Forget about wind-ups with Walkie Bits
They’re certainly not a shining example of Japanese technology, but Takara’s Walkie Bits musical turtles still received top honors by Time magazine when it was named one of the best robot inventions in 2005.
But don’t let the “robot” title fool you. These truly tiny turtles (three can fit in your palm) are equipped with equally miniscule brains. They can’t make you a sandwich or tie your shoes (unlike all the other turtles you know, right?), but they can race each other, play back Leopold Mozart’s “Toy Symphony,” and walk around at various speeds while wagging their tails. Don’t worry, I wasn’t impressed either. Not until I found out about their best trick, that is. Get this: the Walkie Bits can actually memorize rhythms (up to 15 clicks) you tap onto their shells and then they’ll move to the learned beat. Teach that to an Aibo!
The mini turtles have removable, interchangeable shells and are available in a rainbow of colors with cutesy names like heart pink, soda, and star yellow. Most of them come with a matching tin case, but there are also deluxe packages with sparkly accessories (glitter and stickers) thrown in to decorate all those extra shells. The “regular” Walkie Bits are incredibly popular in Japan, so tracking them down can be tricky. But when you find one, you can expect to pay about $20.