Unplugged: Patch Products (Kid’s Games & Toys)

mytouch screenI like a nice, deep boardgame: something fun to play that would last 60-90 minutes. However, with two young boys and a toddler girl I am always on the lookout for games and toys appropriate for my younger crowd. Patch Products have none of the former, but specializes in games and toys for the younger (or family with younger) crowd. Scoping out things for the holiday season, here are three newer items of note from the company. They aren’t going to collect awards as grown-up games, but all three were a big hit with my kids.




Yeti spaghetti boxYeti in my Spaghetti
Ages: 4+
Players: 2+
Time: 5 min
Yeti in my Spaghetti is reminiscent of Don’t Break the Ice. A red bowl is covered by twisty plastic noodles and a little white yeti figure is placed on top. Players take turns removing noodles until the yeti falls completely into the bowl, indicating that player lost. At first, I was underwhelmed by the game. I was playing with my young grade school son and it seemed that the yeti waited until the very last couple of noodles before finally falling into the bowl. However, later games with both my boys were far more interesting, with the yeti falling much earlier in the process – when there were still quite a number of noodles remaining. I believe one of the issues in early play was that we had the yeti start near an edge.

yeti with kids

While it doesn’t seem that tricky to play, the fact that the noodles are “wavy” is a significant factor when playing the game. The curves intertwine, making a single noodle from a pack more difficult than you may expect. While there isn’t much strategy running around here, it was a hit with both of my boys (although my oldest wasn’t as taken with the game since he kept losing.) I found it enjoyable and should be a good fit for fans of Jenga-like games. (It is a far cry from Don’t Break the Ice, which takes almost no skill and relies on who is lucky enough to take the second to last turn.)




chrono boxChrono Bomb!
Ages: 7+
Players: 1+
Part game, part activity, Chono Bomb! (note the exclamation point) is a race against time to climb between a course of interwoven strings. Bumb a string as you slip through and you are penalized with a loss of your time. The game takes a bit of setup. String, stored on a handy plastic reel, is zig-zagged back and forth over an area using 4 clamps (6 if you include the start and end points) provided in the game. Each clamp attaches to the string via a spring mechanism that helps any movement of a string to propagate through the entire setup. The final bit of string is attached to a base unit that looks like a stack of TNT. On the base unit there is a piece containing a floppy metal tab hanging between two metallic sides. If the piece is bumped, the metal tab hits a side setting off an alarm and reducing the time in the countdown. Once the area is set up, and item cards are optionally spread out, one player starts the timer (on the TNT stack) and the active player rushes through the setup trying to collect all the cards and exit the maze before time runs out.

chrono parts

Personally, I was rather disappointed with the hardware of the game. I found it difficult to set up the string so that bumping the early strings propagated all the way to the end to set off the sensor. With more practice, and some trial and error, this might be improved but for now I would say the setup is at least somewhat sensitive. One issue might lie with the clamps seeming preference for clipping onto horizontal surfaces, I found it slightly tricky to get them set up satisfactory when clamped vertically. In addition, the final sensor consistently “went off” one extra time during each run even if the string wasn’t touched. Again, this might be improved with some more trial and error on my part, but expect the game to not necessarily work perfectly out of the box. On the positive side, I was very impressed at the amount of string provided in the reel. I was able to make use of each clamp and have a decent width to the course as well.

chrono kids

Despite my reservations, my elementary aged boys had a blast with the game and played it over and over again for about an hour – with the older one trying to set up various “challenges” for them to work through. So, while I have some reservations, the “cool factor” is plenty strong enough for a recommendation for kids on the younger side. (I think older kids – maybe even teens messing around – would enjoy it, but not unless the alarm sensor would work reliably each time.)




mytouch screenMirari myPad Touch
Ages: 12+ months
We have a toddler at home, and she is constantly exposed to daddy and her older brothers playing on their electronic tablets (the boys worked for months to save up for their own.) She love to play on daddy’s tablet, and there are some good games on there (check out the Patatap app / website and any coloring program) but it is tricky to set things up so my daughter can’t “mess up” my tablet. I was sent a Mirari myPad Touch to evaluate. In showing my daughter the package, she wouldn’t even let me keep it long enough to open it up. The myPad Touch is basically a tablet-shaped toy covered in buttons (just a membrane, no actual projecting “buttons”) made to look like app icons. There is a power button at the bottom center of the screen that turns it on and off, and all the other buttons on the device play a sound when touched. Each button alternates between two set sounds. My daughter’s favorites are the buttons on the bottom row that actually sing songs (ABCs and a Color song) so she can press them and dace.

mytouch - mirari

The toy seems very sturdy (plastic but looks to be assembled well) and since my daughter isn’t all that tall I don’t worry about her dropping it. The only drawback I’ve found is the power button. I don’t think my daughter quite recognizes the operation of the button (it turns the device on and off – although it powers down after a period of inactivity.) Thus, she’s not that great at picking up and using the device on her own. Someone needs to press the power button (at least show her) or she has to get lucky and press it. There is also a volume button that changes between loud and soft, but the two levels are not all that different. The volume is reasonable (not so loud as to be a nuisance in another room), but might be hard to hear in a car on a freeway trip. All said and done, I consider the myPad Touch a big hit. Any child who’s seen her folks or siblings playing their tablets will instantly know what to do. I would probably lose its luster once a child hits preschool, but for toddlers (and some pre-toddlers) it gets two sucked thumbs up!




Kid Factor:
There isn’t anything to offend in any of these games, but I suppose Chrono Bomb! might get set up so that it is in the way of daily activity. The myPad Touch obviously is childproof and the Yeti Spaghetti noodles seem sturdy enough so that there isn’t child-proofing issues with noodles. Chrono Bomb! could easily be messed up by a toddler, although the clamps may pop off their attach point before their springs are messed up (and certainly before the string breaks.) Chrono Bomb!’s plastic parts could break with destructive behavior of a toddler and a hard floor, so keep it out of the hands of any newly trained walkers in your house.

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