Nanoblocks: An Alternative to Large, Expensive Building Sets

Geek Culture

My Dream Home. Image: Nanoblock

I really love to assemble and build things, especially according to a set of directions. I know I’m not the only one out there. For some of us, it’s easier to follow the directions in the Lego manual than it is to come up with our own designs. And while I love Lego, and the few sets of it that I have, I can’t afford to buy the larger, $100+ sets. Yet I still long to build architectural masterpieces.

Enter Nanoblock. Domestically, Nanoblock only seems to sell a few sets, but with architectural ones such as the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, and Neuschwannstein Castle, I can build to my inner architect’s content without breaking the bank. Each of those sets retails for about $20.

The blocks in Nanoblock sets really are tiny — itty-bitty, even. Some of the smaller pieces can be difficult to hold, let alone put together or take apart. But with a (very) careful hand and an eye for detail, you can create completed works that also have the side benefit of taking up much less room in your house. But assemble these sets in a well-cordoned-off area. Using a tray or table with edges would be ideal. More than once, I’ve had to search the floor for pieces just a few millimeters across. Sets come with instructions for building. They aren’t as detailed as Lego instructions, but they are definitely clear enough for anyone to use.

Each set also comes with several extra pieces, with which you are supposedly able to build extra small things. But having already almost lost pieces myself, my suspicion is that the extra pieces are really for when you inevitably lose some.

If architecture isn’t your thing, there are also Nanoblock sets that are animals, figures, and even basic sets. Prices vary by size and complexity.

Nanoblocks are originally from Japan, and from what I can tell are widely known and available there. Here in the United States they are put out by Ohio Art (of Etch A Sketch fame). Several sets can be found at and ThinkGeek, while a larger variety are available through places like eBay and stores that specialize in Japanese toys.

Now I just need to save up for the Nanoblock Neuschwanstein Castle Deluxe Edition Set!

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