HEXBUG VEX Robotics

HEXBUG VEX Robotics Catapult
$19.99 on Amazon (on sale for $12.79 right now)

My son, Emmett, likes to build. We recently learned about a new line of toys from HEXBUG (yes, same company who makes those awesome crawling little robot bugs) called VEX Robotics. Sure, robotics are all the craze right now. But there’s a place for the VEX products. Here’s why.

As a parent, there are several things I appreciate about the VEX line. To start, VEX allows kids to experiment with robotics without breaking the bank. It’s frustrating how expensive some of the robotics toys can be. Many families are just priced out. But the VEX products are generally between the $12 – $20 range. There’s a big bang for the buck here. Kids have to use their brains to build it. And unlike other building toys, once it is put together, kids can still play with it. The VEX robotics products don’t just sit on a shelf and collect dust. They continues to provide a fun activity long after the initial fun of constructing is gone.

Emmett and some of his friends build the Catapult, the Zip Flyer and the Crossfire Airplane Launcher. They were all great. The Zip Flyer is great for younger kids (8+). The Catapult and the Crossfire are recommended for 14+ but my son is 11 and built them both without assist. The only downside to any of the toys is that the balls for the Catapult are easily lost. That’s due to no fault of HEXBUG but still it’s a minor issue. Luckily, they supply extra balls there are some to spare.

Emmett’s Review:
When you start building any of the VEX toys I like how you don’t really know how it is all going to come together. You don’t know how it’s going to work. Then when you are building it you learn how each machine will work. After you build it I liked how there are a lot of different things that can be done with it. You can launch it at different levels. So you can choose the distance which is fun. The Catapult was the most complicated one to build of the VEX toys we tried. I would say that a kid needs to be a little experienced at building before trying the catapult. The Zip Flyer would be better for younger kids.

It’s fun to play catch with the Catapult or to try shooting it at a target. I would recommend all of the VEX products and specifically the catapult.

Overall Recommendation: Great toy at a great price point.

Disclosure: These products was provided for free. However, these reviews are our own and reflect our true feelings on these products. Some links may be affiliates. 

The Best Drone for Kids, Ever!

My son, Emmett, absolutely loves anything remote controlled. He loved little RC cars, and now he loves drones. Over the years we have been through many. That’s because most of them last a few days to weeks. Inevitably, the propellers twist or there’s a mysterious controller disconnection or the frames break from impact. It’s always frustrating and disappointing, especially because drones don’t come cheap.

I visited a toy show a few months ago and discovered the best line of drones for kids I have ever seen. I was excited to get one home and have Emmett test it out. The nice ladies representing the drones told me it was extremely hearty, built to last. I was skeptical but hopeful.

Well, the drones completely live up to the hype. I’ll let Emmett do the reviewing. But from a parent’s perspective, I’d buy this drone for every kid on my list. It’s fun, has the coolest design and can withstand more than its fair share of crashes. Emmett reviews the Drone Force Angler Attack and Vulture Strike below. For me the clear winner is the Angler. It’s nearly twice the price but it’s uniqueness makes it worth the price. If it’s out of the budget, Emmett loves the Vulture Strike, maybe more than the Angler.

Drone Force Angler Attack-2.4Ghz Illuminated Indoor/Outdoor Drone Helicopter Toy
http://amzn.to/2yrV9h8
$72 on Amazon, 8+

Emmett’s Review:
This drone looks amazing, like a crazy real angler fish. Probably the best looking drone I’ve ever seen. The drone has very good control, and if it was my first drone it would be easy to learn to fly. It’s not super challenging. There are lights all over the drone and are easy to put on and off. They are really cool. The battery charges quickly and lasts for a long time. It’s very stable when it’s flying and super durable. The propellers aren’t going to hit anything. They are well protected. When it flies at night it’s so fun. It looks like a scary angler fish when it lights up. The controller has big and easy to use buttons.

Overall recommendation: If you are looking for a drone I would definitely get the Angler Attack Drone.

Drone Force Vulture Strike-2.4Ghz Indoor/Outdoor Drone Helicopter Toy with Missile Launcher Feature
http://amzn.to/2yQtyul
$37 on Amazon, 8+

Emmett’s Review:
The Vulture Strike is a little faster than the Angler Attack drone. It looks like a bird which is cool. It can do tricks like flips. This drone is also very protected and can be flown inside and outdoors. The Vulture Strike has a target light that is projected so you know where to aim. It can shoot two plastic missiles (It comes with four in case you lose any). The missiles don’t go very far but they are extremely fun to shoot. The controls and the stability is similar to the Angler Attack. It’s very stable and easy to control. It’s slightly harder to fly than the Angler Attack. I would probably recommend this drone for a kid who has flown a drone before. The flight range is 150 feet, just like the Angler Attack.

