Q-BA-MAZE is a marble run construction toy, in the tradition of Boyongolo, the HABA Ball set, the Quercetti Marble Run, the Skyrail Marble Run Roller Coaster, and, of course, Cuboro. In the tradition of, and yet, unique, and uniquely worthy of our collective attention.
Actually, all these toys, and many more like them, are worthy of our collective attention. Building a marble run engages both creative and scientific reasoning. Every design must ultimately “work,” not only aesthetically, but also mechanically. No matter how good it looks, if the ball doesn’t go where you think it should, or if the run isn’t as long as you hope it should be, you’re just going to have to build it differently.
Now, back to Q-BA-MAZE. I promise not to use the word “amazing” more than once – after this. First, allow me to use the word “cube.” As in Cuboro, the basic building block is a, well, block. Unlike Cuboro, there are only three types of blocks, they are made out of a durable polycarbonate, translucently acrylic-like plastic, and they fit together in most satisfyingly interlocking configurations. They can slide into each other along their sides, they can be stacked on to each other, they can be built up and out into cantileverishly cunning constructs. They also work. One of the three, the one that opens on both ends, works in a most curiously delightful manner. It is a switch, of sorts. With no moving parts. But when a ball drops into it, the ball will often hesitate before traveling left or right, sometimes hesitate a most tantalizingly long time, as if deliberating. And this turns out to be a particularly delicious deliberation, adding just that extra touch of surprise, just that extra change in rhythm that makes the whole, multi-colored construct that much more surprising, that much more engaging.
Q-BA-MAZE comes with a bunch of steel balls – not because they’re easy to lose, and definitely not because they’re easy to swallow (hence, the small child advisory), but because the more balls you drop into it, the more complex the pattern of the fall, the more fun it is to watch – a visual equivalent of the difference between melody and symphony.
Watch the video, read the blog, construct your own myriad of delights, or build any of the configurations you find online, like this one, if you happen to have purchased the 50 count set (36 blocks and 14 balls).
You’ll be amazed.