The BGQ team was first introduced to Rhino Hero way back in 2015. Our team ended up buying a bunch of copies of it at Gen Con this year, and I’m pretty sure fellow reviewer Alex knocked over some little kids to get his copy (ok, maybe not, but he did make one cry).
Since that, I may have become something of a Rhino Hero addict. My collection includes the original game, Rhino Hero: Super Battle, and even the Giant Edition that you can only get imported (but is super cool). So when HABA Games told me that they have a version of Rhino Hero for toddlers, you better believe I was all over that one.
Rhino Hero Junior is part of their “My Very First” line of games and I put it to the test with my set of twin wrecking balls (I mean toddlers).
There are a few ways to play Rhino Hero Junior depending on what age/stage your kids are at. The first is free play. Just give them the pieces and let them build. The tower tiles are thick, chunky cardboard so it should survive play from even some of the roughest kids (they are not indestructible though).
For actual games with rules, the easiest way to play is via color matching. You place the roof tiles with their color side up, and kids will place them, one at a time in a line, matching the colors on the edges. There is a bit more to it than that, but it’s a quick way to work on color matching with the kids.
The next way to play is via building the actual tower. Kids will need to build the walls and floors, one at a time, from largest to smallest. At the end, the Rhino must be placed on the top without knocking the tower over. There is also a variant to this version that adds in a memory component if you are seeking a bit more of a challenge. But the end result is the same: try to build all six levels of the tower and place the rhino on top.
If you’ve ever played a game with toddlers, you probably know that rules are more guidelines than actual “rules”. This is why I only gave you a brief overview of a few ways the game is played. Some kids might be able to pick up how to play quickly, while others might just want to play with the Rhino and Monkey pieces.
My kids are both 3, so this game fits perfectly in their age range and style of play. We tried the color matching game first, and they had no issues with that one, although it didn’t keep their attention all that long. Unsurprisingly though, they loved building the tower. I just asked them which was the biggest floor remaining, then they’d put it down and I’d have them place a roof. After a few games, I could even sit on the couch with a nice cup of tea and watch them play on their own. They even started moving the Rhino and Spider Monkey to each floor after each placement.
However, should also point out that there were the inevitable fights over who got to hold the Rhino and Monkey. Kids fight about the dumbest stuff so this was probably inevitable. However, being the good dad that I am, I tried to use this as a lesson in sharing and taking turns, which they were not that interested in hearing, but eventually got the message (at least for about 10 minutes).
As a parent, I did really enjoy seeing the sense of pride and joy on my kid’s faces once the tower was completely built. However, that was quickly replaced by their evil grin as one of them would quickly smack the tower, sending pieces flying. Yes, kids love destroying things just about as much as creating. Thankfully, the cardboard tiles are heavy-duty and none have broke.
My only complaint with them is occasionally, they’ll slip apart. The walls slide together (forming an X if you look down from the top). But some of them are a bit too loose, so if a kid picks it up from the top half, the bottom may fall out. You do need to take them apart for storage, so gluing isn’t a possibility.
Rhino Hero Junior does everything I’d hope for a toddler-aged version of Rhino Hero. The original, while still aimed at kids, was a bit too delicate for my young ones. We tried it once and the pieces were too light to stay together with their rough play. But the heavier pieces in Rhino Hero Junior were a great idea. The game also has a solid “toy factor” that lets kids just build if that’s what they want to do. It’s simple, quick, and is able to hold my kid’s attention for at least 30 minutes, which is a win all around in my book. This is a great game to let them play with around the coffee table.
As I did with Building Site, won’t be giving out a review score because games in this age range can vary depending on a lot of factors, notably the age and development of your kids. But Rhino Hero Junior was a hit with my little hellions and gave me a much-needed break from playing Building Site with them. This one is an easy purchase if you have kids in the 2-4 age range.