Balancing Boxing Robots, from Hexbug, are basically high-tech Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots that kids build themselves. The bots come in nearly 300 pieces for kids to put together. Made for ages 8 and up, the kit includes an illustrated, Ikea-style guide for assembly. With 67 pages and 109 steps for each, building the two robots is a significant time investment. However, kids will learn about robots, power, and motion as they build moving parts and connect wires that will eventually control the bots’ movements.
Once the robots are built, kids can download the VEX Pilot app, available for free on iOS and Android, onto a tablet or smartphone. Follow the app’s illustrated instructions to power up and pair the bot using bluetooth. If the pair is successful, the device becomes a remote control for the bot. (You will need a separate device to control each bot.)
It may take a few minutes for the bot to get the hang of balancing, so kids will need to be patient and hold the robot upright as it calibrates and spins its wheels. Within a minute or so, the bot should be standing on its own and ready to go.
The app gives you two sets of controls: tap icons on the right to make the bot punch with one or both fists and drag the circle on the left to make the bot roll around.
Once the bots are in action, kids can roll them close together and begin throwing punches at each other. (If playing solo, kids can make the bot punch other parent-approved targets.) Eventually, one bot will get the upper hand, taking down one or both balancing bots in the process. Often, a knock-down results in at least one robot’s head and/or shoulder plate flying off.
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When re-assembling a bot for another round in the ring, be sure to keep its wheels on the ground, as opposed to picking it up. This will make it much easier for the bot to regain its balance.
When it’s time to put the bots away, pull out the orange power plug that is connected to its battery pack. This isn’t explicitly in the instructions, but it is the only way to get an immediate shut-down.
The price tag on these bots may be a bit hefty, but the set gives kids two toys, an educational experience, and hours of creative fun.