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I bought the 'Mega' version of this game for my two children (boy age 6 and girl age 3) for Christmas for £23 from Amazon and it has proven so far to be their favourite present - with some tough competition from Lego and a Doll's house! The Mega version has 100 pieces, including 3 vortex, 3 paddle wheels, a wiggly bell chute, staircase, two way chute and much more. it also includes 20 marbles which seems much more generous than the 6 you get with the standard version. it is aimed at the 4+ age range and I think would appeal to children much older than this too - my 45 year old husband certainly enjoys building it as much as the kids!! It comes in a large cardboard box which is easily opened to use for storage - which you'll need with so many pieces. The pieces are brightly coloured plastic and seem to be sturdy enough from what I've seen of the constructions they have made - and occasionally toppled - so far!! There are no real instructions you just use your imagination which I love and my 6 year old has quickly mastered what needs to go where and he is now enjoying racing marbles and planning new routes - we even had to weigh some marbles the other day to see why one if them occasionally got stuck! So it's great for imaginative and educational play. I have a feeling this toy will last and well probably end up buying extensions for it!! A great imaginative, educational toy for all ages - I would definitely recommend this as an alternative to the endless electronic games that are out there for good, old fashioned fun!!
My five year old son received lots of presents from his school friends at his birthday party earlier this year. Amongst the gifts was this 'Marble Run' set made by Galt, which immediately grabbed his attention. A Marble Run or Marble Race is basically a set of interlocking plastic pieces which can be used to build a series of tunnels and tubes along which marbles can be rolled. This particular set is one of the smaller marble runs available, making it an ideal birthday party sized gift. The box boasts that this contains 30 pieces, which might seem quite generous initially, but this figure includes the six marbles provided so there are only actually twenty four separate plastic pieces to build with. This kind of toy has two aspects; there is the fun of creating different designs of run, by positioning the pieces in different places to alternate the way in which the marbles will roll. After the construction has been completed, the marble run offers a surprising amount of entertainment through watching the marbles rolling around and along the run. It might sound like quite a basic toy but it is actually quite entertaining and, I must admit, this is one kind of toy that I don't mind playing together with my sons. My boys already own a much larger non-branded 'Marble Race' game which has always been a popular toy in our household. I hoped that this Galt set would be compatible with our existing set but the pieces on this smaller set are a little slimmer so don't fit together, unfortunately. The pieces themselves are fairly robust, made from thick brightly coloured plastic, but do take quite a bit of effort to slot together. Once attached, the pieces are pretty stable, however, and the run shouldn't fall apart too easily once fully constructed. The age recommendation on the box is from ages four to eight but children at the lower age of this range may need some help to fit the pieces together securely, without causing the whole structure to come crashing down! I was surprised that this set doesn't include any instructions for any suggested structures. Of course, part of the fun of this toy is that a child can create their own run and attach the pieces how they choose. I do think there is a lot of educational value in following a set of instructions to create a specific structure, even with parental guidance, especially as it can be quite tricky to come up with positions where the marble utilises all of the tubes effectively. There are a few different variations pictured on the box but these are quite difficult to follow accurately as the photos don't let you see around the back of the structures. I tend to just let my son position the pieces as he chooses, just offering suggestions when he ends up with the marbles rolling straight down or getting blocked. It does seem a little mean that only six marbles are included in this set, as a lot of the entertainment value comes from loading as many marbles as possible from different starting positions, watching them race, or follow, each other along the track and then pop out into one of the bases. My kids love piling the marbles back into the top and trying to keep the whole process going for as long as possible! The more marbles you have, the more effective and exciting the racing is. Fortunately, the marbles provided are fairly standard sized glass cats' eyes marbles so could quite easily be added to. One minor niggle is that one of the six marbles provided is ever so slightly bigger than the others and always gets wedged in one of the tunnels, blocking the path of the other marbles. We have ended up simply removing this marble from the set but it is a bit irritating that the marbles aren't all exactly uniform sized as I'd expect. The main issue with this little set is simply that there aren't quite enough pieces to offer much variety in the types of run created. Children are pretty restricted in the construction as there are only three bases provided, although the linking sections are strong enough to create a stable tower, even on carpet, without necessarily being attached to a base. The pieces provided aren't particularly exciting, consisting of just straight or curved sections, which the marbles travel along, with the remainder being the basic tubes needed to connect the pieces together and form the height. Our larger set includes some more complex pieces, such as loop-de-loops and sections with flaps that move as the marbles pass through, which offers more variety and makes the game a little more exciting. I certainly can't fault the quality or the durability of this Galt set but there just aren't enough pieces to offer enough variety or to challenge and entertain older children for any length of time. I have found that marble runs, in general, really do keep my boys occupied for a surprising amount of time, considering the relatively simplicity of a product comprising of a few plastic pieces and some marbles. This small set is okay but I just feel that it is well worth shelling out for a much larger set as this will keep the same age group occupied for much longer, making it much better value for money in the long 'run'. (Sorry!) This 30 piece set costs around £10-£11 from Amazon but I would recommend paying the extra to invest in a larger, more complex and varied set. (Galt also offer a 'super marble run' for less than £20, which would be worth considering.) As a game which provides young children with potentially hours of entertainment, I would certainly recommend marble runs/marble races in general but they are one of those toys where bigger definitely means better, so this small set just doesn't live up to its potential.