great robots & toys
from the space age

HexBug Nano Habitat

So what's a HexBug Nano?  It's a robotic bug that skitters through a custom course in a very buglike fashion. How's it do that? Not like you may think. Not, for instance, by sensing its environment by advanced electronics. Not, in fact, by sensing its environment at all. Flick the tiny switch, and it simply vibrates, but this results in very buglike behavior. Nanos can flip over and flip back up, "Fight" and gain dominance in the ring, race along a custom-created course.

The course, in this case, the Habitat, is also a brilliant creation. It consists of plastic, walled hexagonal arenas with doors in each face that can be opened or closed. The hexagons connect to each other or to straight and curved track pieces called "bridges" in a myriad of ways. Although pieces easily snap together, they are quite strong and a completed course can be picked up and carried.

The Habitat set includes two Nanos in their specimen tubes (Newton series). The included specimens are billed on the box as "rare mutations". Each has a unique code that can be entered on the website to register and  track your collection, which  Innovation First  Labs hopes is expanding. Nanos available separately come in various color combinations, some of which glow in the dark. They run on a 1.5 volt  watch battery which comes already installed, and are available separately as HexBug Power Cels. The box recommendation is for ages 3 and up.

Other Hexbug course sets include a racing track, a bridge battle set, and a gigantic, multi-level custom course set. To create a bridge battle with the Habitat set, simply open two or more doors in a hexagon. A track can be made by making two identical paths, and starting both Nanos at the same time.

Above left: A hex arena, enhanced with orange and blue GeoMag panels.
Center: Nanos can topple one another and sometimes right themselves.
Right: Doors in the hex panels can be closed as walls, or opened as pathways.
Below left: Nanos  skitter like real bugs when they hit the walls.
Center: The Habitat set includes three hexagons, four curved bridges and three straight bridges. The curved bridge pack, sold separately, includes eight curved pieces, seen here on the right.
Right: A giant course made with the Habitat set and eight extra curved pieces.

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