By Andrew Liszewski
An easy way to gauge how popular something has become is to look at the number of licensed (and unlicensed) accessories available for it. The iPod and iPhone are obviously the poster children for how hard an accessory market can be milked, but there’s plenty of other guilty products, like the Nintendo Wii, and now those small spherical Nanodots magnets you see for sale everywhere.
First shown at Toy Fair last week, the $20 Nanopad is made from dense woven iron so those Nanodots stick to it real good like without rolling around, and it serves as a sort of gameboard adding about 2 or 3 minutes of extra replay value to them. On one side you’ll find a checker/chessboard pattern allowing you to build your own playing pieces, while the other side is pretty much blank (except for a gauge making it easy to count how many are in a chain) for assembling whatever creation you can imagine.
But had I dropped $40 on about 0.60 cents worth of magnetized metal, I’d instead opt for another accessory the company will soon be hocking. It’s a simple plastic card designed to make it easy to separate or ‘slice’ a magnetic creation, but on one side is a layer of trapped gel embedded with iron particles that will show the magnetic field patterns of whatever you’ve assembled on the other side. I can’t say it makes the thought of playing with Nanodots an exciting prospect for me, but I’m all about toys that at least try to teach a little bit of science.