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3D Gear Tech Review by Tammy Walker

International Playthings
75D Lackawanna Avenue
Parsippany, NJ 07054
973-316-2500
http://www.intplay.com

This toy allows your hands-on child to build technological structures. The 270-piece gear set features pillars, six-way axles, connectors, extenders, interlocking plates, meshing gears, a plastic chain that can be shortened or lengthened, a rubber belt that allows motion to be transmitted to other gears, and universal joints to make motion more fluid. In short, this is a gear-making machine. Gears are connected to pillars, which rest on a floor of interlocking plates. Cranks and wheels are manipulated to set the gears in motion, one gear moving another gear, which moves another, etc. Your child can follow one of the three simple examples given in the toy's insert, or he can design his own "gear factory" using his imagination. When finished, the structure will stand around 24" tall, depending on its construction. It retails for $39.99. It is not recommended for children under the age of three due to the choking hazard.

Pros:

  • Hands-on instruction in physical science--is there a better way to learn in this field?
  • Opportunities to explore, create, and use one's imagination--it really is interesting seeing how gears, joints, and belts create motion.
  • Most of the plastic parts are of a higher quality construction, adding to the longevity of this product.

Cons:

  • The quality of the plastic chain and rubber band are mediocre, and should be played with carefully.
  • The colors of the actual gears do not necessarily correspond to the colored gears in the examples and may cause a bit of confusion when assembling.
  • Forty dollars seems a bit expensive for this product when compared to a Lego product of similar price.

My son and I really enjoyed putting our gear machine together. He was very happy to show his engineer father his work when he came home. But, because he had already become enamored with Legos, the less technically challenging manipulation of the gear parts has seemed to leave him disinterested over the long haul. I will pull it out on a rainy day or when I hear "I'm bored" in order to keep it a special toy. I would suggest buying this for a child in the four- to five-year-old range who has not yet caught the Lego bug. I am sure they will find this product very enjoyable.

Product review by: Tammy Walker, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2008

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