March 2009 | Vol. VIII - No. 3
Ultimate Spinner Spins Hours of Fun, Panel Says
Multi-Use Game Lets Kids Laugh and Learn
Ultimate Spinner by ROBBINS TOY
Gender: Boys and Girls
Category: Wooden Toys
What It Is: The Ultimate Spinner measures 12" in diameter, and both it and the spinning arm are made of wood. Five large, double-sided paper discs offer 12 games that range from silly (Goofy Dress Up and Spin Do), to active (Up or Down and Do-A-Dance), to educational (What Time is It? and Wurd Gam). Players can play alone or in groups, and the instructions offer adaptations for younger (Considering Tender Hearts) and older (Advanced Play) participants.
What the Moms Thought: Richardson was skeptical initially but "was pleasantly surprised” to find “12 different games and activities inside." Dawson “liked the simplicity of the spinner, in that we can make our own games and discs to play with it." Richardson, who called the games “cleverly designed,” raved that her family “had hours of fun playing." She also appreciated the options for advanced play.
Christensen, Richardson, and Lilova liked the wooden construction of the spinner. Christensen noted that since Ultimate Spinner contains multiple games, it is a space saver. Zuidema found the colorful box appealing, and Christensen and Richardson called it "whimsical." Richardson liked the "high-quality materials" and that it was American made.
What the Kids Thought: "The kids were excited to see and play this game," reported Christensen. She particularly enjoyed watching Ben (7) and Joshua (11) play Spin-do. "It was fun to see them folding paper into shapes, drawing, acting things out, and interacting with each other," she explained. Alexander (8) and Jessica (6) enjoyed having so many games to choose from. "They giggled playing the Do-A-Dance game, got excited with the Spinner Speedway, and were challenged with the numeric disks," Richardson commented.
Victor (4) liked the wooden race cars. Alexander (8) and Jessica (6) found the instructions easy to follow, with simple set-up. "My daughter … appreciate[d] that she could pick up the box and even find things to do by herself," Richardson said. Alexander (8) has requested to play the Baseball Game at his next birthday party.
Alyssa (9) also thought the game had "party potential" and would be more fun with more players. "The Spin-do game was one that she thought they could have fun with and be silly together," Zuidema said. Do-a-Dance brought the most laughter at the Richardson house, particularly "when we tried the advanced option and had each person repeat the dance steps from those who had gone before them," she said.
"Alyssa (9) liked the Wurd Gam best," Zuidema noted. Ben’s (7) favorite game was Pin Spin Bowling. Ethan (9) and Sara (7) enjoyed "giving the spinner a really good whack," Dawson said. Goofy Dress Up was 7-year-old Sara's favorite, and Ethan (9) most enjoyed the Baseball Game. "Let's play another game!" they told their mom.
What the Kids Learned from this Toy: Dawson listed baseball terminology and rules, language arts skills (the Wurd Gam), and math skills (Elementary Math Challenge). She also discussed probability with Ethan (9) and Sara (7) during seemingly 'bad luck' runs. Lilova's children practiced math skills using the addition and multiplication cards. Jessica, who amused herself with the numerical and clock discs while her mom cooked dinner, told her mom the Ultimate Spinner was "a great way to practice her math." Christensen said, "The clock feature could be a handy teaching tool for younger children, as could the alphabet and numerical discs."
How to Improve It: Zuidema suggested a score sheet and a baseball diamond (similar to the racetrack) for the baseball game. Christensen pointed out that although the wood base and spinner are designed to last a long time, the paper 'discs' will not. She recommended a sturdier box as well. "Buyers deserve a high quality, durable game if they are going to fork out $49.95," she explained. All five parent reviewers thought the price point high, noting that price affected their product rating. Richardson said it would “be out of my price range for a gift I would more typically give as a present for one of my children's friends."
Joshua (11) and Lilova would like to see more advanced games to challenge older children. Richardson suggested color-coding the instructions to indicate which games are suited for larger groups and which can be played solo. Ethan (9) wished more of the games were based on skill rather than chance. He and Sara (7) thought some of the "Create" cards in Spin Do "would require too long of a break in game play," Dawson said, referencing one card's instruction to fold a piece of paper into a boat.
Ethan (9) would like to see some of the 'outs' slices replaced with 'steal a base' on the baseball game disc. Dawson suggested that less frequently used letters occupy a smaller space on the alphabet disc to help avoid spinning extremely difficult letter combinations. Richardson thought it would be helpful if the direction of play were indicated on the racetrack. "The first time we played it, we played it backwards," she said.
Would You Want Another Toy Like This? "It’s a nice, simple concept with a little something for everyone," concluded Dawson. Richardson agreed: "I can imagine having this game in a playroom, as well as in cabins and ski lodges where you need games that can accommodate a variety of people and provide hours of entertainment."
Roundtable participants are homeschool parent Sue Christensen with Mac (14), Kent (13), Joshua (10) and Ben (7); former corporate accountant Robbin Dawson with Ethan (9) and Sara (7); research scientist Kostadinka Lilova with Radina (12) and Victor (4); World Bank policy advisor Gail Richardson with Alexander (8) and Jessica (6); and stay-at-home parent Jill Zuidema with Alyssa (9).
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Writer's Bio: Susan Ledford is the writer, editor and publisher of the "Homeschool Resources Directory for S.C." She has been evaluating toys and games for TDmonthly's Roundtable reviews since 2005. She also is a homeschool veteran of seven years. Read more articles by this author
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