Zhu Zhu Pets are the hot new toy hitting store shelves this year just in time for the holiday season.
Of course, you're asking "What,exactly, is a Zhu Zhu Pet?" - well, a zhu zhu pet is a robotic toy hamster designed to delight kids (and really annoy pets). They're cute, just slightly larger than the real thing, they make some real hamster-like noises, and they do look like toy hamsters - that's about where the zhu zhu/hamster resemblance ends. They come in several colors (some true to life) and some, not so much - like lemon yellow, pink and black & white cow spots. In addition to the authentic noises, they also have a tendency to spout the words "Go, Go, Go!", to moo like a cow, and crow like a rooster - these things do make the kiddos laugh. When placed on a hard surface, they scoot around the floor on wheels, push a car, roll along in a ball (like a real hamster would) and can be attached to a plastic surfboard or skateboard to ride those along a hard surface.
The folks at Zhu Zhu recently sent us a zhu zhu pet playset along with quite a few hamsters so we could throw a party and test them out. We invited nine of the little miss's second grade friends from school and one Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago, our house was buzzing with speeding hamsters and funny little animal sounds.
The habitrail set took a while to figure out the best layout so we're glad that Mr. Pink Lemonade set that up before the kiddos arrived. As each child came in the door, they chose a pet, which they got to take home with them at the end of the party. The kiddos loved the pets! They were all enthralled with watching them maneuver their way through tubes and around the "rooms" of the playset. They laughed when a zhu zhu would drive the car (although, it wasn't very effective on carpeting - they eventually took the car over to the tiled entry way where it ran much better). Zhu zhus had a blast in their exercise ball which worked just fine on carpeting (they really do resemble real hamsters when they're tooling around in their ball). When the zhu zhu's are running around on the carpet, their movement is definitely realistic - they actually look like they're crawling around! (I found it a plus that they work just fine on the carpeting).
I was amazed by how long this toy held the interest of the kiddos. We scheduled our party to last for two hours and it held their attention for close to 90 minutes of it - a great feat in my book!
Every single kiddo that came to play definitely gave it a thumbs-up, in fact several said they would like to have their own playset for their zhu zhu. Little Matthew said that he would like to have some of these "because they're just like having a real hamster" - his Mom liked the fact that there wouldn't be the mess that a real pet would make.
Even after the party was over, this toy continued to be a favorite in my house for a good week or two (although interest has waned & now the cats have actually figured out how to turn these little guys on and enjoy watching them tool around their house). I'm impressed with this toy because this is one of the few toys that my oldest daughter (a special needs kiddo who's almost 13) has ever played with in the form it was intended - and she was content to play with it on her own without having someone sit right with her and help her.
Even several weeks after the party, little Matthew and his Brother came up to me at a Birthday Party to tell me how much they loved the zhu zhu pets and how Matthew had made a whole "Hampster-ville" out of cardboard boxes at their house.
All in all, I would give this toy an 8 out of 10. Mostly because because it held everyone's interest for such a long time. My only criticism is of the construction in a few spots - the garage for the car kept falling apart, so we eventually just took off the doors & lid and it was fine after that - the little plastic piece that must be attatched to the bottom of the hamster before it can roam around in the ball has somewhat flimsy tabs that bend over easily and have to be bent back up (eventually these will break off & I'm not sure the piece will be any good if the tabs break), it's also kind of small and is easily lost. Lastly, the ramp that the zhu zhu's use to go up to the spiral slide really needs another support in the middle of the span, we ended up propping it up with an empty pet box which did solve the problem.
So, if you're looking for "The" hot new toy this holiday gift-giving season, give the Zhu Zhu Pets some serious thought. Your kids will be thrilled and it's a toy that they'll continue to play with after the first day (which I can't say for many toys lately).
Check out the zhu zhu's in action in their commercial:
Posted by Liz of Pink Lemonade