Wednesday 24 June 2020

Review: Science Division's Interactive Tribble

Science Division's Interactive Tribbles have started to find their way out into the world, and one of them has found it's way to me to have a play with. It's proved to be no trouble at all, but plenty of fun. Continue below for my thoughts on the deluxe ball of fluff.

While there have been many tribbles produced over the years, at various sizes and colours (and as a tribble lover I have a few myself!), but there's never been one like this. Some have featured sounds and vibration features before, but always requiring a squeeze to make them go - This one is almost alive! Tucked inside is a little box of tricks that makes the tribble coo (or scream), vibrate, sense when it's touched, and links it up with features enables by a mobile app - Although many of the things the tribble can do can be controlled without an app (see below).

If you are using the "Section K-7" app, then the first thing you need to do is link up your tribble via bluetooth, and then you can name it to. I called mine Darvin, after the famous fan of tribbles... The Science Division tribbles are all a medium brown, and fairly large for a tribble. I dug out some of my older tribbles here for colour and size comparison.

Another customisation from the app is being able to assign your tribble to a ship or space station. All themed on tribble episodes of course. I picked Deep Space Station K-7. This selection is then reflected in the "At Ease" mode button on another screen.

There are three automatic functions which can be selected by either the app, or by a few button presses on the box inside the tribble if you don't want to use your phone. The standard setting is "At Ease", where the tribble purrs and vibrates every so often; it gets very excited when you touch it, and will then coo every so often for an hour or so thereafter until it senses its been abandoned and hibernates until you bother it again. This is my favourite, as the tribble is just mellow, but seems really quite alive, being responsive to touch, and seemingly also a bit sleepy when you leave it be. It's fun as you can leave your tribble some place and then just have it come to life whenever you give it a stroke or move it.

The next option is "On Duty", where the tribble is watching out for Klingons, and if it thinks you are one will scream at you until you stop bothering it. This is most fun in company, as you then have the risk of each person playing with the tribble getting a bad reaction.

The third mode is "Watchdog" (though I keep thinking of it as "Guard" mode). In this setting you can leave the tribble on top of something you want undisturbed, and if someone bothers it, it will scream. This a pretty effective practical use for your tribble, especially as you can also use the app to adjust the volume to be really quite load, so you'd be able to hear from across a house is someone was bothering your tribble and it's treasure.

One further function is only available via the app, as it needs the remote control ability. "Attack" mode will override whatever other mode the tribble is in and make it scream at your command. This is very fun to inflict on unsuspecting victims.

If you're not using the app, it's pretty straight forward to change modes manually, you just have to pop open the tribble via a velcro opening on one side, and inside you'd find the electronics box. You can switch between the three automatic modes here. Without the app you can't use the "Attack" mode, or adjust the volume though. There is also a switch on the electronics box if you want to turn off the tribble completely, although as it hibernates automatically anyway I certainly felt no need to, and really it's quite fun to have it ready to spring back to life whenever you touch it.

I might not have actively noticed it if not for my interview with Science Division where it was pointed out, but the tribble features super soft fur. Compared to my older tribbles it's much more strokably soft, and less staticy. It's also quite stylable! I favour a slight swirl or completely random; definitely don't like the slicked down look for a tribble!

Short of someone making a tribble that can crawl around (and up walls!), this is as life-like a tribble as you're ever going to get. And it's very fun for that; I've found it very satisfying to just have a tribble sitting about and cooing every now and then. The gamified functions of being able to have it attack or guard are pretty funny too. In fact even before I got batteries in it I found myself finding it amusingly alive, as it also has a squeaker hidden away inside, so it almost immediately squeaked at my when getting it out of the box! I guess this is an anti-being-sat-on function!

If you fancy getting an almost-alive tribble of your own, they've available to order from Science Division's website right now. And if you'd like to learn a little more, check out my previous interview, and product article.

Many thanks to Science Division for sending me a tribble to review.

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