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3D Maze Game

Amazing Space

These days solo gaming nearly always comes in the form of handheld electronics. Want to keep the kids busy? There's an app for that. But the truth is, there are remarkably innovative games that don't involve batteries or computers.

Perplexus is unlike anything we've ever seen before – and it may just be the most fun you can have without batteries. It's a marble maze that works in 3D, on every plane, all twisted up inside a ball. Imagine one of those tilting labyrinth marble mazes contorted in on itself, reimagined in
color and somehow married with both a playground and a fun house. It's the brainchild of Michael McGinnis, who first came up with the concept in the late 1970s as a project for an art class. Getting it to market was an enormous challenge with lots of ups and downs as Michael tried to navigate the toy industry, but Perplexus was worth the wait.

Perplexus challenges the mind, fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination. In the Original version, which contains more than 23 feet of track inside a 8" diameter sphere, there are 100 separate goal points, divided into three different skill levels. The Rookie version is easier for small hands to manipulate, while the Epic version adds greater complexity and the ability for users to do stunts. Twist is the brand new addition to the Perplexus family, and it requires a player to turn the knob that realigns the tracks to escape traps and decoys.

All the models are easy to take in the car, or anywhere else you'll have to keep kids ages 6+ entertained. Just don't be surprised if you find yourself playing with Perplexus just as much as they do!

— Mir
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Perplexus - 3D Maze Game

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Grommet Launch Conversation

  • Michael

    I am so honored to be invited here today. Perplexus is a concept I came up with for a high school art project back in 1979, and like the game itself, the experience of bringing it to you has been full of many twists and turns. I am an instructor of sculpture and 3-dimensional design and truly enjoy interacting with people in our quest to understand the physicality of our world.

    It is fun to share my experiences of growth, success, and failure in an effort to bring sculptural awareness to people of all ages. The most gratifying moments are when mothers, fathers, and grandparents tell me how much their whole family loves Perplexus! It is wonderful to see the "aha!" moment when someone picks up the ball, examines it, has no idea what they are seeing, and then *BING* they are thinking in a whole new way spatially.

    Although the idea and first model came to me when I was 17, it took many years of art education, personal growth, becoming an art instructor, trust in many others, and the love of my family to bring it here today.

  • Barbara
    10/8/10 12:24 PM

    I have always loved mazes. This will make a wonderful gift as well as ordering one for myself for those moments when you just need to zone out. Perfect on a coffee table or to take to dinner with children of all ages!

  • Kate
    10/8/10 1:36 PM

    I absolutely love this! This will be something that I give to my favorite kids as gifts. Nice find Daily Grommet.

  • ANN
    10/8/10 2:01 PM


  • rodzzy
    10/8/10 2:06 PM

    i think you have something here, i do beleive my grandaughter will love this

  • DeeAnn
    10/8/10 2:11 PM

    This is awesome and NOT a computer item! I'm doing some Christmas shopping today, thank you!

  • Desmond
    10/8/10 2:19 PM

    I ordered one for my son at college. It'll be an interesting conversation piece in the dorm vs. the normal fare of video games and Saturday football.

  • Michael
    Michael – Special Guest
    10/8/10 2:43 PM

    Hi to people reading these comments... I am happy to answer any questions you may have! I will say that as a conversation piece, the Perplexus is fun to look at as well as play. This is an important part of the sculptural process for me.

  • Lynn
    2/25/12 7:42 PM

    @Michael McGinnis: Thank you for this wonderful gift. I ordered it for my nephew for his birthday last month. He is a high school student who is a skilled gamer. We thought this would be a great change of pace, Now, we're back to get another one for his little sister. She is a precocious, intelligent seven. Which version would you recommend for her?

  • Chew-Hoong
    Chew-Hoong – Grommet Team
    2/27/12 1:46 PM

    @Lynn: We're thrilled your nephew is enjoying "gaming" with his Perplexus. Michael has suggested the Original for kids ages 6 & up and the Epic for ages 8 & up. Check the DETAILS tab (below the video) for further info. Since your niece is 7 & "precocious, intelligent", she might be ready for the Epic. If your nephew has the Epic, perhaps let your niece have a go at it. This might give you a better idea whether to get the Original or Epic for her.

