I get contacted by all sorts of different companies hoping I might be interesting in promoting their products on my blog. Many of these I don’t pursue, but sometimes a really intriguing one comes along and I have to find out more. Such is the case with The Offbits – a Tel Aviv based toy design studio which makes DIY, open source, robot kits from upcycled materials. I thought they sounded like a great activity for my craft-loving girl and robot-loving boy, and so asked them to tell me more.
The Offbits make four different robot kits, and each robot has its own description and personality. The kits contain all the components you need to make the robot, but as they are all designed to be spare parts that you might have lying around the house (screws, cuphooks etc) the idea is that you can let your kids’ imaginations go to town, and make any kind of robot you like by swapping other pieces in.
We were sent the Artbit kit, and a few extra components to personalise her with. I say “her” because her head and feet are pink, although this is still a point of argument in the family, with the geekson saying she could be a “he” who likes pink! Both kids were immediately very interested in the kit, and wanted to get all the pieces out to play with. Because the kit uses simple components of the type you might have lying around the house already, there’s nothing new or strange for the kids, and they immediately feel comfortable handling it and trying to put it together.
The kits are recommended for ages 7 and up, and the 7 year old geekdaughter managed to put the offbit together mostly by herself. I had to help her get started, as she couldn’t quite follow the instructions on how to get the head onto the body. I also had to help with the screwing, as the screws were very tight to get in, and needed more strength than she had. We also found that the screwdriver provided was not really big enough for adult hands, so some of the assembly was tricky until I switched to using one of our own screwdrivers instead.
We really enjoyed putting our little Offbits robot together, and she has now taken up residence on our fridge thanks to her being thoughtfully supplied with a large magnet. We may disagree about whether she’s a boy robot or a girl robot, but either way this kit has provided lots of fun. Although we haven’t tinkered with ours or tried swapping the pieces around, I love that there is the potential to do that, and using components that you can find around the house as well.
The Offbits team are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to get their own production line to continue producing these kits. As well as the four basic Offbits robots they are also offering various accessories and even vehicles as backer rewards at different levels. You can get your own Offbits kit for $18 investment (shipping to the UK adds another $8). That works out (at current exchange rates) at about £16.50. Whilst this could be considered quite expensive for a set of things you might well have lying about your house, what I like about this kit is the fact that it is carefully put together to show your child what is possible. It gets them started making things, and will hopefully inspire them to go on and build more.
The good news is that the Offbits Kickstarter campaign has already reached its funding target, so these quirky little robots are definitely going into production. There are 7 days left on the campaign, so you still have time to get yourself a kit if you want one, and there may be some interesting stretch goals if more funding is raised. After the success of our first kit I have backed the Kickstarter – I want to get another Offbit so the kids stop arguing about who gets to play with the one we have, and the geekson is desperate for one of the vehicles!
Disclosure: I was sent an Offbits kit to review. All opinions are my own.