In the age of STEAM education, erector sets are making a significant comeback. Most erector sets consist of durable building blocks and functioning tools that can be combined to create a variety of interactive models. These building kits help children develop fundamental engineering and architectural skills while satisfying their cravings for creative play. Of course, the sheer number of erector sets on the market can leave a consumer feeling overwhelmed.

We’ve come up with a list of 11 of the best erector sets for kids. Are your little engineers up for a new challenge?

Our Top Picks

Meccano's Erector M.A.X Robot Toy

Upgrade Choice

Meccano's Erector M.A.X Robot Toy

K’NEX 35-Model Building Set

Best Budget Buy

K’NEX 35-Model Building Set

How to Pick the Best Erector Set

1. Recommended Age

We like to think that no child is too young to enjoy an erector set. Most kids can piece together small parts by the age of 3. Still, many of the erector sets on our list come with a lot of small, intricate parts. These sets are not suitable for children under the age of 10.

As a seasoned parent or caregiver, you probably already have a good idea of your child’s building potential. However, for the most part, you should stick to the manufacturer’s age recommendations. We cannot tell you how many times we bought complicated toys in hopes of expanding our children’s educations.

No matter how good our intentions were, those toys ended up with missing pieces and a thick veil of dust. By the time our children were old enough to enjoy them, they were already obsolete. Can you see where we are going with this?

2. Materials

We love the look and feel of solid metal erector sets. These are the type of toys that can be passed down from one generation to the next. At least, that the case if you are the type of parent that doesn’t vacuum up your kids’ toys.

Of course, wooden and plastic erector sets are excellent alternatives. Wood sets are typically geared toward young builders. Young children are also drawn to sets that boast bright colors. When in doubt, choose a material that’s durable enough to withstand the wrath of your child and their little siblings! As always, try to pick something with an aesthetic appeal.

3. Motorized

Motorized erector sets are a lot of fun. But motors require a unique set of skills. Not all children are up for the added challenge. We included a whole bunch of motorized erector sets on our list, including a stomping dinosaur and a spinning Ferris wheel.

Most children enjoy watching their creations come to life. The moving parts will help them better understand complex scientific phenomenons. With all that said, we advise you to steer clear of motorized erectors until your child is 10 or older.

4. Number of Buildable Models

We’re very fond of erector sets that provide children with lots of flexibility. A set may include instructions for one or more buildable models. It’s nice if you can get more than one play session out of a single toy. However, that’s not always possible with complex motorized creations.

5. Number of Pieces

Erector sets tend to include a lot of tiny pieces. These sets are like three-dimensional puzzles. If your child is mature and organized, they’ll have no trouble keeping track of the little nuts and bolts. However, one misplaced piece can lead to a lot of heartbreak and disappointment. Make sure to buy from a reputable manufacturer. There may come a time that you need to request replacement parts.

If you are worried about your child misplacing pieces, opt for a metal set and invest in a jumbo magnet and a high-walled baking sheet. We did this when our oldest son expressed an interest in erector sets. The magnet helped him to keep the small metal pieces from rolling off his desk. The baking sheet served as his makeshift work station. When his siblings wandered into his room, he would move the tray to a high shelf.

6. Special Effects

Many erector sets are designed to teach children complex scientific concepts, such as robotics, physics, and engineering. During our research, we stumbled across everything from programmable robots to complex vehicles.

The Winners

#1

Erector by Meccano

Best Overall

Meccano’s Erector is an engineering and robotics masterpiece. It comes with well over 600 pieces and 25 project instructions. Your child will love bringing their metal creations to life with the help of the included 6-volt motor.

Meccano’s Erector is a STEAM mainstay, an essential building block for future engineers. Children 10 and older will appreciate the small details and intricate instructions. The divided storage box will help your otherwise disorganized child keep track of all the little pieces.

Don’t be fooled by cheap imitations. Meccano is a 100-year-old company that uses heavy metal parts, authentic hardware, and real tools. There are so many possibilities when it comes to this erector set, but we recommend you start with the motorized crane project.

When your child is finished with one project, they can pull the pieces apart and start all over again. Meccano’s Erector will help kids master basic engineering facilities while honing their fine-motor skills.

  • You'll love: Your budding engineer will love working on their Meccano projects. There are 25 buildable projects in this kit. That's enough STEAM education to occupy your kiddo during every rainy day of the year.
  • Watch for: The instructions are not very clear, especially when referring to specific part references.

Recommended Age: 10 years and older
Materials: Metal
Motorized: 6-volt electrical motor
Number of Buildable Models: 25 buildable models
Number of Pieces: 638 parts
Special Effects: Rotary body, extendable hook, motorized vehicle

#2

Meccano's Erector M.A.X Robot Toy

upgrade choice

Meccano’s Erector M.A.X Interactive Robot Toy is an excellent option for children who have already demonstrated a heightened interest in robotics and engineering. Your child must piece together the 300+ parts in the kit to create this interactive robot. It takes anywhere from 1 to 3 hours to put together M.A.X. After this, your kid will be introduced to artificial intelligence.

