best toys like legos

For decades, children have played with and loved Lego toys. My children and I have enjoyed creative building with the best LEGO sets over the years.

But not everyone appreciates the plastic and packaging involved. Others find it simply costs too much to buy LEGO-brand bricks.

With that in mind, what are the best Lego alternatives, and what should you know before buying one?

What To Look For In Great Toys Like LEGOs?

Lego is one of those kids’ toys that has stood the test of time. However, many parents don’t realize how many equally interesting, and inspirational Lego alternatives are available. They range from toys like Mega Bloks for toddlers to the Lego-compatible Mega Construx and further afield to things like transformers and K’Nex.

But not all alternatives to Lego will suit every kid, and they aren’t all made equally. So, what should you look for in an alternative to Lego?

When considering Lego alternatives, the first thing you have to think about is what they’re made of. Lego is plastic, as are many of its alternatives.

However, some alternatives are made of natural wood – while others are even constructed of soft fabric. Depending on the age of your kids, different materials may be more or less suitable. Fabric-type blocks are ideal for toddlers, while wooden, log-type alternatives are perfect for households trying to minimize how much plastic they accumulate.

Fun as playing with Lego is, it isn’t suitable for all ages. Younger children do better with Duplo or an alternative. Some excellent toddler-friendly building blocks feature soft textures and reduce the chance of choking.

These days age-appropriateness of a toy is visible on the front of the box. So look for and pay attention to the age recommendations companies give.

In addition to the size of the pieces, materials are essential. But safety is also about what a product is made of. If you choose a plastic alternative to Lego, you want to ensure it’s BPA-approved.

The high cost of LEGO is a primary reason why many parents seek out LEGO alternatives. Lego, especially when themed, can feel extortionately expensive. So, as you look at Lego alternatives, watch for more affordable options.

They won’t break the bank, and they offer as much entertainment as Lego, assuming you pick a set that’s well-made and intuitive.

Lego isn’t exclusively fun because of the colorful pieces, but it’s certainly a contributing factor. The eye-catching colors are partly why Lego grabs kids’ attention the way it does.

When looking for alternatives to Lego blocks, keep your eyes peeled for similarly colorful sets. If nothing else, young children may find it easier mixing and matching multi-colored blocks than more uniformly colored ones.

Something else to consider is how the pieces click into place. While some Lego alternatives, like Mega Construx, are Lego-compatible, that isn’t always true.

Other options might use magnets or, like K’NEX, be held in place by rods and cones.

The other reason to pay attention to how pieces combine is that they may pose additional choking risks. That’s always a danger when browsing toys with small pieces. Still, if your Lego alternatives fall apart, you may find yourself dealing with more or smaller pieces than expected.

That’s especially true if the sticking mechanism is something like a magnet that, if overlooked, could quickly find its way into a small mouth.

It’s not a deal-breaker, but one thing we always look for with Lego alternatives is whether or not the alternative building blocks are Lego-compatible.

In our house, all the construction-kit jumble gets thrown in the same bin, and it can be frustrating to pull out a piece and find it doesn’t click into place the way you want it to.

Luckily, most alternative Lego options put this information on their product packaging. Many children will get frustrated when faced with this situation. In that case, it’s worth paying attention to whether the Lego alternatives you consider buying can be used interchangeably with Lego. It’s just a question of knowing where to look.


The Best Toys Like LEGOs Compared

Lincoln Logs – 100th Anniversary Tin-111 Pieces-Real Wood Logs
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Bristle Blocks
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Meccano Super Construction 25-in-1 Building Set
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Magna-Tiles 32-Piece Clear Colors Set
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Mega Bloks First Builders Big Building Bag with Big Building Blocks
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COBI Smithsonian Apollo 11
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K’NEX – 35 Model Building Set – 480 Pieces
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Sluban Firefighting Series Blocks Boat Bricks Toy (429Piece), Fireboat + Oilcan
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KREO Transformers Battle Changer Dinobot Grimlock 82 pcs
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The Best Lego Alternative Toys Reviewed

Best Overall LEGO Alternative: Lincoln Logs – 100th Anniversary Tin-111 Pieces-Real Wood Logs

When it comes to finding the best LEGO alternatives, it’s hard to beat Lincoln Logs. They foster the same problem-solving and critical thinking skills as LEGO but are made from natural wood.

The wooden blocks interlock to form log cabins that range from the original Uncle Tom’s Cabin to elaborate farmhouses.

We love Lincoln Logs because, in an age of increasingly thematic Lego kits, these logs continue to hold a space for imaginative play. You can design prescriptive sets using the instructions that come with the wooden blocks or build your own masterpiece.

Best Toy Like LEGOs For Toddlers: Bristle Blocks

Bristle Bloks is an excellent option if you need Lego alternatives for younger kids.

