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on August 20, 2013
I love the idea behind this toy, but the execution falls flat. Here are pros and cons;

1) Great idea/concept of matching story with the toy
2) Manual toy - no electricity or batteries involved. Forces kids to be proactive

1) Poorly made - I don't know if this is a Q.C. problem (it's made in China) or just a bad design. The figures that you put on top of the yellow wheels do not fit snugly, so with the force of turning the wheels, they always fall off unless you pull the ribbon very carefully and slowly

2) Same problem with the handle - it does not fit snugly so cranking the wheels to wind up the ribbon is very frustrating process. The handle keeps coming off.

3) The story in the accompanying book is poorly written, contrived and frankly embarrassing to read out aloud. eg. The dog named "Nacho" who is not looking quite so "macho" squeals"Chorizo". Or when Goldie runs into a problem, she tries to solve the problem by thinking outside the box - "she even tries doing hula dances in hopes it will improve her chances" (direct quote from the book) This is no "Goodnight Moon" - Couldn't they have come up with better rhyme and stories...? I can't imagine anybody wanting to read this book more than once.

4) The actual toy is very limited in how to play. It is basically turning a wheel with a ribbon that is attached by a velcro. You get to choose the figures you want to put on the top of the wheel and the pattern you want to make by strategically placing the wheels on the board. In theory, you are suppose to be able to make various shapes such as crown, gingerbread man, lightning bolt,sand castle, happy face, mushroom, letter "L" and "G" etc. etc, but the board is about 10"x10" and the actual "play" area is even smaller than that (about 7.5"x7.5") There are only 5 wheels so most of the complicated shapes end up looking the same or indistinguishable. Also the more elaborate the shape, the more you end up using the ribbon (because of winding it through each wheels) and shorter the spinning time.

5) The spinning time is over in 3-5 seconds. (Yes it is that short!)

6) At over $30 (including tax) this item is way over priced for what it is. You are paying more for the novelty and the idea.

So with all the Cons outweighing the Pros, I'm still giving this three stars because I think the idea is good and promising. I think if they were to continue this series going vertical and horizontal (making Ferris Wheel for example with interchangeable parts and figures), it could become more interesting and maybe worth the price.

Finally, this is entertaining for my two year old daughter but I find it hard to believe that anyone over 6 years old can be entertained by this for more than 15 minutes, and come back to play this over and over again. Much as this has been compared to Lego, this is no Lego alternative.
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on August 13, 2015
Disappointing, to say the least.

I loved the concept. The idea that I could get my girls something that wasn't all about princesses and how they looked completely appealed to me. My oldest was very excited to play with it--yay! That was the point! Then she followed the directions to build things and it all went downhill from there. Nothing stays together. She will build something and as soon as she tries it out, it falls apart, rendering her frustrated and upset that her hard work was done in vain. At first I thought maybe she just wasn't getting the pieces put in tightly enough so I tried it. It fell apart for me too.

She seems to forget how frustrating this toy is and pulls it out once in a while (like just now, which prompted me to write this). She was so proud that she build a "robot" and once she got it to me to show it off, it just fell apart again. She didn't throw it or handle it badly. She gently put it on the table next to me, while still holding it, and pieces flew everywhere.

Bottom line, don't waste your money. I hope the creator puts her problem-solving/engineering brain to work on this and makes it better but we won't be buying any more of these items.
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on January 1, 2018
We bought this the day it came out, years ago. It is such a neat concept and my daughter wants very much to like it (she drags it out from time to time to try to play with it). The problem is the construction of the materials. Nothing stays in place, so when you pull the ribbon through, everything pops out of the board. It is frustrating and no matter how hard we try to keep this from happening, it just falls apart. This is just following along with the book, too. I've attempted other designs, because my daughter gets too discouraged to keep going, and it is not anything we're doing. The axils just won't stay in the board long enough to pull the ribbon through, even when you're doing it very slowly and carefully (which, you'd think for something designed for kids wouldn't need to be treated so gently). I hope that through the years they improved the construction of this product, but it looks identical from what I can tell.
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on January 16, 2014
I have a computer sci degree, spent years teaching math, and would LOVE to see my daughter interested in engineering. I was SO excited when I first saw this company on kickstarter. I kept track of the company and couldn't wait to purchase the toy for my daughter. Sadly, I feel like I've been a victim of great marketing and very poor design. This toy DOES NOT do anything to engage your daughter (or son) in engineering. It is nothing more than what you see in the picture... a ribbon with some cheap little "spools" and animals that sit on top of them. It takes about 2 minutes to put it together and wind the ribbon. Then you're done. And that's all it does. And, as some other reviewers say, it falls apart about 1/2 the time. The story isn't that engaging or interesting and the toy itself held my daughter's attention for maybe 5 minutes. Then it was put away and never used again. I sat down with it myself to see if there was more I could do with it. It's a total BORE. And there is little connection to engineering or to any of the interesting "contraptions" you see in their famous viral ad. Finally, I was completely disappointed that while the ad talks of not needing princesses, etc. the other set has a girl on the front with a princess tiara. Did they think no one would notice when the product didn't go along at all with the hype and advertising? There are far better engineering products on the market. Thankfully, we bought some of those as well and they have been put to better use. As for this, I'm getting rid of it.
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on March 9, 2017
I was happy to find this series of toys, and planned to order all of them over time. This was the first one I purchased, and it's turned out to be a disappointment:

- The pieces don't fit well together, so most of the extra designs can't be constructed in the way shown
- On the spinning machine, the axles go too far through the board and/or the blox don't connect well with the axles, so they fall off
- Axles don't stay put in wheels, as shown in alternate designs
- Axles can't be pushed all the way through blox, as shown in alternate designs
- Blox don't stay on axles, as the holes are too small to accommodate

Thankfully, I purchased this product when it was on sale -- at all $30.00-worth of use and learning. If it could do all the things shown in the booklet and more depending on creativity, it may be worth that much, but not as-is. Maybe $5.00-worth of usability as-is.

