Over the last few weeks, I have been looking at different pieces and accessories for one of the hottest gifts for the Holiday season -- Zhu Zhu Pets Hamsters. These little hamster toys look like the real thing but don't make a mess and can be ignored for as long as you want without them dying or running off.
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The hamsters and the accessories aren’t perfect and can be annoying for adults, but kids love the things and that is really the point of the little hamsters. The basic component of the Zhu Zhu Pets ecosystem is the Hamster Starter Set. This set includes two circular enclosures and a tunnel to connect them. Each of the enclosure halves has three tunnels running off from it that are used to connect accessories.
The starter set comes with tunnel plugs so you can plug off any exits not in use to keep the hamsters form escaping during play. The bottom of the starter set is printed with things you would find in a real home like a bathtub, bed and more. I will tell you that in all the stores, I have been in looking at toys, and with two young kids, that is every store in my town, I have seen not one of the starter sets in stock and rarely see the Zhu Zhu Pets hamsters or any of the other items. Your best bet is Amazon or eBay if your kid has these on their Christmas list.
If you can’t find the starter set, you can still get the accessories and they can be played with. Most of the accessories work, but don’t work exactly as you expect them to or as the commercials show them working. For instance the adventure ball is sure to be one of the items that your little one wants so the hamsters can run around. The problem with the adventure ball is that even when you install the little skid plate onto one of the hamsters that is supposed to keep it from tipping over, the hamster still tips over -- frequently. I am talking just about every few minutes in my testing.
The car and garage for the hamsters is going to be another of the accessories that kids will want. I had some issues with it too. Mostly the hamsters lacked the power to get all the way inside the car when it moved from the little tunnel that connects to the garage. Even when I put the hamsters into the car by hand, they would still often pull themselves out of the cars rather than pushing it around with them.
The slide accessory is the largest and most impressive of all of the accessories next to the starter set. The slide is also one of the most flawed of the accessories. The slide has a very steep transition between the ramp that leads from the ground to the slide. The steep transition means that most of the time the hamsters hang at the top of the slide and can’t get enough traction to go on down the slide. The instructions for the slide were also horrible; this accessory took the most time of all of them to build.
The hamsters themselves are probably going to be the most difficult of all the Zhu Zhu Pets gear to find. In fact, my local Toys R Us has a sign up that says one hamster per day per shopper, and they don’t even have any. All of the hamsters work the same. They have two buttons on the back under the fur. The front button turns on the sounds from the hamster and stops the hamster from running around. The rear button sends the hamster running around the room in play mode.
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The hamsters only really differ in the color of the fur and their names. The operation is identical. One of my hamsters did have a button break on it during testing making me wonder about the long-term durability of the toys. I was able to repair the button, but someone less mechanically inclined may not have been able to.
As Zhu Zhu Pets and playsets are hard to find at low prices consult our Zhu Zhu Pets Shopping Guide.