“ Manufacturer: RocketKids / Type: Science „
I love toys that are educational, but first and foremost I feel a toy has to be fun. We had read up a bit on explosions and rockets ( in fact I'm afraid I looked up explosions so many times online I may now appear on terrorist watch lists) and my sons absolutely love a simple vinegar and baking soda science museum rocket, but we are forever running out of vinegar and baking soda. it isn't uncommon for us to go through an entire bottle of vinegar and a couple of tubs of baking soda in a single day. Water and air would provide an unlimited fuel supply so we started hunting for water powered rockets.
When I first saw this set, I was immediately reminded of a small red rocket I had owned as child which I believe my uncle had bought for me. Nostalgia kicked in - making me willing to pay a bit over the odds - but my rocket was brilliant. It eventually broke as the inevitable consequence of shooting too high into the sky and crashing down on a paved road one time too many, but while it worked it really was a cracker. So , at nearly £20, this set was expensive - but it might just be worth it if it was anything like my old rocket. I ordered on amazon and waited .... and waited and waited and waited. I had failed to notice the seller is in the USA - so this took 2 months to arrive.
Once this did arrive my children happily ripped open the box and raced outdoors to give it a try. The contents of the box are all in the photo above. you get two short squat rockets, one long thin one, two funnels and a hand pump. There are no instructions, there is no fill line on the rockets and you just have to guess how much water to add. We started off with half and half, which did not work. More water was even worse so we started cutting down on water We eventually ended up using 1 1/2 little funnels full. Anything less and the rocket wouldn't go, anything more and it wouldn't go as high.
Despite hours of experiments to achieve the best water measurements - I'm afraid we never did get spectacular results. If you have it filled just right , pump very quickly until the pressure builds up enough and then release at just the right moment you might get a flight of up to 8 feet. Most of the time though, it is much less. I was terribly dissapointed by this, and I think I would have ended up giving this only a 2 star rating. I do remember that our rockets would really hurt if they hit you, and I can't help but wonder if some health and safety regulation, or fear of legal action has caused these to be deliberately powered down.
But this is a child's toy and it isn't my opinion that counts ( as much as I really did want to play with this too). Not having my beloved wee red rocket to compare it to, my sons really thought this was quite good,and have had many days playing out on the green with these rockets and a bottle of water. The set has survived the summer with no damage whatsoever - of course it doesn't go high enough to experience serious crash landings - but we should get another summer or perhaps many more summers out of this toy. While I think this looks a bit cheap - considering what I paid for it but the children did like the colours and clear plastic, and this has been used as just a model with superheroes and such as well.
I think children do learn a little bit of science from toys like this. They learn that when pressure builds up enough, it results in an explosion of sorts, in this case just an explosion of air and water forcing the rocket upwards. Real rockets are powered by much more powerful explosions involving fuel and flames, but the principle is not so different. The force of this explosion allows the rocket to defeat the pull of gravity for a few seconds, but once that force is used up, then the pull of gravity once again forces the rocket back to earth. I tell them little facts like this briefly while we are playing, but the whole point is really to have fun - learning is just a nice extra. I honestly do think children remember facts better when presented with fun and play, and I would class this toy as mildly educational.
My sons felt this should receive a 5 star rating - but I don't think they have a real concept of the value for money aspect of this. I simply do not feel that this was good value for money - but when I consider how much the children enjoy this, I do not regret the purchase. In fact - I supose if something happened to it - i would very begrudgingly buy another. I would prefer a 3.5 star rating but as that is not option I will go ahead and give this 4 stars. if you happen to find one at a better price, I would have no problem in recommending it - but at the current price of £18.94 after postage, I can not recommend this myself unless you have plenty of money to spend.