If you have little kids at home, you may despair of having remote control building sets for them to play with. But with ZOOBMover, they can create their own simple RC vehicles and learn a lot at the same time. With the product combining simple building parts with a two-lever controller, even a toddler can operate a ZOOBMover vehicle.
Most people consider LEGO’s MINDSTORMS NXT system to be the pinnacle of remote control building sets… it can create projects as diverse as Chris Anderson’s autopilot or Fay Rhodes’ zoo animals. But while sophisticated enough to appeal to bigger kids and adults, MINDSTORMS is far too complex for most younger children.
ZOOBMover, with its elegantly simple ball & joint connections and stripped down controller, fits the bill. My two youngest kids, ages 4.5 and 3, were able to create their own robot without any help from me. The motive force behind ZOOBMover is a vaguely torsolike plastic chassis covered in connectors so you can add functional and ornamental ZOOB elements. Most importantly it has six sockets for legs, allowing the creation of arthropodal creatures like bugs and dragons.
The individual elements are not hard to snap together, and the limited options keep the toy from overwhelming a younger user. In particular, the lead-in time to play is incredibly low, and no instructions are needed to start. One of the most valuable lessons the kids learned was not to load on every single part onto the chassis. The picture above illustrates their first effort, which basically resulted in a twitching pile of elements that didn’t go anywhere. Live and learn!
ZOOB’s strength has always been its simplicity, and they wisely chose not to tangle with LEGO’s MINDSTORMS product with all of its gears and complex elements. With just a handful of different pieces and an elegantly stripped-down controller that simply triggers the left set and the right set of legs, the ZOOBMover Power Building Set gives kids a quick and easy way to start building. And while ZOOB are great for pre-schoolers, a lot of people of all ages find them fun. Until I gave my set to the kids, I had a dozen or so ZOOB to play with on my desk at work.
(I also had a chance to play with the ZOOB Mobile Car Designer Set, a Zoob set that comes with 12 snap-on wheels allowing kids to create car models. It was a fun and inexpensive add-on for Zoobmover because it lets kids create larger constructions that add on to the ZOOBMover "bug.")