Saturday, July 2nd, 2005
Toy Review: Stand-Up Ball Blast
Ball Losers: Scroll to the bottom of this entry for a ball replacement link (parts catalog).
The Ball Blast is one of those toys that is fun or futile, depending on the state of your child’s individual development.
In theory, a child enjoys learning to stand while using the toy, pushing balls through holes at the top of its tower, triggering music (3 AA batteries), and watching balls roll down a spiral ramp and reappear in holes at the toy’s base. It is not a zombie toy (not fully automated) like many other ball toys. The child has to find the balls in one of four holes, pick them up, and put them back through the top of the tower again.
In reality, Little Miss began standing a couple months before she was capable of fully enjoying the concept.
At 10 and a half months she was standing, so we picked up a like-new Ball Blast for 50 cents at a garage sale. But her interaction with the toy was limited to the idea of pushing things. She would push balls onto the spiral ramp if Dad strategically placed them. She would also push the one button on the toy that didn’t involve using a ball to trigger the music. If left alone, she would stand at the machine pushing the button over and over again.
So the toy went into our toy archive and I pulled it out again at 12 months. She understands now how to use the Ball Blast, but will only drop a couple balls into the tower before losing interest… and walking away with a ball in each hand. This explains why most used Ball Blast machines at garage sales are missing their balls.
On the plus side, a three-year-old who sometimes visits absolutely loves the Ball Blast, so I guess it we’ll be keeping it for a while to see how things pan out.
Caution: The word “stand-up” in the toy’s name implies to me that children may use the toy to pull themselves up from a seated position. I do not feel the toy is stable enough for that action. I made sure Little Miss was already standing when she used the toy.
A pack of five replacement balls can be had for about $5 from Fisher Price’s (Mattel’s) parts catalog. It’s a good deal because the plastic balls are the perfect size for baby hands and have well-placed dimples for a good grip.
Stand-Up Ball Blast by Fisher Price manufacturer’s page [includes a Flash demo at fisher-price.com]
Stand-Up Ball Blast sale page at Amazon.com [amazon.com]
Mattel (and Fisher-Price) General Parts Catalog [mattel.com]