They are softer than traditional Lego bricks, but they still interlock easily. Since they are larger and blockier than the conventional Lego bricks, they are perfect for young kids whose fine motor skills haven’t fully developed.

In addition to minimizing youthful frustration, they are easy to wash, a crucial design feature when entertaining toddlers.

Customers warn they are more painful to step on than Lego ever was but agree it’s a small price to pay to keep your child engaged in imaginative play. 

A more significant issue is that while the blocks work well, they are a budget alternative to Lego. Sometimes, that’s apparent in the product packaging. They don’t come with a reusable storage container, which can make clean-up more involved than it could be.

But Bristle Blocks are available for an affordable price. While older kids may lose interest, they’re a fantastic Lego alternative for younger kids.

Best Engineering Focused LEGO Alternative: Meccano Super Construction 25-in-1 Building Set

Another of the best Lego alternatives is Meccano. Like Lincoln Logs, Meccano sets have a long history as a popular toy.

These high-quality playthings help children develop problem-solving skills as a STEAM toy while simultaneously instilling an interest in the sciences.

A significant part of Meccano’s success is that it allows children to build working vehicles. That makes it one of the better Lego knockoffs for kids who enjoy building:

  • Lego airplanes
  • Lego train sets

For the Meccano vehicles to work, many building sets include tiny pieces. These can be a choking hazard, so Meccano toys are better suited to older kids, who know not to try eating them.

Picasso Tiles Magnetic Tiles Building Toys

Picasso Tiles are another great alternative to the Lego brand bricks. These colorful blocks are a fantastic way to improve children’s developing math skills and geometry.

Fitting the blocks together also helps build your child’s creativity and hand-eye coordination.

The tiles are magnetic, so they stick together quickly, making them ideally suited for little kids.

The other reason we appreciate this Lego substitute is its affordable price. Picasso Tiles come in affordable kits when compared to some Lego-style toys, even on a tight budget. They also stand up to hours of play.

And, unlike themed kits, like Star Wars Lego, these tiles lend themselves to all kinds of innovative shapes and designs. The variations are limitless -from tracks for race cars or hot wheels to free-standing structures.

Great For Spatial Development: Magna-Tiles 32-Piece Clear Colors Set

Magna Tiles share many of the characteristics of Picasso Tiles. These Lego alternatives differ since they have magnets to hold the tiles together.

A few considerations include the size of the pieces, which can pose a choking hazard for young children. 

Also, since nothing is indestructible, customers recommend inspecting the tiles routinely to ensure the magnets haven’t fallen off to ensure small kids don’t swallow them.

Otherwise, the pieces are a good size, sturdy and well-made, and affordable. The flexibility of the parts makes a fantastic way to hold a child’s interest while simultaneously inspiring imagination and honing problem-solving skills. 

Best Toddler Building Toy: Mega Bloks First Builders Big Building Bag with Big Building Blocks

Mega Blocks might be the answer if you need a toy set for extremely young children. They are less like Lego clones, and more of a Duplo set alternative.

There are many benefits to Mega Bloks, one of these being that they come with a reusable storage tub for easy clean-up later.

Since the brand resembles Duplo, another significant feature is that the pieces are an appropriate size for young toddlers.

The size makes the blocks easy for toddlers to manipulate as they work on fine motor skills. Keep in mind that since the pieces are bigger than Lego blocks, they may not interest older kids. However, they are excellent construction toys that parents agree keep young kids busy for hours.

Great LEGO Block Compatibility: COBI Smithsonian Apollo 11

If you’re looking for Lego alternatives that are comfortable with Lego blocks, the COBI Smithsonian Apollo 11 is a fantastic choice of building toy.

While many of the building toys discussed here prioritize science and problem solving, COMBI’s Apollo 11 model is unique compared to others on the list. This set offers kids an accessible history lesson. 

Many themed building sets are out there, often with a Star Trek or Star Wars theme. But COMBI uses its building blocks to get younger kids into history that they might not typically experience.

The pieces are good quality and compatible with other brands, like Lego, so it’s always possible to disassemble the spaceship and build something original.

However, if you need budget Lego alternatives, COMBI isn’t one of them. You can buy multiple building sets of equally good quality from other brands for the same price. 

Solid Building Choice: K’NEX – 35 Model Building Set – 480 Pieces

K’NEX is another tried and tested Lego alternative for kids on the market. They are a fantastic construction toy suitable for kids ages seven and up. Since a standard building set is full of small pieces, they aren’t toddler-friendly.

K’NEX is an excellent construction toy that encourages creative play and motor skills. They can also help hone:

  • Fine motor skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Hand-eye coordination

As building toys go, K’NEX sets offer an incredible range of flexibility and imaginative play opportunities. However, besides a few easily swallowed pieces, the other significant drawback is disassembling your creations.