  • Jules
    Jules – Grommet Team
    10/8/10 3:15 PM

    Michael, I love your story of your family and how you came to be a hacker/inventor/artist. One thing that surprised me about the Perplexus is that you can make it for such a low price point. That kind of price point can be really hard for a young company to hit, before they hit the big time. Did you have special access to manufacturing resources or any other short cuts to get your costs down? This game feels like a much more expensive piece, I can testify.

  • Michael
    Michael – Special Guest
    10/8/10 3:25 PM

    Wow. I can tell you that my hand made little models take hundreds of hours to design and build. But I put a lot of effort into working out the design to be manufacturable. That means the track is specifically laid out so that, even though it is complex, it is made with a relatively few number of pieces. This took a while for me to understand, since some of my sculptural pieces have hundreds of parts!

    So to get it down to this price point took the skills of more people than just me. My friend and collaborator Dan Klitsner has invented thousands of games and toys (such as Bop-It!) and had invaluable insights about the industry. We worked on revisions to the design to make it easy enough for most people to accomplish. You see, I always lean towards the sculptural/complex/hard to play side and Dan works on me to make it simpler/ easier to play!

    Then the tool and die makers have to work out the best, most cost-effective tool designs which bring the cost down to a reasonable place. It is a true team effort (working with people I respect and consider friends) to make a product work out.

  • Michael
    Michael – Special Guest
    10/8/10 3:34 PM

    To add one more comment about the manufacturing process, we have a very unique situation in regard to the design to distribution process. It is as complex as the Perplexus itself. That said, I work very closely with two great people on the manufacturing side: Matt Nelson and James Packer. They allow me full creative license and then go through the lengthy process of sourcing out the production. We work back and forth to problem-solve anything that causes us concern about cost and quality. They are very passionate about this as am I. We are super excited about the soon-to-be future (that is all I'll say about that!).

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    10/8/10 3:42 PM

    Michael -- you're leaving us with a cliffhanger...we can't wait to see what you have up your sleeve!

  • Michael
    Michael – Special Guest
    10/8/10 3:56 PM

    Thank you for putting the photo of one of my Superplexus sculptures on the description page. I am making these for private collectors, science and technology museums, children's museums, and hopefully others. These pieces illustrate how I can create designs that do not have to be mass-produced. They are so complex that even I get lost trying to locate specific sections of the track! What I love so much about making Perplexus as a retail item is that it gives people a chance to have a little (albeit unusual) sculptural work of their own. It is such a great feeling to help people play and grow through their interaction with Perplexus.

  • Kathleen
    10/9/10 7:31 AM

    This is going to be my "be all" holiday gift this year -- for children and adults alike! Nice job!

  • Michael
    Michael – Special Guest
    10/9/10 11:47 AM

    Hi Kathy -- Although Perplexus is great to play as a solitary individual, it is equally at home for competitive play. Going Head-To-Head is really fun! Listed below are four competitive variations. In this gameplay, two or more players start off (each with their own Perplexus) at the same point simultaneously. These four variations can be met in two modes: Casual and Hard-Core. In CASUAL mode, simply get to the goal first regardless of how many times you fall off, allowing restarts, which is a satisfying method of play because even a novice can beat a seasoned player. Slow and steady may win this race, but an accurate and speedy player can still take chances, spicing up the competition. Oh, and did I mention that it's really fun? In HARD-CORE mode, restarts are not allowed. If you fall off, by default the player still on the track wins! Everyone playing must be quite careful. But remember, a seasoned player can tell where another player is iocated on the path just by the sound of the ball, tensing up the competition a bit. So here are the four variations ---- VARIATION 1: going from level 1-26 (The beginner's round.) Fun, fast, and friendly. This play variation can take a while in Casual mode. ---- VARIATION 2: going from level 26-59 (Tough.) ---- VARIATION 3: going from level 59-100 (Tougher.) ---- VARIATION 4: going all the way! 1-100 (This game is toughest when played in Casual mode, simply because it may take dozens of minutes to complete. The Hard-Core version is quicker and not as relentless since the winner may not actually need to reach 100.)

