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I have two sons close in age who are 8 and 9 and they tend to share the same passion for similar toys which does make buying for Christmas and Birthdays a much easier task. For Christmas 2011 my sons had kept asking me for various Hex Bug creatures, which for anyone that doesn't know are small minuscule robotic creatures that scuttle along giving the illusion they are alive, as well as a habitat play set for them to 'live' in. I know that children can go through fads and phases with toys so I was reluctant to spend much money on several items if it turned out to be a flash in the pan phase that would be played with initially and forgotten the day after. Assuring me they would love the Hex bug toys and love me even more (which won me over) I purchased one small Hex bug nano creature each costing just £6 to see if they would lose interest.
This proved to be a complete winner with them and Christmas morning 2011 was mostly spent abandoning their other toys in favour of this creature, then spent asking if they could please have more Hex bug creatures and play sets for the following year. As October time of 2012 grew to an end I was convinced that the Hex bug nano hive playset would well and truly be worth the money as these little creatures had kept my sons happy for hours contrary to what I originally thought and started looking around to secure a habitat set for Christmas for them.
>>>What the hex bug site have to say<<<
"..the HEXBUG Nano Hive Habitat Set is the first transportable environment that enables HEXBUG Nano architects to customize the design and layout within a HEXBUG Nano Habitat Set. Hive also has a built-in ramp for multi-level fun!
The Hive Habitat Set comes with one extremely rare HEXBUG Nano mutation and 35 easy-connect construction pieces including 16 pegs, 16 adjustable flags, 2 merry-go-rounds and 1 seesaw. Use the Hive as a stand-alone playset or connect to existing HEXBUG Nano Habitat Sets.."
First transportable HEXBUG Nano Environment
Customize with included construction pieces.
Built-in ramp for multi-level fun
Connects to existing Nano Habitat track pieces.
>>>What it contains<<
1 Extremely Rare HEXBUG Nano Mutation
16 adjustable flags
AG13 battery (included)
>>>Ages it's appropriate for?<<<
It's advised that the hive playset is suitable for kids aged 3 and up but if children are watched there is no real reason why someone younger can't play with it as there are no real loose parts that could cause a choking hazard. This is just my opinion though and common sense should always be used if letting children under the recommended age play with certain toys.
>>Price, Packaging & Availability<<
I rarely buy anything from Toys R Us as I find it tends to be quite expensive though if we are out in town we will often pop in as my children love to see what's new and generally have a good look around. In early November last year I happened to be in our town centre and was close by to a Toys R Us store so I nipped in to see what they had in stock in the line of hex bug toys and accessories and if they had the hive nano set which was a reasonable price I would get it there and then. There was a disappointing lack of hex bug toys and when I did spot the nano playset I noticed it was £39.99 - £10 more than I'd seen it online so decided against purchasing then and went home to look online to see if I could get any bargains.
I came across it on the Amazon website for just £24.99 so I added it to my basket but intended to use some amazon vouchers I was waiting for later that week. When my vouchers arrived so did an email from amazon stating the playset was currently on sale for just £19.99 so I wasted no time in buying it as it was a whopping £20 cheaper than Toys R Us were selling it for and I worried it would sell out at that price.
The playset arrived impressively quick once ordered, within a few days actually, and I wasted no time in unpacking it to check it was all in good working order before being sent off to the North Pole in care of the man in red. The hive came packaged in a large cardboard box which was filled with bubble wrap with the playset itself wrapped securely in the centre so was very well protected and packaged. The hive, when in 'closed' position, is simply packaged in a thin card wrapper which is both easy to remove yet securely holds the playset together making it easy for children to get to when opened which was a refreshing change from trying to remove 75 wrap ties that seem to be the norm these days.
>>>Setting the hive up<<<
What initially appealed to me when my children mentioned this playset was the convenient way it supposedly folded together and when I saw it advertised for myself on TV I was impressed as it looked like it wouldn't take up too much room. This was one of the first presents that my boys opened and I think they had a general idea as to what it was due to the almost triangular shape of the present. Once the thin cardboard sleeve is removed the hive is extremely simple to set up as and literally took only a few minutes. The set is a predominantly grey coloured plastic on the two outer edges which are folded up to create a carry case effect. There is a plastic coloured orange centre piece which acts as both a handle and once opened a bridge, which when closed folds together into a handy carry case looking object.
The orange centre piece is transparent enough to see through and the upper level of the hive is visible though only just as the HEXBUG logo is clearly printed in a bold black font near the handle. Close by to the handle area are two slightly raised black hexagon shaped pieces of plastic which we soon realised were the buttons to open the hive up. Once pressed they release a small switch on either side and the grey plastic panels on either side of the handle both fall open quite quickly, so I'd advise placing this on a flat surface before pressing the buttons.
Inside were the small construction pieces which were all in separately sealed clear bags and once opened they were very easy to place into the designated holes that were sporadically dotted about on the 'lower' floor.
Once the hive is set up - meaning the playset is fully open and the construction pieces have been placed in the corresponding spots - play is relatively easy as you simply turn on your hex bug via the small switch and let them roam about their new surroundings. If placed on the upper white section the hex bug(s) will randomly scuttle around until they find a small opening which is near to one of the handles and this then leads via a two storey ramp to the bottom layer. Once on the bottom layer there are 76 small holes in total (38 per side) where the construction pieces can be randomly moved to to create an original habitat and play area for the hex bugs.
Once on the lower area the bugs can 'walk' up the ramp to the top level though there is little for them to do here as there are no construction areas, so my children find the top area slightly boring in comparison except for watching their bugs trying to find the entrance to scuttle back down the ramp.
The lower level is really quite amazing and I've found myself being entertained watching these little robotic creatures 'at play myself. Because of the various holes which are evenly situated the course can be built to your own specifications meaning the merry go rounds and the seesaw can be placed anywhere to give variation on how and where they scuttle about to. The small black pegs are easy to remove and replace wherever you wish, though once popped into another peg hole the construction pieces are secure and don't move about or come loose so there is no chance of loosing any or the parts becoming unhinged and getting in the way of the bugs.
Once fully opened the hive is approximately 16" wide, 17" long and 7" in height so it's more than accommodating for one or several bugs without being cluttered. Again it's impressive as when not in use it folds up so takes up very little space, which for us living in a small cottage is ideal as bulky toys can make our home feel claustrophobic.
For the money this is a really fantastic toy and extremely good value that my sons play with on a regular, almost daily, basis. The fact that there is a rare hexbug included just adds to the impressiveness of this toy as hex bug nano's are around the £6 + mark when bought singularly so it's a very good value toy. The hive features small sections on the lower level where other playsets can be joined on if you should so wish which is good to know for future reference that if I bought a different version it can be connected and not just played with separately.
I really can't fault this toy at all as it's everything that a child wants - fun, exciting and entertaining. Whilst from a parents perspective it offers fantastic value, is sturdy and easy to store and because of all the above I've discussed it gets top marks from me.