On the bright side, though, my 3-year-old loves the idea of putting pieces together and making them spin/work, so I hope to find a comparable product that can be used to that end.
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on March 22, 2014
I bought this for my 6 yr old daughter on her birthday. I bought it because it was very highly rated on Amazon and because it had "Engineering Concepts". I did not research it in detail.

I want to be fair so I give what I thought was positive first. The game pieces are solid, the book is entertaining and the book and game work well together, making a story out of the instructions. On our first attempt, my 6 yr old had this sorted out on her own pretty much immediately. We had one piece that didn't spin and she diagnosed the reason right away, rebuilt it and was in action. So we didn't need about half the book. I am not sure she really learned anything, as it was very simple, though she really does like the pieces. Many of the other constructions described in the book are static and not very interesting. We also recently bought a "crazy action contraptions" lego book (with parts) by Doug Stillinger and I thought it was much better than this kit (and $10 less expensive). Much better kinematics, some projects using stored energy, I would recommend that book over this kit anyday.
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on November 25, 2013
I really wanted to love this toy, but it just doesn't do anything for me and my girls. They are 4 and 6 and play with several construction toys and science toys on a regular basis. This toy was interesting for about an hour and has barely been played with since. They are both frustrated by the crank and the little animals because they just will not stay on when spinning the machine. The crank comes off at least 3-4 times while they wind up the ribbon, even when an adult has put it on. And several animals fall of everytime they pull on the ribbon.
I give this two stars because the concept of the game is good. But since its designed so poorly, the kids are not learning anything because they don't want to play with it.
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on January 28, 2014
I bought this for my 5 and 9 year old to work on together. My five year old saw the commercial and had to have this for Christmas. She could not wait to open it. I knew that it was a little old for her but thought that it would be fun for her and her sister to play with. In addition I really wanted to love the fact that this was a woman's company trying to get girls interested in engineering.

If this is the best that there is out there for girls to spark their interest in engineering then I feel bad for the field.

My girls played with this for about an hour - they are back to their Lego's for building and creating.

As to specific failures with the products. The pieces do not stay together in the correct manner so when the girls were trying to follow the directions and build the stuff in the books it was nearly impossible. The product is similar to lincoln logs but not as good.
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on August 5, 2014
When I first saw the smart made commercial with the little girls and the rube goldberg contraption they made I was very impressed and thought to myself it's about time. So I quickly purchased the set for my 6 year old and was quickly disappointed. For a toy was specifically made to encourage engineering in little girls it is poorly engineered. pieces that should be loose are tight and pieces that should fit tight are loose. The little figures which are suppose to stick on rotating pieces fall off very easily and the base that the pieces fit on has an adhesive cover that peels off when the whole base should have been a solid piece. I loved the idea and concept but who ever excuted the design really did not think things through. I true shame. my daughter doesn't play with it and instead sticks with Legos, K'nex, and other creative toys. they sets should really be recalled, reworked and improved (and functioning) sets be given those who purchased them. I would have given a 1 star if not for the fact that the idea of this type of toy was great.
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on December 9, 2013
This was an attractive toy, and my girls (ages 7 and 9) liked it. As a parent, I am disappointed that this toy failed to live up to the hype started by the kickstarter video which stated that this toy will introduce girls to the basics of engineering. The video implied that the storybook would be filled with problems for the girls to solve by building contraptions. While the commercial was puffery, the implication was that this toy will inspire your girls to think like engineers, and possibly build Rube Golberg-like contraptions in your home.

The toy comes with one pegboard, one crank, one ribbon, ten axles, five blocks, five washers, five wheels, five characters that mount on top of the wheels, and a storybook. While the first 4 pages of the book emphasize engineering and creativity, by page 9 the storybook tells you to just copy the picture on the next page if you want to make the plastic dog spin. Suddenly, this toy is no more creative than a set of Legos with step-by-step instructions to build a spaceship.

The second task in the book is that all the other toys want to spin on their wheels. I would have been happier if the booklet asked my kids to try to figure it out on their own first, rather than just asking them to turn the page and copy what Goldie does. Then, the book tells you how you can spin the characters faster, and that's the end. The book offers you some additional setups of wheels, pegs and ribbon if you want to configure the spinning machine differently, but I was dearly hoping for a few physics lessons on gears, pulleys, friction and rotary forces. Could we please not dumb down the science just because my children have ovaries?

I improvised an additional assignment for my 9-year-old, who seemed to be into this toy; can you reconfigure the ribbon and wheels so you spin the characters in different directions? Yep, she figured it out in less than a minute.

I like the idea of this product, and this is a very good start for a girl-oriented engineering toy. I hope there are expansion packs in the future with additional stories, problems for the girls to solve, additional equipment (different-sized gears so they could learn differential rotary forces or rudimentary electronic components would be good) will be available soon. I think this product could be greatly improved if there were science and engineering facts and explanations in the margins for children who want to know more.

As the product stands today, it was fun for my children, but not "Wow! Where has this toy been all our lives? My kids couldn't put it down!" It's probably not worth the $30 I spent on Amazon. I chalk up the increased price to the fact that this toy does not yet have a mass distribution, and can't command lower prices.
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