  • Paulenne
    10/9/10 8:00 PM

    Absolutely fabulous to find something for my grandkids that doesn't need batteries. Can I buy it in either the UK or Hong Kong?

  • Michael
    Michael – Special Guest
    10/9/10 8:23 PM

    Hello Pauleene-

    Because it is featured on Daily Grommet, it would be best to purchase from here, of course! However, if you cannot because you are outside of the USA, then please go to http://www.perplexus.co.uk. The official UK site. There is a link at the top of the page that says PURCHASE A PERPLEXUS.

    If anyone at the Daily Grommet wishes to add any comment, please do.


  • Paulenne
    10/10/10 4:09 AM

    On my way to order three thanks for the reply

  • Joseph Wraith
    Joseph Wraith
    11/19/10 12:45 PM

    This is very cool, bought it immediately!

    I'm a video gamer, a game developer and artist and this idea just opened a whole new pathway for 3d online game possibilities for me!


    Joseph Wraith

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    11/19/10 1:00 PM

    @Joseph Wraith: Wow!! Thanks for sharing that, Michael will be thrilled!

  • Kari
    11/26/10 1:33 PM

    So where can I get one of these?

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    11/26/10 2:09 PM

    @Kari: We would love it if you ordered it from us right here!

  • Tom
    12/27/10 2:16 PM

    My family got the Perplexus for Christmas. Very cool. I completed it in one and a half days. Total playing time 1 1/2 hours. My sister is up to #92 after two days. She'll 11 and has been obsessed with it ever since she saw the video.

  • Jeanne
    Jeanne – Grommet Team
    12/27/10 5:53 PM

    I'm so impressed Tom. I'll have to check with our developer, Anthony, to see if you beat his record. My 11 year old son was also excited to get a Perplexus for x'mas and is racing for the 3rd level right now. Good luck and let us know when she makes it all the way through!

  • Bret Loving
    Bret Loving
    12/30/10 4:11 PM

    I couldn't wait to have a crack at this game when I saw it at our family Christmas gathering last week. It was a present for a 5 yr old in the family, yet all of the 20 and 30 yr olds couldn't put it down. I was mesmerized as I played, even as frustrating as some parts are. It took about 30 minuts for me to make it to the end (I never went from start to finish, but once I got far enough, I would start in the 2nd or 3rd portion to skip the parts I already had passed). The multiplayer variations sound cool, but I am also curious if there are going to be different variations of mazes inside. This could be a whole new phenomenon like the sudoku puzzles! When can I expect to see perplexus #2??

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    12/30/10 5:25 PM

    @Bret Loving: I love the toys that span generations. You must have great spatial cognitive skill to have mastered it so quickly! Michael does have something in the works, it will be fun to see what he dreams up next.

  • Michelle E
    Michelle E
    1/3/11 1:34 PM

    What a great toy. Loved that my 10 year old son was more intrigued with this then some of his video games on Christmas morning. He hasn't mastered it to level 100 yet but has been having a wonderful time with it. Great toy for road trips as it kept him occupied for the 2 1/2 hour drive to Grandma's house on Christmas Day.

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    1/3/11 1:45 PM

    @Michelle E: What a great story, thanks for stopping back to share!

  • Mommyto2
    9/25/11 10:44 AM

    My very active 7-year-old son received a Perplexus for his birthday months ago, and he continues to play with it every day! It's perfect for quiet time, rest time and those inevitable "time outs"! Our entire family enjoys trying to complete the mazes. This is now our go-to birthday gift when my son goes to his friends parties! Love it!

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    9/25/11 10:35 PM

    @Mommyto2: We're glad he loves it! I agree, it's a great go-to gift for a variety of ages and interests. Thanks for stopping by today.

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    10/28/11 12:03 PM

    We are excited to be able to re-feature Perplexus and debut Michael's newest additions to his line. Michael is traveling today and will be harder to reach, but his wife Becky will be with us to help answer any questions that you have.

