Thames.RCMAIt finally happened. I completely felt like a kid again when I opened up the Remote-Control Machines: Animals from Thames & Kosmos. I was so excited to see that one of the builds was a penguin, so I may or may not have torn some parts of the box to get it open (oops).

This engineering kit is the latest from Thames & Kosmos’ Remote-Control Machines line. Kids can build one of eight animal models that move by remote control: an orangutan, a crab, a penguin, a Pteranodon, a rabbit, an elephant, a scorpion, and a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Not only can kids build an entire zoo’s worth of animals, but the different models for the animals MIMIC THE MOVEMENT OF THE REAL ANIMAL IT REPRESENTS. So, the crab scurries sideways, the elephant walks, the orangutan climbs hand over hand, the penguin waddles, and the Pteranodon (a dinosaur with wings) actually flies along a chord.

Yes, kids are building their favorite animals, but the key is that they are learning. The hidden  science, technology, education, and mathematics (STEM) value in this is incredible. Kids are learning about animal locomotion and biomechanics as they build each model, and then have fun making their creations go forward and backward with the remote control!

The kit comes with 100 pieces, and all of them are incredibly high quality. I dropped the penguin I built twice by accident (I’m sorry, dear penguin), and no damage was done. Kids can only build one animal at a time, but they can get creative to make their own animals or mix up the animal skins to make their own hybrid animals.

OrangutanAlso, you might not want to hear me get started about the included manual—because I could go on for a while—but here it goes: This 36-page step-by-step illustrated manual teaches kids more than just how to build the different models. It also teaches them about the animals they are modeling and the ways different animals move. Each animal has a different difficulty level, and they are really true to their assessments. After each animal, there is an entire page dedicated to show kids how the animal looks like in real life, and interesting fun facts (Did you know that penguins have solid bones instead of hollow ones to make it easier for them to dive deeper into water?).

Remote-Control Machines: Animals is hands-down one of my favorite educational toys of the year. This construction meets R/C kit has tons of play value for its price and kids will have a blast building their favorite animals!