M.A.X. It is equipped with built-in sensors that let him recognize household hazards and moving objects. He rolls around on a pair of smart wheels while plotting his next adventures. This robot comes with a built-in rechargeable battery. Kids can unlock fun games to train the robot’s brain module.

  • You'll love: Kids love playing games M.A.X. It's also fun to steer this robot around the house and watch as he transfers objects from his grippy robot fingers. Oh, this automaton tells great jokes too.
  • Watch for: Poorly written instructions. Thankfully you have YouTube to clear up any confusion.

Recommended Age: 10 years and up
Materials: Plastic, metal
Motorized: Yes
Number of Buildable Models: One
Number of Pieces: 332
Special Effects: Interactive robot with sensors

#3

K’NEX 35-Model Building Set

Best Budget Buy

K’NEX are like the Legos of the erector set world. This 35-model building set comes with close to 500 pieces. It will keep your little builder occupied for hours. Models include a crane, helicopter, dinosaur, and so much more. Of course, your children may also see fit to build their own creations. They’ll have no trouble collecting the pieces and putting them pack in the treasure chest-shaped package when they are finished.

We love the K’NEX offers its customers a comprehensive part guarantee. They will replace any of your child’s broken and missing parts. That means less time spent fretting over missing pieces and more time building models. Unlike most erector sets, K’NEX blocks do not require tools. The pieces snap together for a frustration-free building experience. This kit is perfect for young children. Some of the pieces are very small. As such, we recommend building over a shallow tray or another enclosed work surface.

  • You'll love: Our children use their K'NEX a lot like Legos. After mastering a few of the more intermediate building models, they moved on to making one-of-kind vehicles.
  • Watch for: Some of the pieces are very small. As a result, the models also tend to be the small side.

Recommended Age: 7 – 12 years
Materials: Plastic
Motorized: No
Number of Buildable Models: 35
Number of Pieces: 480
Special Effects: Moving parts

#4

IQ Builder

IQ Builder is a 164-piece plastic building set. It comes with over 100 geometric pieces, including a variety of connectors and a set of wheels. The set includes a booklet with lots of building ideas. Keep in mind that some of the suggested projects require two or more IG Builder sets. Your child can build everything from a moving vehicle to a make-believe creature. The sky is the limit with this STEM-inspired building set.

  • You'll love: This freestyle building set will enable your child to stretch their imagination.
  • Watch for: Many of the buildable projects require more pieces than those provided.

Recommended Age: 3 years and up
Materials: BPA-free plastic
Motorized: No
Number of Buildable Models: 24 buildable geometric models
Number of Pieces: 164
Special Effects: Just physics phenomenons!

#5

Erector Multi Models Construction Set

This name-brand Multi Models Erector Set lets children build a whole bunch of movable vehicles, including a bike, racer, helicopter, and airplane. The kit contains 190 parts, most of which are made out of metal. There are 10 models in all. However, most kids scrap the instructions to build their own creations. You can even go to the manufacturer’s website to check out inspirational photos.

  • You'll love: Our kids loved checking out the bonus instructions on the manufacturer's website. We worked together to complete some of the more complicated models. This was a highly satisfying teamwork experience!
  • Watch for: Don't expect Erector to sugar-coat the instructions. This is not an easy set. The models take time and patience. Still, it's a great challenge for older children with spare time.

Recommended Age: 10 years and up
Materials: Metal, plastic
Motorized: Yes
Number of Buildable Models: 10
Number of Pieces: 190

#6

Meccano Erector MeccaSpider

bEST FOR OLDER KIDS

The Meccano MeccaSpider Erector Set lets your children work on their very own robot spider. Your child will be so proud of themselves when their creepy crawler comes to life. This app-driven model combines engineering, mathematics, and computer programming. The set falls just shy of 300 pieces. The tools are included.

This battery-operated anthropod is quick to develop a unique personality. It will even guide your child in playing all sorts of fun games. Make sure no one tries to squish it! Its built-in IR sensor can be very sensitive.

  • You'll love: The robo spider features three programmable behavior modes. Will it scuffle around the house autonomously, guard its creator, or attack innocent bystanders? Your kid is in full control!
  • Watch for: Your child will need to use a smartphone as a remote control. There goes all your data!

Recommended Age: 10 years and up
Materials: Metal, plastic
Motorized: Yes
Number of Buildable Models: 1
Number of Pieces: 291
Special Effects: App-driven, infrared remote control, gameplay

#7

Meccano 2-in-1 Excavator & Bulldozer

The Meccano 2-in-1 Excavator & Bulldozer Set features buildable models. Children can build and rebuild the metal blocks to create an excavator and a bulldozer. These handmade construction vehicles look and move just like the real things. The excavator has a functioning boom and a cab that turns 360 degrees. The bulldozer features chunky rubber treads. While you may not want to toss your child’s creations in the mud, we are going to guess that these models would hold up pretty well in adverse conditions.

  • You'll love: Our kids enjoyed using the wrench and hex tool. We have a feeling that the durable metal pieces are going to outlive most of their other building sets.
  • Watch for: Children under the age of 7 may be frustrated by the complicated instructions.

