Published on October 3rd, 2012 | by Greg0
Orbeez: Making Water Fun
We love toys! Visiting the Maker Faire over the weekend, the contrast could not have been more obvious: the stuff you played with as kids has only getting better, faster, and smarter. Whether it is a humble set of blocks now including magnets, or 3D printers that have started to make the creation of your wildest dreams possible at home at a low cost, the future of toys is pretty incredible. And it’s not just stuff for boys!
Witness Orbeez- they sent us their RC Ladybug Scooper and Purse Set for some demos with kids. For those who aren’t in the know, Orbeez are basically superabsorbent polymers that you stick in water and grow to many times their original size and volume. You start off with a packet of these tiny pellets, toss ‘em in water, and watch them turn into larger-than-BB size balls that are multi-colored and squishy. The Ladybug acts kind of like a Roomba for the things, sucking them up as you direct it around, and it can hold and store a score of the things… before popping them out when you hit the ‘dispense’ button. Even the controller is shaped like a ladybug!
Yes, it’s weird and silly, but that’s kind of the point. For those with children (and probably girls) older than 5 but younger than, say, 10, the process and control seemed fun for a while. We didn’t love that you need four AA batteries for the scooper and another 9V for the remote controller, but some things never change. Also, another thing that changes is slightly inconsistent behavior- the controller only works in one direction at a time, limiting your control, and the dispense mechanism isn’t perfect. Nor is the collector- it misses plenty, and was a bit frustrating. But there are 2000 of the little balls included, which is pretty cool all by itself. $30 or so, available widely in stores and online.
The Color Splasherz Purse Set is decidedly different, with a connection to water being the only real shared element. You can dip some beads in water to change the color, warm then cold for different effects, and the plastic “purse” is actually a sort of strainer and drying rack for the beads, ten of which are special. There are a bunch of other beads (90 total) included that don’t change colors, which might be confusing or unfortunate for some kids, but the ones that do are kinda nifty. Two necklaces and two bracelets are also included, along with some stickers and two pendants that are also water-sensitive, that fit the included pair of settings. They snap right in. And at $13, it’s a cute gift.