Think-ets comes with a variety of games you can play with the included gewgaws and trinkets. These games suggest an infinite number of variations and new games that can be created by a fertile mind. Too many for the space we have here and a big part of why Think-ets (in all its iterations) is Major Fun.

But despite all the games that can be played when you open one of these packages, I’m not going to talk about the games. Instead I’m going to talk about what makes Think-ets such a great toy as opposed to a game.

Pause and regroup. Let’s get some of the basics out of the way.

Think-ets come in a variety of packages but they all contain an assortment of trinkets. The one I am currently looking at is the “Genius” edition. A tin box (common size for gum or mints) contains 15 small trinkets such as an arrowhead, a polar bear, a compass (functional), a tomato, and a twelve-sided die: the kind of assortment you would find at the bottom of a toy chest or under the cushions in the family couch. The box also contains a small pencil, a pad of paper, and an instruction booklet. The booklet suggests about a dozen games that you can play with the Think-ets but…

A quick story. When I handed my daughter (9) and one of her best friends (11) a couple of bags of Think-ets, one of the first things they did was arrange the pieces. My daughter went for shape and color and her friend by alphabetical order. They created other patterns and spent half an hour or more just moving the pieces into lines. This actually seemed to fit some of the games mentioned in the instructions, so I suggested one of the other games and they shrugged without much enthusiasm but went right on playing with the pieces. They soon left the table and went off to incorporate the Think-ets into a rather complicated game of school they had going upstairs.

My guess is that most people will experience Think-ets in the way my daughter and her friend did. They are fascinating toys. They are vehicles for imaginative play, and in this capacity they are incredibly engaging. For a game to work—for anything to be considered a game in the first place—the players must agree to follow a set of rules; a prescribed set of behaviors must be followed. A game is a common set of behaviors. By contrast, a toy might suggest methods of play, but a toy is not limited to a single set of actions. You want your cowboy action figure to dive to Atlantis? Fine. You want it to actually be a dog instead of a human? Sure. That dog has a pet spider that looks a lot like my car keys? That’s great…

Hey! Gimme my keys!

Think-ets are Major Fun not because of the games that are included in the package, but because the collection of trinkets lends itself so well to the imagination. We made up stories about the pieces. We stacked them and lined them up and shook them in the tin. We scattered them across the table and made up games that lasted two moves before we changed the game. And then changed it again. The sundry items are wonderful to hold in your hand or move around a table top. They inspire stories and games and conversations and (best of all)


1 or more players. Ages 8+

Think-ets designed by Randy Compton and Julie Lake. © 2007 by Think-a-lot Toys.

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