  • Becky
    10/28/11 12:39 PM

    Hi Katherine, Thank you, and everyone at DailyGrommet, for the honor of featuring Michael's Perplexus toys here today. I hope I am able to answer questions as they arise, but if I can't I'm sure Michael will catch up with everyone when he returns home later today from his trip. Becky

  • Nancy O'Neill
    Nancy O'Neill
    10/28/11 1:27 PM

    Our kids loved the Perplexus we gave them last Christmas, until a part inside the dome broke within 6 weeks. The small purple cup used to transfer the ball at one stage disconnected and the maze was no longer playable. Our 11 year old daughter wrote a letter to the company asking for a replacement and we sent an e-mail to customer service, but didn't hear back from either effort. Disappointing.

  • Becky McGinnis
    Becky McGinnis
    10/28/11 1:34 PM

    @Nancy O'Neill:

    Nancy, sorry to hear that happened. If you'd like I will ask Michael to contact our distributor directly to exchange a new one for you. I think if you indicate to the DailyGrommet staff that it's ok to share your e-mail with us that we can get that done for you. Thank you for letting us know.

    Best wishes.

  • Nancy O'Neill
    Nancy O'Neill
    10/28/11 4:53 PM

    @Becky McGinnis: thank you, Becky. Happy to have DG provide my e-mail address to you and I appreciate your offer. Our children have happily given Perplexus as a b-day gift to several of their friends and I expect our experience was a fluke.

  • Becky McGinnis
    Becky McGinnis
    10/28/11 4:57 PM

    @Nancy O'Neill:

    You're very welcome Nancy! I just wish we could have helped your daughter sooner.

    Thanks for your comments and I will be sure to follow up on this.

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    10/28/11 1:43 PM

    @Nancy O'Neill: Nancy, thanks for posting so that we can get a Perplexus back in your daughter's hands. I have forwarded your information on to our Customer Service team and someone will contact you to help facilitate an exchange.

  • Michael McGinnis
    Michael McGinnis
    10/29/11 12:59 PM

    @Nancy O'Neill: Hello Nancy, this is Michael McGinnis. My wife, Becky was kind enough to spend time replying to posts while I was traveling. Perplexus is a complex product to manufacture, and occasionally has glitches, one of which you experienced. It is very helpful for me to see what the problem was that caused this to dislodge... and yes, this is a very rare event! One of our new designs, Perplexus Epic, is really at the limit of complexity for mass production. I could not imagine having to be on the production line myself :-)

    Although The Daily Grommet was kind enough to send a replacement for a perplexus they didn't sell, PlaSmart, our distributor, has a policy that retailers should receive any faulty Perplexus they sold, and provide a replacement to the purchaser. They then receive a credit on their next order. That lets us trace the fault properly. Thanks for your patronage, and thank you to The Daily Grommet for their above and beyond customer service!

  • Eric Warner
    Eric Warner
    10/28/11 8:58 PM

    Michael -

    I first ran across your work when you displayed the 5-6' diameter version at the Maker's Faire a few years ago. My boys and I were just cruising around the Faire and saw your display. I almost walked past, but had to ask what this big complex white ball was. I talked to you for a bit, and I have always remembered meeting you there. I was really impressed with what you had put together. I don't think you had any for sale at that point (at least I don't remember any). Fast forward about 6 months and I saw your Perplexus in a catalog all colored up this time and I had to get one (I actually bought a couple so that I could have one to play with as well :)). I'm a Mechanical Engineer and I really enjoy playing with it and it is a great way to escape when I'm working on a complex project. Fast forward again now a couple years later and I just stumbled across the DailyGrommet posting (having only signed up a few days ago) that you have 2 more versions out! I guess I will have to order a couple each of those too! Great puzzle/maze/toy/stress reliever!!! I am also incredibly happy to see that you are able to keep control of your company and it sounds like you are able to produce these with your own small business setup. I congratulate you! Best of luck in keeping it going and your future endeavors.