Recommended Age: 10 years and up
Materials: Metal
Motorized: No
Number of Buildable Models: 2
Number of Pieces: 254
Special Effects: Moving parts

#8

IQ Toys Ferris Wheel Building Model

For as long as we can remember, archeologists have heralded the wheel as the ultimate human invent. They may not have been talking about the Ferris wheel, but we’re fairly confident your budding architect will appreciate the details of this spinning wonder. The IQ Toys Ferris Hweel Building Model is not for the disorganized. It comes with close to 1,000 small metal pieces. Each element is an integral part of the final product. When this kit is put together properly, this Ferris wheel produces a vivid audio, visual experience.

Most kids appreciate adult help when putting together this over-the-top carnival ride. Our only qualm is that the chairs tend to get stuck upside down when the big wheel is spinning. We’re not experts, but there is at least one physics lesson buried in this magical model.

  • You'll love: While our kids can't bear to get on a real Ferris wheel, they love this mechanical marvel. No loose bolts to worry about here!
  • Watch for: Just one model in this fit, folks! These carnival-specific parts.

Recommended Age: 8 years and up
Materials: Metal, plastic
Motorized: Yes
Number of Buildable Models: 1
Number of Pieces: 954
Special Effects: Lights and music

#9

Meccano Off-Road 4x4 Truck

Does your young one have the potential to be an amazing automotive tech? Can they already call out truck stats? This 443-piece Meccano Off-Road 4×4 Truck erector set can be combined to create 25 different vehicles, including a functional four-by-four truck.

Kids can also mix up the pieces to create custom vehicles. When they’re finished, they can watch as their handmade vehicle comes to life. This building set includes lots of realistic elements, like opening doors and a four-wheel drive. Your aspiring mechanic will be able to put the whole thing together with just two tools and a bit of brainpower.

  • You'll love: The written and visual instructions are super easy to follow. In total, it takes about 3 hours for most children to complete this erector set.
  • Watch for: Some customers have received sets with missing parts. Still, Meccano is pretty good about correcting their manufacturing mistakes.

Recommended Age: 8 years and up
Materials: Metal, rubber, plastic
Motorized: Yes
Number of Buildable Models: 25
Number of Pieces: 443
Special Effects: Rotating wheels, opening doors, working vehicle

#10

Imagination Gen Constructables

Best wooden erector

The 92-piece Imagination Gen Constructables wooden erector set is perfect for young builders. Children can piece together the wooden slats with the help of brightly colored bolts and washers. The kit includes a wooden wrench and screwdriver. Help your child improve their problem-solving skills and expand their imagination. This kit is an excellent source of screen-free rainy day entertainment. With Imagination Generation, the building possibilities are endless!

  • You'll love: Your little one will love connecting the wooden pieces of this open-ended puzzle. Better yet, they'll relish the opportunity to watch their creations come to life.
  • Watch for: Our little one didn't take the little wooden tools very seriously. Instead, he twisted the bolts and washers by hand. At least he is expanding his motor skills.

Recommended Age: 3v years and up
Materials: Wood
Motorized: No
Number of Buildable Models: Use your imagination!
Number of Pieces: 92 pieces
Special Effects: Functioning wheels

#11

Meccano Meccasaur

This programmable dinosaur will satisfy your kid’s craving for the paleolithic period. Meccano Meccasaur responds to yes or no questions and loves back scratches. He also stomps around like a real live carnivorous beast.

There are very few, if any, 700-piece puzzles with more satisfying ends. This ferocious friend is over 3 feet long. Who needs a puppy when you can build your very own guard lizard? Join your child during the building process, as Meccsaur is exceptionally loyal to his creators.

  • You'll love: Your kid will fall to their knees when they realize their erector set can fart and growl simultaneously.
  • Watch for: Don't expect the building process to be easy. Meccasaur is a major undertaking.

Recommended Age: 10 years and older
Materials: Plastic
Motorized: Yes
Number of Buildable Models: 1
Number of Pieces: 715
Special Effects: Interective robot that stomps around

Quick Decision

Meccano’s original Erector set – Best Overall
Consists of hundreds of intricate metal pieces. With 25 STEAM-base building projects to choose from, we had no trouble naming this 100-year-old building kit as the best erector set for kids.

Meccano’s Erector M.A.X Robot Toy – Upgrade Choice
An equally hot option for big spenders. Your child can program this buildable robot to follow their commands.

K’NEX 35-Model Building Set – Best Budget Buy
An excellent option for parents and grandparents living on fixed budgets. The plastic pieces in this kit are compatible with other K’NEX sets.

BEST ROBOT KITS FOR KIDS

If the A.I. takeover is inevitable, why don’t we let the kids build the robots? Check out these mind-bending robot kits for kids.

Gary B.

Gary B.

Gary is a father of two, self-identified RC fanboy, and part-time guitar plucker. When he's not racing his collection of remote-controlled vehicles or strumming away, we bend his arm and get him to write with precision and expertise on a range of mechanical and electrical toys.

Scroll to Top