Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kong's NEW Wobbler Vs. Nina Ottosson's Pyramid

When I saw Kong came out with a toy that seemed like a rip-off of the Pyramid (by Nina Ottosson), I have to admit that I was a little up in arms. It seems, lately, Kong is copying every good idea and really has a monopoly. I do love my Kongs though, so maybe they have a right to a monopoly when they invented a great toy to start their company with. Then when I saw they had made an improvement on the Nina design, I had to try it. The improvement: the bottom screws off, so you can fill the toy easier and clean it. So I added a Wobbler to my repertoire of games that I leave for the dogs when we are out.

The Pyramid has a serious design fault. It has a seam right before the weight at the bottom that after extended use can crack. Once it is broken, it is broken. I have duct taped one together, but it’s not the safest way to deal with the issue when it’s a toy you plan to leave alone with your dog. I have attempted to crazy glue one, too, but the glue broke with one slam by our toy tester, Kiah. This design fault, however, is not the only challenge to the Pyramid – it only has the dispensing hole to fill the toy with. When you want to put breakfast in it or any quantity of treats or kibble, it can be frustrating and time consuming.

The Wobbler fixed these two faults in one go. Kong got rid of the seam by making the Wobbler screw together in that spot. This means two things – no breaking and very simple filling and cleaning. However the Wobbler is not free of design faults either. For starters, I find the whole thing rather heavy and bulky compared to the Pyramid. More importantly, the hole is only about half way up the toy. Meaning two things: You can’t fill it as much. Only about a cup and a half of kibble will fit in the toy before it reaches the hole. For us, who use it as a way to keep the dogs occupied when we go out, that’s not such a big deal, but if I were wanting to feed a great dane dinner in the Wobbler to avoid eating to fast, you would have to do it in two Wobblers or two stages. Second the hole being lower makes the toy easier to figure out. I guess if I didn’t have Aussies this would not be as big of an issue. I have come home to a Pyramid with treats still in it. The Wobbler was empty on the first try. Also the Wobbler’s hole is considerably bigger – which allows you to put bigger treats in, but it also allows smaller treats to fall out faster. I guess they are designed to fit the Kong Stuff’n Treats, but with wheat as the #2 ingredient in all their biscuits that won’t be happening at our house.

So overall, I find the Pyramid to be more of a challenge for the dogs, more light weight and probably safer for that reason. Sometimes the Pyramid is a challenge for the people too, as filling it can be frustrating when you are in a hurry. The breakage is the biggest problem, however, we have probably not had our Wobbler long enough to see if it has any similar faults. Our Pyramids typically last for months and probably the fact that the dogs take them out into the cold doesn’t help the plastic’s strength. One has been with us for close to eight months now. The duct tape solution works with older dogs who get the game and don’t try to take apart the duct tape, but unless you know your dog won’t, it’s not a safe solution. We will continue to use the Pyramid, as we love Nina’s toys. However, we have added two Wobblers to the gang of toys and we think they will make welcome additions to the games. If we had a say in Kong’s manufacturing, we would ask them to put the hole higher to make the game harder and make there more room for filling it, then we may admit that the Wobbler is an improvement on the Pyramid.

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