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Monday, January 18, 2010

Review: Roger von Oech's Y-BALL

First off, I'd like to thank Lynn from Creative Whack Company for the initial contact after reading my review of Roger von Oech's Ball of Whacks. She was kind enough to send me a review of the not-yet-released follow up to the X-Ball, the Y-Ball. I was told that this product will be released sometime in this February.

Here's the letter sent to me attached to the package containing the review copy of the Y-Ball.

Front package shot.

The package includes the 30 Y pieces itself [to make a Ball as pictured] as well as a guidebook to assist in playing with the creative toy.

Just like the previous Ball of Whacks, it is not only a toy to have fun with but also a tool for everyone and anyone.

Inside shot of the package.

You can combine the Y-Ball with the X-Ball components to make even more designs, shapes, and endless possibilities.

All its contents.

As stated on the package, the Y-Ball is based on the soccer ball shape. And now when anyone mentions a soccer ball, you can impress them [hopefully] by saying that the soccer ball's shape is an icosahedron.

Just like the Ball of Whacks, the Y-Ball comes with a guidebook filled with instructions, tips, and examples of shapes/designs you can make. Right off the bat Roger [von Oech] asks you to play with it and familiarize yourself with the pieces.

The second part is the Creativity Workshop. After being able to familiarize yourself with the pieces, it then guides you into using the Y-Ball as a creative tool to spark ideas and help solve problems. I don't want to spoil its contents but if you'd like to get a good idea of what it contains, do try the Creative Whack Pack either buying the deck or buying the iPhone application. Having the Y-Ball [or the Ball of Whacks/X-Ball] supplements Roger's creativity workshops greatly by being able to exercise your creativity not only mentally but also physically through its pieces.

Lastly, Roger provides background information on the design of the X-Ball itself. If you're into geometry, this is your language written here mentioning icosidodecahedron, truncated icosahedron, and golden ration geometry.

A brief biography of the creator Roger von Oech in the back of the guidebook.

The pieces itself are blue plastic with each "Y" end containing positive and negative magnets. This allows you to attach and detach the pieces to each other easily. Comparing the magnets used in the Y-Ball versus the Ball of Whacks, I can tell that stronger magnets were used and this provides better control and hold of the shapes you can make.

What will you allow your mind and hands creative when you see this on your desk? Or using these pieces to represent a certain problem you have in work or situation, how can you find order within the chaos or find patterns and solutions?

I wanted to recreate the cover image of the package and here is the soccer ball itself assembled.

The guidebook offers some examples of patterns/designs and this here is a Flat Weave. Definitely the possibilities are endless especially when you add in the X-Ball and Ball of Whacks.

Size comparison of the Y-Ball and Ball of Whacks. The Y-Ball does have a larger footprint than the Ball of Whacks on a desk.

But I quickly found a solution so that I can at least keep both items on my desk without taking up space of the two.

If you're into anything that you like to use your hands to create and build something [i.e. Legos, blocks, etc] the Y-Ball is for you. I thoroughly enjoy my Ball of Whacks because it provides me a mini vacation from my desk and computer without even leaving. The Y-Ball represents that as well. Both the Ball of Whacks and Y-Ball provide me a mental punching bag allowing me to distress and then regroup just by playing with the pieces and creating something.

The the guidebook is just as valuable as the pieces themselves. Roger's creativity workshops are definitely worth a read because they provide exercises to stimulate the mind and spark creativity. It's a definitely a good guide to anyone on a mental block.

One of my important aspects when buying a toy (yes, I still buy toys time to time) is its replay value: how often can I play with this toy and not get tired of it? Video games provide a length of play but once you're done with the story line, that's pretty much it. Action figures are well, action figures that strike a pose indefinitely.

Toys [I mean tools] from Roger von Oech provide an infinite amount of replay time. I will pick it up, play with it and then get tired of it. But again later I will pick it up once again and what I create with it will be different from the last time. For me to be able to pick up it time after time is what I love most about the Ball of Whacks and now the Y-Ball that now resides on my desk.

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