I don't want to be one of those people saying you were either a Lego or K'nex kid growing up because I had and loved both. But as a rent paying, superannuation having adult, I'm gonna go ahead and take a stand.
K'nex is superior to Lego in every way.
For a long time K'nex sets were superior because they included instructions for so many things you could build from one box, while Lego gave you instructions for just that one damn castle and expected you to just imagine new builds. But now K'nex is superior because you can build some really sweet dart guns out of the pieces.
Can't do that with your Lego bricks.
You also can't customise a Nerf gun like you can a K'nex gun. If you want to build a giant targeting sight on the front of your K'nex K-Force gun, you can. If you want to link four K'nex guns together and create one giant K'nex gun like something out of Dr. Seuss's The Butter Battle Book, you can do that too.
Despite the aggressive name of K-Force, Knex's series of build-able dart guns are downright whimsical.
But if you're buying a whole range of the gun sets with the hopes of recapturing the glory days of weekend-long K'nex builds you'll be out of luck. I found that even the most complicated build (K'nex include instructions for one in the box and have multiple others available online) only took me a little more than 30 minutes, and some of the smaller builds, like the pistol and crossbow above, took less than fifteen. So they're fun K'nex builds, but they're the easy kind.
The most difficult part of building one is figuring out how the shooting mechanisms work so you can start to play around with newer and more imaginative builds. Each K-Force model seems to have its own firing mechanism so you have to reinvent the wheel every time. Fortunately, they all shoot darts really well. Like make-your-coworkers-flinch-as-a-foam-dart-shoots-by-their-head well.
The boxes claim each gun will shoot a dart up to 23m and I found that to be a very accurate measurement. The only downside, at least compared to other foam dart gun systems, is that there aren't a lot of rapid-fire guns in the K-Force line up. K'nex only sent me one, a mingun, and I couldn't finish the build because the set was missing a key piece of the firing mechanism.
That was a major bummer. In another case, a gun was missing all its foam darts. Also a bummer. And two different builds had multiple leftover pieces in the box. These issues could be chalked up to a problem with PR samples (I'm crossing my fingers), or there could be a problem at the manufacturer level.
But when the parts are in hand, and the gun is built it's hard to care about the little snafus. Constructing my first gun I felt like some badass assassin piecing together a sniper rifle on a rooftop. Piecing two together I felt like a mad tinkerer.
K'nex K-Force dart guns gleefully usher you into a world of pretend, and when you're done with them you don't have to find a closet to shove a giant plastic contraption into, like you would with a Nerf gun. Instead you just break the gun down, shove it in a bag and forget about it. At least until the desire to peg someone in the nose with a dart strikes your fancy again.
- Prices start at $US9 ($12) and go up to over $US40 ($54)
- I made a compound bow gun with my bare hands
- I made a combat shotgun with my bare hands
- I did not make a minigun with my bare hands because a piece was missing
- I'm still basically a badass now.
- Please fear me
All images: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo