To most people, the name "Mega Bloks" conjures up memories of big, chunky, brightly-colored building blocks in a clear plastic carrying bag - the types of toys meant for young children before they hone their motor skills enough to graduate to LEGO. The brand is thought by many to be second-tier, the "knock off" to the company that brought us LEGO Batman, LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Harry Potter - to name a few.
Admittedly, I felt the same way. I had grown up with two brothers and, between us, thousands of bricks of LEGOs. We spent hours building castles, construction sites, fortresses where my Barbies were captured by bandits (who eventually cut all their hair off, but that's another story) - but what still stands out to me is that we never had any LEGO vehicles. In fact, if there ever was a vehicle invovled in one of our elaborate stories, we brought in Hess trucks, helicopters, the Millenium Falcon or even my big pink Barbie RV.
So years later, when I found out that Hot Wheels had inked a major licensing deal with Mega Bloks, I assumed they would be the same chunky, brightly-colored toys that their name entails. They would be nothing more than a few big blocks with wheels and some stickers, and appeal only to those 3-years and under.
At the time, I was working as the Senior Global Hardlines Designer for Mattel's boys properties, focusing on developing the Hot Wheels brand in these growing categories. This meant that the Hot Wheels Mega Bloks line was mine to help ideate and bring to life. In preparation for our first meeting with the Mega Bloks team, I went out and purchased every construction toy set I could find, and spent over a week doing nothing but building each set.
When you work for a toy company, the "research" is a pretty sweet gig.
What I found surprised me. While LEGO sets are incredibly intricate, clever, and fun, the brand refuses to waiver from the iconic look of their bricks. Even the largest Star Wars sets are undeniably blocky.
Mega Bloks had developed a line in partnership with the Need for Speed franchise, and the sets are a true car lover's dream. They're proportionally accurate, complete with the perfect balance of visible blockiness and smooth plastic finishes to ensure the finished products reflect the cars they were designed after.
The one set I hadn't put together was the biggest build - the 630-piece 1:14 scale Porsche 911 GT3 RS, complete with detailed interior, adjustable seats and mini engine build. The set has been sitting in the box for months, and had made the journey from LA to NYC with me when I moved for Gawker back in October.
When the snow storm hit this weekend, I finally had the perfect opportunity to sit down and put this bad boy together.
It took most of the afternoon, but the end result is well worth it. The exterior is stunning, with a number of innovative details and finishes. The tail lights, for example, are designed with clear red lenses that snap on to textured, spray-off silver pieces, giving the effect of real tail lights. The head lights feature stacked gray 1-prong plastic pieces that you snap into clear, molded headlight lenses, giving them the appearance of having bulbs inside. The rubber tires feature tread design inspired by high-performance summer tires and even have molded brand and tire information on the side wall.
The rear features a detailed engine build, complete with hoses and a one-piece oil cap.
And you can put your extra bricks in the front trunk, which has plenty of space for spare parts.
The interior is also impressive - considering it's something you typically don't see much of. It features a turning steering wheel, adjustable bolster seats, moving shifter, detailed instrument panel and an emergency brake handle.
Overall, I'm truly impressed with the product that Mega Bloks has put out, and look forward to the upcoming Hot Wheels Mega Bloks line, which is making its debut at this week's New York Toy Fair.
So do yourself a favor and pick up one of these 1:14 scale sets, and spend the next snow storm making your own 911 GT3 RS. It's certainly more affordable than trying to pick up the real thing.