A short review this time, as there are many a review online about Buckyballs1 but since I just got some from ThinkGeek with some geek points I’ve been building up for a while, and I’ve been spending a good amount of time playing with them for the last few days, I thought I might write a review.
For those that don’t know, Buckyballs are small (5mm) spherical neodymium (N35) magnets. The standard set is plated in chrome, while they also have ones plated in silver, gold, and black nickel (which I’d guess you’d want to avoid should you have a nickel allergy). They’re listed as a desk toy, and all and all, that’s probably a good description, though I think bringing them to work might make actual “work” difficult as they can be a serious time suck. I’ve spent hours playing with them at work… though thankfully not all in a row.
So are they worth it? I’d say yes. $30 is a bit high for something like this, but they are a lot of fun. And whether you get Buckyballs, Zen Magnets, or any of the other brands there are, they’re all basically the same idea. Though it seems Buckyballs are the only ones that have the 4 different finishes.
All and all, the only problem being price, but I’m guessing that’s a function of Neodymium costs, and manufacturing, rather than any huge profits Zoomdoggle is making.
UPDATE (10/27/2011): I purchased a 3 pack of colored Buckyballs from Woot.com a few months back, and after playing with them for a while, I can unequivocally say, they suck. The color is just a very thin coating of paint over normal buckyballs which wears off (even when they were new you could see blemishes in the coating), and the tolerance on the balls is pretty crappy. You can easily tell that some balls are not the same size as others because they don’t want to “play nice” when making shapes. Also, as a warning, Buckyballs now makes a package with a 5×5 cube, and extras, rather than the old 6×6 cube. I didn’t realize this when I ordered them, and was disappointed. The price of Neodymium has gone up lately, and I’m pretty sure this is the reasoning for the change. Anyway, my rating on the standard balls that I received before stands. My rating on the non-standard non-chrome balls is below.
Some common shapes:
Small Triangle: 6 (make a 6 round, squish the top together, and bottom up)
Larger Triangle: 9 (make a 9 round, squish the top together, and bottom up. Will be hole in middle)
Useful “rounds”: 5, 6, 9
Small “sphere”: 12 5-rounds. Link. Total balls: 60.
Larger “sphere”: 20 9-triangles. Link. Total balls: 180
Cube: Not the easiest thing to make, but the easiest way I’ve found to make the cube is take the long string, and make an “S” then let that fall together into a long strand of 72×3 wide. Then cut that in half to make a 36×6 ribbon. Then simply fold a 6×6 piece of that onto the ribbon, then fold again, and again, and again.
- Notice the lack of camelCase. The website for Buckballs lists them with no camelCase, as does the shipping box, however the storage box for said magnets has it capitalized “BuckyBalls”. This might be something they should address. [↩]