I want this toy.

I’ve always been a big fan of marble runs, starting with the Gravitram in Portland, Oregon (pictures), all the way up to the modern marvels like this one by Matthias Wandel. While I’ve been dreaming about making my own amazing machine, a toy company in the UK has gone ahead and made it easy. Take a look at this amazing line of Techno-Ball sets by Cheatwell Games– in sizes from a diminutive 173 pieces to the 920 piece monster pictured here– with two independent motorized marble-lifting chains. (I want the big set. Maybe two.)

It looks like these are easy to get in the UK, even from Amazon.co.uk, but it’s not obvious that they’re even for sale in the states.

So, I’d like to ask: does anyone know where I can order a set (or two)?


A reader left a comment about Steve Jackson’s Chaos Machine— a giant ball-run construction toy that he brings to conventions. It’s apparently so cool that it has its own fansite.

The Chaos Machine is made out of a number of Chaos Tower sets from chaostoy.com. The sets can be built in a number of configurations, like the six-foot-tall one pictured to the left. This looks like a really fabulous construction system– enough so to change my mind about which set to get! The tracks look a lot nicer than the ones in the techno-ball set, and it has all the features of “real” marble runs: trampolines and catchers, vortices, switches, accumulators, a series of tubes, and probably more that I can’t see in the photos.

So… can anyone beat that?

15 thoughts on “I want this toy.

  1. Did you try ordering it directly from them?

    From the Cheatwell website:

    If you wish to order a game call us on: (UK) 07000 243 289 with your card details handy. (9:00 – 16:30 weekdays)
    We accept most major credit and debit cards (VISA, MASTERCARD, AMEX).

  2. There was recently an installation at a space called The Curve in the Barbican Centre in London. It was a massive marble run type creation, using tubular metal for the rails, with white plastic balls about 14" in diameter. A ball was set in motion as you entered the space, and watching it complete the course was surprisingly exciting, despite it running quite slowly.

    1. Whoa– that’s seriously awesome. Obviously, it’s going to take over the whole house when I copy that! =D

      The installation is called “Distance” and it’s by Jeppe Hein. There’s a video of it here.

      Windell H. Oskay

      1. great video! i love that this is real!
        are those standard bowling balls? yikes. VERY TEMPTING!
        in fact if the sound is true the noise would be a problem both for me and maybe my shyer cat.

        but i do already have a swirly purple ball, plus a huge high ceiling, a deep staircase and many rooms. im gonna show this viddy to the ol man, asking if we can/do go forward, maybe we could add wooly walls and an air gasketing barrier to dampen noise.
        i seriously wonder if i dare ask my AMAZING son/daughterInLaw&grandson to help me put this together. what would a thing like that cost?


    1. Wow– that’s really sweet too– thanks for the tip!. It looks like the parts are from chaostoy.com where they sell the kits. I actually like the tracks in these much better than the flimsy rails in the techno-ball set– it might be a better set to get!

      Windell H. Oskay

  3. I assume you are familiar with the interstitials on the Japanese children’s program, Pythagoras Switch? If not, get thee to YouTube, my friend.

  4. I have a Quadrilla marble run set. They’re not quite as complex but they’re high quality wood pieces.

    1. hmm i like the first page that links to, but under the sculpture button, that cramped tabletop thing doesnt send me. who needs a marble in a brillo?
      so i nearly missed his motorised 3′ h x 5′ w x 8" deep “Odyssey of the Spheres” which i think is under his limited editions button. now that i like.
      is this what you mean, sir?
      40 years ago i saw an alexander calder exhibit. this spreads the Wow i felt then.

  5. Ten years ago,I saw a different kind of ball contraption at the Museum of Scientific Discovery in Harrisburg, PA. A mechanized tower took a racquetball 20 or 30 feet up, and dropped it. The drop was precise, and the ball hit a polished granite block with a slightly angled face. There were another half dozen or so polished granite blocks on the floor, each with a different angled face, but these could be moved around. The trick was to arrange the blocks so that the ball would hit one, bounce to another, bounce to another, and so on. Twisting a block would change the direction of the bounce, and using a block with a different angled face would change the distance the ball traveled. Maybe there was a bucket target for the last bounce, but I can’t be sure.

    Word on the web is that the Museum of Scientific Discovery is closed. Bummer.

    Peter Hoh
    St. Paul, Minnesota

    1. The Museum of Scientific Discovery as you (and I) fondly remember it, is indeed closed, however it’s now known as The Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts… It’s been dumbed-down a bit since but most of the original exhibits survive (last I looked (Feb 2007)) intact. FWIW it’s still there, just not the same…

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