Madison’s last class presentation went very well. She met both the visual and oral standards with excellence – just as she predicted – and earned her Marble Run. I ordered it from Amazon last Thursday night. By the afternoon of the following day, she was imploring us to check the mailbox. “Mad,” I said. “It’s not in the mailbox yet. It’s going to take a week to get here.” “But we can still check, maybe there’s regular mail, anyway,” she said. Her logic was unassailable. The original projection for arrival was today, but the box came in a day earlier. Madison and I spent her last conscious moments last night assembling, then playing with the Marble “Run.”
My brothers and I had a set very similar to this one when we were kids. As soon as I opened Mad’s set, I noticed two things immediately: there were many more column pieces (non-marble carrying) and the pieces were much less sturdy than I remembered our old set being. I thought Madison would have wanted to help me assemble her tower of fun, but I was mistaken. She sat there patiently sorting the pieces while I was left with the responsibility of erecting the course. She had a long day, I suppose.
The beauty of our old set was that there were no column pieces (marked as “L” in this diagram). As such, you could actually build away without second thoughts – there was no height to consider, the whole think stood on its own. The box said users could “build your own run!” and that’s what I tried to do first. It took me about 5 minutes to realize that while possible, it was actually going take some thinking and planning to do that. So I begrudgingly started over, following the directions.
Aside: Lynnette says I have problems following directions. She’s right, but let me specify. If someone tells me what to do, I can – for the most part – do it. I am also a thorough Lego-directions-follower. There are, however, cases – like heating up things in the microwave and playing with those foam tablets that expand in water – in which I completely ignore the existence of directions and simply assume “there’s nothing to it” and try to do it my own way. Now, this wouldn’t be a problem if I was successful. The issue is that whenever I roam off-script, the results are terrible. I have something like a 14% success rate. “You never read the directions, yeah?” Lynnette will say when I wonder out loud why my shit didn’t turn out. It’s a question so much as an observation, and it’s not so much an observation as it is a condemnation. I have no answer for her.
Well, once I had completed the structure, Mad gave it a go with her own marbles. They got stuck. Apparently, the orbs that came with the set aren’t even real marbles – they’re little plastic-y balls that are smaller and lighter. Once we made that correction, the first three marbles Mad tried shot right out of the green funnel (right below her elbow in the picture. Madison began using her hand as a barrier to keep the marble in play. But then that would kill all of its momentum, making it difficult for the “marble” to traverse the rest of the course. When we finally got a marble past the halfway point, I was frustrated and surprised and aggravated to learn that the marbles would not reach the bottom on their own.
Despite my aforementioned issues with directions, I’m pretty sure I put the thing together correctly. I think the actual issue is the individual pieces themselves. They’re made of a plastic so thin and flimsy that I am of the belief that some of them have warped from their intended shapes. There were about 4 pieces that were much more difficult to use than the rest. Whatever new shape they’ve taken is preventing the “marbles” from proceeding as they should.
Madison didn’t seem too broken up by it, but I was upset. When I entered the living room this morning, I saw the set standing there on the small table like we had left it. “You better shape up,” I whisper-yelled. Then, I smiled and gave myself credit for coming up with a pun unintentionally. I can’t help it, I’m sorry.