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Techno Gears - Marble Mania Genius
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4 Star reviews of Techno Gears - Marble Mania Genius by The Learning Journey

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Techno Gears - Marble Mania Genius has been reviewed 10 times with an average rating of 4.60

Gravity + gear mania = marble fun (a genius idea!)
Posted 12/26/2009 by John Call
Rating: 4

Earlier reviews of the Marble Mania series worried me as to whether this would be an appropriate gift for my son in 2nd grade and whether the playability/reuse would justify the cost of this set. As soon as the toy was open I knew it was a good fit in terms of age appropriateness and playability/reuse. There will be many hours spent constructing exciting marble runs with the pieces of this set (and probably more sets will join this one in the future). Page 2 of the instruction manual clearly states the toy is "...a constructive [sic] building experience recommended for a child to construct with an adult." Expect to invest significant child/parent time into this toy at the beginning (I consider this a plus). Both parent and child will be challenged. The designers have tried hard to make the manual as clear as possible but will probably need five or ten more years before it has the simplicity of a Lego assembly manual. I am rating the product 4 stars instead of 5 because of it. They tried very hard to make the manual clear and useful, as this product's success is tied closely to the technical clarity of the documentation. The next level for the manual would be to use black-ink technical line drawings used in contruction and DIY magazines from the 1950's that clearly show detail in three-dimensions from a carefully chosen perspective. The other suggestion for the manual would be to have "mini-tutorials" for a small subset of the pieces. Instead of showing all the pieces working in one grand and complex design up-front, give five or six simple runs centering on using one or two of the pieces. Most parents and children experienced with different construction sets will likely choose to experiment with a small subset of the pieces to get a feel for the set before tackling the tutorial design anyway. There are a lot of different parts and possible construction techniques that need to be experimented/played with before a novice can be master and use them for free design play. The manual takes the tutorial approach and describes the building of the design shown on the box front (and in advertising photos). Page 2 of the manual states, "Please allow a minimum of 4 to 6 hours for completion." If your child doesn't have an attention span that can stretch into multiple hours then this toy is not recommended. The tutorial proceeds with step-by-step pictures, but with a construction toy this complex there are many steps that will require common sense, good building practice, and redoing previously misunderstood steps. The tutorial example is complex, but, again, this is the "genius" set. At the completion of the build you will have the necessary skills and understanding to create and design your own kinetic sculptures. This set has a battery-operated motor and twelve gear pieces. The motor (through use of the gears) will drive an Archimedes screw to lift marbles. Want to change the direction of the motor? Use an extra gear. This toy does an excellent job of making gears interesting and useful. Other interesting items of note: two shallow funnels that have been carefully shaped to provide maximum "orbit" time for the marbles, enough track to make two corkscrews (or use them as corner pieces for many corners), two path dividers, a combiner, a zig-zag, a loop-de-loop track, and an electronic noise-maker track. There are a lot of fun pieces in this set and they can be mixed-and-matched for a plethora of design possiblities. The electronic noise-maker seems taken out of a low-budget car alarm and I find the noise a bit loud and annoying, but boys making exciting high-speed marble runs will enjoy the extra attention this element brings to their design.

17 of 20 customers found this review helpful.
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Complicated but fun
Posted 3/14/2010 by Richard Silver - GRANDPARENT
Rating: 4

This game, with "over 500 pieces" is at first intimidating. Once we got started, the assembly went OK. Definitely requires an adult to manage assembly: my 9-year-old came and went as I did most of the assembly. Now that it is together and working, he immensely enjoys using it, and experiments with different ways of feeding it marbles. Some of the attachments are a bit iffy and it is easy to knock parts of it out of place, so it requires some care & maintenance during use.

10 of 12 customers found this review helpful.
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A rating of Techno Gears - Marble Mania Genius
Posted 12/27/2009 by John McCrae
Rating: 4

The toy is engaging and interesting. The recipient loves bulding toys like this one. The only downside is that the little black clips used to hold pieces of the track to grey pilons are very fragile and we've already broken 2 of them.

9 of 12 customers found this review helpful.
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