Best Erector Sets for Kids of 2020

Updated
Let your children build to their heart’s content with erector sets.

Did you know erector sets have a wide variety of social and educational benefits for kids? That’s not all erector sets can do, though. Playing with them can help a child explore their creativity and learn valuable skills for life.

Your child will get a lot more than fun playtime out of the best erector sets for kids.


What Are Erector Sets?

Erector Set was a brand name for a toy first sold in 1913 (1). However, over the years, erector set has come to mean any toy with reusable pieces such as strips with regularly spaced holes, connecting parts, cogs, gears, pulleys, and tools.

These sets are designed for children to build specific models or create their own. Sets range from basic to complex with hundreds of pieces, motors, or even robotic modules.

Benefits of Erector Sets for Kids

Erector sets have many general and STEM-specific benefits for children (2).

Development of Fine Motor Skills

Putting pieces together, either by hand or with a tool, requires a degree of physical dexterity. Erector sets for younger children have more substantial parts to make this easier, while sets for older children can have tiny pieces that require a very steady hand.

Boosting Math, Science, and Engineering Skills

By playing with an erector set, your child is, without realizing it, learning about shapes, balance, physics, and engineering.

The creation of models requires an understanding of shapes, sizes, area, geometry, patterns, balance, strength, and more. Playing with an erector set allows children, especially those who learn more effectively through a hand-on approach, to absorb these lessons while playing.

Developing and Reinforcing Problem-Solving Skills

An erector set provides the opportunity for your child to come up against a problem, consider appropriate alternatives, and develop a trial and error approach to problem-solving. It is also an excellent way to build up resilience and learn to stick with a project without giving up until a problem is solved.

Types of Erector Sets for Kids

Erector sets for kids come in a variety of materials and sizes. Some are general use sets without instructions for a specific model. Others have a focus, such as vehicles, but these model-centric sets can also be used for free play and the creation of your own models.

Motorized

Erector by Meccano Super Construction 25-In-1 Motorized Building Set, Steam...
Shop This Product

Some erector sets come with an electric motor that can be connected to the model, usually as an intrinsic part of the build. These sets provide children with the opportunity to create models that move independently. That can add an element of excitement to a build.


Cranes

K'NEX Control Crane Building Set - 679 Parts - Working Motorized Crane - Ages 9...
Shop This Product

Erector sets that have instructions and pieces to build a crane are popular. This popularity is partially because cranes are relatively easy to build from multiple long, straight sections. They also have the advantage of being an item you can play with when you’re finished building.


Ferris Wheel

K’NEX Imagine – Power and Play Motorized Building Set – 529 Pieces –...
Shop This Product

Ferris wheel sets are popular because they lend themselves well to being built from multiple straight pieces. These sets are also usually more appealing to children who want a model that moves but are less interested in the construction site focus of a crane.


Robots

Erector by Meccano Meccanoid XL 2.0 Robot-Building Kit, STEM Education Toy for...
Shop This Product

The newest style of erector sets have robotics modules.

These sets range from the simple style that allows children to build a model that looks like a robot and move up to complex sets, which would enable children to program their robot toy to carry out specific actions. Like motorized sets, this added component can get kids excited about building.


Super Construction Sets

Meccano Erector Super Construction 25-in-1 Building Set, 638 Parts, for Ages...
Shop This Product

Super construction sets are so-called because they offer a massive range of building possibilities to the children who are lucky enough to have them. These sets have several hundreds of pieces and instructions for multiple models.


How to Choose the Best Erector Sets for Kids

With such a vast range of possibilities, how do you choose the best kids’ erector set?

Child’s Age

First, consider the age of the child for whom you are buying the set. Some sets, designed for older children, have tiny nuts and bolts which pose a choking hazard for smaller children.

It is also important to consider the ages of other children in the home, and whether older kids can keep the pieces out of the way of younger children.

Material

The majority of erector sets for younger kids are made from plastic, while those for older children tend to be made from metal.