  • Michael McGinnis
    Michael McGinnis
    10/29/11 12:17 PM

    @Eric Warner: Hello Eric, thank you for being such a loyal fan of the Perplexus and Superplexus! The Maker Faire was the impetus for my constructing the first Giant Superplexus, which now has become an important part of my creative output. My exhibit at the faire was put together to demonstrate the evolutionary process of invention, and how working through a problem by constructing models leads to new insights. At that event I also displayed little hand-made designs and the production tool shots made for the first iteration of Perplexus Original, which at the time was called "Superplexus", licensed to Tiger Electronics/Hasbro. It was out of production at the time, which was such a shame. Thanks to our new team, Perplexus distribution has grown enormously, and I've been able to create more in the line which we expect to continue to grow. Again, thank you for your interest.

  • Billie Martin
    Billie Martin
    10/29/11 4:11 AM

    This is the perfect gift for each of my 7 year old grandsons! They both love puzzle games, but spend way too much time playing computer games. While I love computer games too, I think they tend to isolate kids a bit, and don't provide the kind of problem solving and eye/hand coordination that Perplexus can. Come to think of it, I could use one myself! I am off to write a letter to Santa!

  • Michael McGinnis
    Michael McGinnis
    10/29/11 12:28 PM

    @Billie Martin: Hello Billie. I would agree with your assessment that Perplexus helps develop skills that video games cannot. Most video games require people to either move their fingers only a few inches while keeping their bodies stationary, or to move their bodies in a way that is disconnected to the physicality our eyes expect to see. In the real world we need to move our bodies and train our mind to relate to true physical events. This is how our mind/body has learned over eons. There is such a powerful connection between how we process physical information and how our brain forms. Thanks for reminding me why Perplexus was created in the first place.

  • joanne
    joanne – Grommet Team
    10/29/11 7:04 PM

    Perplexus Fans, Michael McGinnis and Daily Grommet Community,

    Once again, Perplexus has captured the imagination of many here at Daily Grommet. We sold more than we expected and we're working hard to increase and expedite our next shipment. At the moment we're expecting more Perplexus on November 11th, but we're trying our best to improve on that delivery date. Feel free to place your order and we'll ship it as soon as the new lot arrives. Thanks for being patient!

  • michelle hare
    michelle hare
    10/31/11 11:17 PM

    I LOVE this toy!!!! I saw it first at the research my 7 year old goes to for Autism. I bought him one last Christmas. He would play with it for an hour while we were at his appointments. It is brilliant and really gives the brain a workout. I want the whole line now.

  • Sherry
    11/30/11 9:09 PM

    Is it made in the US? Thanks!

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    12/1/11 12:32 AM

    @Sherry: It is not made in the US.

  • Jennifer Hong
    Jennifer Hong
    11/30/11 10:42 PM

    How do I get this shipped to Canada? Fedex makes it easy.

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    12/1/11 12:33 AM

    @Jennifer Hong: This does ship to Canada via the postal service.

  • Claire Wadlington
    Claire Wadlington
    12/19/11 8:23 PM

    We gave this a year or so ago to a friend of my son's. The family reported that some child in their family is always holding it and playing with it.

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    12/19/11 9:08 PM

    @Claire Wadlington: This year, you need to gift them with the Epic - they will be thrilled! Thanks for stopping by.

  • Gordon Currie
    Gordon Currie
    12/28/11 1:34 PM

    I bought the EPIC version of the Perplexus for Christmas for my family. They LOVED it and managed to get to level 22. Yes, its hard but I have never seen such intensity on a cool puzzle. They even abandoned the XBOX and Videos so they could try to solve it. Worth every penny! I plan to order the other versions as well. Thanks Daily Grommet. All my friends and family could say was "where did you find this cool ball?"

  • Tori
    Tori – Grommet Team
    12/28/11 1:49 PM

    @Gordon Currie: Glad to hear your family is having so much fun with this Gordon. Thank you for sharing with us (and for sharing our Grommets with your family).

  •  Ginny Henley
    Ginny Henley
    4/28/12 1:03 PM

    I bought many of these in differing degrees of difficulty for family and friend Christmas gifts in 2011. It was a sad day when I had to pack up the last one because it was no longer available for me to play. I had not bought one for myself and have since corrected that error. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful . . .

  • Chew-Hoong
    Chew-Hoong – Grommet Team
    4/29/12 1:43 PM

    @ Ginny Henley: We're so glad you finally "indulged" yourself. It is indeed a very special Grommet that many people have enjoyed solo or together . Thank you for stopping by to share.

