Over this fine Christmas holiday, I had the chance to witness the birth of a Hatchimal.
Once you get it, it seems like a pretty lame plastic egg. But play with it, pick it up, rub it, and eventually it starts pecking away at the egg until it is all gone. Then it is a baby for a while, then it is a toddler for a while and finally it is a kid for a while. In other words, it grows up over time and changes its reactions accordingly.
Does it seem like a dumb toy? On the surface, yes. But I have to say, it’s a remarkable piece of engineering. Consider what has to happen for this thing to work:
- A toy stuck in an egg that you can see has to respond to you when you play with the egg.
- The toy inside the egg must physically break through the egg, but it must do so in a safe way so that a kid doesn’t take a piece of egg in the eye or something. Somehow, the egg is sturdy enough that it won’t fly into a million pieces but breakable enough that it responds to the little animal’s beak. (After it pecks for a while, you can start pealing the egg pieces away and help the little schmuck out).
- It then must go out of peck mode so that the kid doesn’t peck. It then must keep track of time i.e. how long the kid plays with it until it feels nurtured enough to go to a new stage of life.
In other words, a lot of science went into this thing. I was impressed. If you have a kid, you should get him/her a Hatchimal.
Just beware dud Hatchimals. There have been reports of some of them not hatching and some reports that they swear, though I have a hard time believing that. They seem so cute and good natured but then again it’s always the ones you don’t suspect.