If you want buildable toys based off of everyone’s favourite monster battling and collecting series, Pokémon, then you need to go the Mega Construx route as this toy company currently has the licence.
We were recently sent a duo of these sets to look at and report on how well Mega Construx is handling Game Freak’s golden goose. We will also look at a pair we bought independently for a better idea of this product line as a whole.
Those two sets that came in for review, their piece count and South African RRP are as follows:
- Power Pack (Ivysaur) | 86 Pieces | R219.99.
- Squirtle Evolution Set | 379 Pieces | R569.99.
Before we even open the toys we need a quick lesson in the brand name here – Mega Construx. This brand used to be called Mega Bloks and offered toys for customers of all ages, usually pricing it cheaper to draw in customers.
A few years ago this split into Mega Construx and Mega Bloks. Mega Construx is the more teen and adult focused of the two with many external licences such as Halo, Tesla, He-Man, Pokémon and others. Mega Bloks, on the other hand, is intended for younger children and mostly focuses on large, simple blocks.
While that was easy enough to understand it again gets more complex as it seems like another rebrand is on the way to instead reunify these products as simply Mega, or stylised as “MEGA”.
This little branding lesson is necessary as it can make shopping a bit easier, and many South Africans still wonder why Mega Bloks aren’t on shelves anymore when they used to have a bigger presence in the country.
So back to the actual toys now and the packaging and overall presentation is pretty great. The two boxes are all in full colour and contain physical instruction books and the pieces in plastic bags.
We built the smallest one first in the form of the 86 piece Ivysaur Power Pack. This is an odd one as, despite the small piece count, a significant portion of the plastic is dedicated to a kind of lame base with some plain browns and greens.
There’s supposed to be a play function where Ivysaur bursts through the plants but the mechanism isn’t very refined and it feels like a complete waste. We would have liked to see something more fitting like a Poké Ball or just not secondary build at all and a cheaper price.
Ivysaur itself is pretty great. The overall look of the small build is helped by some unique elements and prints. We were surprised by the prints here with some subtle green spots on the legs and the underside of a piece also printed for the ears.
This is a nice taste test for the Mega Construx line but Ivysaur is an odd choice as the middle evolution of the least favourite generation starters.
Moving up to the bigger option, the Squirtle Evolution Set has 379 pieces which not only builds the titular Squirtle, but also its evolutions Wartortle and Blastoise.
This also has its own oddities such as the fact that the Wartortle is shiny while Squirtle and Blastoise aren’t. We’re all for variety in toys but the purple of Wartortle really clashes with the overall blue nature of the set and its bases.
Like the Ivysaur Power Pack you don’t just get the Pokémon but also some scenery. In this set it takes the form of a “buildable water environment” according to the product description. These are better than the Ivysaur terrain but again we would have preferred something more involved or nothing at all.
The trio of water starters are, of course, the focus and each pulls off their look to varying degrees of success.
Squirtle is amazing given its handful of pieces but the head ends up looking odd as it’s a cylinder instead something more spherical. Wartortle looks better with more pieces and the feather-like ears help it look more natural compared to the cylinder head it evolved from. Again we can’t help but feel like the regular blue colour would have been better than the shiny purple variant.
Now Blastoise we’re on the fence about. Blastoise is our favourite starter from generation one here at Hypertext (or at least in the opinion of this reviewer) so there’s extra scrutiny here. The biggest problem this Blastoise faces is, again, shaping. The main body of the cannon tortoise and betrays the usual rotund nature of this Pokémon.
Mega Construx Pokémon that we bought
As mentioned the above sets were sent to us by a representative of Mega Construx owner Mattel, but we have actually bought some Pokémon sets with our own money.
We’re including them here for further discussion as they happen to be two of the most popular Pokémon around in the form of the pseudo legendary Tyranitar (396 pieces) and the favourite fire starter of the world, Charizard (222) pieces. The inclusion of Charizard in this feature also provides representation for all the starters from generation one.
Unfortunately availability of these two is not great. Tyranitar, as far we can see, was never officially sold in South Africa. We had to import it through the now defunct online retailer Raru. After paying R669 and waiting seven months for delivery (yes really… no wonder Raru went under) we got our hands on Tyranitar. Charizard was an easier affair, and we simply paid R500 for it in a physical Toys r Us in Mall of Africa.
Tyranitar remains an import and Charizard seems to have sold out in most stores. Thankfully (still operating) online retailer Loot has Charizard in stock right now for R439. There also seems to be something of a restock of Charizard recently and we’ve seen it appear in more physical Toys r Us and Toy Kingdom stores.
If you want a Tyranitar right now you’re stuck private importing. Thankfully it’s easy to find overseas on places like Amazon. For Charizard, grab it from Loot or call your local toy store and ask if they have it.
Availability aside, these two are more our speed as both use the entire parts budget on the build itself, avoiding any unnecessary display bases. The only extra pieces you get are blast effects that can clip into the mouth of each Pokémon. Tyranitar has a purple beam-esque effect and charizard has some standard flames. Charizard also comes with a small Heavy Ball build that can be used as a pin.
These extras use so few pieces, and add so much to the overall play and display options of these sets, that they should be the norm for Mega Construx Pokémon.
Tyranitar is the bigger of the two with so many extra pieces, resulting in a toy that is rather dense. The build experiance is fun with the only real pain point being all the spikes that you need to build on the back. The off-green colour works well enough for the character and the printed pieces help sell the overall design. We can see some people not liking how, erm, fridge-like the torso is. But, at this scale we can’t see it being done better.
Charizard is unique among all four toys we have discussed today, thanks to its very soft wings. We’re not sure what material it is made of, but the printed blue area of the wings is made of a soft, almost gel material. It’s a nice pair of pieces that make good wings, but we can see this deteriorating or otherwise breaking with age, but we’ll need to check back in on this in a few years.
The shaping is superb and really captures the bottom-heavy look of Charizard. Not to play into Charizard favouritism, out of the four here this is the one we’d recommend to anyone who wants a taste of Mega Construx Pokémon. It’s decently priced, easy to get locally, fun to build and you end up with arguably the most recognisable Pokémon outside of series mascot Pikachu.
As for larger sets for those who want to spend more, there are options in South Africa. The Jumbo Pikachu, Jumbo Eevee and Jumbo Poké Ball can all be picked up online and in stores. We haven’t had a chance to look at these so we will maybe return to this topic in the future.
More exciting is the Motion Pikachu set which was released recently in South Africa. It’s a kinetic sculpture toy that simulates a run when you turn a crank and it offers something new compared to the buildable action figures of the rest of the line. We’ll also hopefully get our hands on this one soon.