There are no buts about it — hedgehogs are adorable. Kids can play with their own toy hedgehog that they program to do tricks on command with Thames & Kosmos’ My Robotic Pet — Tumbling Hedgehog.
This STEM toy will definitely put kids’ (and parents’) science, technology, and engineering skills to the test because before they can play with the hedgehog, they have to build it. I’m not going to lie, it’s a little complicated to put together and requires a lot of assembly — with 172 building pieces in total. It’s recommended for kids ages 7 and up, but I think most kids would need full parental assistance to successfully build the transmission module, the running and movement mechanics, the outer shell, and the head.
It takes about an hour to build if everything goes as planned with no errors, but keep in mind that kids are literally building a robot from scratch, so have patience because it may take longer. But that’s all part of the fun, and it gives kids a sense of accomplishment when they complete the project. They’ll learn about gears, motors, microcontrollers, sound sensors, LEDs, and more.
Once the robot is built, it’s time to play! The hedgehog can walk, run, and curl up just like a real hedgehog would. It works best on smooth surfaces and may not work properly if kids attempt to play with it on carpets or uneven floors. Kids can also control the hedgehog by clapping in different ways. There are three different modes built into the hedgehog, and different clap commands will trigger different tricks thanks to the built-in sound sensor located in the sensor board in its head. Kids can command their pet hedgehog to roll backward, tumble multiple times, go to sleep, wake up, curl up, uncurl, and run around. Always clap close to its head, where the sound sensor is located, or it won’t hear the commands properly.
Parents will appreciate that this toy requires kids to focus and pay attention to direction and order of operations because it will only perform tricks correctly if kids are precise in their commands. But if kids have patience and enjoy building and learning about the mechanics of an object, they’ll have a robotic friend that’ll stick by their side.