Sunday, June 7, 2015

I wish LEGO sets were more affordable

As parents, some of the happiness from raising kids is watching them grow up, and seeing the smile on their precious little faces while shopping for toys. My daughter adores playing with LEGO pieces, and I'm really happy about it because they are excellent learning tools. LEGO improves motor skills. It boosts problem solving capabilities. And above all, it develops creativity. But LEGO sets are not cheap, and retailers are taking advantage of the popularity of the brand by keeping prices as high as they can. The last time I checked on, the LEGO Bricks and More Creative Bucket cost $114, while the DUPLO Brick Set (144 pieces) cost $43.

   There were many material things I never received as a child because my parents couldn't afford them. One of them was LEGO. Sure, I had a few bricks, I even had two minifigs, but I never had the chance to build a replica of anything. I would often criticize my parents for not allowing me to have more because I did not understand how money works, and I had no idea that a huge LEGO set "costs too much."

My daughter likes to knock over whatever was built before.
   When LEGO opened its first official store in the Philippines last month, I got really excited because I thought I could get those colorful interlocking plastic bricks for less than the average prices at Toys R Us or Toy Kingdom. There were awesome designs inside the shop such as the 75051 Jedi Scout Fighter set, which requires 490 pieces to build. There was also a Build A Mini corner where you can create unique minifigures. But when I got to the Pick a Brick section, I was surprised to find out that 100 grams of assorted bricks cost P650 (about $15). I thought to myself, how am I supposed to build my daughter's LEGO playhouse?

A set of three minifigs costs P500 (about $11).
I'm planning to build her something like this, but bigger.
   Sure, there are cheaper (often half the price) LEGO clones out there like Mega Bloks and Kre-O, but they have poor quality. When I was nine years old, my ninong gave me a box of LEGO ripoffs. The pieces were very ill-fitting, and, about half way through the build, some bricks would pop off when I pressed a piece on.

   Last week I met this guy who used to be a LEGO collector, and he wanted to sell his old bricks. Toddlers hardly ever understand the concept of 'brand new' so I grabbed the opportunity and bought two large bins of used LEGO pieces for just P3,500 (about $78). They were dusty though, and I had to wash them twice.

   Few toys have caught the imagination of kids everywhere more than the LEGO, and, aside from time and attention, these colorful bricks are one of the most precious gifts you can give to your children. But if you are a parent on a tight budget, choose your toys wisely or buy second hand. Seeing the joy on our kids' faces is priceless, but supplying them with toys should not break the bank.

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