Any dads out there ever go strolling through the toy store with the kids and COMPLETELY MISS the LEGO aisle? When I was a tyke, the LEGO aisle was the first place I wanted to visit when it came time to blow my allowance on cheap plastic garbage from China.

I recognized a few years ago that I started passing by the LEGO aisle, losing interest in the highly-detailed model sets that seemed less like LEGO and more like snap-together models of Toy Story figures. I’m not sure when LEGO began making a brand-new specialized piece for every tiny detail of the sets (instead of the old interchangeable blocks) but I’m pretty sure it coincided with the success of the LEGO video games. I guess once they showed kids that their LEGO people figures had smiling teeth instead of passive grins, and could bend their arms to crack a whip, the simple brick-and-block models had to go. Bummer.

That’s why I was so jazzed to find the fresh line of Creator model sets by LEGO. Finally, LEGO sets that look like LEGOs!

Not that I’m overly bummed out about the direction LEGO has gone in recent years (dude, their Star Wars stuff is outstanding), but one thing that got kicked to the curb in the march towards intricacy, has been the interchangeability of the LEGO models. One of the best parts of owning LEGOs was building all the crap that WASN’T included in any of the instruction manuals. I remember dumping out a big bucket of blocks and making whatever I felt like making – and that was great!

The Creator line brings a lot of that back. Sure, there are still a few pieces that are molded to look like chicken drumsticks, but the bulk of the pieces are the famous LEGO blocks that I was used to when I was a kid.

But it doesn’t stop there. One of the advantages of having the standard blocks is that the model sets now come with a minimum of three different designs to make with the blocks you buy (with more available online for download). So you basically get 3+ designs for the price of one model set. This is probably one of my favorite features of the Creator line.

Another thing I like about Creator is that the sets comes in a variety of scales. The smallest sets (50-90 pcs. designed for age 6-12 but probably simple enough for younger kiddos, if supervised) are neat and tidy and come in their own hard case, which are handy for keeping the blocks organized. There are some mid-sized sets (250-800 pcs.), and of course the model sets scale up to the 1,000-piece locomotive set.

The last thing I really like about the Creator line is that the price is much cheaper relative to the Star Wars and Toy Story models of the same scale. Probably because they’re not paying to produce toys in the franchise, and they can just show off the ordinary LEGO genius that they’ve always been known for. You can get the smallest sets for around five bucks at toy stores.

I like these sets so much, I’ve bought one every week (for the last three weeks) for me and my kiddos to play with. We’re having a blast, and it’s cool to see my little ones be less intimidated than they were when I brought home Darth Vader’s Tie Fighter.