Mega Bloks Pyrates: Shark Escapeby Adriana Puckett
The Pyrates Shark Escape set is a medium-sized imaginative play and building set in the same vein as Playmobile or Lego sets. It contains a raft that separates into two pieces, a shark with adjustable jaws, two men, and some small props such as a rat, swords, and money. The decorative detail is impressive - the sail is ripped and looks burnt, the raft is aged wood, and the shark has a bloody gash in its side. It's obvious that the two included "sea marauders," Olivier Lugsail and Jonathan Juryrig, have seen some tough action. After all, the product description stats that the "marooned sea marauders jury-rig a sail barge from pieces of their shipwreck." And now they are up against a fearless enemy - a red-eyed bloodthirsty shark who is out for their total annihilation.
There are several different actions that your child can take with this set. My son was delighted to discover that the shark could attack the raft and rip out a "chunk" of it. The marauders can retaliate by torpedoing the shark and lodging their weapon in the gash in his side. The shark can be made to open and close his jaws, thereby gnashing his terrible teeth in a frenzy. And, for the final blow, the shark can actual rip the raft into two separate pieces. This initially distressed my son because he thought he broke it, but once he understood that it was a feature he played without reservation.
What parents need to know:
This toy will definitely appeal to children who enjoy active, imaginative play. I was a little taken aback by the realistic harpooning of the shark, but I think in this case the shark is an obvious aggressor who needs to be defeated so the marauders can safely reach their destination and dispatch their treasure.
There are lots of little pieces to lose (or to be consumed by younger siblings) - we put ours into a bin straight off to minimize this. My son could easily manipulate the pieces of this set, although putting the two halves of the raft back together took a little practice.
The bottom line:
We did enjoy this toy. My son enjoyed playing with it and will most likely integrate it into worlds that he creates. If you are willing to invest in another building system, there are several pieces that can be added on here, such as the very awesome-looking "Dread Eye's Phantom" ship and skull-bedecked "Plunderer's Port."
If your child is like mine and lives to build detailed scenarios that are then acted out, chances are he or she will enjoy this toy. Additional characters would help maintain interest, and the Pyrate set comes with a booklet illustrating the marauders' encounter with the shark and a mini poster of the Pyrates crew and enemies. My son didn't need any coaching to jump right in and start playing with enthusiasm, although we did have to curb that enthusiasm when the torpedoes were shot a little too close to his younger sisters.