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Mookie - My First Swingball.
Trying to find something different from the norm for my niece's birthday last year was quite a challenge. She's quite a spoilt child, but somehow she didn't seem to have many outdoor toys, and so the decision to choose something along these lines was made.
A toy I loved to play with as a child was Swingball. I couldn't tell you who the manufacturer was at the time, all I knew was it was great fun, and simple to play.
I purchased 'My First Swingball' available for 3-5 year olds where the traditional tennis style ball has been replaced with a soft and safe foam ball, to prevent accidents to your little ones. The pole is also a little shorter. With my niece just becoming five years of age, the 'My First' was still suitable as she was much shorter than the average height for her age.
I purchased this from Tesco's, in lovely, vibrant colours. It is still available, at a price of £17.00 today, but at the moment (2nd Aug 2011) there's a 20% off code on the website. http://direct.tesco.com/q/R.200-8080.aspx
If you've not seen Swingball before, what it essentially is, is a tennis ball attached to a pole via a strong tether. On the original version, I believe, the cord is fastened to the top of the pole, and just rotated as the ball was hit. On this version though, this cord travels up and down a spiral section at the top of the pole.
There didn't seem to be any rules to the game we played when we were kids, we just took turns, but the idea with the spiral is that one player hits clockwise, and the other counter clockwise. The first person to get the cord to the top, or indeed the bottom of the spiral, wins.
My original Swingball was a little dangerous if the truth be told; we had to knock it into the ground with a hammer, and was held in place via a huge spike at the bottom. Obviously, the more you hit the ball, stability would become an issue, and more than once, it came out of the ground giving one of us kids, a mild case of concussion.
Mookie have dealt with this issue though with both the My First and also the X Base version (the next stage up, as the pole is taller).
The pole is fitted into a base which measures 36cm cm 44cm, so quite a chunky size. Set up is simplicity itself, and takes only a minute or two. This base is made of good solid plastic, but on its own would not be suitable for a couple of overzealous kids. Fill this base with water, or even better sand, and this becomes much more stable and much safer. The advantages of this is that you are not putting any holes into precious lawns and also means it can be played in concreted areas too.
Once you've finished playing, empty out the contents (water or sand) and everything can be dismantled and stored inside. This is great as it protects it when not being played for a while, and keeps everything where you need it.
The addition of a handy handle to the side of this base makes this portable and transportable, for days at the beach or fun at picnics. At around 2 kg's, it's not too heavy to carry either.
The pair of bats which are supplied are made out of solid plastic, in a chequer board design. This makes the strong and rigid, but with the cut-outs, makes them lighter and more comfortable to hold. The size is perfect for little hands too; and not so little ones, as Mum, Dad and Auntie (me), usually get roped in to play.
There is a nice grip to these bats. They don't seem to make your palms sweaty, which helps a great deal when you're aiming to get that special shot. When winning (or not losing) is all important the bat is a highly important component. Mind you, if it was rubbish, and you lost, at least you'd have something to blame. ;)
Overall this has been a great present to give her. It's given her hours of (I would say exercise but it's not strenuous), fresh air, entertainment and fun. Not just for her, but everyone, young and old. This makes a wonderful addition to a garden toy collection. It suits a small child perfectly and with the solid build quality, will be passed down, and enjoyed, for many years to come.
If, however you do need replacements there is a helpline available: 01525 722716 or you can visit via the web at: http://www.mookie-toys.co.uk/#/products/first-swingball I can't see you needing this service any time soon though.
We've all had great fun with this over the 9 months since her birthday, and I recommend it to everyone with a three to five year old. Any older than this though, make sure you go for the X Base version http://www.mookie-toys.co.uk/#/products/all-surface-swingball-x-base (which is also available in a really pretty, girly pink). I think we'll be upgrading to this for Christmas. :)
Many thanks for reading my review. I hope it's been of some help to you.
This review may be posted on other sites under the same username.
© elysia2003 August 2011
This was a toy we bought for my son to play this summer in the garden. It has provided a huge hit with him and we have had it up and down to play with on most of these sunny days.
What is it?
This toy is made by Mookie that produced the original swing ball. This set comes in a carry case ready to assemble, the case is also the base of the swing ball. There are three light blue plastic pole sections that are very easy to place into yellow locking sockets that make the pole section. On the top of the swing ball is the looped spiral section and this light blue yellow and green section slips easily into the top of the pole. The ball which is a soft foam one compared to the hard tennis ball of the normal swing ball attaches via the loop to the top of the swing ball set. There is a yellow clasp that slides up and down on the string that keeps the string and ball in place on the pole. At the end by the ball there is a bit of plastic by the ball to keep it nice and straight. The set comes with two small bats that have a soft grip to them.
When my son this for the first time he couldn't wait for us to assemble it and for him to play with it. Putting this together really is a matter of minutes to do the bit that I actually find takes the longest is filling the base/carry case with water to give it stability. You can use sand in this too but as we have used this at home so far we have always used water. The poles lock together easily and sit easily into the hole section of the base. The height of the pole is just right for my three year old and he can hit the ball well and not struggle to reach the ball as it hangs down.
The spiral section as the to slots into the rest of the poles easily and remains fast there for all the games we have played but equally when it comes to packing away the set it comes out of the poles without too much pulling. When we loop the ball over the top the clasp is easily to slide along into place on the spiral section. If you want a non competitive game where the ball doesn't go down the spiral then just sit the clasp section on top of the spiral and it never goes down. Whilst this is good for my three year old as the ball is always in play it could be a bit frustrating for older children as the ball never gets to the bottom If you do want the fun of the ball going down the spiral then you need to make sure the string section sits in the spiral to travel down wards.
The bats are a nice lightweight design that is very easy for my son to hold and keep it in the right position to hit the ball. He never feels weighed down with the weight of the bat and this allows him to develop a better co ordination with his bat and ball skills than he has done with a regular size swing ball. The bats are a nice bright red in our set and are nice and robust and have even taken my son using them to hit a regular tennis ball without any damage.
The ball is nice a nice soft foam which means if it does hit my son or one of his friends whilst they are playing with it the ball just bounces off without leaving a bruise and very rarely results in any tears as the ball hits them. At the end of the ball the plastic strip keeps the string nice and straight near the ball which seems to make it a bit easier for the younger members of the family to hit the ball as it spins round towards them. It also means they have something to hold as they try to hit the ball the first time.
My son has loved this game since we have got it and enjoys playing it with anyone he can persuade to play. When we have had some of his friends around to play at the house they all enjoy taking turns with this and it is often played with for a good three quarters of an hours before they move on to something new. But they always return to the game so we never take it down whilst they are there. I do find that if you know you are going to playing this game with an adult player you need to fill the base fully up with water to give it greater stability for the harder knocks. The set easily fits into the carry case and it is not one of those toys that needs a MENSA intelligence to get the bits in the case in a special configuration.
Swing ball I think is a great introduction to tennis and other ball games such as rounders as it helps improve hand eye co ordination in children and it is fun whilst they play. We don't as yet have winners and losers with this game but as my son gets older we will no doubt have the loser as the person who knocks the string off the spiral at the bottom.
I would definitely recommend this set for young children the lighter ball, bats and small pole compared to regular swing ball make it a great choice for the under fives. The set is well made and easy to put up and down. As it stores so compactly it is ideal to take on holiday and on day trips as it takes up no room and comes complete with its own case and base with a handle. We bought ours in our local supermarket for under £15 but you can buy it from Amazon currently for around the same price.