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My son received this marble run as a 6th birthday present. Here is how he got on with it ......
The box is brightly coloured, with a huge picture of the marble run on the front. It appealed to my son straight away and he was looking forward to playing with it.
The box is made of a strong cardboard, it opens at the top rather than having a lift off lid which isn't a major problem, it just means packing away takes a bit longer, and that you need to tip the entire contents out to find a piece you are looking for.
In the box you get 80 pieces of kit to enable you to make a marble run, the pieces mainly consist of small tubes to make the towers or 'legs' as my son calls them. You also get about ten longer runs, four 'feet', little windmill, a big red vortex bowl and three toppers.
I found it quite daunting at first as there are no instructions included, there is a little sheet with some pictures on and there is the big picture on the box but that is all the help you get. It is far too tricky for my son to do alone, he can fix the pieces together easily enough but to get them in the right order for the marble to flow down is just too hard.
You can change the way the run is set up by either trying to copy the pictures on the guide or making up your own designs. This is quite a challenge and can be frustrating for my son at times, but we have lots of fun choosing the pieces and trying to figure out how the marble will flow. It encourages him to forward think and understand the concept of how one wrong piece can make the whole tower stop working.
Once the tower is set up, it is great fun. We can spend ages just watching the marbles run through the course. It is quite relaxing. We also choose different coloured marbles and race them down the run, or we try to put as many marbles as we can in the top and he loves just watching them whizz around the Vortex.
The marble run is pretty sturdy, the feet are not as solid as some other runs we have played with and although it is OK when it is being played with, I think if it was knocked in anyway it could come tumbling down.
It is a lovely game to play with my son, as it involves lots of interaction. imagination and fun.
My little boy really enjoys playing it at the moment and I think as he gets older he will be able to design more elaborate runs or introduce additional parts.
You can buy this marble run from Amazon for about £15, my friend said she bought it in a small independent toy shop in London so you may find it in your local stores.
I think £15 is a fair price for this set, it has provided us with precious time together and is an educational and fun game to play.
I bought the largest version of the Quercetti Vortex marble run for Christmas last year for my four-year-old. It is available from an independent online retailer at www.constructionkits2enjoy.org.uk currently priced £28.74. I haven't seen it on sale anywhere else in the UK. I think, it's worth buying the bigger set as it allows for more variety and grows with your child as they get older and are able to put together more complex constructions. Compared to this, the smaller sets offer limited play value.
The largest set consists of 224 pieces (as opposed to just 80 pieces in the set pictured above). In addition to the dozens of tubular pieces, which make up the "spine" of your constructions, there are numerous short and long bridges, three spirals, two funnels and various other bits and pieces. It comes with an instruction leaflet featuring three constructions, which you can copy piece by piece, but you can also make up your own designs. This is harder than you think and even adults might find it challenging! Just try to incorporate all the pieces without any dead ends and you'll see what I mean.
The 224-piece set has a recommended age of 8+ years because of its complexity, but a 3- or 4-year-old could safely play with it as well, as long as they understand that they mustn't put the marbles in their mouth. (The smaller set has the recommended age of 4+ years.) This is one of those rare toys that is fun for parents to play with as well. We've spent many happy hours playing with this set as a family. Initially, my son was quite content with just handing me the pieces I asked for and then launching the marbles from the top. Now that he's nearly five, he quite enjoys putting together some pieces to build simple structures of his own. I'm sure the time will come when he will be able to use strategic thinking and build more complex designs without any help.
Overall, I'm very happy with this toy. However, one of the reasons I didn't give it five stars is because sometimes the marbles get stuck in the swirly bits and we have to move them on manually. This probably wouldn't happen if we built it on a hard level surface, instead of the carpet as even the slightest distortion of the structure will prevent the free flow of the marbles. Also, it seems that the marbles used in this toy are a non-standard size, slightly smaller than regular ones. This means, if we lose them, we won't be able to find replacements. There are 24 marbles in this set and we've already lost two of them. It would be a shame having to throw the whole thing away just because we ran out of marbles, so I'm trying to make sure we don't lose any more. I'd like to keep this toy for our grandchildren!
I would definitely recommend this toy to other consumers as it is fun, educational and creative in equal measure. It's not the cheapest toy around, but given its versatility, it's excellent value for money.
Build the 80 piece Marble Run Vortex for spectacular marble runs, solid construction with double-entry funnel and smooth fast flowing tracks. Includes fun paddle wheels, bell shaped feet form a sturdy base.