Saturday, February 19, 2011


Foxmind's Architecto is a challenge block set, a three-dimensional verson of Tangrams, similar to MindWare's Blik-Blok, subject of my previous post.

Compared to Blik Blok, Architecto, has fewer blocks, has fewer challenge designs, the blocks are plastic instead of wood, and it costs more.

So why do I overwhelmingly recommend Architecto? Because it is simply superior to Blik Blok, with fewer if any errors, much better production quality. Blik-Blok's copyright is a year later than Architecto's, so one suspects that Mindware simply decided to release a similar product that sounds and looks better on the shrink-wrapped box, insisting on undercutting the price no matter the effect on product quality. But maybe they simply had bad luck to be second and are doing the best they can as to quality

Architecto is great fun, the blocks have good feel and desity, and are very precisely sized and shaped - a very important factor for this kind of play.

In addition to Architecto, with it's emphasis on 3-D constructions, all of which are shown in perspective view, in the same series and using the same blocks, are three additional sets, also available as separate books:
  • Cliko,which shows the constructions in flat views from the side
  • Equilibrio, which provides balance challanges similar to Haba's Time Blocks, which some might prefer because it has very nice wood block pieces and provides game play elements - I have aquired mulitple used sets of Time Blocks just for the wooden blocks, for symmetrical bloc play/pattern play
  • Tangramino, which provides two-dimensional designs even more similar to Tangrams.
All of these Foxmind sets are available as books only or blocks+book - either way the cost adds up, but the long term value is there, and an extra set of blocks can be used for competitive (or simply simultaneous) play, or to make sure that a lost block doesn't spoil play.

Top quality product. Good Block Play.

Blik Blok

Many of the examples from the block sets which provide such things provide not just marketing examples or construction encouragement, but also provide some degree of challenge as the builder attempts to figure out how the construction actually goes together.

Sometimes that is inadvertent, but sometimes as with MindWare's Blik-Blok, the block building challenge is the actual purpose of the set. One is given an example. ala Tangrams, and told what pieces to use to build it. The solution is on the back of the card.

Unfortunately, concept doesn't live up to implementation in my Blik Blok set, but it is dated 2006, and maybe Mindware has corrected the plethora of errors in the cards, maybe Mindware has corrected the poor sizing and quality of the blocks.

Even if they have, I think I would prefer Foxmind's Architecto, the subject of my next post.

If you absolutely must have wood, instead of Architecto's high quality & extremely accurate plastic, you might want to choose Blik Blok. Otherwise, I only recommend it for those who want both and are willing to struggle past the problems.

One might note also that the cards aren't numbered. Numbers are useful in the classroom, and their absence stopped me from listing errata.

You do get more designs, and more different block shapes - though both of which may will convince you that more is not necessarily better, though they ARE interesting, in a way.

At its worst, Blik Blok is irritating.

But at its best, it is Good Block Play.

Monday, February 14, 2011


I like Valentines Day, so here is a small post with a Starter-Set/Heinzelmännchen design (original design by William Seppeler, in Anchor Stone Constructions) with a Valentines red background.

Happy Valentines Day. & Happy Block Play.