Wednesday, March 25th, 2009


The image is borrowed from University of Oxford’s informative contact juggling page.


Remember that scene in the Labyrinth when David Bowie does the magical moves with the spheres? That’s actually world-famous juggler Michael Moschen, and his art is known as contact juggling or sphereplay. You can try Sphereplay too, now that Terra Toys has spheres. 

Two options: clear acrylic sphere or opaque brightly-colored rubber sphere.  After my first try with each, I immediately preferred the acrylic version.  The weight helps me keep contact with the ball, and because it’s solid acrylic, it’s very durable.  I’ve knocked spheres together as hard I could and dropped them on solid concrete (I’m not very good at it yet), and the worst I’ve seen are some tiny dents in my sphere.  If you really want to start slow, though, or if you’re a kid, you can try the rubber version.  It comes with an instructional DVD, and won’t smash any windows while you’re practicing in the house.

2.75" Clear Acrylic Sphere with Pouch $24

Sphereplay Starter Kit: 72mm Rubber Play Sphere, Instructional DVD, and Pouch $20


The Sphereplay company who supply us with the spheres also put on a yearly Sphere Camp in Austin. 

This video will totally inspire you to try it!

Local jugglers meet weekly: Texas Juggling Society

New Playmobil Bunnies

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

For a few years now Playmobil has been making some disgustingly cute and curiously intelligent little bunnies.  This year, another fun set has arrived just in time for Easter.  Perhaps you already have the Bunny School, so why not get the Bunny Treehouse so they have somewhere to play when they’re done with their chemistry lessons?

Large Sets: Bunny Treehouse #4460, and Bunny School, #4455, $24.50 each

Small Sets: Bunny Music Lesson #4456, Bunny with Backpack #4457, Bunny’s First Day of School #4458, $6.50 each

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Sunday, March 15th, 2009


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Hanno the Gorilla

Sunday, March 15th, 2009


We saw lots of cool new stuff at the February Toy Fair in New York.  Some of our favorites come from Areaware.  As the name suggests, their products are made by and for the environmentally conscious.  Check out Hanno the Gorilla, $95.  He is hand shaped from sustainably harvested beech wood, and he has elastic bands so that he may pose according to his many moods.  Hanno is gorgeous so adults can admire him and durable so kids can enjoy him.  Watch for other models Hanno Jr., Ursa, and Ursa Jr. (beautiful bears!) as they will be in production later this year.

Some other good things from Areaware are kids shirts with attractive animal prints, $40.50.  Gorillas, Terriers, Bunnies, oh my.  I can’t wait to see what they ship next. (Hopefully it’ll be the silver bar bell rattles we ordered!)

Game of the Week: Set Cubed

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

I have long been a fan of the SET card game, and, recently, I finally had the pleasure of playing Set Cubed. In a roomful of Set enthusiasts, this version is no less engrossing than the original. As usual, players from other tables tend to wander over between turns and help out (though I think this is more out of compulsion than compassion!).

The similarities to Scrabble are many: players draw SET dice from a bag and play onto any existing set on the board, and there are also bonus squares and wild dice. I worried that the omission of the shading variable in this version would make the game too simple, but the strategy required for piece placement more than makes up for this. Deciding on an order of placement for your pieces can have a profound effect on other players’ ability to build further sets from those same pieces.

SET is fast-paced and quick-thinking, while Set Cubed is careful and contemplated. Because of the strategy involved, Set Cubed is recommended for 2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up, and both games are equally thrilling for both kids and adults.