I watched the model-builder Dad in our house glue together the 50 pre-cut pieces of balsa wood as the kit transformed into a fascinating catamaran. He’ll give you the engineer’s view while I’ve got the play piece:

The thoughtfulness of design in the Terra Kids Catamaran comes through in the interesting history HABA provides and the detailed drawing-centric assembly directions. The kit promotes a toy and play culture where a child and parent interact as they discover, interpret, problem solve and build their fun. The box says “8+.” You will definitely want one of those “+” types around as you start detaching precisely incised cleats, paddles and rudder parts, and gluing the ultra-thin laminated wood components. There is a real feeling of accomplishment as you install the paddle power rubber bands and rudder, while many words and concepts will have traversed your mind and lips as this wonderful craft comes together.

After completion when we gathered the neighbor kids and headed down to the pond to launch our new boat. I felt a little like I was in the Mark Twain era, sending my silent paddle boat down the river, powered by rubber bands. Once again, you have to have kids to understand the play factor in a toy–especially one like this. We wound up the paddle wheel, made sure our string was secure so we could pull it back and let it go. Kids were fascinated with the boat–proposing new pretend play items with each successive launch. Tyler suggested let’s see if it can transport a stick, then we added an acorn man and sister Emma suggested we tie a Polly Pocket character on the catamaran. There was so much learning, experimenting and collaboration as the children suggested variations for each launch. The best endorsement was a quiet spontaneous remark by one of the kids, “I need one of these!”

Bob Artemenko contributed to this review. While building many Monogram plastic airplanes as a youth, he ultimately succumbed to baseball, IBM and flying planes over the last 40 years. He has enjoyed his reprise in model construction.

Available at HABA: Click here