In the fever dream that was my youth, I was enamored with an odd sketch on Sesame Street featuring a ball that goes up and down a long, windy track before ending up as a pile of powder. This sequence teaches us about the impermanence of existence and, more important made me love marble tracks.
Now Adam Hocherman, author of a series called Going It Alone and an inventor, is bringing bally back.
His new project is called Marbleocity and it’s a DIY marble experimentation kit. It’s made entirely of wood and lets you and your STEM-loving kids build clockwork machines and run marbles up and down them. The first project, called the Dragon Coaster, will cost $50 on Kickstarter and will ship next February.
“My experience was with making plastic injection molded type electronic devices in Asia. While I enjoyed that and made good friends with factory contacts over 10+ years, I wanted to do something in America,” said Hocherman. “I also wanted to do something that had more of an emotional connection for me personally. Education has always been very important in my family – the idea of doing an educational product like this really appealed to me.”
Hocherman wants to add more kits to the mix including the “Skate Park, Maltese Cross, and Amazing Race.” The projects will end up as stretch goals.
While nothing beats the original “1…2…3” of that fateful Sesame Street sketch, I think a kit like this is just the trick to fill the need for real wooden toys with a message. My kids had a marble race kit that consists of heavy marbles that run through a series of goofy cubes and I see in their eyes the desire to have something a bit more substantial and a bit more grounded in reality. Plus there are dragons.
Hocherman is well over his goal of $14,000 and the kits will be made in America using laser-cut wood. No word on whether the next kit will include a ball shredding crank box at the end.