Lego hairpiece.

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As you can see, not only can Lego figures now wear Block Tech hairpieces, Lego head accessories like hats can also be worn by Block Tech figures.

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For all the grief that I give Block Tech for their shoddy set design and shady marketing strategies, I must begrudgingly admit that the printing on their minifigures is always a welcome surprise. The shirt designs are really cute! However, the new angular torsos are perhaps not the best surface to showcase those designs. They’re much better suited for the flatter old torsos.

new-vs-old

Speaking of the older minifigures, here we have a comparison between the two body types. The increased detail in the facial features and the new hairstyle are very much welcome.

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… Just don’t expect to be able to swap heads between figures. The neck posts have different widths.


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Conclusion

Some of you may have already done the math and figured that everything in the photograph above comes to a grand total of USD$10. Then the follow-up question is, “Was it worth it?”

Collectively, no. You can buy sets immeasurably more pleasurable than what’s contained in that picture for the money. There were some sets like the ones from My Blox that tried to give the appearance of being a bargain by including a “figure.” Overall, the designs were the downfall for all the toys. One dollar will get you only so many bricks (even if they’re off-brand bricks). The only set that came close to being a “full” set was the My Blox Racer. All the rest seemed undercooked, half-baked.

Of course, you could argue that they’re not meant to be full-fledged building block sets. They’re just little impulse items that were produced to keep your little rugrats occupied during the family trip to the grandparents who live in the next town over. If that’s how you see them, then by all means buy one or two. Anything over that, you’re better off saving your cash.

 

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