Monday, September 14, 2009

Zhu Zhu Pets

A while back, I was offered the opportunity through MomSelect to receive some Zhu Zhu pets and a habitat in order that I might host a party and share the Zhu Zhu pets with friends. "Zhu Zhu Pets are the world’s first innovative, realistic, interactive, plush, and artificially intelligent hamsters that talk and move around in their own playsets."

Zhu Zhu pets come with a complete set of accessories that allow you to build a complete habitat for them. When the package arrived, I was surprised by the number of pieces that there were to build the habitat with. There are hamster wheels and balls. There is a car and surf board. There are rooms and slides. The possibilities are endless and you can connect them all. The kit was delayed in arriving and actually arrived after my planned date for my party, so we did a bunch of mini-play dates. All of the kids really loved them. Our neighbor girl asks daily if she can come in and play Zhu Zhu pets.

The hamsters run on 2-AAA batteries and come with their first set, which is nice because you can start playing right away with no need to find batteries. The Zhu Zhu pets come in a variety of colors and each seem to have a bit of their own personality.

The first weekend after the package arrived, I decided to open one of the Zhu Zhu pets and start playing. My daughter called them her "little kitties", which I thought was really cute. My cat, on the other hand was not very fond of the "little kitties". He pretty much steered clear of them as they wandered down the hallway and around the kitchen making little chirpy type noises. It is really amazing, they use their nose to sense when they run into things and turn around, but they also will, while heading down a given path, stop and change directions. No two adventures are alike. After playing with one in the hallway and nearly having it take a tumble down the stairs, we decided to start putting their habitat together to keep them in a safe surrounding.

The kids and I built the habitat over the next couple of days, one connection at a time. Speaking of connections, getting them to fit is important, we had one piece that was slightly warped and the hamsters kept getting caught on it. The connection tubes come with flip open lids and we quickly learned to leave that door open so that we could encourage the hamster past the hang up. I think of the habitat my favorite piece is the hamster wheel. Watching the little guy get himself onto the wheel and positioned and then taking off. It really was like playing with a real hamster only no food to feed them and no mess to clean up. (Plus, when the kids lose interest for a while, there is not a neglected pet to worry about.) The hamster ball is kind of fun too, as the little guys run off in one direction and then decide to head another way.

My kids really enjoy this toy. I was a little skeptical at first, but they really are kind of fun to watch scamper about the room or their habitat. The Zhu Zhu pets were originally only released in a test market, but are to be on shelves this fall. The toys are reasonably priced at $6.99 for each hamster and playsets beginning at $14.99. The playsets are modular and you can add as many or few as you want. Toys'R Us is currently out of stock on the items that they carry and the stores who list on Amazon appear to be taking advantage of the current limited availability and are selling them at a significant premium.

I can say that I will likely have to buy a second hamster ball when they become available so that both hamsters can play in them at the same time. I might also grab a couple more habitrail pieces. I think the room and the u-turn might be a good piece to extend the set.

The kids have maintained their interest in the toys, which is a good thing. At some point though, I think that we might donate the hamsters and habitat to our daycare. I think the kids there would get a kick out of watching the "animals" explore their environment.

Have you played with Zhu Zhu pets? What did you think? Leave a comment or link to your blog.