“ Manufacturer: ELC / Age: 3 Years+ „
I bought my son a game called Marble Madness from a car boot for a couple of pounds. My son wasn't with me at the time and my sole reason for buying it was that I remember having great fun playing with a similar toy at school. The game that my son owns is far more complex than the version that I played with at school twenty odd years ago.
The game contains four bases and a combination of small circular tubes and a variety of pipes. The pipes are in various colours and designs. There is a loop the loop plunge pool and twisting slides.
I tested it out for the first time while my son was in bed firstly so I knew what I was doing but also for the reminiscing factor. I copied the image on the box and despite not been three years old I still struggled. Due to my own frustration I put it away for a while before I felt I had the patience to suggest we had a play with it.
For my son it was a toy of love at first sight .He immediately tipped the components all over the floor. He did initially need help to understand which was the base but been a boy was soon was assembling high towers. He did test it each time he put a new piece on and we now have a repetitive song which is simply check it out over and over again. I found through him playing that it didn't have to be as structured as I first thought. While some designs may mean that some tubes are not used during a marble fall this is not important.
My son is four and He mostly builds in towers using only two bases and so can get frustrated then when it falls down. The pieces do simply do attach to each other. I have read many complaints about how they fall apart but I find if built in a structure of four these don't tend to fall apart.
The great thing with this toy is how much the boys love it he has a friend six months older and six months younger and each time they come to play at our house it is the first toy they want to play with.
This toy is great for fine motor skills. Helped think through problem solving and structure and also we do a lot of counting with the marbles and share equal numbers. We have races to get our marbles to reach the bottom first so this game is about more than a construction set.
My only real complaint about this product is that it is a bit over designed. I think a simpler model with less different design shoots would be sturdier.
This toy is not recommended for children under the age of 36 months old due to small parts. I have taken a different toy off my son as I walked in the lounge with a mouth full of marbles when he was around four so I would seriously consider talking to children about the dangers of marbles as I have now had to do with my son but would also advise you follow the age recommendations. I also think that at a younger age they would struggle to fit the sections together and would frequently topple over.
I have seen other marble run games on Amazon that do look far sturdier and easier to build and cheaper so would recommend this style of toy is a great one although not particularly the brand.
This toy is available at both ELC and Mother Care for £22. They do also sell an extension set for £10 but to be honest I really do not think that it is really necessary.
This does seem to appeal to my son and his friends that are boys rather than the girls. I do think there are better products out there and this isn't what I usually expect from ELC. From my son's and his friends' perspective it is a great toy and one that has had plenty play. I do think every household with a young school child should have a marble run but maybe not this one.
Note The ELC no longer make the electronic version but Doyoo have asked me to put it in this catagory.
I bought Marble Madness for my 3 year old girl for a Christmas present, as I remembered having something similar as a child and playing with it incessantly. Although my daughter enjoys playing with this toy, there are a few problems with the quality of the pieces that leave her frustrated. As a result, after a few months interest this toy is now relegated to under the bed!
The main problems are that the wind up tower is very difficult for a small child to use, and that the towers do not always fit together accurately. This means that unless you follow the picture on the box, the tower you are making won't necessarily work. This is very disappointing for a child that has spent ages designing and making a track.
However, it is a lovely toy for child and adult to play with together, as the building is all part of the fun. When it works, it is very satisfying, and it gets your child thinking and problem solving while enjoying themselves. It is brightly coloured and sturdy, but very noisy to play with. One other issue is that other marbles do not work with the toy, so you have to use the marbles included (they are slightly smaller and lighter).
I love this game, Im a childminder so I look after quite alot of children of all different ages, the youngest being 2 and the eldest being 14, they all play with this game the younger ones have to be supervised as there are small marbles involved but we all love it.
You can build your own marvellous marble run, with loops, twists and drops. Drop in your marbles and watch them whiz down through the tubes. Create lots of designs and you can even race friends or parents.
This colourful toy is made from plastic and is very hardwearing.
The children I look after spend ages with a little help from me putting it together. It's great in teaching them about connecting pieces to create a maze for the marbles. There are so many different ways you can put it together so its like having a different toy everytime! Once it's all set up they spend hours putting the marbles through the maze! They totally love this and I would recommend this to all kiddies (and adults). Hours of fun and keeping the kids quiet & busy
Age level - Wonderful from any age you are certain your child will not put marbles in their mouth. Mine have used this from ages 2 and 1 1/2, but only with constant supervision when very young. ELC's suggested age range is 3+, but of course you will have to adjust this for your own child. If the child still puts small objects in their mouth, they can not use this alone.
We have the electronic version of this, which is exactly the same except it has a yellow plastic base which would light up and make noises as marbles passed through. Unfortunately, the electronic bit was faulty, and I imagine that is why they no longer include them. It does still add stability to the unit.
I am not certain the exact number of pieces, and no longer have the box, but it does include enough to make a decent set up, as shown. The large green tower shaped part has a handle you wind up that will lift marbles to the top. There is also a loop the loop piece, two see through parts with spinners, one slide that alternates which way the marble falls, and various tower pieces and slides. Most of the parts are lovely see through coloured plastic which catch the light nicely and allow the children to see the marbles racing through.
Advantages : The marble run helps develop problem solving skills as well as using the same part of the brain that will later work on puzzles and maths. It also develops fine motor skills. I would also say it encourages creativity as there are so many different ways to build it. More importantly though, this toy is really fun. My oldest (5) has absolutely loved this toy from the time we bough it, and still does. he has literally spent hours building, rebuilding and dropping balls down the chutes. My youngest (2) also loves it, and I expect it will be a family favourite for years to come. Thankfully, other than the electronic part, it is well made and will not break easily.
Disadvantages: Marbles pose a very serious choking risk, you must constantly supervise or be certain the child will not put marbles in the mouth. It falls apart easily and usually needs some adult help to rebuild, my son is not the only one who has spent many hours rebuilding this! It is also made to work with ELC brand marbles only, which are smaller than most. Ordinary marbles will often get stuck in the lift part, or one of the slides with small spinning bits. This means instead of picking up a bag of replacement marbles from a pound shop, you have to go to ELC to buy them. I do need some more so was looking online, but they are not offered. I believe last time I checked in store though they were £6 a bag, which I will have to fork over as I have so much invested in these sets. Besides this one, I have the basic set and the extension pack as well. The only other flaw is the top of the loop the loop is always coming off and getting lost. I do find it again, but only after much searching as it is too small. This part is also small enough to swallow, so even if you keep the marbles put away, you must also take this bit off if you leave the run set up.
I am still giving this 5 stars in spite of it's flaws just because my sons love it so much. It has brought hours and hours of joy, and as such is worth the problems to me.