Tuesday Toy Review- EZ Fort

November 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

After the sweet delight of last week’s Yummy Dough, now for something completely different – EZ Fort.

Do you remember sticking those bright blue straws together with connectors to build stuff at school? This toy works on the same premise- but the ‘straws’ are red and blue and the connectors look like those old holey garden tennis balls you used to get. The idea is that you can build whatever shape you want to and then cover with paper or a sheet in order to make a cracking fort/den/hidey.

When I opened the box, I was very excited (as were my 3 and 5 year old helpers) and it certainly looked the business. We got to work. Or rather I got to work, as the children just watched me looking a little baffled for a while. Once they had got the gist of what I was doing, however, my small girl (3) dived in and started sticking sticks in any available hole, with varying degrees of success. I was actually attempting to build a house-like structure, big enough for them both.

I have to say the design of the tennis ball connectors was great, as it enabled you to stick sticks at jaunty angles, such as for making a roof, and the concept was very simple and easy to put together. The sticks slid into the balls easily, which is great for encouraging construction, but unfortunately the sticks also slid out as easily. Less encouraging for budding Bobs.

Small boy (5) only became interested once he could see what I was doing, particularly when I produced the bed sheet for creating the den effect. However, the main problem I had was with stability. I tried putting the sheet on three times. Each time the structure collapsed under the weight of the sheet. I tried strengthening the roof and walls, but to no avail.

Now, I am not an engineer and am willing to accept that my building skills may have been lacking, although I probably would claim that I had at least the level of a 3 year old (which is the recommended ‘from’ age). I also think my structure could have been made stronger if I had more sticks to use as support. I didn’t. I even tried making the long thin house shown on the website home page, which did sustain the weight of the sheet*, but wobbled worryingly whenever anyone looked at it, much less when a boisterous three years old piled in and out of it. I think, with the bits I had , I could only have made a tiny box thing that would have been properly strong enough.

All in all, if you (or your child) are big on construction, and you are willing to buy more than one pack, or a bigger pack, this toy is easy and fun to put together and may be great for you, if you have the requisite room. If, however, you are looking for a replacement to draping a sheet over a clothes horse/the back of the sofa/the dining table (delete as appropriate) I think you would be better off sticking with the original. Sorry EZ Fort.

* it held for 3 minutes 42 seconds. She went in and out four times.

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