It’s doable, but pulling the pieces apart can be tricky, especially with newer building sets. While they generate hours of entertainment for kids, users also report that the deconstruction process hurts their hands. 

Great For Water Fun: Sluban Firefighting Series Blocks Boat Bricks Toy (429Piece), Fireboat + Oilcan

The Sluban Firefighting series is another building block toy compatible with the original Lego brand.

It integrates well with Lego buildings and allows children to swap pieces or substitute them with Lego if necessary.

This set is not ideal for young children because some pieces are small and could pose a choking risk. However, it’s excellent for kids that thrive on themed construction kits.

Each of the licensed sets includes:

  • Detailed instruction manual 
  • Lego-type figures
  • Building block packets

If your child isn’t keen on Firefighting, Sluban offers various other sets, ranging from a race car to an airplane. The variety of themed sets will inspire hours of fun in nascent builders.

Whereas COMBI’s themed Apollo was one of the more expensive Lego alternatives on this list, Sluban is a more affordable alternative.

Finally, the Fireboat floats on the water, ensuring even more hours of entertainment and engagement for young children.

KREO Transformers Battle Changer Dinobot Grimlock 82 pcs

Transformers are one of the more creative Lego alternatives for kids. Rather than architecturally-inspired kits or classic building blocks, Transformers assemble into shape-shifting robot-type figures that guarantee hours of fun.

They are an excellent gift for kids from parents looking for something different from the usual Lego clones on offer. There are four Transformer options in this vein, and each of them shifts from robot to vehicle with a bit of clever building blockwork.

Transformers are suitable for children six and older. It’s worth remembering that this isn’t entirely because of the typical choking risk smaller pieces present. It’s also because the ability to transform the assembled robot needs a certain amount of dexterity lacking in younger children.

Lego Alternative FAQs

So, those are some of the best Lego alternatives available. But what else should you know before choosing the one right for your family? Here are other questions parents frequently ask when trying to settle on Lego alternatives for their kids.

Why do people seek out cheap LEGO alternatives?

Why do people seek out Lego alternatives if Lego bricks are so much fun? One of the primary reasons is affordability. Lego becomes expensive quickly, which can be challenging if you need to do your Christmas or birthday shopping on a budget.

The other reason you might buy Lego alternatives is that increasingly Lego sets have become prescriptive. It’s still possible to buy a box of Lego pieces, but they’re harder to find than they used to be. You’re more likely to find themed sets, like Harry Potter or Star Trek Lego.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes building blocks with a less overt purpose inspires more creativity in kids.

What makes LEGO sets so great?

Lego’s signature building blocks have been a staple of childhood for years, and with good reason. They’re a fantastic source of creative play, fine motor skill development, and hand-eye coordination.

But they aren’t the only toy available that offers kids the chance to construct their own of someone else’s design. That makes it natural to look for Lego alternatives your child will enjoy, whether they build their model once or deconstruct and reconstruct it for hours of extra fun.

What are the downsides of budget LEGO alternatives?

Since Lego can quickly become pricey, it’s understandable that parents look for alternatives less likely to gouge holes in their Christmas budget.

While there are many excellent alternatives to choose from, not all of them are created equal to Lego. As you look for suitable Lego alternatives, pay special attention to reviewers who discuss the product quality.

In addition to the fun it engenders, Lego partly survives because of its excellent craftsmanship. The pieces might be infamously hard to prise apart, but they last for years. Some of the Lego-equivalent building blocks can’t make the same claim.

You should also pay attention to what holds those building blocks together. It’s a non-issue when they’re plastic or natural wood. Still, some of these Lego alternatives feature magnets, and if those come off, the last thing you need is a child swallowing them.

Another drawback with some of these Lego alternatives is that they lack Lego’s expansive range of kits. That may be an advantage for some, especially if all you need is a set of building blocks that allows your child to experiment with building towers and models.

It can be more problematic if your kids have their hearts set on something specific or themed.

All the alternatives discussed here are intuitive and should inspire hours of enjoyment. This holds true even if they don’t have Lego’s longevity or the same variety of building kit selection.

Conclusion 

There are all kinds of Lego alternatives to choose from. Our favorite is Lincoln Logs. We appreciate that it includes a storage tin to help with tidy-up, and we love the natural wood these toys are made of.

We also appreciate that while there are some gendered log sets, Lincoln Logs is one of the more neutral toys you see in stores. Anyone can have fun building a cabin, farmhouse, or town hall. That makes them particularly special.

However, they aren’t the only excellent Lego alternative. Bristle Bloks are our second favorite. They’re a toddler-friendly way to introduce children to imaginative play and hone their creative and motor skills.

Whatever you choose, the important thing is finding a Lego equivalent that brings hours of enjoyment and creativity to your kids. If it keeps them occupied for several hours, that’s a bonus, but the most important thing is that they have fun.

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