Imagination Builder: Shipping Port Playset

When it comes to imaginative play, I know that many people are concerned that toys today take away the need for imagination, but I don’t think that’s always true. There are some toys that promote imagination and the Shipping Port Playset by CAT® (sold by ToyState for approximately $20) is one of them.

It’s a neat toy. In a nutshell, it simulates a shipping port, complete with a freight ship to load, a gantry and a movable crane, both of which use magnets to pick up the crates to load aboard.

KT #1 had a chance to try this out over a long rainy weekend and it not not only held up well, but held his attention.

He was creating stories about where the ship was going, yelling at his “guys” to “look out below, the payload is dropping,” and made up all sorts of other cool stories to go with the Shipping Port Playset.

Putting It Together

Shpping Port Playset










At first, I was a little worried I wasn’t going to be able to put the thing together. There were no directions in the box and it took me a few minutes to realize they were on the back of the packaging.

Then I realized the colors of the pieces were different than those on the box and that set me back a few more minutes. Once I figured it out though, we were good to go.

Skills Being Practiced:


As I started out saying, this is a good toy to promote imagination. KT #1 used his to create endless stories, and your child probably will, too. But the learning doesn’t stop there.

  • The crane and gantry require patience and fine motor skills to operate, both skills young children need to practice.
  • The cargo, gantry and crane are magnetized, so your child has to learn a little bit about how the poles of magnets work, at what range the cargo bins are able to be picked up and how to work the lever to let the magnet go.
  • The non-magnetized crates slide onto the small (included) Caterpillar forklift, so your child is, again, practicing fine motor skills and learning about distribution of weight to get items to balance.




We Liked the Shipping Port Playset!

In addition to having good skills to practice, we also liked the fact that the toy was fairly durable and still standing after 3 days of heavy play. The only problem we noted was that the gantry comes apart pretty easily and doesn’t have a mechanism to lock it in place, so it needed some extra attention. Other than that, we liked:

  • The swinging action of the crane is really neat; you don’t have to move the boat around to load it, you can just turn the crane.
  • The cargo boat is on wheels, so it glides along as though it’s in the water.
  • There are multiple places from which the boat can be loaded and the crane swings around, so the set is more versatile and can be used in more than one configuration.
  • It makes cool sounds that, while a little loud to a parent’s ear, include “voices” that can be incorporated into your child’s play.

The Bottom Line:

The Toystate Caterpillar Construction Playset: Shipping Port is a toy worth its value in both money and imagination. If your child is a fan of transportation and trucks, this is a great toy to invest in. My only caveat is that putting it together is a little tougher than expected, so make sure to warn your little one ahead of time that it won’t be a “buy and go” toy!

About Amanda

Amanda Morin is author of The Everything Kids' Learning Activities Book, a former teacher/early intervention specialist and mother of three. She is the writer and editor for’s Kids’ Learning Activities site, a regular contributor to PopSugar Moms and her parenting articles have been featured on and, among other sites. Amanda knows that hands-on, fun activities are the best way to promote learning and wants to provide parents with the information they need to find products that promote fun learning.

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