Thursday, November 18, 2010
Our little league soccer season has come to an end, and my boys are devastated. They love their teammates, their coach and soccer, so they're really going miss their twice-weekly practices and weekly games. I'm sure they'll still be playing pickup games during recess and lunch at school, but once the rains come and the field gets muddy they'll have to put away their cleats and store their soccer ball for a while. I'm not looking forward to it, for their sake or mine. Where, oh where can I channel all that pent-up energy?
I was recently invited to review a line of toys that might help out with the indoor blahs during the cold, rainy winter months. Junk Ball sent me two of their Hall Stars toys to see whether they could keep 3Po and Jammy actively entertained indoors......
Hall Stars is a line of toys that lets kids play golf, tennis, volleyball, badminton, baseball and hockey indoors. The line includes:
Hall Stars Indoor 2 in 1 Hockey and Baseball Machine
Hall Stars Indoor 3-1 Net Sports
Hall Stars Indoor Disc Golf
We received samples of the first two (2 in 1 Hockey and Baseball Machine, and 3-1 Net Sports).
Here's a description of Junk Ball's Hall Stars toys:
Junk Ball’s new Hall Stars is a line of indoor sports designed for safe indoor play. The sets are sized and scaled for indoor play spaces such as bedrooms, hallways and playrooms. The equipment to play each sport is soft and safe, while the rules are bent to enable hours of indoor active play.
We're pretty careful about letting the kids play with balls around the house: no hard rubber balls, only soft balls, and no kicking/hitting/throwing too hard. So 3Po and Jammy couldn't believe their luck: You mean we're allowed to hit these balls indoors?? Sweet! The concept of playing sports indoors is irresistible to them, and I love giving them an option for indoor play that doesn't involve anything electronic.
Here's how we set up the 3 in 1 Net Sports set up in our kitchen. This set comes with an adjustable height net, 2 plastic "tennis" raqcuets, a foam "tennis" ball, a plastic badminton shuttlecock and an inflatable "volleyball". The net is adjustable to a low (for tennis and badminton) and high (for volleyball) position, but the kids didn't really care; they just swatted all the balls at each other and had fun doing it. Maybe when they're older they'll be more of a stickler for the rules (i.e. kneeling down, use the paddles, etc..) but for now they just love hitting the ball across the net to the other player and keeping the ball in play.
Our kitchen opens up into our back entrance and stairwell, so when we play with the Baseball and Hockey set, we set up the pitching machine at the far end of the kitchen, and the player stations himself at the far end of the back entrance. The set comes with a 2-speed pitching machine that you can tilt up (for "baseball") or down (for "hockey"): just plunk the 5 small soft balls into the feeding tube and it will release a ball every 5 seconds to your eager little sportster. Even Alfie and I couldn't resist trying our luck and joining in the fun.
I love the concept of scaling down and modifying sports apparatus for indoor play, but I think the Hall Stars sets are best suited to larger indoor spaces like a large playroom or basement. We have a small house, so it's difficult for 3Po and Jammy to play with abandon like they would outdoors. The small baseball/hockey balls may be soft, but the way my kids hit them, they're not exactly safe -- at those speeds, they turn into mini bullets, and they could easily topple a vase or hit someone in the eye! And if the balls don't, it's highly possible that a flailing baseball bat or hockey stick might! So while the weather is still nice, we've actually been playing with the Hall Stars toys outdoors -- and when the time comes to bring them indoors, we've got to set some ground rules about taking turns, pitching at low speeds and making sure no-one is in the range of fire.
The Bottom Line
Junk Ball's Hall Stars line of indoor sports toys are a great way to get kids active and entertained when they can't get outside -- just make sure to be mindful of space and safety! I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this for people who have a large indoor space, because it's a great alternative to tv, computers and videogames, and it gets kids moving.
Disclosure: I received a product sample, but was not paid to review the product or give my opinions. Product information is provided by the featured company/product and is clearly indicated as such. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.