I’ve always liked marble runs—you know, the toys where you set up a series of towers and ramps and then drop a marble in to watch it roll and bounce its way to the bottom. ThinkFun has a new spin on the marble run: Gravity Maze.
Gravity Maze comes with several translucent plastic towers that have various paths in them—some angle downward or sideways, and some just pass through. You slot the towers into the plastic grid base, drop a marble in at the top, and watch it click-clack down to the bottom.
Of course, what makes this a ThinkFun product is the puzzle aspect. There’s a deck of 60 puzzle cards, rated from beginner to expert. Each card shows you an arrangement of towers on the base, and then shows you the other towers you have access to for that puzzle. The goal is to get drop the marble in the entrance and get it to the red target cube.
In some puzzles, you’ll even have to use the towers horizontally, with various rules on how they must be supported. The towers are nicely designed so that they snap into the base and each other in various orientations, and the puzzles do get pretty tricky to solve. (Fortunately, of course, the solutions are shown on the backs of the cards.)
My kids have really been enjoying this—to the point that I’ve only gotten to play with it a little bit myself—and it’s a lot of fun. Since there are three of the large ball bearings included, once they get the solution they’ll run all three of them through. And then again.
My middle daughter has already gone through all the cards once (with some help), and is starting up again. Physics puzzlers are fun on the iPad, but they can be even more fun in real life, with actual physics involved.
Here’s a little video of the Gravity Maze in action (including a bit of slow-mo):
The Gravity Maze retails for $29.99, and is recommended for ages 8 and up.
Disclosure: ThinkFun provided a sample for review.