What Happened To Construx Toys?

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If you grew up in the 1980s, you might have some nostalgic feelings about this cool toy: Construx. According to the Hartford Courant, Fisher-Price introduced Construx in 1983. The colorful plastic sets were geared towards young boys, and shown off with catchy advertisement jingles (via Youtube). T.V. ad spots showed young kids building a helicopter with a working propeller, and a robot that could walk, all out of little plastic pieces. 

So what happened to these building sets? Construx weren't the first construction kits on the market. They were competing with other toys like Legos, the beloved plastic building blocks which had been around since the 1930s (via the LEGO website). On the heels of Erector Sets, which were discontinued in 1980, Construx offered a new way for kids to build working machines (via The Strong Museum of Play).

In 1986, the toys were advertised in a glossy Toys-R-Us holiday catalog, advertising them just before the Christmas season (via Click Americana). The ads highlighted a Construx military vehicle that came with toy rockets and machine guns, and a Construx military aircraft that included toy propellers and engines. It was advertised alongside other Fisher-Price products for toddlers, like Little People Main Street and a Toddler Kitchen playset.

A toy with many uses

Kids loved Construx for its versatility. As Hartford Courant reports, each set could make multiple different toys, so the same pieces could be used again and again. One example was the "Rugged Racer" set. With just one kit, children could make a racecar, an all-terrain car, or other custom-designed cars.

But Construx had a few issues that made them an awkward toy to sell. For one, they were sold by Fisher-Price, which is known for toys for preschool-age kids, like the "Little People" line of toys and accessories (per Mental Floss). Construx, however, were targeted at older kids, creating marketing that parents may have been confused by. Another reason was that people really liked Construx, but unlike Legos, Construx struggled to find repeat buyers.

In 1989, Construx toys were on their way out (per Hartford Courant). According to Laurie Strong, a spokeswoman for Fisher-Price, "It had been in the line for six years, and we felt that, as a product category, it had reached its height, it was on a downward trend, and we decided to discontinue it." Fisher-Price manufactured Construx through the end of 1989.

Construx gets a makeover

This wasn't quite the end of Construx, though. Hartford Courant reports that in 1993, Fisher-Price was bought out by toy-manufacturing monolith Mattel. In 1996, Mattel decided to revive Construx for a short time. They launched eight new toys as part of a "trial line." Complete with hundreds of tiny pieces, each set could construct a dinosaur, robot, submarine, or even an electric guitar.

In 2014, Mattel acquired the MEGA brand for $460 million (per Fortune via The Wayback Machine). MEGA was mainly known for making block sets for young kids, so after Mattel acquired the brand, they changed the packaging and marketing to help it compete with other construction sets. By merging it with Construx, they could rely on nostalgia and boost their brand recognition even more.

As Fortune reports, by 2017 Mattel was the biggest toymaker in the world, raking in $6 billion every year — even surpassing their competition, Legos, which made $5.4 billion. In February 2017, Mattel brought back the Construx under a new name: MEGA Construx (via Cision PR NewsWire).

Where are Construx now?

Mattel introduced MEGA Bloks for preschoolers, and MEGA Construx for elementary-age kids (via Cision PR NewsWire). They were also introducing new themed sets featuring popular intellectual properties, like American Girl, Barbie, Halo, Destiny, and Despicable Me.

Today, the Construx line is now called the MEGA Construx, and their appearance is quite different (via Mattel). The line has kept up with the times, and customers can now purchase MEGA Construx Halo, Pokemon, Hot Wheels, Masters of the Universe, and Barbie. Kids can now build their own Pikachu, Hot Wheels Roger Dodger, or Barbie Bakery, just to name a few. These new MEGA Construx are widely available at major toy chains, including Walmart, Amazon, KMart, and Target.

However, if you're looking to relive your childhood and buy old-fashioned Construx toys from the 1980s, you'll have to head to a reselling website like eBay or Etsy, since they are no longer sold in stores.