Pros: Colorful, fun, great for creativity and hand-eye coordination
The Imaginarium Marble Deluxe Race is the most fun toy ever! I bought this toy at Toys-R-Us and I am pretty sure that Toys-R-Us is the only store that sells the Imaginarium brand. We picked this toy up for only about $20 and I'm glad we did. This is so much fun to play with.
Imaginarium Marble Deluxe Race
There are 100 pieces included in this set that you can use to build towers with ramps and all kinds of things to watch marbles roll all the way through the twists and turns all the way to the bottom. All the pieces come in lots of different colors. The smaller tubular pieces are hollow and they are clear in color. These are the pieces that are used for the tower and to fill any space between ramps that are on a tower. Those are the only pieces that are clear in color. All the other pieces are a solid color. The colors of all the pieces are blue, green, yellow, orange, and red.
With the set came a paper with three different designs that you can build - one with all 6 bases, one with 4 bases and another with only 3 bases. Of course you can build with them any way that you want to. My daughter still has the instruction sheet and keeps it with the set that we ended up storing in a plastic tub. The instruction sheet shows each of the designs as one picture. All the pieces are numbered with letters and numbers and the letters and numbers are on the illustration so that you know what parts are what and where they go. The problem with the illustrations is that fact that they look a little "busy" for her. She has learning disabilities and when it comes to "busy" pages, she often has a hard time with it and needs help. This wasn't a problem since we all like to play with this thing. It gives us something to do together. After we had this toy for a while, she didn't need the instructions much because her memory is beyond believable.
You basically start with the base pieces depending on how many towers you are going to have. The more towers, the sturdier the whole thing is. I wouldn't recommend using less than 3 bases when building so that way it doesn't fall over from being top heavy. You just build however you want to connecting the marble ramps to the towers connecting them all together (depending on how many bases you use) and moving upwards as you build placing the smaller tubular pieces in the spaces between the ramps. One end of the ramps are solid because the tubular pieces are hollow and when a marble enters the tube pieces they keep falling until they hit a ramp and then they come out of the opening the tube pieces have. At the end of the ramp the marble is on, there is an opening for it to drop to the next ramp and so on and so on. So the ramps have a solid end and an open end.
The age recommendations are 3 years and older. My daughter is 8 and loves this thing. Our son is almost 4 and has loved this ever since we got it about six or seven months ago. The ramps are really cool. There are really twisty ones, curvy ones, and even a loop! There are a couple straight ramps that go downwards and they have little spinners on them that spin as the marbles go through it. You should make sure that the spinners are at the bottom part of the ramp piece though because if they aren't, the marbles get caught up easily. There are other ramps that have little plastic disks on them that get hit when marbles pass through them as well. I can't remember how many marbles came with this set but we have 17 marbles so we may have lost a few along the way. The marbles are also different colors like the rest of the pieces but there are some that are silver. I don't know if I would really call them marbles either because they feel like hard plastic.
Our son didn't do much of the building when we first got this. He just didn't really know what he was doing. He started building with them pretty well with his sister a few months ago. There isn't anything confusing about the pieces either. They don't have to be placed in a certain way or anything for the marbles to move all over the marble race no matter which way you built it. My kids like to get all the marbles going at the same time. There are top pieces that allow you to place 3-4 marbles and there is a lever that you lift to let the marbles go. Our son just drops a bunch in one spot so you can always do it his way. Sometimes when he does this, the marbles fly out the bottom when they get there because they are going to fast. They normally just gather up in the bases at the bottom.
I think this is also a great learning toy. Both my kids can use their creativity and they always have a sense of accomplishment every time they make something different. It's great for hand-eye coordination and there's a little to learn about cause and effect I think (with marbles running through spinners and so forth). They figure out where the marble is going and how it had gotten where it did. The Imaginarium Marble Deluxe Race keeps them busy for quite some time every time they get it out. Usually, my husband or I have to be the ones to tell them to put it away. All the pieces are very sturdy which is really great and they are easy to build with and stay together pretty well. There is also something about watching the marbles run all over the place over and over again. It's pretty cool. I definitely highly recommend this toy. Honestly, it's fun for all ages!