CubeCraft brings Minecraft-style blocks to the real third dimension

The Premise. Plenty of kids love to play with Legos and blocks. But toys in that realm are meeting their match, because, until now, we were bound by the lockable structures on the bottom or, quite frankly, by physics.

The Product. Inspired by the wildly popular game Minecraft (for which kids show a special fondness), CubeCraft seeks to push the bounds of limitation by giving you small blocks that can be arranged in any way. Each cube has magnets sealed inside that allow you to build structures that wouldn’t be possible with non-magnetic blocks. You can combine the individual blocks into one larger block, use that to build a base, and then continue on using the smaller blocks. CubeCraft cubes can also be further customized with stickers, LEDs or other geekery.

The Pitch. The CubeCraft campaign itself builds primarily off two videos — a still-heavy unnarrated one that shows many configurations of the progress and a secondary one that introduces the creators and provides a lot of information. The partners tell how they came together, what they’re asking for, how their designs are safe for children over the age of 5, what your funding will go toward, and how these blocks could be used to ease stress or in the classroom. Sure, the developers may be a little camera shy, but they know a lot about their products and showcase them as well as they can.

The Perks. For $27, you receive the “stress” set (the name of which proves they’re marketing these toys to adults as well). It consists of eight cubes and would be great for people who need something to do with their hands while they’re working. The prices and set sizes go up from there, $121 for the “inventor set” with 64 cubes and $299 for the classroom set with 216 pieces. These toys would definitely spark imagination in children and adults alike.

The Potential. New toys that aren’t digital are in high demand. Many parents don’t want their kids on computer games all the time, but kids are bored by regular blocks. CubeCraft would definitely keep the kids interested and the parents happy.


Chess on the Dot makes you king of the globe

ChessDotThe world is not flat so why should your chess game be? So goes the reasoning of Joshua Chan, creator of Chess on the Dot. This is actually the designer’s third gogo at Indiegogo trying to raise funds for his pricey ($1,199, a 20 percent discount of retail) chess globe that uses magnets in place of gravity for keeping the pieces affixed to the board. Previous attempts to pawn the art piece have been checked. Despite the unusual shape, the game plays as it does on a standard chess board albeit with a lot more rotation. Beautiful if impractical, the chess-in-the-round set can transport to your sphere of influence in June 2014.


Snaak is not your child’s building block toy

editors-choiceThe Premise. Lego lovers, rejoice! This new interlocking toy is going to be one of the coolest inventions of this century. Legos have held their place in the toy-building history, but it’s time to develop something new for a generation of kids who live on computers.

The Product. The Snaak is made up of 64 interlocking transparent cubes that can be arranged in thousands of different shapes. By twisting and turning each cube, you can create almost infinite designs, and transform the blocks from one shape to the other very easily. They used the number 64 because it is the first number that is both a perfect square (8×8) and a cube (4x4x4). This leads to the many, many possible combinations of shapes. They supply the mathematical forum that tells the user how there are more possible combinations of this toy than there are atoms in the universe.

The Pitch. This Kickstarter video is made entirely out of stop-motion, which is essentially a series of still photographs run together very quickly. This really shows off a lot of different shapes, and because it is a black background with just the product and the hands, it really showcases the Snaak. However, the photos move very fast, so it’s difficult to tell exactly how you would move the pieces to configure the shapes. That being said, it does make you want to get your hands on one and play with it.

The Perks. Beyond the $25 early bird special, you can donate $45 and get a multi-colored Snaak (and pick the order of the colors), and for $100, you receive five of the Snaak sets. This toy is complex enough that it will entertain kids who are used to playing computer games, and you won’t be losing all of the pieces. This is also great for adults who like to do Rubiks’ Cube type toys that love the complexity and kinesthetic properties of toys like this.

The Potential. Snaak has broad appeal and even some potential prototyping functionality beyond its entertainment value. It’s easy to see it showing up in a wide range of retailers from Brookstone to Toys R Us. One gets the sense that once people get a taste of Snaak, they may be back for seconds!