Review and Photos By Andy Jones
Gigabots’ first wave of Energy Cores are now available on Amazon and ready to pop into your collection. I had the opportunity to speak with designer, and president of Blip Toys, Peter Cmiel. He gave me the origin story and journey that went into developing the Gigabots. Completely designed in house, the Gigabots aim to embrace the unboxing experience and change the way toys are packaged and played with.
The birth of Gigabots came from Peter wanting to explore the unboxing experience that has become a bigger part of the play experience. A lot of thought and planning goes into the packaging of the toys, but then is ultimately thrown away. So Peter and his partner Bill asked what if you could incorporate the packaging itself into the build of the toy, and reduce the amount of plastic thrown away? Each of the Energy Core bots first comes packaged in an enclosed ball form. You bust the ball into to measured segments, and use the connectors inside to build a 13″ tall robot. Basically they challenged themselves to use every piece of the capsule to go into the construction of the assembled robot. Not only are you reducing waste put into landfills, but you’re getting more value out of the material you just bought.
There is a head, hands, feet, two weapons, and several connector pieces so you can quickly build a humanoid robot. The rubbery connector bands really bring the figure home into the fun robot category. I like the different heads and power bands and how easily it all goes together. The first time assembling, I was learning how much pressure and alignment I needed to put a bot together, but by the second or third, I was snapping them together quickly.
The key to the engineering is that the pieces that make up the arms, legs and torso quickly snap together again to create the ball that holds all of the connectors, hand and feet pieces, head, weapons and power bands. You can see that a ton of thought went into making a playable robot action figure from the parts of the sphere, without either form needing to compromise.
One of the first things you notice about the assembled Giga Bot is its towering height, at 13″ tall, this robot’s height puts it above most collectibles on your shelf. But the size isn’t the most impressive part. I love the “grip” that the sockets have on the connector pieces so that every pose is held, and held strong. You can get all kinds of range from the many ball joints, and very easily balance the bot on one foot, or crouching, or punching… it really is limitless.
The first wave of Energy Core figures features six bots. There is a sizzle reel you can watch on their website Giga-Bots.com that gives you an origin story and introduces the characters, but I love how the sculpts and accessories give the figures enough personality on their own. Each figure comes with two weapons, and I like how there’s power bands to connect both weapons to the bots’ arms. It fleshes out the connected energy theme that drives the line.
There’s a ton of personality and play value that comes with a super poseable 13″ tall robot. You can stage epic battles, or brooding contemplation with ease. I had my 8 and 4 year old nephew and niece give these a test drive and they instantly got to grabbing and having them duel. One of the added benefits of a construction based robot is that you can bash the pieces apart, and easily put them back together, including your own custom creations. The arm and leg pieces are not specific, so you can use those limb pieces interchangeably.
Peter had a great idea of using the packaging for the building of the bot so there’d be less to throw away. Unfortunately, as this is the introduction of the line, and the consumer does need a little bit of story on what they’re looking at, the enclosed balls currently come with blister-pack style packaging that is thrown away. They’re hoping that with later waves, as the fans become more acquainted with what the line is all about, you can grab the energy core balls from your favorite retailer and have a bit less to throw away. But one of the current perks is that you can pack up each bot in its core form and easily store and transport them without fear of losing any of the pieces.
Peter has spent 30 years developing products for the toy industry. He worked on the Squinkies collectible toys in 2010- 2011. 2000 individual figures were produced and 500 million figures were shipped to 95 countries. This got Peter into the boys’ collectible space.
Peter had fond memories of playing with 12″ GI Joe and similar sized Million Dollar Man figures in his youth, so we wanted an oversized robot that would have more presence.
My favorite part of the experience, from busting apart the Energy Core capsules and building up the robots, to posing and photographing them; was it reminded me of the joy I used to get at Toy Fair, between the years of 2000-2013. We’d walk into showrooms that had elaborate displays, people in costume (or themed outfits) fog machines, music and dramatic lighting. We’d often times get to talk to the actual designer of a toy line and soak up their energy in seeing their dream come to life and get into children’s (or collectors’) hands. I’ve missed that, and getting to talk to Peter and hear about the origins of the line and the logistics of designing it felt great. Here is a totally original, non-licensed toy that is out now. You can grab a couple and start building, bashing, and displaying.
As this is a new line, I did want to offer a few small criticisms. I don’t think these are oversights, as much as logistics that need to be adhered to. Yes, the blister packaging that you throw away does seem to detract from the main inspiration of the line, where you’re incorporating the packaging it came in. I know the designers wanted no additional packaging, so I hope if the folks in marketing hear it from a parent and collector, that future waves can have less throw-away material. I love the hands, feet, and heads, but the weapons seemed a little small. I get that they have to fit into the energy core, but the last big figure I played with in the 80s was my Lion Voltron and he had that massive sword. I like that each robot comes with two weapons, and the pistols and laser swords look cool, but they feel small, compared to the oversized presence that the robots have.
Swing by Giga-Bots.com and check out the whole line, including the upcoming Giga Beasts, and see their sizzle reel to get an idea of the backstory. Its a lot of fun. You can grab these on Amazon right now.
My final thought is that these are a lot of fun to play with for kids in the 5-10 age range, but also have enough detail and poseability that collectors could easily fall in love and fill up an entire shelf. At under $20 each, this is a good grab.
Review and Photos By Andy Jones