Not the best picture since this was on the carpet, but you can see how big those Orbeez balls grow (think marbles). Both kids liked playing with them, perhaps a little too much. This toy is rated by the manufacturer as being for ages 5 and up and I do have a 5 year old. However, these balls are small enough to be a choking hazard, so you should definitely not just hand them the Orbeez and not supervise your younger child while they play. The manufacturer has tested Orbeez extensively and has found it to be safe for children 5 and up. Orbeez meets ASTM regulations.
The Orbeez orbs grow from an extremely small speck into an orb the size of a small marble in about 3 or so hours. This is something that you should be aware of if your kids are into instant gratification versus growing the orbs. This is definitely a plan ahead kind of toy. Of course, there's always the Orbeez grower, which would definitely make growing Orbeez more fun!
Once they are fully grown, they are very bouncy. One bad move could cause your Orbeez to scatter in 100 different directions. My cats chased these balls and I was very afraid one might get ingested, but I was with my son while he was playing and grabbed up anything that rolled away.
There are warnings on the package about what to do if any are eaten. The Orbeez site has a specific FAQ on what to do if ingested, and stresses that Orbeez are non-toxic and should pass a child's digestive tract (we're talking ingesting a dozen or less) since they do not stick together. They are not absorbed in the body. I will also toss it out there that my older sister swallowed a quarter when she was a pre-schooler and Mr. Washington passed just fine! This picture shows their size fairly well:
My 9 year old loves it! She is also responsible enough to not stick them in her mouth and immediately retrieves any Orbeez that get away from her when she is playing. She already told me she wants the Butterfly next.
Ok, so you've gone on and on about safety... but are Orbeez fun?
My kids enjoyed watching them grow, but wished they'd grow faster. If you do have to throw some Orbeez out, it might be a good idea to grow more overnight or while the kids are in school so they don't have to wait for them. The many colors mean that my daughter can make numerous designs in the Peace Sign and I'd consider buying Orbeez' Butterfly as well. I store them in an airtight container and they haven't lost much water since we first grew them a few weeks ago. Is your Peace Sign full? You can always drop those colored Orbeez into a water bottle stop by the Orbeez Facebook Page to see what other fans have dreamed up.
Where can I buy Orbeez products? What do they cost?
You can buy Orbeez products at Target, Amazon.com, Toys R Us and Kmart. Some items are coming up as out of stock at Toysrus.com already, which leads me to believe that Orbeez is going to be one hot toy this Christmas season. Expect to pay between about $12-$25 for most Orbeez products. The Peace Sign costs about $12, but if you want a safe and entertaining place to grow your Orbeez, the Magic Maker runs about $25.
I liked this toy for my daughter, mainly because I felt she could play with it with less supervision. The Orbeez do lose water over time, but you can rehydrate them by placing them back in water. I liked the idea of using them for cut flowers and think that it is a fantastic idea for florists to consider. Red and green would make a great look in a vase for Christmas flowers.
I also noted that they were more (for lack of better word) crumbly once they were a few days old. My son dropped one and pinched it to pick it up and it broke in half. It reminded me of the time I washed a Pull-Up by accident and how that extra absorbent material - that looked like a gelatinous sludge - ended up all through my washer. Maybe Orbeez is similar to that material? I don't know. But that was the thought I had when the Orbeez broke. Parents should check to make sure the Orbeez are a completely hydrated state before letting children play with them and toss any extra squishy ones back in water to rehydrate them.
Connect with Orbeez
If you love Orbeez, stay connected! They have a Facebook Page and you can even follow them on twitter. You can also read more about them on their website, Orbeezone.com.
Many Orbeez products are available on Amazon, including some with free Amazon Prime Shipping. Check them out!