Jul 14, 2011

Imagine my glee at finding a WowWee robot with a real purpose. The RoboScooper¬† was advertised as a cleanup robot that would amble about the house, picking up small objects and placing them in it’s carrying tray, arranged like a pickup truck bed behind a cute looking robot poking up from the truck bed from the waist up.¬† Imagine my glee when I discovered that the empty paper blocks that came with the toy proved too much for the robot to handle, causing itself to strip all of its gears and turn itself into so much cute looking but inoperable junk.

I can reassemble it --I just don't want to

I disassembled the toy to see if I might help it somehow and perhaps even fix it. After all, Mark Tilden, the WowWee guru who designed the majority of the Robosapien toys designed them specifically so they could be repaired, modified and changed (or hacked as it is called). What I found was a mismash of really awful design, cheaply made and assembled with all the care of a Gnu in a crystal goblet factory.

This was definitely NOT a Tilden design, and the Internet backed me up as I did a little Google forensics and discovered that Tilden had gone from chief designer to consultant to gone away. What I had purchased for my $70 entry fee was a typical Chinese crap toy, made with not just built in obsolescence, but a running production line pool of how short a period of operation a toy could have before turning itself into recycling fodder. I keep running into crap Chinese stuff lately –witness my heartbreaking tale of woe about the R/C Hawk Sky airplane that arrived with missing parts and a totally dead propulsion system.

I noted that the way the toy was assembled that the mechanics of the unit would have made Archimedes a happy man, with a huge mechanical disadvantage right where the main operating gear was placed. In other words, any force applied to the little arms was multiplied by a few hundred times and focused on the drive gear. No wonder it broke so quickly, and with hardly any force at all.

I trotted over to Amazon to write a review about the piece of crap in hopes that I might prevent other buyers from getting taken to the proverbial cleaners. A whole bunch of people beat me to it, and using language from polite to snarling, already let the cat out of the bag. I added my $0.02 to the fray and left. This is the second time I had terrible luck with a WowWee robot. I bought a Mr. Personality that had a nervous breakdown and went catatonic so fast I wasn’t able to finish its setup instructions. I replaced it three times before giving up and deciding I really didn’t want one anyway.

Since then, I have stuck with the tried and true Robosapien line of Mark Tilden robots. They are durable and capable, and provide me with hours of entertainment. I have 10 of the Robosapiens and 2 of the Version 2 units and use them as a dance troupe I call New Bots on the Block.

The really ironic and annoying part of this is that the only thing I really want the RoboScooper to pick up and discard is itself. Sadly though, it broke itself. Too bad they didn’t design it to look like a Lemming, it would have been a lot more appropriate.


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