Tuesday September 26th 2017

The Ball of Whacks – Creative Fun and Geekery

Pros: fun, inspires creativity and imagination

Cons: price

I picked up the Ball of Whacks a few years back as a fun desk toy. I like to have small toys I can play with while I am thinking at work, and this little toy fits the bill.

What is it?

The Ball of Whacks is made of 30 “whacks” – little red plastic covered pyramid pieces, each with a magnet inside. When assembled into the default “ball” shape it is about the size of a baseball. The individual pieces are a bit less than an inch long at their longest point.

How to Play

The thing I like about the Ball of Whacks is that you can make is as simple or as complicated as you like. Personally, I just like to fiddle with the magnets and make simple balls and triangle shapes. It is fun to put a few of the magnets together and then squeeze them and watch them jump apart.

If you have some time on your hands the ball comes with a 96 page book detailing all kinds of geekery from suggesting shapes and characters to build to geometry lessons using the magnets. One suggestion from the book is to use the whacks to tell a story where the whacks form the main character. “Once upon a time there was a horse…” and the story teller needs to create a horse. You then pass the Ball of Whacks around the room and each person tells more of the story – animating it as they go. Another, simpler game, suggests you lay all the pieces out randomly on the table and slowly push them together. Let the ball create its own shape then imagine what this shape could be – kind of like looking for characters in the clouds.

Those who are into geometry will enjoy the last chapter of the book. It starts simple with talking about the shape of the whacks and measuring the sides and angles. There could be a good geometry lesson for children in talking about the angles and the shapes that can be formed. But then it goes well above my head talking about the “golden ratio” and other things you need some sort of advanced degree to understand. Basically, there is something for everyone in this toy.

Audience

This toy would be appropriate for older children and adults alike. The individual pieces could be a choking hazard to small children and would be easy to lose track of in a toy box. The toy would be great for kids who like to build things and enjoy creative and imaginative endeavors. Adults can also get a lot of enjoyment out of the toy – whether it is just something to fiddle with or for the rather geeky friend in your life who enjoys math puzzles. Another appreciating recipient of the Ball of Whacks might be stoner adults who are easily lost in creating shapes and designs. (The Ball of Whacks and its literature do not speak of this sort of activity – it is all completely family friendly)

Conclusion

The Ball of Whacks makes a clever gift for the person who has everything or a neat toy for older children. It is well constructed and can provide hours of entertainment. My only hesitation would be the steep price of $20. While the toy is fun, it is just a pile of plastic and magnets and is probably worth more like $10.

Also posted to Epinions

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