Guest Review: Hexbug Micro Robotic Creatures

Sometimes – not often, but sometimes I let the guys have a say, so here’s a post from my friend Scott.
This time of the year comes with the decision to buy our kids old stand-by gifts like Lego, or to try some of the new toys on the market. It’s a tough choice to make because the last thing we want to do is to spend too much money on some more poor-quality toys that just take up space.

Simply Stylish Mom recently gave us the complete HEXBUG Micro Robotic Creatures ® ‘Nano’ line for our 6-year-old boy. New concept toys like this seem so hard to come by nowadays, and HEXBUG Nano has a lot to offer. The key components are the ‘bugs’, which are little battery-powered robots that vibrate and jiggle around, mimicking the movements of scurrying bugs.
Sets come with various track ways that you build up for your bugs to run around in. The tracks are built from multiple pieces and so allow for a great number of different configurations, preserving its novelty. It’s a bit like a race car set, however the creative element comes in with the swarm. You wouldn’t want ten or twenty race cars running down the same path on your model car set, but that’s where the fun begins with your HEXBUG Nano set. Plop down a dozen bugs and watch as they spread over your creation vying for control of every corner. Additionally, there are a few neat sets that extend the fun such as the bridge battle which adds a competitive element.If you’re interested in delving deeper, there are some hidden treasures here as well. Because the bugs move in an almost random fashion (preferentially moving forward) you can use this swarm as a teaching tool about probability and entropy. What are the chances that a bug will visit each section of the set given enough time? Or none at all and stay in one corner? Why, if I put all the bugs in one starting spot, will they spread out and never congregate again?
That all being said, there are a few downsides; to a lesser degree I suspect the novelty would wear off after a while, but then, for what toy is that not true? A more serious concern is the environmental one. The creators use an inordinate amount of plastic, non-recyclable, packaging. Also, the batteries are essential and so this is yet another toy with battery upkeep costs. Lastly, there is little to gain in owning just one set, so you really need to purchase a few of them in order to get the full value; this brings up the cost up quickly although it’s not prohibitive.Since it’s bought in multiple sets it’s easy to try out and build on over time. All-in-all I would recommend this product if you’re looking for something a bit different, it’s a lot of fun!