When I was young, there were two specific things I liked. The first was Pokémon, naturally. As a child of the 90s, it was simply inescapable. I wanted any piece of Pokémon merch I could find, no matter what it was. To this day, I’ll remember an obscure toy I had and think, “Wait, why did I own that?” You could have slapped Pikachu on a power sander and I would have begged my parents for it (actually, I’d still like that today).
My other obsession was with building things. Like a lot of kids, I loved toys like LEGOs that let me create something out of disparate bricks. It wasn’t just LEGO, though. I owned tons of K’Nex, a whole bunch of Puzz3D puzzles, and, of course, some Pokémon construction sets. The most complicated thing I ever built was a Lapras model that could kick its fins around. It was a rare intersection of two childhood delights.
That energy is back, thanks to Mattel’s new Mega Construx Pokémon sets. The new toy line celebrates the franchise’s 25th year anniversary with builds of Kanto’s finest. The sets range from tiny models of creatures like Squirtle to a jumbo 12" Pikachu. Each set comes with bags full of bricks and intricate instructions that read like IKEA instructions. Seeing these sets immediately transported me back to those days of assembling my little Lapras, so I had to see if I could reignite that same spark here.
I opted for a mid-sized challenge with the 4" Charizard figure. The 210-piece set came with tons of little orange and yellow bricks, plus a set of rubbery wings. I was off to the races, clicking bricks together before bed one night. After not much time at all, I had managed to put together the entire chest, which my cat gleefully knocked over at first chance.
That pleasant first session turned into an obsession the next day. As the workday started weighing down on me, I decided to take a quick break to get more building done. I completely lost track of time and within the hour I had put together most of the model. That’s where the childlike appeal of a toy like this came rushing back; it was an immediate de-stressor. There’s something so carefree about throwing some time to the side to sit in silence and click pieces together. The payoff of putting together a cool Pokémon is so pure and innocent.
How many times do we put things together as adults out of pure pleasure? People always call PC building “LEGOs for adults,” but it’s an extremely stressful process that involves hundreds of dollars of fragile tech. Don’t even get me started on furniture. I built an outdoor swing two years back and I hope I never have to break it down and reassemble it again. It’s nice to have a lovely swinging chair outside, but I would have bought it fully formed in a heartbeat if it meant saving me hours of annoyance.
After finishing my little Charizard pal, I felt incredibly relaxed. This very simple pleasure calmed my brain down during a stressful day, and I had a little trophy to display on my desk for the experience. Now, that building bug is back in me. I keep eyeing the 11" Eevee and thinking about how many more anxious days that could fill. The Mega Construx set is a perfect combination of childhood nostalgias rolled into one peaceful toy line. Toys like this may be aimed at children, but more adults should ignore the age label and give in to their long-dormant construction impulses. Maybe we could finally all chill out.