Disclosure: The item(s) mentioned below were provided complimentary for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions stated here are based upon my personal experience with the product(s) and are entirely my own. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that I feel would benefit my readers.
We have been very fortunate with the weather so far this Summer. Not too many rainy days, not too many scorching hot days.... it's kind of been perfect (knock on wood). My kids would rather play outside than do anything else. Believe me, I have to bring their food outside just to make sure they are eating anything other than popsicles. That being said, on the rainy days, I need to keep them busy so they don't go stir crazy. I've been saving a couple of really unique building sets from Think Fun for them to use on those days. I tried two different sets, the Maker Studio: Gears Set and the Maker Studio: Winches Set.
Think Fun is a brand which creates unique toys and games for children of all ages to enjoy. The Maker Studio sets are building sets intended for use by those ages 7 to adult. These are great for the "thinkers" and the "builders" (think Lego extraordinaire), as they were created by engineers! Each set comes with a multitude of pieces used to create a few different things. The Gears Set comes with picture instructions on how to assemble a race car, a cable car, a three wheeler and a motorcycle. The Winches Set contains picture instructions for how to make a tow truck, a jeep, a well and a crane. Plus, each set also comes with a "challenges" book intended to teach kids different concepts such as friction, torque and propulsion.
This is the perfect rainy day activity to do if you have kids that are 7 and up. I will say that my 3 year old wanted to be very involved in this, but there is no way she would have the patience and ability to follow the instructions. That being said, I would totally allow her, supervised (due to small pieces), to play and create something on her own with this. First things first, all of the pieces come bagged inside of the box which is like music to my ears, or a box of cookies to my tummy. I'm always frustrated by toys that come loose in a box, because how often do you want to keep the box around? I end up bagging things on my own, so the fact that the pieces came in reusable zip top bags was a hit with me right off the bat. The instruction books are in color and have some explanation in the beginning followed by picture instructions for each building exercise. I think it's much easier to show versus explain with this particular toy, and I found the instructions a cinch to follow. My 10 year old was able to understand the instructions with a bit of guidance as it was sometimes difficult to tell which order to put the pieces together in. The assembly itself, depending on which item you choose to build, ranges from pretty easy to rather intricate and a little harder. For example, from the Maker Studio: Gears Set, we built the motorcycle. It took about 20 minutes total, but only because we had to trace and cut out the motorcycle frame outline. From the Maker Studio: Winches Set, we built the tow truck, which had a bit more to it, and probably took a good 30 minutes or more. Our only frustration when building was the black rubber pieces. They are like the "glue" in that they hold everything together, but are very hard to move along the long rods. It ends up being an even trade-off because they make the structures sturdy even though they require some finagling up front. I also appreciate that you can get so much from each set, as they build more than one gear/winch, and that these sets go a step further to include challenges to demonstrate and teach more about the structures and what force they have.
These sets retail for $19.99, which is very reasonable, and you can find them on Amazon (Gears/Winches).