Gift Lab #2: Simon & the Stormy Seas
1) Product Name: Stormy Seas
2) Background Research: I really enjoy simple, wooden toys. And thanks to my son Simon I have an excuse to slowly build my (I mean, his) collection. I saw this product and thought it would make a great gift for Simon’s upcoming birthday. He loves stacking things and balancing tall towers of blocks. My only concern is that he often yells at the blocks when they fall over. Would this game cause constant weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, or is it the perfect chance for him to finally get over his angst toward topsy inanimate objects?
3) Hypothesis: If I get this for my 3-year-old son, I will be the best dad ever.
4) Experiment: Wrap it up. Mix it in with the rest of his gifts. Unwrap. Play.
5) Results: Simon loves it. I love it. My wife loves it. My 6-month old son is indifferent.
We all had a lot of fun playing. The concept (just balance the differently shaped items on the boat) is so simple that we had no problem explaining the rules to him. It was just as easy for him as it was for us, and, yet, we oddly found that we tipped the boat almost as often as he did. I thought it would only be a game for parents and adults to play with kids, but I think it would do just as well at a dinner party or between my wife and I (though I worry I would lose badly if I challenged her).
I am also a fan of the materials used. The game is made from fast-growing bamboo, the printing inks for the rules and promo booklet are soy-based, and the paint is kid- and earth-friendly.
My only real qualm with the game is that the box is much too big. They are obviously a very environmentally focused company, but I think they could be a bit greener if they made the box only as big as it needed to be and save on cardboard and printing. It would also be easier to store in our little apartment.
Conclusion: This is a great game. I realize, of course, that some days hungry hungry hippos (which he also got for his birthday) will catch Simon’s eye. But for me, it is really important for him to have a simpler, non-plastic, less generic alternative to pull down from the shelf on game night. Stormy Seas fits the bill nicely.
About the researcher: Micah is a graphic designer and associate art director at UncommonGoods. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two sons.