My little ones have been clamoring for a pet. A hamster. Or maybe a hermit crab.
The thing about pets: they have to be fed, watered, loved, cuddled, and cared for.
The thing about my kids: they’re still pretty young and not the most responsible bunch. Loving, yes. But they forget.
The thing about me: my ADD brain probably can’t handle keeping another thing alive. Especially not something that doesn’t stick itself right under my nose and demand my attention.
House plants don’t stand a chance with me.
What might happen to a poor critter in a cage?
I think maybe Cephia, the maker of Zhu-Zhu Pets, had my family in mind when they came up with their brand new Xia-Xia Pets. They’re kinda cute, small, and and don’t need to be fed, at least not until their batteries run down.
Bimini, Tobago, Trinidad, and Turks.
We received 2 Tobagos and 2 Trinidads for review.
Each Xia-Xia comes with watch batteries already installed and ready to play with. Just flip the tiny switch on the bottom.
They are activated by lightly pushing down (tapping) their claws, which causes that friction wheel to spin sending them scurrying backwards (as if they were startled away from an obstacle), then forwards. The legs move, but they don’t actually touch the floor. That tiny pivoting wheel causes them to randomly change direction for some fun unpredictability.
If they run into something, they might reactivate and keep moving. Tobago (the blue one) is more like to reactivate and go here, there and everywhere. Both of our Trinidads seem a bit sluggish, slow to activate, and unlikely to reactivate. Maybe Trinidad is just more laid back.
Each crab has its own 2-piece shell. Shells are interchangeable and new fancy shells can be purchased as accessories.
Each Xia-Xia pet comes with its own ”pet” that can ride inside or on its shell (there’s a little point to stick it on). These teeny critters range from the ultra cute (the penguin is adorable), to the scary (the lantern fish is a bit ferocious), to the bizarrely mundane (a cup of hot chocolate? or maybe it’s coffee?). Replacement shells each come with 2 little friends.
We received 4 different replacement shells for review.
The 2-piece shells are a bit fiddly to take apart, but it’s quite easy to change shells from one crab to another. Some of the little pets are better at staying on the shells than others, depending on their shape. The lantern fish, for instance, has a tail that doesn’t fit snuggly against the Xia’s shell, so it tends to pop off.
The 2-piece shells and tiny friends make this toy a potential choking hazard for little ones. If you have wee ones in your home, you’ll want to keep track of those tiny pieces. Xia-Xia Pets are labeled for ages 4 and up.
Let me say here: I don’t like tiny pieces. My kids tend to lose them just where I’ll step on them and my vacuum likes to suck them up. The little pets are cute, but they do tend to get lost. We’ve found that best place to keep them is inside the shells, but they still get lost.
We also received 3 homes for our new Xia-Xias:
This is the simplest of the sets and is ready to play with right out of the box, no assembly required. Confetti Cottage is designed to carry your Xia-Xias where ever you go. You’ll notice there are 2 compartments. There’s also a back door.
Xia-Xias fit comfortably (upright) in the bottom compartment without their shells on. Shells fit in the top compartment. You can fit the Xias into the cottage with their shells on if you put them in on their sides. In fact, my girls managed to cram all 4 in there, plus the extra shells in the top compartment, but it was a tight fit. It would have been nice if the bottom compartment were just a tad higher so your Xias could rest upright, but we do like the nice compact size.
Confetti Cottage can be hooked onto…
…the Copacabana Playset. This was the most elaborate of the playsets, requiring the most assembly time (still only about 10-15 minutes), But I figured it out without asking for help! I call this the“hip and ironic” playset.
Those are rows of shoes! Do Xia-Xias wear shoes? And would they wear them in pairs, lol? I think maybe someone at Cephia has a weird sense of humor. Or perhaps they think little girls can't get enough of shoes?
I have mixed feelings about this playset. In some ways it’s limiting.
It’s hard to see, but that clear yellow ramp has a steep incline that the Xias can go down, but they can’t go up. ‘And it really doesn’t go anywhere. The other shelves are too small for the Xias themselves, but they can be used to display extra shells and accessories (I guess girls like to display their “stuff?”).
However, Copacabana does have possibilities the maker didn’t intend.
Yes, my boys figured out pretty quickly that Tobago can be decapitated and left hanging on the roof (Trinidad cannot be decapitated, this is important to know). And Copacabana has other great cliff-hanging possibilities:
Leave it to the boys to find a selling point.
Of course, these aren’t really meant for boys at all. Notice the distinctive purple and pink color scheme? The frills? My boys didn’t care, they played with them anyway, right alongside the girls. How’s that for bucking societal stereotypes?
The largest playset is the Rio de Trio Village (in the foreground).
Rio is easy to assemble and gives you some room for the Xias to mingle and play. This was probably our favorite of the 3 playsets, but it does have a couple of drawbacks. The palm tree comes out much too easily (as in, I gave up putting it back in...it does make a nice obstacle for the Xias, though) and the little shelves on the far left (for displaying “stuff”) also come out very easily (one is already lost). But, you know what? I have no problem just removing the removables. The little openings between the different sections are just not quite wide enough, unless the Xia happens to head dead-on in the right direction...otherwise, they tend to get hung up.
And you’re asking: Why do I need a playset at all? Can’t I just play with them on a table or the floor?
Xias are a fun-loving, energetic bunch. Blink, and they are gone.
I recommend "containing" them somehow. Our favorite “playset” was the cardboard box one of the playsets came in.
All of our Xia-Xia Pets and accessories seemed to have a strong chemically odor to them straight from the package. We’ve had them out for a little over a week, and the smell has dissipated, but not completely. Don’t go sniffing your Xias. I suspect in a little more time the smell will vanish, but beware if you are sensitive to odors.
All of my kiddos have enjoyed playing with Xia-Xia Pets, from the 11-year-old boy, down to the 2-year-old (with careful supervision) girl. Little Peter prefers to play with them turned off, as if they were crab action figures. He loves their ability to hang from things.
I like that beyond their motor noise, they don’t make any noises. No music, no sound effects. Yes!
Durability? Hard to say. These have all had drops of a few feet and are still working like new. The claws an feet can be pulled off, but they snap right back on. I think they’ll hold up pretty well.
Xia-Xia Pets and accessories are available at both Toys ‘R Us and Walmart, and would make a cute stocking stuffer for the little girl (or boy!) in you life.
And now for the giveaway! Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Xia-Xia, one of my readers is going to win their very own Xia-Xia and an extra Xia-Xia shell! (Note: Xia-Xia and shell will be chosen by the sponsor at random.)
Deadline to enter: Monday, October 31, 2011 at 8 pm est.
Giveaway is open to US residents 18 and over.
Mandatory to enter: Visit the Xia-Xia website and tell me which Xia-Xia you would like to win. Please leave your email addy in your comment (it’s okay to disguise it: susanadale at gmail dot com).
Optional entry: Follow Homeschooling Hearts & Minds on Twitter and tweet this giveaway using the #XiaXia hashtag. Give me the link to your tweet in you comment. You may use this text if you like:
Win a #XiaXia pet from the makers of Zhu Zhu Pets at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds ends 10/31 http://bit.ly/ot9CjoDisclosure: I received the products reviewed in this post through Xia-Xia and MomSelect for review purposes. I received no other compensation. The opinions expressed here are my own.