Tuesday, February 14, 2012

We HEART Q-Ba-Maze

I honestly do not know how I stumbled upon this AMAZING toy on Barnes & Noble. I was looking up something and ended up looking through their toy section online. I had a gift card and I'm constantly on the lookout for things that would look cool on our light table and would be engaging for all my kids. This looked like it fit the bill.
I didn't really know what I was getting except it was translucent and a marble run. Ok, sounds fun to me. I just purchased the Cool Colors Starter Set because I wasn't sure how it would go over or how easy it would be to play with. Oh my gosh, this is the best toy I have ever purchased! Seriously, so much fun, yet, completely creative and educational. I suppose I am stretching it just a tiny bit writing about this on an art blog. But honestly, Q-Ba-Maze encourages children to use a TON of creativity! They can build their own marble runs, thinking about structure and architecture. Not only do they have to be creative, but also use ideas from physics and engineering.  We had a regular plastic marble run like this:
It's a great toy, but I did find that my girls couldn't make large structures on their own because it was very intricate to put together and get the marbles to run smoothly. They often had a tough time making their structures stable with the old marble run. Q-Ba-Maze pretty much works no matter how you set it up. We pulled it out of the box and the girls took turns adding and creating a structure together.

Once they had tried this out, they decided to make the moose structure from the instructions included in the box.
Though, I don't have a photo of him, even my 2 year old likes dropping the marbles into the structures. Granted, this toy is rated for 5 years and up. But I think any age can enjoy dropping the marbles into the run (of course, the marbles are small so you have to be careful they don't put them in their mouth). And by the way, doesn't it look cool on the light table?!

The girls have played with this several times already. We discovered more instruction plans online here. At first the grid-like plans seemed really confusing and difficult to interpret. But once we really looked at them, they are not hard at all. Both my 6 and 8 year olds were able to navigate them. They created the heart (shown at the top of this post) and the robot.

We even conducted a little experiment with the robot. There are four potential places the marbles can end up at the bottom. So we dropped each marble in the center drop spot and recorded where each one landed. Then we moved my daughter's position (left of the robot, right, center) to see if where she was sitting would change where they marble fell. I had her predict where she thought the marbles would go and if anything would change by her changing position. Overall, they ended up on the left-side more. So maybe our floor leans that way. ;-) We had a lot of fun with it!

And finally, here is one of the sculptures my 8-year old created on her own.
Overall, I could not be happier with this product and my oldest has already decided she needs to save up for the Big Box Set so she can make even bigger structures! This is a MUST-HAVE on any kid's wishlist for this year!

Here's a video that shows the owner/creator talking about Q-Ba-Maze and I was even more delighted to learn that this was created right here in the Twin Cities! I LOVE supporting local products!


  1. Melissa--Now that I know what this is, I wish I had purchased the Big Box set to begin with. I've seen it for $39.99 in some specialty toy stores near us. It's listed at $55 on Amazon. So you might look around where you live before ordering online.