Children are curious by nature and tend to put things in their mouths, ears, electrical outlets, and other places they shouldn’t. That means plastic sets are more appropriate for younger children as they are less likely to cause harm, especially around electrical outlets or electronic devices.

Buying from a reputable manufacturer or, if you are unsure about the toymaker, a trustworthy seller, will also minimize the possibility of a set having parts that pose a toxicity hazard.

Budget

The most expensive item is not always the best for your child, so don’t worry if you cannot spend a lot of money on a large erector set.

Instead of worrying about spending as much as you can on an erector set, decide how much you can comfortably spend and consider which of the sets in your price range would be the most beneficial for your child.

Number Of Pieces

Do not automatically assume that more pieces equal a better erector set. Some children may be intimidated by a set with hundreds of parts and will be better off at first with a smaller, model-focused set.

Also, be sure to check out the ratio of connectors to building stips. An uneven balance between the two can result in a set with dozens of pieces that regularly go unused.

Extra Features

Basic sets tend to be most appropriate for younger children, those who are new to erector sets, or children who do not already embrace science, technology, engineering, and/or math (STEM).

However, if you know your child will enjoy such a set, consider those which include motors. These erector sets for kids provide an additional level of enjoyment and exercise an extra set of skills. If need be, help them as they build providing guidance if you’ve purchased a more difficult set.

Your child might also appreciate a set that has robotics as its focus. Many of these sets require your child to either learn or possess some basic programming knowledge.

Some robotics sets have elements that can be accessed through a downloadable app. Be sure to look at whether the set maker and app producer are trustworthy. Also, ask yourself if you will be comfortable having your child download and use a required application.

Keep an eye out for sets with sturdy storage boxes or cases — those are always welcomed when you’re a parent.


The Best Kids Erector Sets of 2020

Bearing in mind all of these considerations, we have put together a list of what we deem to be the ten best erector sets for kids.

1. Schylling Steel Works 5 Model Construction Kit

Best Metal Erector Set for Kids

Schylling Steel Works 5 Model Construction Building Kit
Check Price

Schylling is a U.S. company located in Massachusetts, and they have been making toys for over 40 years.

This five-model construction kit has over 200 all-steel pieces and the instructions to build five specific models. Also in the kit are three styles of wheels and all of the tools you require for model construction.

It is a mid-range, low-price kit that is an excellent introduction to erector sets for beginners.

Schylling has an extensive line of Steel Works kits, all of which can be used together. If you find your child does enjoy playing with this set, you can buy other kits to expand their collection, and this one will still be useful.

PROS:
  • Instructions for five models provide a variety of ways to build while learning how to build.
  • Your child can play with the completed models rather than just having a static creation.
  • Play can be expanded with other kits.
CONS:
  • Vehicle-centric models may not appeal to all children.

Additional Specs

Recommended age range8 years and older
MaterialSteel
Number of pieces200 plus, but the exact number is not specified
Instructions for specific modelsFive models
Extra featuresCan be used with other sets

2. Brickyard Building Blocks Erector Set

Best Plastic Erector Set for Kids

101 Piece STEM Toys Kit, Educational Construction Engineering Building Blocks...
Check Price

Brickyard makes a line of erector sets, and we are big fans of the 101-piece STEM set.

The pieces are made from lead-free, phthalate-free, cadmium-free plastic, and the parts can be washed in soapy water to keep them germ-free. There are no sharp edges or pointy corners for children to hurt themselves on, and the set can be used by children as young as 3 years old.

Instructions are included for 42 models, some of which are easy enough for a preschooler. The models gradually increase in difficulty to ones that are rated for 10-year-olds.

This makes it ideal for children to enjoy as they grow and for families where there are children of a wide range of ages.

PROS:
  • Six wheels are included in the set.
  • It includes four building tools.
  • Plenty of pieces for freestyle, imaginative play.
CONS:
  • Not all of the 42 models in the booklet can be made with this 101-piece set. To be able to make them all, you must buy the 163-piece set instead.

