The brilliant Rory’s Story Cubes: Batman is a set of 9 custom six-sided dice, with 54 Batman icons, that you roll out and make up a story with.
I love the stories my daughter comes up with. Whether it’s Princess Leia and Cinderella teaming up to kill Jabba the Hutt (turns out Jabba was ‘The Prince’), or Peppa Pig and Mog’s misadventures in looking after George (“Don’t feed him ham!”), her inventiveness and ability to remix story elements into a brand new (and engaging) narratives always makes me smile.
We’ve discovered great way to stimulate this creativity with a deceptively simple product called Rory’s Story Cubes. We were shown them at the recent London Toy Fair, and fell in love with them straight away.
While there are a number of themes and formats to choose from, knowing our love of superheroes we were presented with the Batman cubes. These are a set of nine dice, with each face featuring a different storytelling element from Batman and action storytelling, for a total 54 different icons from characters, vehicles, locales, actions, and more.
The ‘rules’ (more on that later) are that you roll out the dice, and whatever 9 icons land face up you re-order and use as story prompts. I’ll leave the math up to others, but apparently this means there are over a MILLION story combinations.
This is similar to a long running game my daughter likes to do with our Star Wars Top Trumps, where she pulls a selection of cards out, puts them in an order, and then asks me to make up a story about them.
There are a number of nice elements about these cubes. They are solidly made, with the simple line drawn icons embossed in black on the white die; The tactile nature of handling and rolling the die add a nice physical element to the storytelling process; It encourages social interaction – whether telling one or more people the story, or taking turns in a group to add to it; and these dice use Batman iconography very well (mostly).
In terms of female characters while there is no Batgirl (boo!) there is Catwoman and Harley Quinn (yay!), as well as a gallery of Gotham icons including Commissioner Gordon, other villains including Joker, Two-Face, and Riddler, and Batman iconography such as the Batmobile, Bat signal, Batarang, Batwing, etc.
Bat sadly, while there is Robin, there is no actual Batman image (other than his fist). While I guess the assumption is that it is an unnecessary story element to include – a Batman story must have Batman in it anyway – it is a shame an image of the dark knight is missing.
My daughter is familiar with Batman via the 60s TV show and the 90s animated series, so she is well versed in the world of Batman. I applaud anything that encourages children to engage with the media they are exposed to. This takes the passive consumption of Batman stories, and inspires children to interact and create. The stated age is 6+, but my 4-year-old daughter is using these well, and I reckon she would have done so when she was 3 too. She loves us playing with them together, but is also happy sitting there alone coming up with stories.
While we have the Batman cubes, there are a number of different sets available either now or soon – including Doctor Who, Looney Tunes, Moomins, and Scooby-Doo! There are also the original non-licensed sets with themes including Action, Voyages, and many more.
The set also comes with a handy fold-out guide to all the icons, as well as a useful little plastic box to store/carry the cubes in.
A note on the ‘rules’ – there are no rules. These cubes are there to fire creativity, and while they have been designed with particular formats of play in mind, any way they promote creativity is encouraged.
Disclosure: We were given these Rory’s Story Cubes: Batman free of charge for the purposes of this review.