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The Wicked Ball is a 100% automatic, hands-free pet toy that hops, rolls, and rattles itself around the house to keep your cat—or dog—active and entertained whether you’re at home or away.
It’s a cool concept, right?
We decided to buy the Wicked Ball and try it out with my two cats, Wessie and Forest. Keep reading until the end of our Cheerble Wicked Ball review to find out what happened when I tried the toy and whether or not I think it’s worth the $49 investment.
Cheerble Wicked Ball Video Review
Before we jump into my personal experience with the Wicked Ball, let’s talk more about what this toy is and how it works.
The Wicked Ball was created by a company called Cheerble, a tech startup based in Shenzhen, China. Their specialty is—as you might guess—smart electronic gadgets for pets.
Since its launch in 2016, Cheerble has developed three products. In addition to the Wicked Ball, their lineup includes the Wickedbone, a smart dog bone that plays back, and an interactive board game for cats that’s currently available for preorder on Indiegogo.
The Wicked Ball concept was seeded in the summer of 2018, prototyped in January of 2019, and received thousands of backers in a Kickstarter campaign in the spring of that year. By October, Cheerble had raised over $1,000,000 in crowdfunding through Indiegogo and Kickstarter.
The Wicked Ball’s intelligence lies in its core.
Built into the Wicked Ball’s small plastic core are an ARM Cortex-M0 processor and a 6-axis MEMS motion-tracking device. This system detects movement and touch and determines responses, while a small high-torque DC motor makes it move.
In action, this means that the ball moves on its own and is responsive to the touch, jumping, shaking, and rolling every time it comes into contact with an object. Whether that’s your cat’s paws or the base of your Grandfather’s clock, the Wicked Ball knows to move away when its sensors detect contact.
The intensity of the toy’s movement depends on which mode it’s running in.
The Wicked Ball’s core has a button that allows you to select which interaction mode you’d like to use. It runs in three modes—gentle, normal, and active. These modes are indicated by green, blue, and pink lights, respectively.
Once it’s active, the Wicked Ball will run through interactive play cycles.
In order to provide sustainable entertainment, the Wicked Ball moves through cycles of play and rest. It will roll, rock, and shake for 10 minutes, then rest for 30. If the ball detects touch during the rest period, it will reactivate. This cycle continues until the battery dies.
A single charge gives the Wicked Ball enough power to run for anywhere between 100 minutes and 8 hours.
The Wicked Ball is available in a few different color and style options.
The standard Wicked Ball has a rubber shell and is available in three colors: blue, green, and yellow. The shells are replaceable, so you can outfit your Wicked Ball core with a variety of shells for a flexible experience.
You can also choose the deeply-ridged Cyclone ball, which is intended to be less destructible than the original ball, or a ball covered in gray faux wool.
The faux wool ball is made with cats in mind and, in addition to the bone-shaped snack hole, has a small catnip slot to get cats excited. Whether you choose the Cyclone, the cat-specific design, or the standard rubber ball, they’re all the same size—3 inches in diameter and 200g in weight—and are appropriate for either cats or dogs.
Here’s what happened when I received the Wicked Ball and started testing it out.
I ordered a Wicked Ball from the Cheerble website. I hadn’t realized that the gray wool version was optimized for cats, so I went with the blue rubber ball.
It came in a small, tidily-arranged box. The box included a user manual, the Wicked Ball itself—including both the shell and core—and a micro USB charging cable.
With or without the clear instructions in the user manual, the Cheerble Wicked Ball is a cinch to set up.
Compared to a lot of other smart pet gadgets I’ve tested, the Wicked Ball was almost shockingly simple. No smartphone apps to sync. No programs to set up. I was also relieved to find that the user manual was clearly-written and frustration-free.
The first step is taking the toy apart.
Because the ball comes already assembled, you have to unscrew the two halves of the outer shell to access the core. Once I’d accessed the processing and power unit, I removed it and started charging. Though the ball comes with a micro USB cable, I had to provide my own AC adapter. The core takes about an hour to fully charge, with the indicator changing from yellow to green.
Once I had the toy charged up, it was time to put everything together and get started.
The motor has two spindles, which extend out of the sides of the core unit and plug into small holes in the inner walls of the shell. When the motor activates, these spindles create torque to get the ball rolling.
To get started with the Wicked Ball, you’ll have to make sure that these spindles are properly seated in the shell. This is pretty straightforward, since the plastic rods have different shapes corresponding to the holes on each side of the ball. Getting everything oriented and plugged in took a few seconds.
