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Atollo Construction Toy Review Update

on November 27, 2002 12:00 am

11/26/01 – It has been almost a year since this
review first came out. During that time, Atollo has only continued to improve
their product. I was recently sent the newer version of the toy, and I would
like to share my observations with you all…

Do you remember how creative you became when you first discovered wooden
building blocks? Most of us know that as a child, there is no greater thrill
than the opportunity to actually create something. To build an object
from the ground up – and then (the ultimate thrill) to be able to play
with your new creation.

From wooden blocks, most children traditionally graduate to Lincoln Logs,
Legos and Tinker Toys. Well, whether you have a child, or you are still just a
big kid inside, there is a new creative building toy that you might want to take
a look at.

Atollo is a different way to build. There are two
basic types of pieces in an Atollo set, and all fit together in their own unique
ways, creating movable components that you can actually bend and flex. All
Atollo pieces are made of precision molded plastic.

The pieces themselves are not actually blocks that snap together – rather,
they are a series of ball and sockets and hinging joints. All sorts of
creatures and machines can be created by snapping the two basic shapes together.

I received the "Atollo 240," which as the name implies has 240 pieces, enough to make quite a few
different items. The 240 kit includes the two basic Atollo shapes, and each
comes in two colors. I would imagine that there might be other color variations
available, if not now then at a later date.

The first shape is a hinging piece. These snap together and
create a flexible flat surface on one side – the other side has a "socket",
to receive the "ball" of the other Atollo shaped pieces.
Next there is the "ball and socket" shape. These pieces fit
together just as the name implies. When the two pieces have been connected
together, the ball is able to rotate inside the socket, allowing movable
components on your creations.
By fitting the ball and socket pieces together alone, you
can create beautiful geometric shapes and designs. Here is an example of a
star that my daughter, Sarah, made.

Next, we have a robot that has movable
arms and legs…

When you add the flat pieces to the ball and socket ones,
you can create really diverse items – everything from a "space creature"…
…to a "lunar wagon" with movable wheels.

 

Here is a square made up of only the "flat" pieces.

There is only one fault that I can find with the Atollo
method. If you insert two of the ball and socket pieces in such a manner that the ball
is laying flat in the socket, you will need to take special care when
separating the pieces – otherwise the "neck" holding the ball could quite
possibly snap right off.

Once you have destroyed a piece or two of Atollo, you will get very
conscious of this. You will find ways to separate the pieces without putting
undue stress on this weak area. Evidently Atollo recognizes this problem,
that is why they have an entire
page about how you can
gently separate pieces when they are interlocked like this.

Update: Atollo has remedied this problem by
including a tool just for this purpose.

You can now easily pry apart locked pieces without
breaking them!

Otherwise, Atollo pieces seem to be remarkably sturdy and
play-safe. Of course, these are small pieces so you wouldn’t want to let a
child under, say…five play with this set, anyway.

Update: Atollo now comes in a more "kid-friendly
package. Instead of the cardboard box from last year, there is now a plastic
cylinder that makes clean-up time easy!

It is no exaggeration to say that the minute the Atollo 240 showed
up at my house, my daughter quickly laid claim to it. She found the included
directions for making the lunar wagon, the sphere, and even the dinosaur (which
I didn’t include a picture of) to be simple to follow, and fun to do. She also
created a crown, necklace, belt, and the other designs I included pictures of in
this review.

I really don’t think that you can go wrong by ordering this set as a
Christmas gift, if you have someone in mind that likes to create and build. The
results are only limited by their (or your) imagination – or lack thereof.

I still think this is a great gift for anyone
above the age of five and not just for kids, either! The new packaging and
separator tool make it even better than before! Atollo is available in 24, 24,
120 and 240 piece packages.

Price: $26.99

Pros:

Easy to create movable, and imaginative objects
Fun to play and create with
Inexpensive

Cons:

Pieces are small and may present a choking hazard for young children
Care must be taken when separating some Atollo combinations

 

Product Information

Price:26.99
Manufacturer:Atollo
Pros:
  • Easy to create movable, and imaginative objects
  • Fun to play and create with
  • Inexpensive
Cons:
  • Pieces are small and may present a choking hazard for young children
  • Care must be taken when separating some Atollo combinations

Comments

  1. 1
    dstrauss says:

    Hi Julie & Judie:

    I can’t remember which one of you wer looking for converged unit, but you ought to check out the SPH-i500 from Samsung/Sprint. No multimedia goodies or SD storage (in fact it’s Palm OS4.1 on a Dragonball 66mhz) but this thing is a dream. It is no bigger than my old Samsung 8500, and not much wider than my son’s A500. Voice quality is great, and all the old Palm favorites are there as well. Screen is big by phone standards, small by PDA, but clear, bright and easy to read.

  2. 2
    Julie says:

    I’d definitely try one out if it used Verizon instead of Sprint. I’m not sure what Verizon offers in the way of a PDA phone. I recently upgraded to a little color Motorola T720 flip phone.

