What I first raised an eyebrow to was the opportunity to review a product called Mega Nanodots (http://www.nanodots.com). To me they sounded like magnetic marbles, which isn’t too far off base actually, but there is a strange appeal to them. They are ages 14+ which raised the other eyebrow as I had pictured them as a child’s toy, but once again there is a strange appeal to them that makes more sense for a young adult or an adult than it does for a small child.Please enter the url to a YouTube video.
I would also like to point out the sad, but hilarious disclaimer on the package that warns one not to eat the Nanodots as they are powerful enough to stick together through your intestinal tract. I hope they never had to find this out first hand, but I have to wonder about the specificness of the warning.
I was sent two packages of 30 MEGA Nanodots and a NanoPad. One package came in blue and the other came in black. Right off the bat the packaging is definitely aimed at a more adult oriented geek than a child, looking like a cylindrical test tube that could have contained mutagen, secret of the ninja turtles transformation. But maybe this appeals to children too? I’m not sure anymore.
I opened the blue package up and immediately they clung together, but felt moldable. The blue color has an odd metallic haze to it that I’m not sure is on purpose. Being made of “military grade iron ferrite” makes me wonder if the coloring process can be an issue, but I’m not a scientist so maybe it is on purpose.
So I made one long string, using them to test the strength of the magnetism, and by just holding the top most marble there were no issues holding up all twenty-nine of the other Nanodots. They easily clung together and came apart when you wanted them to. Right off the bat I had fun simply making odd shapes with them in my hands. I tend to be a fidgety person that drums on things so having something in my hands that was moldable and less noisy was a definite plus.
Once I played with the blue Nanodots for a while I opened up the package of the black ones and they immediately were more to my liking. The color was similar to a metallic charcoal and I could see the reflection of the room in each of them, bending back at me like a fish-eye lens.
“But what can I do with these?”, I thought to myself.
The recommended games involved flicking the marbles at each other and attempting to make certain shapes, but none of them had any lasting appeal. It also recommended playing board games with them like chess, but the obvious issue is that the magnets will stick to each other. What I personally felt these were best for is similar to prayer beads, in that they give your hands something to focus on while your mind focuses on more pressing issues. Having something in your hands to form abstract shapes with also had me thinking in more creative ways, which was something the company was promoting. I was skeptical, but found myself thinking more outside of the box while using them.
They also can be used to make complex shapes such as this….
But I think you can see that this is made up of many more than come in a single package. Or two. Or three. Or four packages. With a price tag of about 20$ for a pack of thirty and double that for a pack of sixty, the appeal for creating complex shapes has to be balanced with the hefty price tag that it would take to make these. For a hobbyist the amount you will enjoy these depends on the depth of your wallet.
Also included was a NanoPad which allows you to have a non-magnetic surface, made using FeWeave teach, that keeps the marbles from sticking to anything and everything. This make sculpting with them much easier. These pads have a price range between fifteen and twenty dollars and aren’t a necessity for having fun with them.
As the holiday season is right around the corner I could easily imagine myself giving these as a stocking stuffer to my geekier friends and to my creative friends. 20$ for a pack of thirty won’t break the bank and I could even picture some of my friends who work in the office having some on their desk to ease the stress of a hard day.
You can find other ideas on puzzles, games, and sculpts that people are using Nanodots for on www.dotpedia.com