Wednesday 16 November 2022

Engenius Contraptions Motorised Bounce Marble Run Review (age 10+) Sent by Cheatwell Games for review

I love a clever toy, and even better if it has minimal plastic, smart and unusual design, and it makes your children think. Cheatwell Games have a range of truly 'Engenius Contraptions' - marble run sets with working motors, which you build yourself before you get down to the serious business of playing with them. We have been sent the Bounce Marble Run, which is just what it says - marble track with trampolines! 

Image from front of Bounce Marble Run box, showing complete set up and contents.

The packaging is very minimal, mainly a reusable recycled cardboard box, and reusable plastic bags for the marbles and balloons. Inside you have a flat-pack construction puzzle made from laser-cut (for precision) plywood parts, straws, balloons, marbles and a battery-powered motor. You'll need 2 x AA batteries, but everything else is in the box, including a small screwdriver, scrap of sandpaper and wood glue. 

engenius bounce marble kit pack contents

Follow the instructions carefully. It is super easy to make errors and end up with something that doesn't fit together. Do NOT remove all the bits from the sheets of wood until you need them. The parts are numbered on the sheet diagram in the instruction booklet, but not on the parts or sheets themselves. This makes it trickier for beginners, and you may need to measure to ensure you have the correct parts.

engenius model kit parts and instruction booklet

My 12 year old is a pretty experienced junior engineer, but he isn't always as careful as he needs to be, so he worked with his Dad to slow him down and ensure he read instructions properly. 

This is a great set for working alone or building together, and once completed your child will be very proud, because everyone will want a go. You may be able to work out what to do via the printed instructions, but if you do get at all stuck, there are links to lots of short tutorial videos, to show you how the experts do it. 

The first part you assemble is the trickiest, so don't let it put you off. This is the motorised marble lift, and it is difficult to understand how it works until you have several pieces together. It is a complex build, it really is, but as it goes together it makes more and more sense. 

Engenius Contraptions Bounce Marble Run cogs assembly

We found a lot of the moving parts were tight, so sanded it to try and remove rough edges and allow free movement. Turns out at the end that the motor is quite strong, so although your contraption needs to move smoothly, don't panic that it won't work unless it is really stiff.  

Engenius Contraptions Marble lift assembly

The set is inspired by Victorian cast iron engineering, and it's a solid build which feels robust. My 12 yer old son was a little disappointed that he had to leave the marble lift assembly overnight to dry after gluing, but it's worth it. There is plenty to left build anyway. 

There are 7 mini trampolines, or trampettes, each made from a circular frame and a cut balloon. They work incredibly well and look great. 

Collage of two photos showing frame and stretching rubber balloon onto Mini Trampolines

The rubber from the balloons is very hard to make exactly the same each time, so adjusting or replacing more wayward balloons will change how effectively the marbles bounce - how far and how high. Each balloon will tend to have a nipple shaped lump, which is the very bottom/top of the balloon. Adults might be able to almost smooth that out, but younger builders will find it tricky - you need a lot of hand strength and coordination to give the balloon rubber an extra stretch. 

Once your track is complete, turning the trampolines around to give a different angle of bounce can really affect where the marbles end up!

Engenius Contraptions marble run spiral in foreground and trampolines behind

The spiral landing pad for the marbles is ridiculously easy to make. It's mostly one piece and just needs the straw legs and feet fitting to it. Straws are also use to create the tower for the marble lift, and the track to return the marbles to the bottom of the lift. 

Engenius Contraptions Bounce Marble Run construction part 2

This is a big build, and you'll need some space. The box suggests 30cm x 32.5cm x 135cm - which is over 4 feet long. If you don't have that space don't panic, it can be used in a smaller area with less trampolines, or just move yourself out to the hallway. 

You have lots of spare balloons and straws, so there is built-in room for error, and also redesign and experiment. Obviously you can always buy these for pennies yourself anyway, and your own tracks are really only limited by your imagination, so there is plenty of longevity in this set.

Engenius Contraptions Bounce Marble Run Review finished build

The marble lift works really well, and impressed the heck out of our 12 year old. My partner was impressed too, he didn't expect it to have so much power. It hasn't faltered, and we've played with it a lot. Marbles travel upwards in a column in the centre, and pop out of the top, before sliding down the double straw track, bouncing on the trampolines, landing in the spiral and then sliding all the way back. 

Engenius Contraptions Marble Run complete track layout on a large board

Now the fun really starts. It took us a fair amount of time until we managed to get the marble to bounce on 2 trampolines, but then 3 and 4 were easy. We've managed 5, but no more as yet. We also moved the return track from below the trampolines and built a longer track with curves that goes around the side. That allows for lower trampolines - and it looks cool with the curved bends. 

You can adjust the length of the trampoline legs very easily by moving them slightly up and down, or even cutting them shorter. We found shortening the legs of the first trampoline made a real difference, and gave the marbles that bit more oomph. 

The Bounce Marble Run is addictive and moreish, and slightly frustrating occasionally, but quick to adjust and always rewarding. We've all been playing with this, and we are all happy to challenge ourselves and find our own little moments of joy. It's a great set - and really deserves the title Engenius Contraptions. 

The Engenius Contraptions range, including the Bounce Marble Run (rrp £35) is available to buy now in toy shops or online, including direct from Cheatwell Games, or you can also find Cheatwell Games Engenius Contraptions on Amazon (affiliate link).


We were sent our Bounce Marble Run for review by Cheatwell Games. Amazon links are affiliate, which means if you order through my link I earn a few pence, but you never pay any more. It helps keep the website running. 

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