Sunday, 9 June 2013

HEXBUG Aquabot Robot Shark and Fish

One of the toys my kids already have their eye on for this year are the HEXBUG® Aquabot robot fish.

So far we've seen the Shark design which was previewed at Toy Fair 2013. The Aquabot Shark is a translucent robotic creature which starts swimming when it detects water and moves around a fish bowl with realistic motion.

It looks like there will be HEXBUG® Aquabot Fish too. Yes, sharks are fish, but we mean a more typical fish-like design that is not a shark.

Update: See our Hexbug Aquabots Review

Walmart Canada has a listing for HEXBUG® Aquabot Micro Robotic Creatures which includes the Shark shaped creatures we have seen before plus a fish design described as a Clown Fish. The listing mentions 10 translucent colors (only five have been mentioned previously - green, blue, black, red and orange) so we may be getting additional colors. 

The fish and shark bodies are translucent so you can see the electronic components inside. There's a sensor that detects when the creature is submerged in water and turns it on - a feature that HEXBUG® say is designed to get kids thinking about the science of how the fish works. 

The description also mentions that the fish use electromagnetic propulsion and 'smart fish technology'. I think the electro-magnetic propulsion is by means of the tail fin which uses electromagnetism to make the tail move (a good topic to discuss with kids.)

Unlike rival Zuru Robot Fish, Aquabots are very clearly robots rather than having realistic looking patterns that make them look like real fish. I rather like the idea of realistic-looking fish but my boys were drawn to the robot fish which they think look very cool. 

HEXBUG® suggests that Aquabots are a hassle-free alternative to real pet fish. I'm not convinced there. The battery isn't likely to last long enough to leave the fish in the bowl so you'll need to pop the fish in each time you want to see them. For a pet-alternative it would be better if you could leave the fish in the water and activate them remotely.  I really would like something like that. I'm not a fan of real pets, but a tank of robot fish would be excellent.

But the upcoming Aquabots do look like a cool toy for kids to have fun with. You can get a version that comes with a small hexagonal fish bowl, but I think we'll be better off with a larger fish bowl that we can put more that one shark or fish in. For us I think a bit part of the fun will be designing a habitat for the creatures to live in. And of course talking about how the fish actually work. 

I'm not sure how long robot fish will hold the kids attention for. I'm expecting that they'll be the kind of toy that are played with lots initially and then come out every time friends come round to play and when something triggers them to think about the fish, like watching a marine documentary. Designing a habitat for the fish to live in should give us a bit more play value. 

Oh they'll be a lot of fun to have in the paddling pool in the garden in the summer. And hopefully they'll be suitable for playing with in the bath too which will add another option for playing with them. 

Aquabots are due out in fall 2013, in time to get onto those Christmas gift lists.  

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