Additional Specs

Recommended age range3 years and older
MaterialPlastic
Number of pieces101
Instructions for specific modelsA 42-model booklet, although you’ll need the 163-piece set to build them all
Extra featuresIncludes storage box

3. Erector by Meccano Motorized Building Set

Best Motorized Erector Set for Kids

Erector by Meccano Super Construction 25-In-1 Motorized Building Set, Steam...
Check Price

Meccano takes the standard erector set experience up a notch, with the inclusion of a 6-volt electrical motor. This allows your child to make models with working parts or their own motorized vehicles.

Use the instructions in this set to build a working crane with a rotating body and an extending hook. You can use the pieces to make your own motorized creations.

This is one of the more substantial sets, with 643 pieces. It includes three tools, and everything fits neatly into a sturdy plastic carrying case.

Where this set loses point is in the suggestion on the packaging that there are instructions for 25 models. There are detailed instructions for only 11 models and then ideas for a further 14 models but no instructions for them.

PROS:
  • The carrying case makes this easy to store or take with you.
  • Instructions are not written — diagrams are used instead, which may be easier for kids.
  • The motor provides additional learning opportunities.
CONS:
  • It’s difficult for beginners to work out how to build the suggested models without proper instructions.

Additional Specs

Recommended age range8 years and older
MaterialMost parts are steel; some are plastic
Number of pieces643
Instructions for specific models11 models
Extra features6-volt motor and carrying case

4. Imagination Generation Constructible 92-Piece Kit

Best Wooden Erector Set for Kids

Imagination Generation Constructables! 92-Piece Wooden STEM Building Block...
Check Price

For those who prefer to buy wooden toys, there’s no reason to missout on the fun of erector sets. This set has two tools, as well as a decent range of blocks, straight strips, curved strips, discs, triangular pieces, and nuts and bolts, all of which are wooden.

There are four wooden wheels so your child can create toys they can play with, and the set comes in a sturdy cardboard bucket for storage.

The pieces in this offering from Imagination Generation are made from solid wood and painted with non-toxic, water-based paints. Each piece is carefully inspected to ensure there are no stray rough edges, so you can be sure your child will enjoy a safe play experience.

PROS:
  • Colorful and appealing for little ones.
  • You can use pieces to teach colors and shapes.
  • Reassuringly safe for the younger builder.
CONS:
  • While various models are pictured on the packaging, there are no instructions for building.

Additional Specs

Recommended age range3 years and older
MaterialWood, but the precise kind is unspecified
Number of pieces92
Instructions for specific modelsNone
Extra featuresBucket for storage

5. K’Nex Imagine Motorized Ferris Wheel

Best Ferris Wheel Erector Set for Kids

K’NEX Imagine – Power and Play Motorized Building Set – 529 Pieces –...
Check Price

K’Nex manufactures a slightly different style of erector sets for kids.

Instead of the standard flat strips with holes, connected by nuts and bolts, K’Nex pieces are rods and connectors. These can be clipped together, or threaded through each other. That means they don’t require tools to enjoy.

This particular set has a dizzying 529 pieces, as well as a 6-volt motor and instructions for 50 models.

One of the models featured in the set is a Ferris wheel, which can be motorized. The wheel turns slowly, and the seats swing in the same way as the genuine fairground ride.

K’Nex is made in a zero-waste, green manufacturing plant in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, so you can have confidence that the parts are non-toxic, responsibly made, and safe for your child.

PROS:
  • Pieces can be bent, allowing your child to build models with curves not dictated by rigid pre-formed shapes.
  • K’Nex has a parts guarantee and will replace anything that breaks, no questions asked.
  • The instructions are easy to follow along with.
CONS:
  • Some younger kids may struggle to clip the pieces together at first.

Additional Specs

Recommended age range7 to 12 years
MaterialPlastic
Number of pieces529
Instructions for specific models50 models
Extra features6-volt motor and suitcase-style box

6. Tinker Toy Pre-School Erector Set

Best Erector Set for Toddlers

TINKERTOY ‒ 100 Piece Essentials Value Set ‒ Ages 3+ Preschool Education Toy
Check Price

The 100-piece Essentials set from Tinker Toy is a wonderful introduction to erector sets for toddlers.

