Toy Review: Zibits – Blue Junk Bit

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Unveiled just yesterday a the Toy Fair, Zibits are the next take on the mini-figure. Produced by Senario, a company which is known for making Little Big Planet dolls and  My Secret Pillow…, it seems like an interesting way for them to jump into the boys’ toys market. Creating a new property for the boys market is tough, since it’s currently controlled by a few major brands. But the concept behind Zibits is interesting: tiny, remote controlled robots!

Zibits come in three different types: Junk Bits, Tech Bits and Urban Bits. Now, while I’m not sure these are the best names for the figures –  also they aren’t labeled as such anywhere on the packaging, but the super excited guy doing the voice over in this ad says them. Each of the designs seems to be inspired by existing, famous robots. The Tech Bits look a lot like Cylons from Battlestar Galactica and Marvin from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The Urban Bits, which is a terrible name in my opinion, seem to look like odd robotic monkeys or aliens. Finally there Junk Bits are the standard asymmetrical robots that look a little crazy (and look like they’d fit right in with the cast of Robots). I got the blue Junk Bit to review.

This nameless blue robot is a happy looking fellow, with his slanted features that make him comically adorable. Throw in a chest plate that looks like he stole it from Soundwave, and he works well as a generic robot. Need Spider-Man to fight something? He’ll do just fine. Need another robot to help fight the bad guys? He’d work for that too.

The paint isn’t anything too exciting but it is clean. The figure is mostly silver with blue detailing, primarily around the eyes, nose and part of his chest. But that’s the only place where the figure is painted, the rest of him is the same silver while his arms are cast in blue plastic that mostly matches. Articulation is basically non-existent, only the arms rotate.

But what appears to be the big draw with Zibits is the fact that they’re remote controlled. Requiring 2 AAA batteries (that aren’t included and require a screwdriver to install), the Zibits’ remote control is a simple product. It has a joystick that only goes in two directions: forwards and circles left. This allows the Zibit to turn around with the most basic controls. But while the remote is basic, I understand it was done to keep the price down. There is another problem with the remote though: it’s the source of the robot’s sounds.

And it’s obnoxious.

Growing up, I never really had electronic toys that made sound. Either they would be accidentally left outside in the rain, ruthlessly attacked by my dog or my mom would throw them in the freezer to make the quiet.  But remotes seem to be popular again, given the success of the Wii. But much like the mini-speaker in the Wiimote, there’s a design flaw here: you can’t control the volume. Now, this seems trivial at first but there are only a few sounds that loop. Without the ability to turn this off, I can see many parents taking the remote away and leaving the kids with a robot that has light up eyes.

And I’m not entirely sure that’s a bad thing. As figures, they look unique. They’re easily identified as robots with just enough of classic robotic influences. In a lot of ways, they remind me of the old Z-Bots figures. But what’s going against them is entirely based off the fact that they’re remote controlled. These little guys have an MSRP of $9.99. Ten bucks puts them a little out of the way of an impulse buy, and even more so when you consider that G.I. Joes and Transformers several times their size are available at the same, or less, cost! If Zibits were just generic robot figures without their electronic parts, they’d be great. But when a selling point is supposed to be racing these figures, $20 seems like a big pill to swallow.

As Zibits are right now, they seem overpriced and just not exceptionally exciting. There’s potential for making miniature style robot figures that are reminiscent of classic robot archetypes. But in terms of them being remote controlled robots, I’m left feeling underwhelmed by them. It just feels like another instance of Xevoz, where an unnecessary gimmick was tacked on to drive up the price without adding any value.

Full disclaimer:  I received this Junk Bit Zibit for free as promotional material from a marketing firm. I have no affiliation with Zibits or any other company and did not pay for this product. This write up is entirely my opinion of the figure and is not influenced by Senario or anyone affiliated with them.

Written by jestergoblin

February 15th, 2010 at 12:05 am

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