Category Archives: Toy

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Gravity Maze is one of the most famous and accoladed products by Thinkfun. The premise of this unique puzzle/game is to create a 3D structure of blocks and tunnels which allows a small marble to travel the distance between a designated start and end points. Gravity Maze comes in a large box and includes a plastic 5Γ—5 grid, 11 colorful blocks of varying sizes, 3 marbles, and 60 challenge cards. The blocks are composed of small cubes and contain short tunnels passing through them. They can be placed on the grid either horizontally or vertically, and can also fit each other, just like LEGO blocks. This allows the solver to design an extended system of tunnels, essentially creating a maze for the marbles to travel through. The challenge cards are split into 5 groups by difficulty, ranging from simple beginner puzzles (involving just a few blocks) to expert puzzles (involving up to ten blocks). Solving each of the puzzles requires careful analysis of the given pieces and all the possible ways in which they can be combined. When the structure is completed, the solver must drop a marble into one of the pieces and watch it find its way to the destination. Testing the final solution is arguably the best part of the puzzles, and it is probably what makes Gravity Maze such a fun game. Even though the recommended age is 8 years and up, many of my academic friends enjoyed spending time with it as well. I am sure that middle and high schoolers will like it even more.

  • 60 challenges with varying difficulty
  • unique and fun concept
  • the challenge cards are a bit flimsy

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Kaleidoscope is a new puzzle by ThinkFun based on the concept of color mixing. It comes in a small box which contains 6 transparent tiles and 40 challenge cards, split into 4 difficulties. The tiles have beautiful snowflake design and are colored in yellow, blue, and red. By placing them on top of each other, you can create three additional colors – green, purple, and orange. The goal is by overlapping 2 or 3 of the tiles, to reproduce each of the 40 patterns depicted on the cards. Even though most of the challenges are on the easier side, they still provide a good mental exercise and are lots of fun to solve. The best feature of Kaleidoscope is the way it masterfully combines attractive design and interesting gameplay. It is also very compact, which makes it easy to store and carry around. Considering its low price, I find the puzzle to be of great value. Highly recommended!

  • 40 puzzles, 4 difficulties
  • innovative concept
  • compact and attractive design
  • highly recommended

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Moving Room is one of the easier disassembly wooden puzzles offered by Siam Mandalay. It consists of three pieces which must be arranged into a cube frame. Moving Room has the usual high quality of all products made by Siam Mandalay, featuring well-polished hardwood and a stylish engraved logo. Just like the previously reviewed Hoopla Cube, Moving Room’s pieces are a bit thinner than optimal, which slightly compromises their fit. However, this does not create any unintended solutions and therefore does not impact the solving experience. I enjoyed a lot this product and think that it is a great introductory puzzle for people interested in this type of toys. It is highly recommended, especially for children and for beginners!

  • good quality hardwood
  • easy disassembly puzzle
  • pieces do not fit perfectly
  • highly recommended 

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Cat Crimes is a logic game by ThinkFun inspired by classic deduction puzzles. It consists of 40 challenges split into four difficulty groups. Each challenge presents the player with a cat crime which they must solve. One of six items on a carpet has been ruined, and several clues written on a card point towards the cat which is responsible. The player must analyze each of the clues, as well as the models of the cats and the carpet (included in the box), and find the perpetrator. Even though the puzzles can be completed just as easily with pen and paper only, the inclusion of cardboard models makes the solving process much more fun. The beautiful artwork of the set and the sturdy cardboard additionally improve the experience. a pure logic, the puzzles are best suited for students in primary and middle schools, but older people can enjoy them as well. Overall, Cat Crimes is a wonderful twist on a traditional type of puzzle, which I highly recommend.

  • a fun variation of a classic puzzle
  • 40 challenges, 4 difficulties
  • beautiful artwork
  • highly recommended

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Hoopla Cube is one of the many wooden puzzles offered by Siam Mandalay. It consists of 3 pieces which need to be maneuvered around each other until they create a cubic shape. The task requires strong imagination, focus, and patience. In order to get a sense of what to expect from this type of puzzles, you can try the online game Interlocked. However, no video game can replicate the experience from solving a puzzle toy in real life, especially when it is well made. Siam Mandalay’s products in particular seem to offer very high quality. The wood is well-polished and pleasant to touch. There is a subtle logo of the company, engraved on one of the pieces, which enhances the look of the toy. One major remark which I have is related to the fit of the pieces. I feel that the space between some of them is a millimeter or two larger than optimal. This allows the pieces to jiggle around and makes it possible to solve the puzzle in unintended ways*. However, despite this flow, Hoopla Cube is still an entertaining and challenging puzzle. Its cost is a bit higher than the cost of comparable products from other manufacturers, but for me the premium look and feel justify the price difference.

* This puzzle is meant to be solved using only horizontal and vertical moves, i.e. without rotating the pieces.

  • good quality hardwood
  • medium disassembly puzzle
  • pieces do not fit perfectly

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I am really divided with my opinion about Hanayama’s Cast Square. The puzzle looks solid, beautiful, very interesting the first time you take it in your hands. Also, its construction itself is an engineering achievement, which is probably its most impressive feature. However, it takes just a few minutes to play with it until the puzzle gets solved purely by accident. This happens almost every time since the movements needed to reassemble it are very natural. Eventually, it all comes down to what you expect from this toy. If you want a good mind-bending puzzle, you should definitely pass this one. However, if you want to have a pretty toy with intricate design and mind-boggling mechanism inside – go on and get it!

  • difficulty 6/6
  • special trick
  • take apart
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Perplexus Miniature is a small replica of the original Perplexus. It features the same layout, barriers, and colors, but measures just 2-3 inches in diameter. The marble’s movement is decently smooth, and the maze works surprisingly well despite its small size. That being said, this version is definitely more frustrating and less fun to play than the original one. The marble gets regularly stuck midway the path or in the corners, so you often need to tap on the sphere to make it move. Overall, the product feels more like a novelty item than a fully functional puzzle. It is not a bad toy, but if you are looking for a cheaper, smaller version of Perplexus, I would recommend you to try the Q-Bot model instead.

  • medium difficulty
  • 100 barriers
  • very small size
  • recommended 

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Q-Bot is by far the smallest Perplexus, both in terms of size* and number of barriers. Unlike the other Perplexus mazes, Q-Bot has cubic shape, which gives the impression of some futuristic Sci-Fi gadget. With just over 30 barriers, it is relatively easy, comparable to Perplexus Rookie. Q-Bot is also almost completely static, and I found its overall design to be somewhat less imaginative than the other Perplexuses (Perplexi?). While playing with Q-Bot, I stumbled upon several sections where the ball was not clearly visible, which made passing some barriers a bit frustrating. Even though this maze is not one of my favorites, I still had some fun with it. Q-Bot may not be the best Perplexus to start your collection with, but it will be definitely a good addition.

*Not counting the miniature version of Perplexus Original.

  • easy difficulty
  • 33 barriers
  • pocket size