Customer Review

90 of 90 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This small set is a tease!, December 5, 2010
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
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This review is from: MindWare Contraptions 50 Plank Set (Toy)
I bought this set along with MindWare KEVA Contraptions for my 9yo son. We have only had them for 2 days, but he and his 14yo brother have been immensely enjoying them. Based on the reviews of the other set, it appears there can be some misunderstanding about what is in the box: this is a set of 50 identical wooden planks with instructions for *building* ramps, chutes, funnels and "crazy contraptions". Because no glue or connectors are used, it *is* challenging to build the contraptions but that is also what makes it an extremely open-ended toy. The first night my 9yo was a bit frustrated. We talked about how it wouldn't be much fun if I got him a toy where he "beat the boss" on the first night, and that with this toy he'd have a chance to improve and get better at using it over time, and that as evidenced by his older brother, he'd probably still be enjoying 5 years from now. He took that to heart and by the next morning was already starting to master some of the building forms and had created his own working contraption.

This toy requires patience. It would be well-suited for the type of child who enjoys building domino runs -- it requires a similar level of patience, precision and resilience in the face of the inevitable mishaps.

The planks are identical in size and shape to Kapla or other Keva planks, though these are pine and not hardwood as the other more expensive sets are. They can used interchangeably with those systems, and thus can be used to construct all the other types of structures one might build with Keva planks. The worksmanship seems excellent and precise.

The balls appear to be colored ping pong balls and the only downside to this is that one of our balls already got crushed somehow. However the upside to this is that they are easily replaced/supplemented by readily available ping pong balls.

We bought this set along with the 200-plank set, thinking it would give us some additional planks and a few extra contraption idea. I'm not sure that was worth it, and we might have been better off getting another 200 plank set, as with 2 boys using them, we clearly need more planks :) The additional designs in the instruction book that come with this set aren't very interesting or fun. Buying this set alone would be a tease -- there aren't enough planks to build a very big or interesting contraption. I recommend buying (one of more of) the larger set.

For those who already own a set of planks, there doesn't seem to be any way of getting the contraption instructions without buying the sets at this time. This is unfortunate. It would be nice to be able to buy the instructions only for my nephews who already own planks, and to buy instructions for more "generic" uses of the planks for my own sons.
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Tracked by 1 customer

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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 20, 2010 12:38:05 PM PST
AllanL5 says:
Thank you very much for your thorough and thoughtful review(s) of this product. I started with your review of the bigger set and wondered about the usefulness of the instruction book for this set (wanting it for the same reason you purchased it). You've answered my question beautifully (explaining that it's not very interesting) so now I won't have wasted money purchasing this set and can focus on spending money on planks for building things using instructions from the bigger set. I've found that our local warehouse store has the Citibloc sets at a good price and am stocking up.... Thanks again for your time and trouble to help us all make good purchasing decisions. Much appreciated!

Posted on Nov 12, 2011 5:12:46 AM PST
Jama says:
If you're looking for other building instructions, I would suggest looking at Kapla's books or their 50 building idea cards. The cards don't show how to build things, but they're are pretty easy to figure out, and run the gamut from very easy to very challenging. My kids use them frequently.

Posted on Oct 9, 2013 5:10:41 AM PDT
Anonymous says:
Does the 50 plank and 200 set have instructions for different types of projects or are they repeated? That is the only value I see in getting the 50 plank set otherwise I am planning on getting 2 200 piece sets to have PLENTY of material for my creative 11 year old.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2014 9:15:28 PM PDT
As mentioned in my review, there areadditional designs in the instruction book that come with this 50 piece set that are not in the instructions for the 200 piece set, but they aren't very interesting or fun.
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