    Actually, I think Verizon has the Kyocera Palm phone…

  3. 3
    dstrauss says:

    Yes, they do have the Kyocera, and it offers MP3 and and SD storage, but it is a boat anchor compared to the i500. This thing is almost physically the same size as my Samsung 8500; and nearly the same as the A500 (only a little wider). Phone quality is excellent. Price is outrageous, but it’s like the original Palm Vx – they know it’s a one of a kind, and they’re going to exploit that.

  4. 4
    dstrauss says:

    Here’s a picture of the screen – really pretty amazing the quality for 160×160 (but how would you ever even squeeze 320×320 into this size phone).

  5. 5
    Julie says:

    WOW! The screen looks fantastic!!! How’s battery life?

  6. 6
    dstrauss says:

    Originally posted by Julie
    WOW! The screen looks fantastic!!! How’s battery life?

    So far, a lot better than I expected. Only an “average” day today -about 8-10 calls (30 minutes?); a few web browsing session (20 minutes); two email connects (trying to work that out, so not really using it much yet); several hotsyncs. Still all three bars on the standard (thicker) battery. They have a slim battery that fits completely in the profile. Still, the standard is the same size and depth as my old 8500. Since you get two batteries, I figure to keep the slim (60mmx46mmx6mm) in my pocket in case it runs down.

    Only one downside so far – hotsyncs are giving me some trouble. Usually takes several tries, and it appears to be something to do with how they implement the CDMA modem (for hooking up to you notebook) with Hotsync so they share the same port (COM6), and it just fails to recognize it every time. Required some retries, some cable reconnects. Just not the same rock solid Hotsync I’m used to. More like Activesync.

    BTW – that screen is pretty good. Not a Zire 71, but considering it’s in a phone that closed is 84mmx53mmx24mm, I’m not complaining. :D

  7. 7
    Julie says:

    How does the screen look in full sunlight?

  8. 8
    dstrauss says:

    Originally posted by Julie
    How does the screen look in full sunlight?

    It looks okay. It is reflective, but you need to get it directly into the sun to see it well. Much better than the Treo 300; more like teh early front lit PPC’s like the Toshiba 2032. Very useable.

  9. 9
    Julie says:

    dstrauss:

    Thanks for the info! :)

  10. 10
    Breeze says:

    I have used a Motorola StarTak for about 8 years, but was able to make the switch to a Kyocera without any problem.

    The 7135 is slightly larger, and slightly heavier, but before I would call it a “boat anchor” I suggest that you take a look.

    I have all my Palm software loaded, Act for Palm(for business contacts) &Eudora for email. For the first time, I can go on a business trip, and forget the laptop.

    Mp3’s, video, full internet, Palm software, and a great phone; I’m I missing something?

  11. 11
    dstrauss says:

    Originally posted by Breeze
    [B]The 7135 is slightly larger, and slightly heavier, but before I would call it a “boat anchor” I suggest that you take a look.
    [/B]

    My apologies. Not intention to put down anyone’s personal choice. In fact, that’s what the “P” in PDA is all about. For me, there is a large difference in size between the i500 and 7135, that’s what led me to do without all the extra goodies you get with yours. For years I noticed that my old Samsung 8500 never left my side, but the PDA often sat on the desk or at home on the dresser rather than staying with me. I don’t use a lot of the other features (not even when I owned the Zire 71 or the HP2215) so I get a small phone and my basic PIM stuff to boot. Blazer and Vision are much faster and better than I expected.

    All in all, this has been the best “Gadget” I’ve owned.:D

  12. 12
    lynch says:

    Hey dstrauss,

    I think I have seen you on other boards – name looks familiar.

    Anyway, I have been contemplating getting the i500. It is really tough to find any “real life” pictures of the i500 in action. Can you post some of your i500? Perhaps you can do some comparison shots with other gadgets.

    Is the voice recording option easy? Can you do it with the flip closed?

    Thanks for your posts!

  13. 13
    dstrauss says:

    Originally posted by lynch
    [B]Hey dstrauss,

    I think I have seen you on other boards – name looks familiar.

    Anyway, I have been contemplating getting the i500. It is really tough to find any “real life” pictures of the i500 in action. Can you post some of your i500? Perhaps you can do some comparison shots with other gadgets.

    Is the voice recording option easy? Can you do it with the flip closed?

    Thanks for your posts! [/B]

  14. 14
    Fred Kyle says:

    Please advise location of nearest Stockist. My Pst Code is BT44 8RT

  15. 15
    Fred Kle says:

    Help. I cannot find a local Stockists. Can you help?

  16. 16
    Michelle Christensen says:

    Just wondering if you could direct me to a site which sells the Attollo construction toy. I’ve been trying to find it after my son fell in love with it at Melbourne’s Scienceworks.

    Cheers, Michelle.

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