What a load of blocks. Or in this case squares. Play Plax is a construction kit for ages 3+ with interlocking square shapes in a mixture of colours. It’s a very simple concept and one that has yet to be complicated with add-on packs or extra pieces. Kind of like LEGO was when we were kids, before the days of custom sets and odd shaped pieced you’d only ever get once.
Play Plax was originally created in 1966 by Patrick Rylands, and has remained relatively unchanged since. Each square has four gaps, one on each edge. These gaps are wide enough to snugly fit another square, without needing to force the pieces in to place. They’re not quite tight enough to guarantee pieces will stay in place, so moving a structure can bring the whole thing down, and it’s clear to see why kits produced since – such as K’Nex – introduced more secure joining mechanisms.
The simplicity of Play Plax is also its greatest strength and biggest limitation. Of the suggestions on the back of the box almost all of them are for square or rectangular structures – a box, plane, crane, tower, rocket, robot – all cubes. The only suggestion on the box that isn’t a square is for a fox, which is the best suggestion of all.
Play Plax works best when you are building flat structures rather than 3D models. For example here’s a flower:
And here’s a name:
You can actually do some clever stuff with colours. Here’s an example from the official images:
We were able to create a fair mixture of structures in an hour, and due to both the size of the squares and the quick method of fitting them together it’s the fastest building set out there. So if you want to make a TARDIS in record time Play Plax is the place to go. Or if you want to test something out before you build it in LEGO it’s a good accompaniment.
Play Plax isn’t the best construction set on the market, but as an entry level kit it’s nice to know that you’re getting everything you need in the box. No looking longingly at other sets and missed pieces, you have just 48 squares to use and that’s part of the challenge. Rather than thinking about what is missing, the trick is trying to get the most from what you have, and that’s why we’re still using Play Plax 45 years on.