Similar to K’Nex products, Tinker Toys do not have nuts and bolts. Instead, the rods clip into solid triangular and circular pieces to form the models. This makes it easier for some toddlers who may not yet have the coordination to use tools effectively.

The plastic used in the set is non-toxic and can be washed in warm soapy water, making it much easier to keep this set clean and hygienic. The pieces are much larger than other erector sets designed for older children.

Everything fits easily into the container, without the need to arrange them neatly in specific spots in the packaging.

PROS:
  • Chunky, hard-wearing, and brightly colored.
  • An easy way for toddlers to explore basic building concepts.
  • Made responsibly in the U.S.
CONS:
  • Will not appeal to older kids, so your child may grow out of it.

Additional Specs

Recommended age range3 years and older
MaterialPlastic
Number of pieces100
Instructions for specific models13 building ideas
Extra featuresStorage case

7. Meccano Erector Super Construction 25-in-1 Set

Best Super Construction Erector Set for Kids

Meccano Erector Super Construction 25-in-1 Building Set, 638 Parts, for Ages...
Check Price

The Meccano Erector super construction set has the instructions for 25 models. They include the usual cars and motorbikes as well as the more unusual offerings of a windmill, robot, and forklift truck.

The parts vary greatly in size and shape. As well as the expected flat pieces, there’s an interesting array of pulleys, wheels, and spacers. The set also contains strings and elastics for the creation of moving parts.

There are also two tools included in the kit, both of which are durable metal items rather than the flimsy plastic ones you may see from other manufacturers.

Like the previous set, this has a 6-volt electric motor. However, the pieces in this kit are different, and the suggested models are more complex.

PROS:
  • A more sophisticated assortment of pieces and model suggestions.
  • Suitable for exploring more complex principles of physics and engineering.
  • It has an electric motor, which can make building more exciting for kids.
CONS:
  • It may be out of the budget range for some parents.

Additional Specs

Recommended age range10 years and older
MaterialMost are steel, but a few are plastic
Number of pieces638
Instructions for specific models25 models
Extra features6-volt motor and a carrying case

8. K'NEX Control Crane Building Set

Best Crane Erector Set for Kids

K'NEX Control Crane Building Set - 679 Parts - Working Motorized Crane - Ages 9...
Check Price

If your child wants to build a large, working crane, then consider this option from K’Nex. At over two feet tall, this model is much larger than some of the alternatives on the market.

The battery-powered motor can be used to position, raise, and lower the trolley as well as rotate the jib. However, the engine must be removed and replaced in different locations to have it control the various movements.

The crane can be used to pick up, move, and reposition the cardboard, shipping-container-style box, or the faux wooden crate that comes with the set.

Your child can also use the K’Nex pieces in the same way as other K’Nex to build their own models.

PROS:
  • Large scale, working crane.
  • Compatible with other K’Nex products for unlimited building potential.
  • Can be used for freestyle building.
CONS:
  • Cardboard boxes can become creased or squashed.
  • Having to move the motor for different functions interrupts the free flow of play.

Additional Specs

Recommended age range7 years and older
MaterialPlastic
Number of pieces679
Instructions for specific modelsOne
Extra featuresMotor

9. Meccano Meccanoid Robot Building Set

Best Robot Erector Set for Kids

Erector by Meccano Meccanoid XL 2.0 Robot-Building Kit, STEM Education Toy for...
Check Price

Introduce your child to robotics with the Meccano Meccaoid robot building set.

This contains all the pieces required to build a humanoid-shaped robot that stands almost four feet tall. The robot has LED eyes, a moving head, voice recognition, and can wave its hands.

There are ten motors for the movement of the articulated head, elbows, shoulders, and feet. The robot moves either through pre-programmed instructions or the use of a smart device. Place your smart device in the specified spot on the robot, and it will mirror your movements.

Also, there are 3,000 pre-programmed phrases your robot can say. These include jokes, stories, and robot trivia with which to regal your kids.

