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Rokenbok – Review
I had a toy when I was younger that I loved. It had a dumptruck bulldozer, and it was on a gray track, and it would pick up these little black balls to simulate coal. It was one of my favorites, and I would always ask my parents to set up the track so I could play. And by play I mean more just watch the devices go about this work–you really had no control over them. The toy I’m reviewing here is, to my mind, the evolution of that toy from my childhood, whose name escapes me even though I played with it so many hours. Rokenbok, a Toy Company based in Solana Beach, California has stepped up to the plate and produced a toy that excels in quality and enjoyment. Yes, these toys may be a bit of an investment, but one that you will get many happy returns with.
After seeing Rokenbox at the Toy Fair, I was able to speak with the company, and we were given two different products to test, the Preschool Blocks and the ROK Works Construction & Action Set. Each one was perfectly geared to my boys with the Preschool set best for 3+ for my younger boy (4) and the ROK Works Construction & Action Set geared towards my older boy (6) at 6+. That is not to say that I didn’t have a blast with the ROK Works set myself; I probably made my boys a bit impatient as I guided the remote control Loader with the ROK Star Controller and then dumped them into the Motorized Conveyor. The box was opened, and Dad and Grandfather had a great time putting the Contruction and Action Set together for the kids. The way the pieces click together makes for a very solid structure. Click the wrong sections together, and you cannot get them apart (well, they have a little tool in the box for you just in case). After about 20 minutes we were all ready to give it a go; the big test would be how did the vehicles perform with spiffy ROK Star Controller? Rokenbok does a much better job at describing the ROK Star Controller than I could:
A single ROK Star Controller can control every machine in your fleet, and multiple controllers let the whole family play at the same time
Yes, that is correct, these controllers allow you to take control of different vehicles without ever putting down the controller. That is the beauty of this toy; the way you interact with Rokenbok is a dream. You can have multiple controllers, and they do not interfere with each other either. I found it quite easy to point the controller at a vehicle to take control, and my two boys did fine with that, as well. The controller has a solid feel to it–you can feel the quality of the rugged Rokenbok toys in both the vehicles and controllers. Controlling the vehicles was not frustrating at all for either one of the boys, which is always a plus. They really had a great time taking the loader and dumping the red and blue ROK balls into the Motorized Conveyor after scooping them up with the loader first. Yes, it takes a bit of practice to be proficient at this, but that is the fun of the toy. No worries when they fall off the table–they are pretty tough little machines. Well, at least we didn’t have any issues with the 2-foot spills from table to carpeted floor, which happened more than a few times.
The first night, I even snuck back after the boys went to bed to do a little more construction with the set. For all the Dads out there, this is a toy you will love just as much as your children. I already have a Power Sweeper and Monorail on the kids’ (Dad’s!) holiday list. They just do not make toys like this anymore, and I will tell you already, we will be retiring some of our other Christmas ideas so that we can purchase a nice large set of Rokenbok toys.
I sat down with my 4-year-old to put together the pre-school set. You can make the sets into multiple objects, but we decided on the airplane. He was able to put some of the pieces together and was also helpful in sorting out what we needed for the airplane. I considered it a nice father/son project. This airplane was pretty big, and he had a great time playing with it after. It would have been nice if the people fit in the “cockpit” a bit better, but we both had fun. The nice thing about this set is that you can also make other vehicles with the same set, which gives it replayability.
The way the two blocks fit together is nice: instead of the round raised pieces on other building products, there are pyramid-shaped cones on ROK Blocks that allow them to get guided together better by those little hands. You are also able to stack these blocks both horizontally and vertically, allowing you to create items in three dimensions a bit easier. These things are also real sturdy–the ROK Blocks have built a working wheelbarrow, per the website. I do like that they have this real solid feel and you do not have to worry too much about losing any of the small parts like you do with other building blocks. These are definitely toys you should be thinking about getting your children for the upcoming holidays. The ROK Works Construction & Action Set is one of my favorite toys I have seen in a long while. The quality is only surpassed by the level of detail and ease of controls. One of my favorite toys that I get to play with as my children are growing up!