Written by: John Allis
Giggling and exhausted my nephew plops down on the couch to catch his breath, one of his favorite toys still spinning about on the living-room floor. The little tike has been having so much fun he doesn’t realize he’s been thinking and exercising. He only knows it’s been a riot. He’ll eat a big dinner and sleep well this evening.
The game is Mr. Bucket and the concept is simple: Mr. Bucket, a yellow pale with a bright smiling face, contains an assortment of colored balls (twelve balls total, four each of three colors). As he scoots and whirls around the room in a circular pattern he pops the balls, one by one, out of his mouth and into ‘the arena’–any space with a level floor and area enough for participants to run around.
The objective of the game is to use the provided shovels to pick up the balls and place them back into Mr. Bucket. Players may be color-coded into teams, they may participate collaboratively, they can play alone (a rare thing for such a physical, high energy game). The game is over when someone is first to get all of his or her balls into Mr. Bucket’s top.
Mr. Bucket is advertised for children ages four and up, but I’ve seen kids as young as two years get a kick out of him (and kick him over, incidentally–he has more than a couple dings and scrapes). He probably moves a little too rapidly for the very-young.
Assembly is minimal and intuitive: insert the batteries and you’re ready to go. Mr. Bucket has two arms which, although they come off relatively easily, are a cinch to re-attached. Arms aren’t an essential part of gameplay but they certainly spice things up, moving obstacles that necessitate a degree of dexterity and deliberateness on behalf of competitors.
Prices range from mid-forties to fifties, so about what one would expect of a game of such a size and with so many moving parts. The main downside of the game is Mr. Bucket’s durability, the aforementioned flimsiness of his arms in particular. Also, the inherently physical nature of the game doesn’t do much for long battery life, so (depending on how often the game is played, of course) expect to replace batteries relatively often, lest Mr. Bucket (the game at large) slow down.
Bearing in mind the good times the kids have with Mr. Bucket, the amount of attention and play he gets and the physical exertion the game necessitates and encourages, the game is well with the price. Just be sure to put away lamps and damage-ables before Mr. Bucket comes out and the melee begins!