Sunday, August 14, 2011

Award-Winning Children's Games: HABA's Where is Leo? and Animal Upon Animal - Balancing Bridge {Review}

HABA logoHaving many of my own childhood memories of playing games together as a family, as my girls get older I am always on the lookout for the high quality, amusing toys and games that can bring us together.

There is something to be said about the classic board games that we all grew up with, but there is also something about the cheap, flimsy cardboard that they were (and still are) created out of as well as the lack of educational or beneficial quality to them. How much can really be learned by flicking a spinner and moving a plastic piece around in circles?

Instead, there are so many new and unique games that have the ability to entertain as well as teach... and are asked for time and again. Most recently, we have found two more to add to the list thanks to HABA and their Where is Leo? and Animal Upon Animal - Balancing Bridge games.

Recipients of almost every toy award that exists, HABA offers furniture, toys, games and accessories for children of all ages to help them learn and grow. Found nationwide in over 1,000 U.S. specialty retail stores, catalogs and websites, HABA products have been recognized across the world as one of the best brands... and we have always agreed.

Having been fans of the fun and education that HABA provides for quite some time, we couldn't wait to see these games in person and, even though both girls are under the 5+ age recommendation, together we pulled them out for multiple afternoons of enjoyment.

A rapid searching game for 2-4 players, Where is Leo? has players following along with Terrier Theo as he sets off to track down Leo the dangerous lion, who has escaped. This extremely portable game consists mainly of durable, colorful animal cards, which can be pulled out and set up on any flat surface. With the inclusion of small coin-like food dishes, four bone player pieces, and Theo himself, you're ready to go!

The kids were easily able to help set the cards in a circle on the table and, although we weren't able to play quite as quickly as the game is intended, we have still had a lot of fun pointing out Leo's escape route by following the thought bubbles of the animals depicted on each card.

As a result, for now we've turned this more into a teamwork type of game rather than a competition, but I can see how it will easily be pulled out in upcoming years and played more and more quickly to test our quick-thinking skills. Besides, all of the animals involved (and Theo) are just so darn cute that we like seeing them each time we open the box!

When we're looking for a game to test our patience and stacking skills, however, HABA's Animal Upon Animal - Balancing Bridge is a unique and fun way to incorporate colorful, chunky animals in with something that my kids always enjoy: building.

Following the story of a crocodile leading the way across a precarious bridge surrounded by water, desert, jungle, and a volcano, Animal Upon Animal - Balancing Bridge is simple enough for young children to play along but complex enough that older kids and adults can get into the action as well.

The bottom of the box is divided diagonally into four quadrants and immediately I was impressed with the amount of detail that HABA put into each one. It can almost be a game in itself to look closely at each location every time this is played and discover new animals or scenery that weren't seen before!

Starting with the crocodile in the middle, each player rolls the die on their turn and chooses an animal from the location shown. That animal is then stacked or placed on the bridge that crosses the middle of the board and each player's dexterity is tested by just how well they can balance it on there without knocking down the pile.

The portion of the game that we have yet to get into is fulfilling the secret assignment cards that are handed out to each player listing three animals that they are to get touching on the bridge.

Although Big Sister E and Little Sister B have been happy to look through the cards and see the combination of bat-iguana-giraffe and flamingo-flamingo-panther, right now we're content with just having fun getting the animals all stacked up together on the bridge.

I've appreciated with both Where is Leo? and Animal Upon Animal - Balancing Bridge that we have been able to customize the playing experience to what works best for the ages of the players. I can see each of these games being a hit with groups of children or with adults who want to have a fun time and a good laugh due to how universally entertaining they are!

As with our previous times playing, learning and loving HABA, these games have further strengthened my knowledge that this is one company that has something for everyone. It seems that each new product that they come out with promotes imagination and development while showing HABA's environmentally-friendly and green practices. They just can't go wrong!

Retailing for $12 for Where is Leo? and $36 for Animal Upon Animal - Balancing Bridge, more information about HABA and these games can be found on their website as well as their Facebook page. For purchase, be sure to visit, as you'll find the largest collection of HABA products available online.

(Other than the Where is Leo? and Animal Upon Animal - Balancing Bridge games that I was sent, I was not provided with anything or enticed to do this review in any way. This review is solely my opinion of this company and their great products.)