Despite growing up surrounded by animals myself, I've been reluctant to allow my boys to have too many pets. We do have a rabbit and a gerbil, against my better judgement, but have stood firm against allowing any more animals into the household. One of my strategies to resist repeated requests for more pets has been to encourage virtual pets and toy animals. I find the novelty wears off just as quickly but at least I don't then get lumbered with the feeding and cleaning out afterwards!
One of our toy animals in this rather clever 'hamster' that comes supplied with its own play ball. These are often out on display in branches of Hawkin's Bazaar and they always grab children's attention. There is something surprisingly calming and addictive about watching them, I must admit, so I didn't really begrudge my oldest son choosing one of these hamsters as a Christmas present for his younger brother who was around three at the time.
Like most novelty toys, this is a one trick pony (actually hamster.) The hamster itself is surprisingly rigid - having more in common with a dead hamster where rigor mortis has set in than a cute and cuddly real life hamster. Despite its realistic furry exterior, the body itself is very hard as this incorporates a secure internal battery compartment so this isn't a toy that youngsters will get much pleasure out of cuddling. Luckily, this isn't designed to be a soft toy as the entertainment value is derived from the motorised tiny wheels at the base which cause the hamster to move along slowly and generate the movement of the hamster inside the wheel. This movement is surprisingly realistic and mimics the movements of a real hamster surprisingly well.
The hamster can be removed from its ball (although the movement isn't as effective out of the plastic ball, even on smooth shiny surfaces.) The ball itself is a fairly durable affair, coming in two halves, much like a real hamster play ball, with the two pieces being easy to connect together and twist apart. Very young children might need a little help to do this. The plastic is fairly brittle, however, and won't survive a drop on to a high surface without either cracking or splitting. The first ball we owned did crack in this way and I ended up throwing it away in case it split any further.
My kids actually acquired another one of these hamsters shortly afterwards, coincidentally, when my grandma returned from a trip to London with one from Hamleys. The new one was identical to the original Tobar version, aside from an embroidered Hamleys logo on the hamster's back. This one still lives in the bottom of one of our toy boxes upstairs, unloved and forgotten.
This little toy takes a single AAA battery which lasts for absolutely ages. I suspect this is partly because the movement generated is a fairly simple process and doesn't use a great deal of power. This is also because the novelty value wears off incredibly quickly and once the recipient has been enchanted by the toy so cleverly mimicking a real life hamster in a ball, there really isn't a great deal of ongoing play value available.
In terms of age recommendations, I'd imagine most children under ten would be entertained by this active little hamster for a short while, at least. The minimum age recommendation is for ages three plus but that seems a little overly cautious to me, particularly as the hamster is generally safely enclosed within a plastic ball so any potential choking hazards are minimised. My two year old has shown a little interest in this but is a little wary as he can't quite work out whether this is actually a toy or an animal! Probably the most appropriate audience for this kind of toy would be a dog rather than a child - I can imagine this would drive them wild!
Despite its novelty toy status, this simple toy seems to command a pretty high (and largely unjustified) price tag. The hamster and ball can be picked up from Hawkin's Bazaar for £10, whereas Hamley's charge £13 for what is effectively the identical toy. I personally wouldn't recommend this toy at those prices.
As a novelty, this is entertaining for the first couple of times but it isn't a toy that is going to provide a lot of ongoing play value. If you can find one for less than £5 or so, it might be worth considering but there are much more entertaining toys on the market that will keep youngsters amused for longer.
A recent discovery was a gift my friend gave me she had received a year ago and it was this rather amusing product in a ball.
I admit mine is not like the picture displayed because my hamster looks bigger and much more solid rather than cute and playful. The ball is made from a plastic which opens by twisting it anti-clockwise and then inside you have the hamster.
The hamster is soft to feel but not super soft because underneath is the unit where you place the batteries and touch the on and off switch to the correct setting.
Once you click on the hamster tries to move forward and this is an instant and consistent movement the hamster prepares to do all the time.
Your aim is to place the hamster back inside the ball and then watch it go around the room and it does work pretty effectively with some good and bad points.
The good point is my cats love this item they think it is really cool to sit and watch a hamster in a plastic ball go round in circles and be able to whizz past them. They sometimes see it as a live animal to try and hunt down and other times they jump with fear.
