Archive for June, 2010

Another toy. Yes! Yet again, the label says it’s not for 2 year olds (the nephew is 27 months now) but labels are for jars and Bands. Not for a couple of crazy cats like us. (Note: you do have to be vigilant when using this with younger kids. Some of the pieces are small enough to swallow, but they are also large enough to keep track of). Even if he’s too young to use the toy by himself, at least he can point to things he wants to try (a safe introduction to experimentation) and be entertained by the results (if there are any).

      Snap Circuits® by Elenco (a Chicago based company we really need to support) is a take on one of those circuit making toys. The magic of Snap Circuits® is that snaps (like the ones on your shirt) are used to connect the various connectors, motors, resistors, lights, switches, and whistle chips. Perfect for little hands with developing motor skills.

snap circuits together

some of the parts

      I suppose I could mention here all we now know about development of cognitive ability through diverse mediums, advantages of tactile experiences, and all that. And I love all that stuff. But mostly, this toy is just plain sweet. It’s got all those colours, it’s easy to use (you can see everthing that’s going on unlike the sets where you just push pins into slots), and can be a thousand different things (the box says 100 creations, but that’s probably when they stopped counting). The spiro-graph-y thing we built was a particular hit. As was the helicopter, of course (flying, chaotic, potentially destructive). It even has a photo-resistor which ended up in a kind of a light theremin when paired with a flashlight.

      I only bought the set entitled Snap Circuits Jr®, which is the most basic self contained set you can buy. You can purchase add-ons like motion sensors, solar panels, and programmable micro-controllers (uses BASIC for all you geeks out there). You can also buy upgrade kits when you exhibit buyer’s remorse for not doing the right thing and shelling out the for the deluxe models. So here’s what elevates Elenco to the next level of toy/consumer goods companies. The combined cost of the basic set and the upgrade kit is about two dollars more than the deluxe set. Or to put it another way: they’re not going to hose you citizen, even though they could. In fact, I’d think they might even take a loss after the extra packaging and shipping on the upgrade kits. Still, the cost of entry is low thanks to the basic set, and you don’t have to debate the cost to get into these things too much because upgrading later is about the same cost as doing it right the first time. My advice: if you can afford it, do it right the first time like the song says.

      So here they are in grainy, poor resolution, noisy action.

      That last one is for the budding circuit bending synth-poppers. I even added a lightbulb for the music visualization artists. And for the future pilots/astronauts:

      I should also note that I first saw these things at a Radioshack somewhere in the States. Then on a recent visit to Seattle, I stumbled into Magic Mouse Toys in Pioneer Square and ran into these again. Two hours later, I left empty handed (but with a planned return visit the next day. But that’s another post) and another must-go place in any Seattle visit.

Addendum Nov. 15, 2010:

Snap Circuits Jr. can be had in Vancouver. Saw it in the Chapters book store Downtown at the corner of Robson and Granville for $29.95.

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