When the opportunity arose to review a Force Lightning Energy Ball (or plasma ball, as I always call them), I think I was even more excited than the kids ! I remember these hitting the shops back in the eighties and I was totally mesmerised by the crackle of electricity painlessly touching your finger like a lightning bolt and following it around as you move your finger over the glass globe. It appeals to some primal instinct deep within me that loves the fact that I am mastering the elements - may the force be with me !
Well, it's not all coming from me, sadly. I don't have a magical finger that can summon a lightning bolt - that would be incredibly cool ! - so the first job was rifling through the kitchen drawer for 4 x AA batteries and a Philips screwdriver.
Once Pierre had worked out what it was all about, he was just as fascinated as I was. In fact, fascinated and bemused in equal measures. He just couldn't work out where the "pretty lightning" was coming from !
And he wasn't the only one ! It appeals to people of all ages and both sexes.
The enclosed instruction sheet gives you a series of mini experiments to make you think about the science behind it all. It invites you to touch one finger on the glass, then several fingers, and compare what's going on in the central capsule - is there more or less movement?
Then it asks you to lay your hands flat on the glass surface and see what happens. The kids (and adults, in fact !) were absolutely fascinated, but it would have been nice to have had more explanation of the science, because - even as a grown-up - I'm still not sure how it all actually works !
Maybe keeping the mystery alive just makes it even more fascinating and exciting though !
We've decided to keep it on a shelf in the dining room to save it from getting broken, because that can be fairly unsafe, according to the instruction booklet, but I'm not sure if that's because of the broken glass or the released gases. I keep wandering in to spot one or all of the Madhouse kids caressing the glass surface and gazing hypnotically into the flashes of lightning !
The plasma ball comes on a Star Wars branded stand decorated with stickers, with a clip-on-clip-off plastic disc with Star Wars stamped on it. This tends to fall off quite easily so we just leave it off because it doesn't serve any functional purpose. With the new Star Wars film coming out, fans of the new or previous films will be even more impressed with the plasma ball, because you can harness the power of Force Lightning like Yoda and the Empire and move energy with your hands just like a Sith Lord ! Teenage and twenty-something boys are invariably tricky to buy gifts for, so this is the perfect Christmas present for them, although it would appeal equally to girls.
Above all, it's a fabulous way of getting kids of all ages interested in science and it is as fun as it is educational. There are innumerable kid-friendly science websites that can give you more information about how a plasma ball works - in fact, this one mentions an experiment with a plasma ball and a fluorescent light bulb, which has now got me intrigued !
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £24.99
The Uncle Milton Star Wars range can be purchased from www.flairplc.co.uk/
Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.