Saturday, May 7, 2011

Rollin' Into summer

There's only a few weeks of school left, and like any mother, I'm wondering what I'm going to do with my boys all summer. I need to try to keep them off the Wii and off the couch as much as possible, without driving myself insane. And since it's too hot here in Arizona for them to play outside, I'm compiling a list of inside activities. Toys are good. Toys are my friend. And we just found a new one. One that doesn't require batteries, doesn't make too much noise, and keeps my boys busy for an hour or two at a time.

The good folks at Mom Select sent us a pack of the brand new toy from Cepia, the makers of our furry little friends, the Zhu Zhu Pets. The new hot summer activity is DaGeDar. An entire world of small balls filled with ball bearings, each with their own persona, that compete in racing around tracks and other games. The line includes 240 DaGeDar balls, 3 track sets, and a few other accessories.

We had a party with a few friends, and all the boys enjoyed the toys. DaGeDar is marketed to age 4 and up, but my 3 year old loves to throw the balls around the track too. But I noticed the older kids, 6 and up, had much more patience and played longer with our set. Since we only have one track, it requires a little patience to wait your turn to race. The game also requires a little skill - you have to put a little force behind the ball or it won't make it through the loop the loop, but if you throw too hard your DaGeDar ball will jump the track.

DaGeDar supports creative play, encouraging "house rules." My boys made up a few games of their own, and we held a few competitions at our party and gave prizes to the winners. We had a contest for spinning the balls like a top, keeping them on the table. I am hoping to buy some of the DaGeDar spinners as soon as I can find them in stores. They should make our spinning game a little different, and keep it all on the table. Although I loved to see the kids' techniques for spinning.

Our track came in about about a dozen pieces, but snapped together easily, and the boys figured out how to do it themselves pretty quickly. I like that they are soft enough plastic that they don't break when the boys step on them or play rough, but sometimes they don't stay together as well as I would like. The carrying cases are a genius design, holding 3 DaGeDar balls securely, but ours are not holding up well. The loop that you can use to hook the carrier onto things has broken off from all of our cases. The printed on design is cool, but the logo sticker was wearing off in the first week. My kids still took them to school every chance they could the last couple weeks.

Cepia has also put together a cool website, with some great flash animation, where the kids can learn all about their DaGeDar balls. You enter the code on your ball & learn all about the character - it's history in the realm of 33 (the magic number), it's strengths, and it's tagline. The boys got a kick out of learning about each of their dudes. And the taglines were funny.

Here's some video we shot of our party. We didn't get all the good games, but you can see the DaGeDar in action. Then there is the new DaGeDar commercial. These toys are available at Toys 'R'Us in the Phoenix area now, and will be sold nationwide later this summer.