Dad Review- Real Construction Kit – Real Construction? Not Quite, but Fun Nonetheless

Project Complete

Deluxe Construction Workshop

By Jason Grooms

Dan here – This is part of our Real Dads (and Moms) Review The Top 16 Holiday Toys for 2010 series. We sent out the hot holiday toys to our members and in this series they are sharing their honest reviews before you waste any money on a flop! Want to get in on the fun next time – Join Us. Take it away, Jason…

Time to Play Magazine recently listed the top 16 most wanted toys of the upcoming 2010 holiday season.  To help you decide whether these are actually worth the no-holds-barred aisle fighting with other parents that occurs during the holidays, DadDoes asked some of us to review these toys and share our experiences.  There is no better test of whether a toy is worth taking that MMA-style elbow in the toy aisle than my five destructo-minions…er…kids.  I was excited to get #10 on the list, the Real Construction Kit by JAKKS Pacific.

What is the Real Construction Deluxe Workshop?

The Real Construction kit is meant to simulate working with real tools and real wood so kids can build a variety of different carpentry-style projects.  The general idea is that the “wood” is actually plastic foam board, so the tools can be plastic and the blades relatively dull.  It’s also not as messy as wood because when sawed it doesn’t create any saw dust.  The box even boldly proclaims “No Mess.”

Deluxe Workshop Unboxed

You Call Those Instructions???

When the package came in the mail I had to beat them back to keep them from tearing into it before I could get pictures.  I had the full deluxe set that comes with a saw, hammer, detail saw, hole bore, square, hinges, nails, screws, and wood.  I was really excited because my kids love doing crafts of any kind.  When we finally got it open they were all fighting over who got to hammer or saw first.

Deluxe Workshop

I held them at bay long enough to snap some basic pics and convinced them to work through one of the 8 pre-defined projects in the book before they just went all freestyle.  They all agreed on the pirate ship and we went to town.  After a few minutes of staring blankly at the one-page engineering-style schematic, I had to look at the age rating again.  Is this really rated for age 6+?  Do they really mean a 6th level engineer or 6+ years of carpentry experience?

Workshop Deluxe Instructions

There were no measurements or written steps – no indication of when to use screws versus nails, no patterns, no indication of where to cut the “wood”, or what the dimensions were.  As we clambered through, we came to realize that the “instructions” were about as helpful as the demo picture on the cover.  In addition, we all found that cutting and nailing anything in fine detail with the tools provided was next to impossible, especially on the pirate ship.

Pirate Ship

I’m quite sure that nailing a piece of round, blunt plastic into a soft piece of round, bouncy, plastic foam is considered psychological torture in most NATO countries.  As if to taunt us, the video on the toy’s website shows shows a kid whipping together half a dozen different projects with a hearty, “I can do that!”  Not hardly!  Those projects were created using professional modeling tools with real blades.

Going Freestyle

Even though the instructions were junk, we decided to just wing it and guess at the dimensions.  Now I’m sure there are probably some dads reading this right now who have some carpentry experience and are saying to themselves, “You can’t just wing it.”  You would be right.  Without measurement or dimensions, winging it led to lots of problems and as a result our end product looked nothing like the picture on the cover.  At several points the kids were getting frustrated and wanted to quit playing, but we pushed through and finally finished, so I took a picture and called it complete.  Overall I wouldn’t call it a complete fail on the instructions and “guided” projects, but pretty close.

Project Complete

When I stepped out and gave them the rest of the “wood” to just play with, they had a lot more fun.  In fact, they had a blast.  For the next 3 hours they cut, screwed, and constructed all manner of impossible vehicles and buildings. It also turns out that the wood takes marker color nicely and floats better than wood, so the S.S. WTF became a great bathtub battleship, and sans metal, there’s now worry about rust or sharp edges in the tub.  It was really nice not having to worry about coffee table scratches and dings as they cut and hammered away, even my 4-year-old got into the act.  It made for several hours worth of fight-free fun and the mess was pretty easy to clean up.

Conclusions on Real Construction Deluxe Workshop by Jakks Pacific

Even though it was a rough start, I’d have to say I highly recommend it. It’s a great concept overall even with a few fundamental flaws (sawing isn’t smooth or straight and nailing is next to impossible) and a little bit of false advertising (there’s no way the projects on the box were made with the toy tools it comes with) it turned out to be a lot of fun.  At a retail price of only $26 for the deluxe kit and plenty of refill packs available, it’ll most likely find it’s way under our Christmas tree this year.  We all gave it 4 out of 5 stars, just avoid the project instructions and use the screws instead of nails.

From their own mouths

5- and 7-year-old: “It was fun but hard.  I liked making my own stuff better.”

12-year-old:  “It was a little bit hard and the instructions weren’t helpful.  I did like the fact that nothing could hurt you and making our own stuff was much more fun.”

JasonJason Grooms is a spoiled husband and proud father of five incredible kids (3 girls and 2 boys). His secondary hobbies include trainer, writer, chef, and photographer. His travel/parenting website and adventure blog Dadquest.com serves as a guide-map for the journey that is parenthood, both literally and figuratively, by inspiring dads, moms, aunts, uncles, grandparents (or anyone with kids in their lives) to enjoy their daily adventure and live the moment. Jason loves getting new friends on Twitter at @dadquest, on Facebook on the Dadquest page, via e-mail at dadquest@gmail.com, or through his adventure blog, Dadquest.com


FULL DISCLOSURE: We were crazy enough to buy this toy with our own money! We sent the toy out for Mr. Grooms to review – he gets to keep the toy and hope that his 5 kids will not try to make a pirate ship out of him. We received no money for doing this review and receive nothing if you do decide to buy the toy. This is a real review, by a real Dad (and his kids)!

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