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,
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
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.
A hex arena, enhanced with orange and blue
Center: Nanos can topple one another and
sometimes right themselves.
Right: Doors in the hex panels can be closed
as walls, or opened as
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: A giant course made with the Habitat
set and eight extra curved