Before you screw the two halves of the ball together, you’ll press the button on the core and hold for a few seconds. Then press the button again to switch it into the interaction mode you want.
When you turn the Wicked Ball on, it won’t do anything for about 15 seconds, so I just stood there looking at it for a while, a little bit nervous about just how active active mode was going to be. Do any of you guys remember the Giggle Ball toy? It was this hard plastic ball that giggled maniacally while bouncing around on rubber spikes. That’s what I was expecting out of the Wicked Ball.
And after 15 seconds, it started going. The movement wasn’t quite as startling as I’d expected, but it was erratic and intense. I let it loose and the ball began making its merry way around the house, cycling through rolling, jumping, and sitting still.
As it cycles through these activity phases, you’ll see a status light that’s either blue, yellow, or pink. A blue light means the ball is moving, a yellow band means that it’s at rest, and a pink light means it’s shaking quickly or jumping.
The ball continues to go through this movement cycle for 10 minutes regardless of if anyone’s playing with it, then switches into a rest period for 30 minutes or until it gets bumped again.
With a waterproof polycarbonate shell covered in TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane), the ball is sturdy and can withstand a lot of abuse.
Even if they had been interested in the toy—more on that later—my cats weren’t going to chew on or damage it on their own. But I do live in a 2-story house with a loft balcony and the ball had a lot of opportunities to take a serious fall and get badly injured. After surviving a drop from the second to first floor, the Wicked Ball proved that it can handle some pretty serious stuff.
The Wickedball’s shell is waterproof, so you can safely submerge the entire ball in water. I cleaned it in the sink with the core inside and didn’t notice any problems.
Even if it can survive a few accidents of its own, the Wicked Ball and its independent spirit might also be a hazard to people living in the home.
This was particularly apparent on active mode, which had the ball bumping noisily around the house and even making its way down a flight of steps. I caught it hanging out on a landing, posing a hazard to people coming around the corner as they descended the stairs.
And besides presenting a trip hazard if you’re not hypervigilant, the Wicked Ball might also knock over anything that’s prone to toppling. It didn’t cause any damage in my home, but I don’t doubt that the WickedBall could tip over a precariously-placed vase.
What Did My Cats Think Of The Cheerble Wicked Ball?
If you’ve watched our video on the best cat toys, you’ll know that my cats aren’t massive fans of toys. They’d rather chase one another around the house than play with a ball. And though I was hopeful that its independent movement would draw them in, my cats didn’t show a ton of interest in the Wicked Ball.
I saw my cat, Wessie, watching it every now and then, but for the most part, it was just another part of the decor. Although the toy is erratic and makes a bit of a humming sound, he didn’t even seem nervous around it.
I tried to get him to play with it by putting it in front of him and even tried stuffing a treat in the snack hole, which did elicit a single poke of the paw, but he still refused to play. I also tried to get Forest to play with the ball, but she was more interested in looking at Wessie and then ended up running out of the room.
The snack hole, by the way, is comically small.
I asked myself multiple times if I was missing something, if somehow you could open it up and make the toy dispense treats, but no—the snack hole is what it looks like. It’s a bone-shaped slot barely large enough to fit a Temptations treat. I stuffed a single treat in there and the Wicked Ball kept a death grip on it, making it a challenge for Wessie to pull it out.
While my cats weren’t doing flips over the Wicked Ball, I’ve seen reviews from other people saying that their cats did chase it around.
In general, the Wicked Ball might be a little bit too big and heavy for the average cat. Even in active mode, the toy rolls relatively slowly across the floor and might not have the type of prey-like movement that gets cats going. A faster, even more erratic golf ball-sized toy, I think, would appeal to a larger portion of the feline population.
Overall, the Wicked Ball is an exciting concept and a rugged, well-designed toy that’s a great option for multi-pet homes.
Even if you opt for the faux wool option, the Wicked Ball feels more like a dog toy. It’s big, heavy, ready for a dunk in the pool, and armored for chewing.
If your cat’s one of those who “thinks he’s a dog” and likes to chase balls, this toy could be an interactive option that keeps him entertained when you’re not at home. It’s also a promising choice for multiple pet homes. If you have both dogs and cats, the Wicked Ball could be the toy that keeps all of them happy.
How Much Does The Cheerble Wicked Ball Cost?
A single Wicked Ball costs $49.00 in the Cheerble store.
If you buy two balls, you’ll get $7 off of each for a per-ball cost of $42. If you buy three, you’ll get each ball for $39—a $10 discount per ball. And in case the ball gets damaged or you want to try a different style, you can also buy replacement shells for $9.99.