Your child can change the settings and have the robot record what they say and repeat it back to them.

PROS:
  • Does not require programming skills.
  • Can be made to move in multiple ways via the Meccano app.
  • Interacts with your child.
CONS:
  • With such a large number of pieces, it would be helpful if the pieces were numbered for clearer instructions.

Additional Specs

Recommended age range10 years and older
MaterialPredominantly plastic with a few metal items
Number of piecesOver 1,000
Instructions for specific modelsOne
Extra featuresApp control, motors, LED eyes, and speaking ability

10. K’Nex Building Amazon Exclusive Construction Set

Best Cheap Erector Set for Kids

K’NEX – 35 Model Building Set – 480 Pieces – For Ages 7+ Construction...
Check Price

An excellent introduction to the principles of construction, this set from K’Nex is both affordable and versatile. The set comes in a treasure chest style box, so it is easy to tidy up, store, and take along to the homes of friends and family.

The set has 480 of the classic K’Nex parts, which allow kids to create a wide variety of models, including the 35 models for which there are instructions. Many of the models have moving parts and can be played with independently.

The instructions are clearly laid out, step-by-step, designed specifically for children as young as 7 years old to follow. Many of the models are vehicles, but there is some variety, such as the K’Nex dinosaur. Children can also bring to life their own models using this kit.

PROS:
  • Beginner-friendly.
  • A wide variety of pieces.
  • Lots of model instructions.
CONS:
  • Unless you have other K’Nex sets, you must disassemble some models to have enough of the correct pieces to build others.

Additional Specs

Recommended age range7 to 12 years
MaterialPlastic
Number of pieces480
Instructions for specific models35
Extra featuresStorage Box

Kids Erector Set Comparison Chart

ProductBestRecommended age rangeMaterialNo. of pieces
Schylling Steel Works Construction KitMetal Set8 years & olderSteel200+
Brickyard Building Blocks Erector SetPlastic Set3 years & olderPlastic101
Meccano Motorized Erector Building SetMotorized Set8 years & olderMostly steel643
Imagination Generation Constructible KitWooden Set3 years & olderWood92
K’Nex Imagine Motorized Ferris WheelFerris Wheel7 to 12 yearsPlastic529
Tinker Toy Pre-School Erector SetToddlers3 years & olderPlastic100
Meccano Erector Super Construction SetSuper Construction10 years & olderMostly steel638
K’NEX Control Crane Building SetCrane Set7 years & olderPlastic679
Meccano Meccanoid Robot Building SetRobot Set10 years & olderMostly plastic1,000+
K’Nex Building Amazon ExclusiveCheap Set7 to 12 yearsPlastic480
Jump to the Full Kids Erector Set Reviews

Building Skills For Life

To benefit from these, or any other erector sets, it’s unnecessary for your child to have dreams of becoming an engineer. These fabulous and fun construction toys are great for any kids.

They provide a safe way to explore a variety of STEM principles and life skills such as patience, persistence, and problem-solving.

Headshot of patricia

About the Author

Patricia Barnes

Patricia Barnes is a homeschooling mom of 5 who has been featured on Global TV, quoted in Parents magazine, and writes for a variety of websites and publications. Doing her best to keep it together in a life of constant chaos, Patti would describe herself as an eclectic mess maker, lousy crafter, book lover, autism mom, and insomniac.
25 Fun Fingerplay Ideas for Playful Preschoolers25 Fun Fingerplay Ideas for Playful Preschoolers
Best Baby Bouncers of 202012 Best Baby Bouncers (2020 Reviews)
Best Baby Jumpers of 202010 Best Baby Jumpers (2020 Reviews)
The Importance of Playtime for Your Child’s DevelopmentThe Benefits of Playtime for Kids
The 10 Best Toddler Blocks for Education & EntertainmentBest Toddler Blocks of 2020
Best Bath Toys & Organizers of 202010 Best Baby Bath Toys (2020 Picks & Guide)

Leave a Comment