Another Better Mouse Trap

Geek Culture


My kids love Mouse Trap.  They don’t care for the game play all that much, they just like putting the pieces together and letting it run.  Unfortunately, there isn’t all that much complexity to Mouse Trap, it takes a bunch of futzing around to get five seconds of payoff and, let’s be honest here, the components don’t always work all that well.
Enter this beast- the Imaginarium Techno Gears Mega Marble Mania set from Toys "R" Us.  Once you get past the mouthful of a name, this thing boils down to one of the coolest toys around for young aficionados of the whole Mouse Trap experience.
The whole family had the chance to sit down over the holidays and assemble a set the boys received for Christmas.  There’s a standard, base configuration that’s pretty well covered by the instructions -you could start playing around with your own versions, but you’d be well advised to follow the instructions the first time out.  The set includes over 400 pieces of interlocking girders, gears, tubes, paddle wheels, funnels and a motorized auger/elevator component to automatically raise marbles back up to the top of the contraption once they’ve completed the course.  It took us roughly 3 hours to put it together (that’s with the younger kids “helping”) and it’s sturdy enough in its completed state to have survived intact for a week in the playroom.
The elevator motor takes a single AA battery.  There is another component that provides flashing lights and sound when marbles pass through it and this requires two additional AA batteries, but mercifully for parents, it is not required to be powered up to run the system and even has that most rare of things on an electronic noisemaker: an On/Off switch.  A dozen or so marbles are supplied and surprisingly (or maybe I’m just a jaded consumer), they are standard size, run of the mill glass marbles, so you don’t have to order replacements if/when you lose these ones.  Everything works the way it’s supposed to (i.e., no misfires or jumping the tracks) and the plastic pieces seem reasonably solid.
My kids are in the 5-7 age range and they all enjoyed helping build the set and they continue to wander over to it ever now and then to run marbles through.  I have to admit, I’m kind of fond of it too.  Especially when it’s running in "silent" mode.

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