Like most toddlers, my daughter loves to do puzzles, play with Duplos, and color. Also, like most toddlers, she enjoys doing all of these things in every room of the house. And while she’s not bad at cleaning up (everybody do your share!), I can still count on stepping on bricks in the living room, finding puzzle pieces on her bedroom floor, and seeing markers strewn across the kitchen table. Stuff is everywhere.
So when the folks at MUtable offered to send one of their new 8-in-1 play tables ⏤ in which everything is contained in one spot ⏤ for her to try, I was probably more excited than she. I had written about the first gen MUtable last spring and knew it was a cool concept, but I hadn’t yet seen one in action. Now that I have? It’s an organizational savior — and my daughter’s favorite base of operations.
The brainchild of two Italian moms, it’s a modular wooden table for ages 3- to 8-years-old with stackable double-sided playboards that live in the tabletop and can be swapped out based on what the kids want to play. So if, for example, they want to play Legos, you simply place the Lego/Duplo board to top. Same is true if they wanted to draw with chalk on the blackboard or do a puzzle. It comes with four reversible boards including the puzzle base, a black/whiteboard, Lego/Duplo, and city/world landscape for imaginative play. Cooler still, there’s a hole in the middle of table, below which attaches a canvas bag to hold all the toys. When kids are done playing, they simply push all of the Legos, cars, or puzzle pieces right into the hole and safely away from your feet.
The table itself is incredibly sturdy (also: heavy), well-built, and as mod/stylish as you’d expect a piece of furniture from Italy to be ⏤ it doesn’t disappoint in terms of feel or aesthetic. It comes in one of five colors and included in the box are optional leg extensions so it can grow with your child. My daughter is just about three-years-old (the recommended starting age) and the base legs were the perfect height. In fact, she actually helped me screw them in. Which, by the way, is the only thing that you have to do set it up ⏤ insert three legs and drop in the play boards. It took about two minutes, and we were off and playing. It’s also sold with a cup holder for pencils or markers, and attaching it might take an extra minute or so. Still, not long.
Our MUtable included two colorful round puzzles (one 28 pieces, one 49), and we got started on Jungle Balloons, which my daughter was able to do just fine with a little parental guidance. The nice thing about the sunken puzzle board is that it has an outer lip, so the puzzle pieces don’t slide off the table. When we were done, it was easy to leave the puzzle intact and simply pop the Duplo board on top to switch activities.
And that’s the big difference between MUtable 2.0 and last year’s release, more activities. In addition to six puzzles, they also now sell educational board games (history, geography, etc.), a Lego Tower, and two doll/playhouses that have three floors and up to 24 rooms. And it all, of course, fits right in the table. Which, by the way, can also now be expanded to accommodate up to six kids with a separate outer piece. Chairs and a child-proof cover are also available to convert the MU back into the kiddie table at Thanksgiving dinner. It’s all sold separately and at additional cost.
Which if I had to note one disappointment, this was it. We tested out just the table ⏤ which costs $208 without any accessories ⏤ but it didn’t come with either a table top or at least one toy storage bag. Both parts, in my mind, are integral to what makes the MU so damn cool, and without them, it doesn’t feel complete. Asking customers to buy them separately seems aggressive ⏤ I might raise the price a bit to ensure no table leaves the store without both. The Basic Kit, which includes a storage bag, attachable holder, and 10 games, runs $306 but doesn’t include the cover either. And the Mega kit, which includes almost every accessory they make, costs around $796. Again, it is all well made, but that’s not cheap.
Still, clearly there’s a market for the MUtable. With a month left on its Kickstarter, the company’s already cleared $771k on a $61k ask. And I can see why. It’s an innovative concept designed to make life easier for parents and more fun for kids, and it’s been executed incredibly well. Whether I stop finding Duplos, puzzle pieces, and markers scattered around my house remains to be seen, but I have to assume the odds just got a whole lot better.