Overall Recommendation: For someone who has already flown a drown I would absolutely recommend this drone.

 

Disclosure: These products was provided for free. However, these reviews are our own and reflect our true feelings on these products. Some links may be affiliates. 

Virtual Reality Learning Toy for Kids

view master emmett

View Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack $17
View Master Experience National Geographic Dinosaurs $14.99
Review by Emmett Pearlman, 10 years old

The View Master is a virtual reality phone holder. It doesn’t come with a screen. You need a phone to use it. You also need to download an app to use the View Master. There is a lever on the side of the VR set. When you push the lever it’s like tapping the screen. That’s how you operate the games.

Once you have the View Master you can also buy a lot of National Geographic apps on phone and use it on the view finder. My favorite game is the National Geographic Dinosaurs. In the Dinosaurs game there are a variety of different dinosaurs to interact with. There are also two different modes to play in. Kids can play in encounter mode which brings them to a 3-D scene with dinosaurs. Kids watch the dinosaurs and see what they do, what they look like and the area that they live in. The dinosaur interacts with the viewer. He may try biting you (only pretend bite). The Brachiosaurus comes really close to the viewer on the screen. It is very colorful too. There is a stampede of Stegosaurs that run by you. The Spinasaurus swims by and tries to nibble at you. It’s cool to see what the dinosaur does to you and very cool to see their habitats. You can switch the dinosaur’s skin that you can unlock in adventure mode.

View-Master Experience Pack, National Geographic Dinosaurs

View-Master Experience Pack, National Geographic Dinosaurs

In adventure mode you go through a series of levels with the dinosaur that you choose. In the levels you hatch more dinosaurs and defeat others. Each level becomes more difficult as you move on. In some levels you unlock the skins that can be used in encounter mode. Adventure mode is fun because it isn’t easy.

In the National Geographic Dinosaur game kids can learn what the dinosaurs might look like, where they lived and the names. Kids from 7-years old to 13 might be interested in this game.

These games are educational because it puts you in experiences that you wouldn’t think of. It tells you what it would really be like to be in that environment. The worlds look realistic.

There are other virtual reality games that can be used with the View Master. I would recommend the View Master and National Geographic Experience Packs to friends.

**Disclosure: As part of the National Geographic Insider Program I was provided with the items in this post to review. All opinions are my own and my son’s.  

 

Product Review: Lego Ideas: Birds

Product Review: Lego Ideas: Birds

lego casey and emmett

Lego Ideas: Birds
$44.99
Manufacturer recommended age: 12 – 15 Years (Done by my 8 yo and 11yo with little supervision)

The other day my son and I were wasting a little time in the Lego store. He loves to look at all the sets, and I kind of do too. Lego now has this really cool imaging television. You hold up any set that has more than 250 pieces and it brings it to life. It literally shows you the models all built and moving around on the box. It is incredible.

So while he took every set in the store up to the TV screen I checked out a few sets. One caught my eye. The Lego Bird set contains a hummingbird and flower, a gorgeous blue jay and a red-breasted robin. I love those birds. Actually I am kind of obsessed with them. So I did something I never do. I bought the set for no reason. Not as a surprise. Not as a birthday gift. Just for me to do with my son for fun.

Turns out the entire family loved the project. My daughter who doesn’t play with Legos often got inspired to build the hummingbird. Not only that she decided she needed more Legos in the future. Score!

lego birds

Here’s my review:
Pros:
Fairly quick to build
Beautiful realistic looking birds, nicely displayed
The wings and heads move in awesome ways
Good for a girl or a boy or a kid or a grown up

Cons:
Fairly quick to build (Yup, this one is a pro and a con)
Delicate. This isn’t a Lego set your little ones can “play with” after it is built. It is more of a show piece

On a side note, this Lego set is part of Lego Ideas. Lego enthusiasts are allowed to make up anything they want, build it, take loads of pictures and then pitch it to Lego. People in the community vote on it and if it gets enough votes Lego reviews it. If Lego decides to build it the original designer gets 1% of the profits. That’s really really cool. And that is why this set is different. It was build by a guy who loves birds. Not just Lego. Check out some of the other ideas currently in the review process here.