The other good part is that the item is very good at keeping children occupied for what seems hours because they go all silent this little animal in the ball is amusing for them as well.
The bad parts are how easy at times the plastic can open exposing the hamster inside. If mine hits the wall due to me not paying attention sometimes it splits open instantly. I have had it open just by hitting me in the feet so you can tell from that alone it is not reliable.
The other problem is the surface you use these on. If you have a carpet which is thick it is not to bad but it can go pretty slow compared to how fast it can go on laminate flooring. Even with laminate flooring if there is any grease such as water on the surface due to you cleaning the product seems to skid and lose all ability to move.
The product is cute and they are cheap and I have seen these in gadget stores for a few pounds and the battery life seems pretty good on them. I think in terms of age groups then I would highly recommend 5 and above because if the item splits open then a child could easily place the hamster inside their mouths.
I think the item is fun and cute that is a fact and because I got it for a free I found it amusing more. My pets enjoy it so it helps me keep them occupied and it also means that I am able to show this to kids and let them watch that instead of distracting me.
A lovely item but not always the best when it comes to reliability.
This ball containing a running hamster is one of my work tools. I have owned it for a number of years and I have never had any problems with it. I have had to change the batteries once and this is with fairly constant use for at least three days a week.
The hamster itself is small enough to fit in a small hand. The top and sides are covered in a furry material, like with cuddly toys. The bottom is plastic with an on/off switch and some small wheels. The wheels turn when switched on moving the hamster forward, when in the ball it moves the ball by moving forward up the wall of the ball then weighing the wall down so it rolls along to become the floor. The ball will continue to move until it hits something and in most cases will bounce off the object a little and head in another direction. It will operate on carpet or harder flooring. When you take the hamster out of the ball it will still operate on the hard flooring but the wheels aren't big enough to operate on most carpets and if it hits an object it will generally stay still with its wheels whirring.
I find this to be a fun little toy, especially for younger children. It's safer when in the ball as the hamster itself contains small parts and isn't suitable for younger children, when in the ball this doesn't matter as the hamster is contained. The hamster is very durable and has lasted probably tens of falls off the table. I use this as a reward that the children I work with can choose if they work well. At about £2.00 or £3.00 it's well worth it. Cost per use: less than 1p.
You'd be annoyed wouldn't you if your secret santa turned out to be a blooming hamster in a see through ball. Especially when other staff members are unwrapping useful gifts like wine, chocolates, undies and calendars. I guess it says a lot about the image I give off then, when I was presented with one one year. Out comes the forced smile and the 'just what I always wanted,' while I am standing there thinking 'what on earth were you thinking, woman.'
Granted it might only cost two pounds fifty, but what a pointless thing to buy for a human being. Fair enough if I was a dog I would love chasing the wind up rodent around the room. Our cats were not impressed, choosing to leave the room to go and wash their proverbials instead. You can take the hamster out and have him roam around on his own, thanks to the little battery which powers him. He looks real from a distance, but when you pick him up, his stiff feel will give the game away.
Inside his ball, he can push it for a few feet until it bumps into a wall, then you have to get up and reposition it. Can't be doing with that, not in the middle of '24' when hamster wants to go back in the opposite direction. It makes a slight noise, a whirring sound as it moves.
The ball is sturdy enough but I would not advise chucking it out of an open window onto hard concrete. I would also not give the rodent to young children incase they try and eat it. Would I buy this for me or for a pet? No. Pets prefer string which is cheaper and more fun. Silly idea and waste of money!
This running hamster in a ball looks so realistic when you actually have it, its unbelievable!
This is great for young kids as they like to watch it move along the floor in its ball! You can also take it out the ball and have it running on the floor but it is mainly meant for the ball!
This is also a great things to play with your dog! For example, i have seen dogs running around and chasing it, although you may have to be careful they dont brake it!
The battery easily fits in underneath the belly and is hidden away. This is also a good product because it doesnt make too much noise when it moves around, which makes it a lot more realistic!
What could be improved?
It would be a lot better if it came with a choice of colours. This would be really good because then you could have lots of different hamsters running around! Also, it would be better if they had built in sounds and could make hamster noises that you could control from underneath.
This is still a good, cheap product however and great for children!