I’m delighted to find that Hape has expanded the Quadrilla marble run line (a Platinum award winner from 2006). Here’s the new Xcellerator. These are pricey sets but the type of toy that will be handed down.
Xcellerator by Hape Toys will retail for $149
The design is so appealing. It looks like the track will provide for lots of speedy runs. We haven’t tested this particular set yet.
On the flip side of old-fashioned marble runs– take a look at Hexbugs Nano V2 from Innovation First. My mother thinks I’m obsessed with Hexbugs. I used to love capturing bugs as a kid–so that’s probably where the interest comes from. Now, instead of just having bugs on regular flat tracks, the new versions are designed so that they can move around tubed tracks that can be put in a vertical positions. How cool is that? Hope it works!! (As with most of my blog posting during Toy Fair, we are previewing the toys rather than reporting on toys we’ve tested yet.)
We got mixed reviews on the new Crayola TaDoodles Drop & See. This three level ball run is designed so that your toddler needs to push a lever at each level to release the ball to the next level. The toy is marked 9 months and up and that’s where the problems arose for our testers. Our nine month old testers could not make the levers work. In fact a play group with mostly 18 month old toddlers also had difficulty. The biggest complaint is that the toy falls over easily–unless it’s against a wall which is hard to make happen when you’re talking about a toy for on the go toddlers. Nothing like asking a toddler to only play with something in one location!
Even without the falling over issues, our older toddlers had problems making the red cat lever operate. Our testers were creative — suggesting that the levers should be bigger and that the base should be wider to address the tipping issue. Everyone liked the concept but all had suggestions on how to “fix” the toy to make it better.
The testers that were 2+ could make the toy work–and even our younger testers enjoyed making the balls go from level to level with help…but still, we think the age label is too off the mark to make this one an award winner.
I’m often asked about the best toys for each age group. Without question one of our all time favorite toys for two year olds is the Rollipop. If you’ve spent any time with toddlers, you know they love to do the same thing over and over again. This ball drop provides a great opportunity to have that opportunity. You can talk about the colors of the balls as they drop them down–but you can also sit back and enjoy watching them making something happen. It’s very pleasing. There are also bigger sets…but this beginning tower is a good place to start. We prefer the slow pace of this set to competing ball runs that have balls pop up or out. The magic of making something happen is engaging all by itself!