Set includes: 48 identically sized gears in six colors (red, yellow, orange, blue, green, and purple), cranks, pillars, connectors, interlocking base plates, and an Activity Guide.
Gears are large enough that children would be unable to swallow them, but the cranks may still prove to be a choking hazard for babies.
Build a simple machine by connecting the gears along the base, or go vertical by adding pillars. Difficulty is increased with the addition of more gears, or using pillars.
Pillars attach to the base and allow for vertical building, making the puzzle 3D.
Pillars can be used all by themselves without the base, as show in the photo above.
For the most part, users seem happy with this set. It gets kids problem solving, thinking in terms of cause and effect, and needs some forethought before placement. Kids also get practice using their fine motor skills snapping the gears in place in line with the one beside it.
We have noticed many reports of the gears attaching so strongly that adults have to help pull them back off. This doesn’t always happen, and we can’t account for the difference in user experience. The only advice we have is to be sure to pay attention to how gears fit on, since they seem to have a right way (which is nice and smooth) and several not-quite-right ways (which is still manageable but not as easy). The strength of the connections might prove to be okay for adults who don’t mind playing along. Or, it could be problematic for those who intend for this to be solely a child-driven activity. Again, not all users have had this problem, but enough have that we thought we should mention it.
Younger children may be satisfied with keeping only a few gears horizontal. This demonstrates the basics of gear functions and lets kids get the hang of it before they try out the pillars. They get all the benefits of practicing their cause-and-effect thinking, problem solving, sequential thinking, and fine motor skills, just at a lower level.
Once the pillars are added, children are engaging in more advanced spatial thinking. Figuring out how each gear will affect one another once they are no longer on the same plane requires the ability to think in 3D terms, and will most likely need some rearranging to get it all working correctly. This is good for teaching patience as well as perseverance.
Proving that the age recommendations for toys is somewhat arbitrary, some 4 year olds may take to this set like a duck to water, while some 8 year olds may take to it like a duck to bowling. Putting the gears in place takes a certain amount of focus while rearranging them into just the right position to start them all moving takes a certain amount of patience. Different children will have different reactions, and some will enjoy it a year after they initially turned it down. Kids are just like that.
The durability of the pieces is not usually questioned, with the pieces being well made and sturdy.
- Wipe down with damp cloth
- Wash off in warm soapy water
For more information on how to clean plastic toys, take a look at our blog, The Cleaning Guide for Toys.
Parts and Pieces
This set is compatible with other gear sets from Learning Resources, such as the Wacky Factory set. The Wacky Factory has gears of varying sizes, so it can be used to demonstrate gear ratios and speeds. We have not yet full reviewed other sets.