In the fifth episode of the current season of the Vox founders’ show “The Lions’ Den” (Monday, May 6th, from 8:15 p.m.) things get down to business. With cbionic, a patented system for construction blocks, a founder wants to make the organic movements of animals tangible and bring children aged six and over closer to nature in a playful way. Is that enough for a deal?

The core of BionicToys founder Marcel Pasternak’s idea is flexible building blocks, which are included in each of the three sets developed so far. “The FlexBricks can be bent, twisted and turned in all possible directions,” says Pasternak, who also patented this special construction system. Combined with the well-known rigid clamping blocks, the building should ultimately be “brought to life”. A little more precise: the natural movements of the built plants and animals can be imitated thanks to the flexible components. According to the packaging of the set, which Stern was allowed to test, children aged six and over can build and play with it. We’ll clarify later how realistic this is.

These sets are currently available:

Children and adults alike can build two models from the first three sets. Important: This only works one after the other. So you build either the shell or the turtle. Then you have to take one construction apart to put the second one together – a familiar and common procedure for so-called 2-in-1 sets among experienced fans of interlocking bricks. The highlight of the partially flexible sets from cbionic is that you can reach into the constructions with your hands and slip into the role of the animal or plant. We tested how big your hands can be for this to work.

Our test set, the 2-in-1 scorpion scissors or scorpion stinger model, comes in a red-brown box measuring approximately 20 by 25 centimeters. It is opulently and detailedly designed and printed with all sorts of images of the models to be built. There is a lot of information on all sides, corners and edges. Below that is the important but not entirely precise note: “Compatible with other commercially available components”.

The so-called unboxing initially reveals nothing more than an orange brochure with a scorpion graphic. The construction instructions. We can find the cool knowledge magazine advertised on the packaging on the first seven pages. We find out briefly

After some construction tips for beginners and a parts list, you can start building from page 12. The scorpion scissors are put together in twelve manageable steps. What is noticeable: In these sections, additional instructions such as “Add the parts here” or “Attach me” are only in English. Finally, a picture shows how to grip the scissors with your hand in order to use them “like a scorpion”. The same goes for the scorpion stinger. Only eight construction phases are planned for it. Here, too, founder Marcel Pasternak gives tips on how to use the spike correctly after the final construction step. Overall, the packaging and instructions are convincing, although the cool knowledge magazine seems a bit poor at first glance.

Despite the age recommendation of 6, the author’s five (and a half) year old son threw himself into building the scorpion claw. And that quickly turned out to be quite tricky. Which only partly had to do with the little builder’s dexterity. Essentially you are busy fiddling with cross axes or technology pins with a cross axis into the flexible components. After just three construction steps, the assistant has to get to work. Bending and turning the flexible parts also causes more frustration than joy for the junior. But he fights bravely and after an hour he has a pair of scorpion claws in his hands. Unfortunately, he doesn’t recognize it as such. A picture in the instructions shows what you should do with this abstract construction. And at least the test builder’s brother, 8, manages to move the scissors. The enthusiasm was limited (at least among the author’s children).

In order to build the second set, the scorpion claws that Junior had put together had to be dismantled. It only took the author a few minutes. Less than 20 minutes later, the replica of the oversized scorpion stinger was on the construction table. Here, too, there was only moderate building fun, which was also due to the partially unclear instructions with strange notes like “I’m the same over here” next to a black pin. The mechanism that is supposed to cause the stinger to “sting” worked as described. But the “wow effect” wasn’t there either. Mainly because neither the stinger nor the scissors are associated with the scorpion. In order to imagine that you are holding the arachnid’s prey tools in your hands and imitating the prey, you need a lot of imagination. This may be much more pronounced in children than in adults: but even with the greatest imagination we found it difficult to make the connection between biology and technology.

Letting children immerse themselves in the secrets and wonders of nature in a playful way is a very good idea. In our opinion, this wasn’t really successful with the Skorpion Flex construction set from cbionic. The quality of the stones is good. However, the fun factor in the short building experience is manageable and challenging for small hands and thick fingers. The “Oho” after construction was also rather quiet among the testers. The feeling that something built was brought to life did not arise. The instructions with what we consider to be a somewhat meager knowledge section are of high quality and well designed. With a little bit of experience with terminal blocks, you can get through the eight to twelve construction steps without making any mistakes. There is still a long way to go before the big manufacturers. In the flexible building blocks, cbionic has an extra that makes a lot possible.

In the founders’ show “The Lions’ Den” on May 6, 2024, Marcel Pasternak will present his cbionic project and the first construction sets. The 36-year-old is offering ten percent of his start-up for an impressive 320,000. Is he biting his teeth at investors with this ambitious company valuation? Or will Pasternak convince one or more lions of his concept? You can find out whether the founder is going home with a game deal on Vox this evening from 8:15 p.m.

Transparency note: Like Vox, stern is part of RTL Deutschland.

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