Photographer, artist and big kid Debbie Attwell plays with the Geomag Mechanics GravityRace Track set!
We previously had fun reviewing two Geomag kits: Mechanics Challenge Goal, and Mechanics Gravity Loops & Turns. This time we decided to tackle Mechanics Gravity Race Track.
A bit of background: launched in 1998, Geomag is a construction system toy that mixes engineering and mathematics into playtime. Geomag Mechanics is a newer part of the range, which adds mechanical elements using attraction and repulsion. This particular kit makes a small race track with a magnetic cannon that fires metal balls around.
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The kit comes in 67 pieces, and the construction is a large part of these toys. For this one, I enlisted the help of a family member who had never made anything like this before. We got stuck in, following the pictures in the booklet. In previous kits I’d run into some trouble understanding the wordless instructions (“Is that this bit or that bit? I don’t understand what this picture is trying to tell me, why can’t it have words?!”) and after my fellow maker was also getting confused, we decided to switch to the video tutorial which we found on YouTube. As with the other kits, the video puts the pieces together in a totally different order to the booklet, so we had to dismantle some pieces to begin again. We found the video a lot easier to follow (pausing it after every step to catch up), so we recommend this method rather than the booklet.
My adult hands found the construction quite fiddly and frustrating at times, but in just over an hour we had completed the race track. I hadn’t told my companion what to expect on completion, to get an honest reaction when we finally fired the balls from the cannon around the track. They thought the cannon was fun, but that children of the recommended age of 8 upwards would find the play quite limited and repetitive.
The magnetic cannon has a mechanism, and if you’re quick you can reset it and keep the balls going round the track, so keeping it running as long as possible could be a fun challenge. As with previous kits though, I feel that the excitement of building the kit is fun, but there is limited playability when the race track is complete. I imagine that combining it with another kit to make a bigger track might be an appeal for some, but with this kit over £20 and others more expensive, this could end up being quite costly.
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At the end we realised we had some spare parts, presumably so it can be attached to another kit. Once again, the instructions weren’t clear. We were disappointed to see that unlike the other Geomag toys we tried, this one didn’t fit back in the box intact, so our hard work had to be sadly disassembled.
I like Geomag, but as with the other kits we tried there just isn’t enough to keep engagement once this track is complete. For kids that love to build things, this would provide an hour or two of fun. Some suggestions of challenges or ways to keep play interesting once the track is complete would help, but with children’s 2023 attention span, I don’t see the completed toy being a favourite for very long.
Geomag Mechanics Gravity Race Track is available via Toys R Us and other retailers.