Can a garden ball game, designed for use on a range of surfaces, deliver the goods? Consumer editor, Julia Heaton, finds out
I’m always loath to fix nets and the like into the lawn so was interested to see an adult version of kid’s swingball that could be removed at a moments notice. Made by games company Mookie, Pro Swingball houses all the components in a carry case, which turns into a base when filled with sand or water.
By the way, any dog owners should keep their eyes on the ball. I didn’t and, having got distracted during assembly, returned to find the structure on its side next to an exhausted terrier who’d been intent on separating the ball from its tether – loose this and its game over! Anyway, having filled the base with water, secured the poles through a hole in the lid, threaded score markers over (there’s a score counter built into the base) and the swingball head I was ready to go. If you’ve got sore loosers in the family then the little ‘windicator’ device on top is designed to put an end to any arguments. It should pop up to declare a winner when the tether reaches the bottom or top of the spiral head but there were odd times when it didn’t.
Playing alone on the lawn the structure seemed surprisingly sturdy but could it stand up to the cut and thrust of a lads double’s game? And how would it fare on gravel? Where the grudge match was concerned all went well at the start but, as the contest started to heat up (men eh!), the central pole began to show signs of strain, working loose from the base on a few occasions. All this took place on grass and, although it didn’t spoil the enjoyment, did interrupt the game’s momentum. Filling the base with sand instead made it a little more steady – top tip if you’ve got a couple of guys intent on thrashing it out.
The beauty of this design is that you can pack it away at a moments notice and set it up again on a completely different surface. I tried it on pea gravel and paving and it worked perfectly. If you’ve got a small paved garden or want to keep the kids off the lawn then this really is ideal. By the way, there’s a moveable score counter on the base which, although handy, soon became surplus to requirements – everyone who played tended to keep a tally in their heads.
All things considered though it’s a great addition to the garden for young and old alike. Right, I’m off to perfect my backhand.
TEST RESULT 4/5
SUPPLIER: Mookie at The Entertainer or www.thetoyshop.com
PRICE: £39.99 (p&p free)
PROS: Easy assemby/ designed for range of surfaces/ built in storage case/ score counter/ play alone or with partner
CONS: Windicator doesn’t always pop up/ central pole can be unsteady under pressure/keep ball away from dogs!