In short, most designer toys suck because they are made for adults, not for children.
Take House Industries’ Alexander Girard alphabet blocks, for example. “For a child learning how to read or spell, the letters are too stylized. There is also no reason for the colors—i.e. vowels aren’t all one color,” Mahar says. They are another trophy, one that would look good piled artfully by an adult on the bookshelf.
Perhaps it’s better to stick with simple blocks and shapes.
The plain blocks allow kids to make anything…The blocks are totally modern–Frank Lloyd Wright played with unpainted Froebel blocks, Maria Montessori advocated toys with only one or two qualities that change (like blocks that were all square, all one color, but graduated in size).