Friday, 1 June 2012

Hats Off!

I actually did this post below a long time ago - maybe two or three years ago, in another blog. I'm revamping that blog now, but didn't want to junk this post. So here it is :) Before the questions come; nope, My First Games doesn't sell this game. I got it from one of those HDB-flat-downstairs-toy-store. We really liked it though, and think it's a fantastic game for the young ones.

Hats Off is a simple dexterity game whereby one uses a plastic springboard-like device to spring/bounce the little plastic cone hats into the target box.
As you can see above, there are 4 colours - red, blue, yellow and green. Each player has 6 hats in his colour and the target box is a 6 by 6 grid split into 4 quadrants, once of each colour. There is a scoring system where if you launch and land the cones in your own colour zone, you get 5 points, and if your cone lands in your own colour zone AND on top of another cone - you earn 10 points. Player with most points wins.

Ths is a very simple game which has proven to be popular even with adults. However, in this review, I would like to concentrate on how this game is good for young kids.
This is my son, Isaac. Hats Off was the second boardgame that I had introduced to him. He was just about 16 months old when we started to let him play this game, in December 2008. Initially, he did not get the hang of 'springing' the hat - as in, he would just depress his finger on the push off, much like the action of pressing a button - but he didn't know how to 'pull back' slightly, so that the springboard can 'spring' off!
Just as I was thinking to myself that this was too tough a game for a 16 month old (looking at the Age 5+ sign in the corner of the box), and contemplated keeping the game till he was older... On the 2nd day of Chinese New Year 2009 (sometime late January; about a month of me trying to teach him to spring the device ) He suddenly knew how to! He could do it like a pro and he was consistent with his strength applied. Thus the hats almost always flew a certain distance. I would position the target box roughly in the region of where the hats were landing, and... he was having a great time!
Have a look at this video of Isaac playing the game. Sometimes he would get frustrated when the hats don't fall into the target box, and so we tell him:"It's okay... just try again!" After awhile, Isaac got his springing down pat, but I was still holding his springboard for him, thus, I started to teach him to hold his own springboard. After that, I wanted to teach him to AIM for the specific colour zone on the target box. But then I realised that he doesn't know his colours yet!

Thus, we used the game components for another 'game' - that of matching colours. Matching colours is an important game-playing device that is commonly used in many games. As such, it is a useful skill to learn.
Here you can see Isaac at the colour matching game, he enjoys it almost as much as the actual game. Sometimes we would purposely put the wrong colours in, and he would automatically pick them out and set them right.

Overall, this game is highly recommended for young kids - you just have to keep an eye to make sure they don't put the pieces into their mouths. We certainly have gotten a lot of play out of it.
Pictures above: Isaac @ 16 to 18 months

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