One of the stand-out products from our trip to the London Toy Fair 2017 was Thames and Kosmos' Geckobot (and highly recommended by Toyologist Peter Jenkinson). We've finally managed to get our hands on one of the walking, climbing, STEM model kits, and here is what we make of it.
The set contains 176 parts which need to be assembled, as with most construction toys of this kind. The parts for the Geckobot bare a resemblance to LEGO Technic, being mostly multi-hole girders held together with pins. The parts all fit together very well and there wasn't any misshapen or missing bits.
What there was, was a challenging build. The set is aimed at ages eight and above, but parents should be aware they might be called in to lend a hand. Fortunately the full-colour instruction book gives precise and clear directions, but there are a lot of pins and gears that need to be correctly placed first time round, or you'll be dismantling most of the model to fix an error.
It took us (adults) about an hour to complete, which included having to cut the rubber hose to the required lengths. Once assembled the Geckobot needs a couple AAA batteries thrown in there, and then you can hit the power switch and watch it climb.
This is the truly clever bit. As we saw previously at The Toy Fair, The Geckobot can climb up any smooth surface such as windows and whiteboards. Doing so is quite a thing to behold, as it walks upwards with each suction cup sticking and then releasing at precisely the right time. Bearing in mind that the motion is coming from just one spinning motor is impressive, and it's great to see how the valves, pumps, and legs are all driven at different times.
And it just keeps on going. We could only test it on a seven foot patio door, but it would be fun to set this thing climbing up the side of The Shard or another totally glass skyscraper, just to see how far it could go. As we're based in York, the biggest windows we have are 13th century stained glass ones on York Minster, which they're a bit precious about. Boo. But still – PR stunt for you there, Thames and Kosmos.
There is a lot of extra value here, too. The Geckobot can be disassembled and rebuilt into seven other creations, all of which use the motorised functions and suction cups to demonstrate the processes in different ways. The manual also goes into detail about what is going on when a suction cup sticks to something, and invites the kids to make observations and tinker with the designs, which other famous construction toy kits tend not to.
Tonnes of fun and fascinating to watch in action, the Thames and Kosmos Geckobot is a STEM toy delivered in the best and most engaging way. Go get it.