Customer Reviews: Anatex Deluxe Mini Play Cube
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on July 3, 2012
It seems that its been a while since a review of this toy has been written that has been deemed helpful by the community. Hopefully this review will help out future buyers.

I purchased this cube in June of 2012 from The cube was delivered via Amazon Prime via FedEx 2-Day service. The cardboard box arrived in very good shape. On the outside of the box there was a sticker that had a picture of the cube on it, and it stated that the cube was made with non-toxic paints and Made in the USA.

Assembly was easy. The box is in essence two parts (the top and sides), with the screws holding the two main peaces together. As others have noted in their reviews there was one packing flaw - a single screw was missing. I had a screw that worked just fine in my toolbox and I was able to get my 15-month old playing with the toy in no time.

The cube seems very well made and robust - there has already been some heavy tugging on the wires on the top with no wear and tear on the wires or the cube itself. The toy can keep my child going for 30 minutes or so, which can seem like a pleasant eternity.

To make a long story short - I'd purchase this toy again and would highly recommend it to anyone with a child they'd like to keep entertained.
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on September 16, 2009
First off, the short version: if you're not comfortable enough with tools to fix what's wrong with this toy, don't buy it. That, or check the packaging and product carefully -- if it claims a 2007 manufacture date and says it was made in China, or if on inspection you see anything wrong, pack it back up and return it as defective. At least some versiosn of this thing are at best poorly made and fragile, and at worst dangerous.

I'm not going to address the fun or educational aspects of this toy, just the manufacturing issues some have reported. Bought one for my daughter in September 2009. It arrived in a box prominently labeled "Made in China" and with a claimed manufacture date in 2007. Whatever factory in China accepted Anatex's outsourcing contract hasn't yet mastered quality control, because there were quite a number of manufacturing defects:

Imprecise assembly: fasteners and brackets are not accurately placed, causing parts to be loose or misaligned. This is most evident on the bead maze on the top and the "abacus" sliding-bead panel on the side, which is mounted on four stand-off brackets. Mount those brackets in the wrong places and the screws used to attach the panel either won't reach or will be under enough strain they'll pull out (it's very soft pine, and screw threads easily pull loose.) Up on the bead maze, some of the wire ends are mounted crooked, resulting in the wires actually touching or just passing so close to one another that the beads can't pass by.

Mismatched, incorrect parts choices: speaking of that panel, one of the screws used to mount it was the incorrect size, and had not only pulled loose but was loose in the box when I unpacked it; it doesn't match any of the others used with identical mountings, nor does it match any other screw found on the entire unit. There's no excuse for that one short of basic incompetence combined with inadequate or nonexistent quality control.

Incorrect gluing: Once again with the abacus panel -- it's held together with glue. Nothing wrong with that if it's done right, but it wasn't -- see, to make a good glue joint you need clean surfaces, a lot of contact area and a proper amount of glue inbetween, plus a good pressure fit while the glue dries. Well, the surfaces were clean and the joint more or less correctly designed, but the glue was _missing_. What was holding it together? A dab of red paint around the corner. Splendid. Paint ain't adhesive, guys, and the whole point of a glue joint is you put some actual _glue_ in there somewhere. As it was, two of the four joints had popped open, causing the rods to dislodge from their sockets and scarring the surface. Those beads are small enough to be a choking hazard if they get loose, so having those glue joints work is important.

Inadequate torque: Ah, the gift that keeps on giving. About a third of the screws and other fasteners in the unit were loose because they hadn't been torqued down hard enough. Another third had stripped the threads out of the soft wood, because they'd been torqued too hard. The remaining third were in a magical inbetween state which might even have been correct torque -- but I suspect it's just coincidence. As I mentioned, this is soft wood, and proper torque matters. (n.b. for nonmechanical types: "torque" roughly means "how hard you twist the screws.")

What else was wrong? Well, there were plenty of inexplicable gouges, scrapes and dings on the surface, even though it was properly packed and nothing in the box had a chance to impact the surface. Plenty of people have commented on that -- it means the factory in China that produced them was working too fast and/or wasn't well tooled for the job, so parts were being thrown around.

So, should you buy this toy? Well, chances are your kid(s) will love it. So if you want one, fine, but be prepared to inspect it very thoroughly when it comes out of the box. Test every screw to ensure it's snug and not loose or stripped. Pop the little plastic caps off the axles on the gear side and check that the locking washers are tight. Check the glue joints and be prepared to spend a little time gluing and clamping. Check both ends of every wire in the bead maze to ensure they're firmly stuck in their mounting holes. Go over all the many dings, gouges and scrapes and smooth out the splintered bits. Find any screws that don't look like they match their companions, gently unscrew them and if they're too short or too fine-pitched in the threads, replace them. While you're at it, attach something heavy to the lower edges on the inside, because it's top-heavy and will tip over the first time your child tries to use it to stand up. Think of it like a toy for both you and your child -- you get a fun evening in the garage fixing everything Anatex's manufacturer did wrong, while showering curses on the consumer-hostile side effects of globalized manufacturing. Then when you're done, your child gets a fun thing to play with.
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on February 23, 2015
Don't have your kids learn this alphabet! Shame on me for not noticing this before my return period expired. Shame on Anatex for having someone assemble this that clearly doesn't know the alphabet. FYI...we now have 2 of the same letter in our alphabet!
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on November 22, 2011
We purchased this for our 2 year olds birthday gift. It is a great cube - very entertaining and our child loves it. That said - the cube arrived missing the screws and a very important bolt that holds it together. We had to purchase screws from a local hardware store and at this time cannot find a replacement bolt. I contacted the manufacturer (per Amazon policy)and basically cannot get a reply.
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on February 5, 2011
My son received this toy as a birthday present. The beads were damaged to the point where I needed to saw some of them off so they wouldn't injure my children. The paint is horrible. Over all this is a horrible toy.
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on June 29, 2014
This thing is of a very poor quality. I would even say it's not safe for my baby. it's made out of plywood and the edges are very rough. I pulled out a few sharp pieces of wood half inch long, that were just sticking out. And there are still some left. The letter cubes also have sharp, uneven edges. I fee like i am going to get a splinter when i touch this thing.

