If you’re not familiar with HEXBUG Nano, basically they are small robot bugs. They look a bit like beetles or ants, and they act a bit like them too. The HEXBUG bots are small, about x1.5 inches long. They come in various colour combinations, with various markings on their backs. Some colours or symbols are more rare then others, thus introducing a Pokemon like collecting aspect to bug ownership. They have six soft rubbery plastic legs along each side of their body and they have a wee switch on their underbellies that you can slide to turn them off or on. When they are turned on they vibrate, and if you place them on a hard surface –like say in one of the many HEXBUG habitats available, they skitter around like bugs.
HEXBUG central sent me a generous assortment of bugs and play places for them to live in. Realizing that this would be too much for my four year old to process all at once, we started off small, with the simple HEXBUG Nano Spiral Starter Set plus one additional bug. That night after we gave my daughter her first HEXBUGs I had to explain things like battery life, and energy conservation, as she had set their habitat up on a stool next to her bed and wanted to leave them on overnight, so they could keep playing while she slept. Needless to say, she is absolutely gaga over these things.
Speaking of battery life, among the boxes sent to me was a crate of “bug food” or replacement button-cell batteries. (The packs retail for $3.99 for two replacement batteries) Seeing this I was a little worried that these little guys would eat through their batteries rather quickly. However my fears were unjustified, as my daughter has played with her bugs a fair bit and they are all still on their original batteries.
My preschooler is absolutely in love with the “cutie bugs” as she calls them. A few weeks back I had never heard of HEXBUG Nano and to be honest I hesitated when I was offered a bunch of HEXBUGs for review. I took a good long look at their website. I liked that the toys weren’t being marketed as “for boys”. I liked that they claimed to promote an understanding of and interest in robots and science. I thought my husband and our daughter might have a bit of fun playing together with the robotic bugs, so I told them to go ahead and send me some. Still, I wasn’t expecting much from these, but boy was I wrong.
Now, I’ve got a confession to make. These darn things are actually rather compelling to watch. I keep finding myself getting sucked in and watching the HEXBUGS move around, interact with each other, and do their thing. Sometimes they flip over on to their backsides, but they always manage to right themselves. They move up and down ramps. They nudge one another. They will even climb over top one another.
The set ups range from simple to complex. Each habitat breaks down into it’s component pieces and can be arranged, rearranged, and combined with other sets, to provide tons of play value. As we’ve been slowly adding to our daughters collection, bringing out more bugs and more playsets, she has had a blast creating larger and more complex places for her bugs to live and play.
Here’s something I found rather amusing — My husband spent some time with G-Girl, getting everything out of the box and setting it up, and he had a few choice words to say about how difficult it was to snap the pieces together. He assured me that the box rating of Ages 3 and up only applied if there was an adult on hand to help out. Then hubby headed out to run some errands while I got busy in the kitchen. I checked back in on my daughter half an hour later to find that she had taken apart the set-up and made her own. Apparently the pieces were far more age appropriate then her dad originally thought.
I love the packaging. Each HEXBUG comes individually packaged in a resealable plastic test tube. Each bug also comes with a code to enter on the HEXBUG Nano website, something I failed to notice before scooping up and recycling all of the instruction sheets. Um… my bad. The blurb on the website says that you can “register and track your HEXBUG Nano collection. Play games and learn about real science.” I am looking forward to checking out the online component after my daughter opens a few more on Christmas morning These little guys are going to make the perfect stocking stuffer. (Perfect price point for it too. The HEXBUGs by themselves retail for $6.99 for regular bugs or $9.99 for the glow in the dark varieties. Or a little cheaper if you buy the 5-pack sets.)
Overall, I thoroughly recommend HEXBUG Nano. They are a fun toy with some educational value. My four year old has yet to tire of them, and I think we will have HEXBUGS living at our place for some time to come. My only warning would be to pet owners – my cat is FAR too interested in these little robotic critters. This can make for some fun supervised kitty-playtime, but it could also be a potential kitty hazard. You can order playsets and bugs directly from www.hexbug.com, or they are available at pretty much any major stores that carries toys. (Hubby noticed Costco had some great deals on HEXBUGs last time he stopped in there).
Disclosure: I received several bugs and playsets from the HEXBUG Nano series. As always my opinions and words are my own, and were not influenced by the free product received.