At Christmas time I picked up some hexbugs as a little novelty stocking filler for each of my boys. They have always really liked insects from being little and going out in the garden with me to look at them with a little microscope kit that they have, so I thought the concept of a little robot that is meant to be an insect is a fun one.
The bug retails for various prices on amazon ranging from around the £3 that I paid, up to about £10, so if you fancy owning one, I suggest looking around, but be aware there can be up to about £4 postage on top too, so worth looking around. Current best offer I can see is 2 for £15 at Argos, which is slightly better than the £7.77 with postage I paid.
The hexbug ant is approximately the length of my index finger and is nearly as wide as it is long. It has a little metal ring at the rear, and two realistic metallic antennas on its head section. It kind of looks like an ant, but instead of legs, you get three wheel type pieces on each side that are a bit like a ships propeller. These are operated by cogs on each side that make these rotate round very fast.
The ant is battery powered. It came with the two AG13 required batteries inside when we bought it. These will be a bit of a pain when it comes to replace them as they are screwed into the toy with tiny crosshead screws. Costwise, there is a pack of ten batteries for about £2.50 on amazon.
This toy is recommended for children aged 6 plus which is the age of my eldest son, and they are quite delicate, so I did not expect them to last very long if I am honest as my youngest can be a little rough with this sort of thing as he gets excited - he's only 4 after all, but I didn't feel I wanted to leave him out. However, I have found that the bugs we bought are doing rather well and sturdier than they first appeared.
The bugs came in a cardboard box that was kind of hexagon shaped, and the bug was visible in a plastic dome. I found that the packaging didn't last two minutes. The kids tore into them very easily. The instructions were fairly minimal. I was looking for some sort of tab to pull out from the battery compartment like you get on some toys, but then I noticed under the bugs tail there was a little black slide switch. Pushing this switch across immediately made the propellers on this go round so fast they just looked like wheels.
Putting this on the floor, this is a fab little toy. Downstairs I have laminate flooring throughout, but there is a large rug in the middle of the floor. Its quite flat, but there is a lip to get onto it. This bug flies around the room at some speed. If it bumps into anything at the front or back where the metal sensors are (the loop or the antennas) it immediately starts to go in the opposite direction.
It is really funny when it hits the rug, as it will slow down slightly while it climbs on, but then it is off again. I cannot believe how fast this toy moves, and it is all over the place.
Funniest of all is that this bug goes until it finds a place to hide. So we have a throw on our settee that was dangling down, and it managed to nestle in there. When I lifted the throw, the bug started to move again. Then it finally managed to find a place where I couldn't find it - under my settee. It shot underneath, and then the mechanical whirring noise stopped and I literally had to move the furniture to get it to come back out.
So this is an item my kids are absolutely enthralled by as it is so funny to watch, and it seems to have a little bit of personality as it frantically looks round our living room for somewhere to hide.
Are there any negatives?
Well yes - it runs far better on flat surfaces. It will not run at all on the boys bedroom carpet as it is has a thick pile. It also struggles if it comes into contact with anything with loose threads, or any of my long hairs. It seems to magnetically attract them too, so they end up getting wrapped around the cogs and the propeller and then the bug won't go. It then requires you to prod around to remove the offending tightly wrapped debris before the toy will work again. It also winds me up if I get the antennas stuck in my wooly jumpers as it is hard to pull it out without pulling a long thread in your clothing or damaging the toy.
My overall thought is aren't they fun. They aren't really useful, they aren't going to teach you that much, but they sure are entertaining to play with. We just have to make sure we don't play with them near the pets as they find them quite tempting to chase too.
See if you can keep up with the high-speed Blue Hexbug Ant . This miniature robotic ant runs across floors and tabletops at high speed on its six revolving legs and feels for obstacles with its sensor antennae . When it hits an obstacle, it backs up and scurries off in another direction. Hexbug Ant uses? 2 LR44 ?batteries, which are included. A fantastic crawling creature for boys aged? 14 and up . There are all sorts of different Hexbugs for you to collect, check out our full range of Hexbug robots and accessories . Features Fast-moving Hexbug robot bug Uses sensor antennae to avoid obstacles Changes directions when it hears noises