Tag Archives: Slow Toys

A Slow Christmas: The Hape Quadrilla Space City Marble Run

Hape Quadrilla space city marble runI spent last Tuesday night building a Quadrilla Space City Marble Run from Hape, as part of my build up to another slow Christmas. Actually, it wasn’t hard, even after a long day and I enjoyed it, although it did require some concentration. The marble run is built up from various colour-coded blocks and wooden tracks, unlike the more common plastic ones which come with long, ready-angled pieces to click together. But the creation process is part of the beauty of slow toys.

The box is suitably large and exciting and it’s all beautifully packaged when you lift the lid. It won’t be for long! However, there’s definitely enough space for all the parts to go back in quickly and easily when it’s time to tidy up.

Hape Quadrilla Space City Marble Run

Designed to glow in the dark, there are special luminous marbles and glow stickers to put on the blocks so you can have some extra fun. If the stickers walk off elsewhere, as they’re likely to in our house, you can still enjoy it as there are numerous ways to build different runs. There’s a booklet that comes with it that shows each build stage-by-stage, with the area built up greyed out each time.

Hape Quadrilla space city marble runAs with all Hape toys there are sturdy, sustainable wooden parts and I think D, now 2.5 and Scrip, now 5.5, will both enjoy playing with this, albeit D probably won’t have the precision to build the tallest towers or follow all the diagrams and the grown ups might be getting involved (which is no hardship). The space station top also glows in the dark and that’s one of the few plastic parts, but it’s not an essential bit.

There are a few fiddly bits needed to keep the marbles running smoothly and not dropping out the back, and it might take a bit of adjusting to make sure everything runs well (or maybe that’s just me!) but you soon get the hang of it. And I think this will be great as part of my desire to get Scrip more involved in STEM toys.

And the moment of truth? It took me about 10 minutes to build my run and then drop a series of marbles down to helter skelter their way through down in different directions, as the special blocks send them a range of ways, before falling into the collecting tray with a satisfying plop.

This is surely one the kids will love and I can’t wait to pop it under the tree for Christmas. The only problem is it’s a joint present, so let’s hope they share nicely.

Thanks to Hape for sending me a sample to review for the blog. The Space City Marble Run costs £84.99 RRP.

Can you play and display? Beautifully crafted children’s toys

So, our building work is pretty much complete (hooray!) and I’m rather excited about our new wall of white shelves, in particular. They’re currently a work in progress (see below) but I’m hoping to make them and their displays as Instagram-worthy and Pin-worthy as possible.

Shelves

I’d mentally allocated about three shelves to the children in the corner near their little table (which they seem to be rapidly out-growing). Realistically, this allocation has now more than doubled and obviously all the shelves within reaching height are actually fair game for them, so the precious things are slowly moving further and further up.

It does mean that while some of the toys are in baskets, some of them are also on display, so I have to say I am keeping an eye out for aesthetically pleasing ones which don’t make me shudder. I’m planning another slow Christmas and wooden and handmade toys seem to be the most beautiful. Amongst those which are very displayable is this lovely cat puzzle from Hape.

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I’ve featured Hape in the past and even applied to be an Ambassador, as I like their ethical approach and beautifully crafted toys. This puzzle is no exception with colourful cats which all tone in well. It’s a 3D jigsaw which doesn’t have lots of pieces but does need mastering as there are three layers. A good challenge for D who’s now 2.5 years old.

Hape cat puzzle

And better still, it has pride of place on the shelves. I also thought it was good value for a gift or, dare I say, stocking filler… at just £8. Off to rearrange those shelves.

Thanks to Hape for sending me the puzzle which is available from Debenhams.

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Enjoying a slow Christmas

Slow Toys CollageWe were lucky enough to have a Granddad who was skilled in carpentry, so growing up we were surrounded by a beautifully crafted wooden farm, garage, doll’s house, baby’s cot. The list went on. And we played with them, loved them and probably took them all for granted. Amazingly, a lot of them are still in good shape for my little girl to enjoy 30 something years later (following a good clean).

I had similar ambitions for her toys and she’s always had just as much fun playing with simpler toys as the coloured plastic, flashing lights ones. But a quick look at her toy box shows me I haven’t always got the balance between the two toy camps right. So this Christmas we’re going to do it differently. We’re embracing slow toys: for her and for the other children we buy for.

The Slow Toy Movement – started in 2011 – celebrates toys that are carefully made, not entirely plastic, are available at independent shops, display craft and, even better, won’t leave you rummaging around for four triple A batteries at 6am on Christmas morning. Any extra investment should be worth it for their longevity; hopefully some of them will last for my little one’s children in another few decades.

Here are my slow toys top five for Christmas 2014: Continue reading