Our family loooves robots. My children ask for robot birthday parties and robot beds. One of Augie’s first words was “robot” (pronounced “rommer”, but close enough). We enjoy heading out to robot fights for a little family fun.
So despite the fact that I feel like this blog has been a little too heavy on reviews and giveaways lately, when I was presented with the opportunity to review a new Mechatar robot aimed at 6-12-year-olds, I couldn’t help but say, “Heck yeah! Bring it on!”
We received Wrexx, the red robot. He’s really cool looking with black and silver accents and wheel-like “legs”. Wyatt, my six-year-old, was able to figure out how to remove him from the box on his own, turn the robot on and play with it a little while I looked over the instructions. The robot moves by rolling it’s wheels and it works well on both linoleum and carpet which is awesome. What is not so awesome is that he only moves forward and turns in one direction. Without a reverse, it’s almost impossible to remotely free the robot when he bonks into a wall or a piece of furniture without physically lifting him up and turning him in another direction. Annoying.
The robot uses a loud, deep, semi-mechanical voice to give you instructions. He also let’s you know when he finds the remote which is nice because you aren’t left guessing about wether or not the two pieces are communicating with each other. It also lets you know when he’s lost the signal for the remote which happened frequently. We found that turning the remote off and on fixed the problem but it was annoying for me and frustrating for the kids. A few days into playing with it, I hit on the idea of changing out the batteries and that seems to have helped a lot.
One note about batteries: the remote takes 3 AAA’s and the robot itself takes 4 AAA’s, for a grand total of 7 batteries! Yow! When Wyatt accidentally left both on overnight, that completely drained them. We have switched almost entirely to rechargeable batteries in our house so it wasn’t too painful but finding seven rechargeables that weren’t being used was a challenge.
The cool feature of this robot is that there is a corresponding online game for kids to play. Connecting the robot to the computer to play the games was a little difficult. When we connected the Mechatar to the computer using the included USB cord for the first time, it didn’t automatically install the client software as it said it would. After searching the instruction manual and the web site, I still couldn’t figure out how to install the client. Finally in a fit of frustration, I jammed the USB cable as hard as I could into the toy and it sunk in another 1/4 inch. That did the trick! The computer recognized the Mechatar and I was prompted to install the client.
The game is really slick and it was definitely Wyatt’s favorite part of this toy. It involves “battle practice” which is less about fighting and more about strategy. The graphics show that robots fighting with each other, but the game is primarily about figuring out which weapon in your arsenal will beat the weapons of the robot you’re fighting. Players accumulate points for accomplishing tasks and then they can use those points to buy more weapons, upgrades for their robot, or missions that they can download and complete with their toy offline. You have to “buy” all the offline missions, which I didn’t particularly like. The toy comes with a code that gives you fifty points, but even with those freebies it took quite a while to accumulate enough points to buy an offline mission. As a parent, I think the cool thing about this toy is how it blends that online and toy components, so I don’t understand why they make it hard to do that part.
The toy is definitely the weakest part of this package which is unfortunate because it has the potential to be really cool. When I asked him about it, Wyatt told me he liked the game way more than the robot toy. When I asked him if he would like the robot if it didn’t come with the game, he said “No. The remote control never lasts long enough. I can’t even get it across the whole living room!”
For $39.99 the robot/game deliver an OK value as long as you incorporate the online component, but I think it could be great if they fixed some of these problems.
Good news! In addition to sending me a robot to review, the folks at I Love Robots have offered one up for me to give away to a Wendolonia reader. If you have or know a child who would like a Mechatar as a holiday gift, enter to win it! Or, if you’d like to buy one now use the coupon code “MECHMOM” for a 10% discount at iloverobots.com (valid until 11/30/11).
To enter, visit http://www.Mechatars.com to see the full line up of interactive robots. You will need to click on “play now” button, and then the “register” button but you do not need to submit any information. Tell me which Mechatar you’d like to win in the comments below. We’ll select one commenter at random on Friday, September 30 to receive the prize.
I was selected to participate in this sponsored post series by Clever Girls Collective. I received a Mechatar robot to test and I was compensated for hosting this giveaway, but I am expressing my own honest opinion about this product!