  • The Perplexus
    The Perplexus
    10/26/12 12:15 PM

    We are very excited for the Perplexus re-launch at Daily Grommet! Happy to be here!

  •  Elsa E Wilson
    Elsa E Wilson
    10/26/12 2:16 PM

    I have a grandson who is "ueber-intelligent" (17yrs) who is also a wiz at computers &-games, which Perplexus would you recommend I buy? He does love a challenge in anything!!

    I'd appreciate a recommendation...his birthday (the 17th) will be in the middle of November and I'd like to get him something unusual, like this!!

    Thanks, Team.

    Elsa Wilson

  • The Perplexus
    The Perplexus
    10/26/12 2:27 PM

    @ Elsa E Wilson

    Hi Elsa!

    Great question! We generally suggest starting with Perplexus Original and working up to the EPIC but if you think he is really up for the challenge, EPIC will offer that! The TWIST is brand new so if you want to get him something none of his friends will have that is also a great option and very challenging!

    An EPIC for his birthday and the TWIST for the next special gifting occasion - after he's hooked - would work out perfect!

    We hope he has a great special day and knows he's lucky to have a Grandmother that really thinks about the best gift to suit him!

    ~The Perplexus Team

  •  Elsa E Wilson
    Elsa E Wilson
    10/26/12 2:36 PM

    Thanks, Team, I think I will order the EPIC and maybe get one of the other models for my 13yr. granddaughter, who is a math wiz...

    besides, they can both challenge each other...how great is that!!!

    So glad I found the "Daily Grommet" for unsual gifts.

    Vielen Dank!


  • The Perplexus
    The Perplexus
    10/26/12 2:43 PM

    @ Elsa E Wilson

    Sounds like a very talented family, you must be very proud of them! :)

    We hope they enjoy Perplexus - keep us posted on their reactions - we love to know what people think when they first try any of the Perplexus challenges!

    The Daily Grommet is indeed a great site and resource - we are lucky to have such a great partner to work with!

    All the best,

    ~The Perplexus Team

  • Christa
    10/26/12 5:01 PM

    I bought the original and the epic Order #100030924 (it was back last Christmas). We have enjoyed them but within a month or two the epic had pieces that fell off. I would have been able to fix it if the outside ribbing were unscrewable to take it apart. Anytime a product has problems it's not worth the cost of shipping the item back to have it fixed. I wish toys were made with screws so that we could fix them ourselves-like they used to be.

  • Jules
    Jules – Grommet Team
    10/27/12 11:02 PM

    @Christa Hanson I hear you! But shoot, we would have been glad to replace the one that fell apart too quickly...still will if you have it.

  •  Barbara Wright
    Barbara Wright
    10/27/12 2:31 PM

    My grandson is 10 - should I get him the Rookie or go for the original?

  • Jules
    Jules – Grommet Team
    10/27/12 11:01 PM

    @ Barbara Wright I'd go for the Original if he has average to good fine motor coordination...it won't be too frustrating.

  • Susan
    10/29/12 6:33 AM

    Is there any chance that the Epic version will be back in stock before Christmas?

  •  JillsaQt
    10/29/12 7:23 AM

    If the item cannot be added to My Cart does that mean it's not available? I'm trying to order the Rookie version and it isn't responding....... I did not get a message of any sort.

  •  JillsaQt
    10/29/12 7:23 AM

    If the item cannot be added to My Cart does that mean it's not available? I'm trying to order the Rookie version and it isn't responding....... I did not get a message of any sort.

  • Chew-Hoong
    Chew-Hoong – Grommet Team
    10/29/12 10:09 AM

    @Susan & @ JillsaQt: The Perplexus were flying off the shelf and sold out. We just confirmed that more will be available & ship on 11/9. phew!

  •  Susan
    10/29/12 2:33 PM


    Thnks so much for the speedy response-just placed my order!

  •  Caroline
    11/8/12 11:47 AM

    This is exciting to find! I am an artist & a piano player/teacher. Each year I buy something special for each of my students. Eureka! I just found it. Thank you for your investment of time & talent in creating something so delightful and unique.

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