from Smith & Tinker



Overall Editor's Rating

What It Is


The problem with most internet-connected toys has been that there has been no meaningful connection to the internet. You buy a toy or a trading card or a token of some time, enter a code and all the play shifts into the online arena. The toy, or whatever, becomes virtually irrelevant.

It's not that designers haven't been aware of the problem; it's just that no one has solved it...until now.

Nanovor from the new company Smith & Tinker is the first overall toy line that successfully blends a variety of play patterns under one umbrella concept and uses a variety of different forms to build and enhance the overall play.

Let's start with the concept-and it's pretty outrageous. As we all know, silicon chips are made from sand. Eons ago, as the story goes, Nanovors, a variety of aggressive and battling creatures, about the size of dust mites, lived in the sand, but due to all kinds of conditions became dormant. When the sand was made into chips and electricity flowed through them, the Nanovor were reanimated. So, what this means is that within the workings of your computer, there are countless sub-microscopic critters battling one another. You'll never say your system is "buggy" in the same way again, will you?

So, here we are in 2009, and we are now able to see the Nanovor and, boys being boys, enjoy all kinds of battles with them.

The play combines the play collectible trading cards, virtual pets, handhelds and online battling all in one seamless package. From the sophisticated and engaging online game and self-contained ecommerce site, data can be transferred to the handheld Nanoscope for smaller games and person-to-person battling. After play-and building up your Nanovor in solo play, data is uploaded to play online again. It's also possible to interact with other players and to trade Nanovor and build an entire collection. What we found so engaging is how well thought through the play is, how well designed are the collectible figures and how sophisticated the handheld electronics are. On the Nanoscope, in particular, we were blown away by the high resolution color screen.

The story and the online animated webisodes are edgy without being obnoxious, and the play is wonderfully competitive. It also includes the collecting, categorizing and strategizing that have been the underlying themes of such hits as Pokémon and Bakugan.

Everything about this screams "hit product." The thinking and creativity behind it make it extremely original and engaging. The challenge, as with anything of this nature, is going to be getting a significant number of kids to play this-and to prefer it. With savvy marketing, that's likely to happen. This is rich play that's targeted perfectly to the 7-to-12-year-old boy, and if it hits, we think it's going to be a phenomenon. Remember, you heard it here first.