They used a very thin film to smooth out the flat surfaces (the larger areas) but the edges have not been sanded. And you can also see pieces of this film around the edges. Also the paint is already coming off of those plastic wheels, before we even touched it. And the screws that hold them, are just... well.... screws. I mean it's a baby toy, put something nice on top, a colorful cap or something. Instead of a metal screw from a hardware store. At least they're not sharp.

We got this as a present, so i can't return it. Will try to sand the edges, but i wouldn't recommend this thing. It looks and feels very cheap, and is just plain hazardous. For $100 i expect a better quality product.

I added a few close up photos of the problem areas in the photo section.
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on January 17, 2013
My son received this cube as a Christmas gift and he immediately loved it. However, one of the screws was not properly attached and was a choking hazard so we had to return it. When we received the replacement, not only was the same screw not attached, but we also noticed that two of the number blocks were installed out of order. We had to send it back again and did not ask for another replacement. We will bring our business elsewhere in search of a better product. This was very disappointing not only because how much my son loved it but also because its made in the USA and we expected much higher quality. Do not buy this product!
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on December 11, 2014
I created a video because there was no option for me to add photos to my edited review. So be sure to check that out (more of a photo slideshow.)

As of 12/10/2014 this product is being made to a high quality standard. There's a bunch of reviews over time so it gets confusing. Apparently the item was made in the USA, China, and now back in the USA. I had concerns about the quality before buying it. Primarily safety concerns with wood splinters and screws that stick out.

My item showed up tonight and they have countersunk all of the screw holes. All of the wood edges are safe. Everything is solidly mounted to the box. The area with the flip blocks is made of a single piece of thick plywood now which is a better design than in the photos.

The only thing I had to do to it was carefully hand bend some of the rails on the top so the beads would have a better path of travel. Attaching the top to the box requires installing four screws with a phillips screwdriver. The plywood that the box is made of is high quality, so they were actually hard to screw in. It required a lot of torque and I was concerned that either the screws were going to break or the wood was going to split. Neither happened in my case and it's together, safe and sound. I just want to alert anyone that buys this to take their time. Pre-drilling pilot holes with a small drill bit may be a good idea if you're extra particular and don't want to take chances with the put-together.

This is a top quality product though, so I wanted to relieve any old fears from previous reviewers. What do I like about this product comparing it to similar products from different makers? The railing up top is complex so it should be pretty fun for kids. The designs on the gears are painted on as opposed to stickers. It's just designed to a higher level of quality than any of the other activity centers I saw. The bottom is hollow and it has no 'feet' so I may add some rubber feet down there. You could sit it over a stool or something if you wanted to save space that way in the kid's bedroom. I bought this as a Christmas present for my 3 month old daughter. She'll hopefully enjoy it once she's a bit older.
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on December 18, 2007
After reading many reviews about the stickers falling off and looking at other cubes, I decided this toy was worth it even without the stickers. I was surprised when it arrived to see that the manufacturer corrected this problem. There are no stickers on the gears, but instead the pattern is painted on. My son loves this toy and overall it was a GREAT buy.

EDIT: We have owned this toy for nearly a year since my review and it is still a hit and has held up. My son is a very rough player and has abused the cube beyond belief but it still looks like new.
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on December 16, 2015
Save your money and move on. All the rave reviews about how it's Made in America and how it's a quality toy that will last for years no longer applies to the current productions over at Anatex. There is obviously very poor quality control at Anatex now. I have umpteen amouts of other Made in China children's items that are produced in far better in quality than the Anatex Play Cube. All my photos are right out of the box. I don't have an exceptionally high expectation of things. However, this was by all means extremely sloppily made. The quality of the kind of work into making this toyis something you'd expect from the visually impaired, I-am-drunk-on-the-job-I-hate, minimum wage type of work. Chipped wood pieces abound, paints on surfaces they shouldn't be and poorly applied to where they should. Rough wood edges everywhere, there isn't a piece that isnt crooked, scrapped areas and peeling finishes... Did I get one made from throw away leftover parts? At it stands, I feel like a sucker having forked over actual money for this. The only saving grace here is that my child has expressed a great deal of interest in it. However, I'm conflicted because I'm hesitant to let my kid play with it without acute supervision. I just don't trust that this thing isn't a hazard in some way or another. Furthermore, I am confused by all the chocking hazard warning, everything is supposedly attached to the cube.. right?
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