Wowwee’s Roboreptile is an often startling robotic toy that, once you get the hang of its wonky controls, is actually pretty fun. Like other Wowwee robots, there’s a preprogrammed animation that goes off when it is first powered up. It’s impressive: growling, snapping jaws and a whipping tail. In short, Roboreptile looks like something out of the future and moves like something out of the past.
The Roboreptile has infrared “vision” sensors where its eyes would be and stereo “hearing” sensors on the sides of its face. Its sounds, though a bit tinny, are menacing. During a tail swipe, it lets out a sort of Eagle cry, harkening back to the shared avian/reptile ancestry.
Controlling the Monster
Controlling the Roboreptile with the remote is a bit of a strain. First, because the remote uses an infrared beam and the pick-up sensor is located in its head. You won’t be able to control it from far away, and it’s difficult to control while walking away from you. Roboreptile will keep executing a command until it receives a new remote command.
Roboreptile looks like something out of the future and moves like something out of the past.
Second, each button on the remote has two alternate functions: an attack set and a program set. When the remote is on the program setting, the alternate functions light up in red for each button but, for some reason, when the remote is in the attack setting, we’re left to refer to the instruction manual (or our own memories) for that set’s functions. For example, to make the roboreptile bite, you first have to get the remote into attack mode by pressing the select button until the remote display turns green. Then you press the button marked “Roam.”
Another counter-intuitive thing about the controls is that the left and right buttons respectively make its left and right legs move, turning him in the opposite direction. I expected the left button would make him turn left, but instead it turns him right. The instructions also say that it can make both stationary and forward turns but I could only manage to execute stationary turns.
Control issues aside, it is genuinely alarming–in a Jurassic Park sort of way–when this little beast lunges at and tries to bite your foot.
From Satisfied to Hungry in 60 Seconds
Roboreptile can be operated in direct control, free roam, and program modes. Direct control is its natural state, where the user becomes puppeteer, moving it with the remote control. There is a surprising range of motion for this robot. It can walk forward on four legs or two, jump, swipe its tail from side to side, bite, shake, and even look dizzy, as though it had just been smacked by a bigger dino. It even has different walking gaits: fast, slow, big steps, small steps.
It’ll go into free roam mode after a few minutes without controller input or if the “touch sensor” (actually just a button) on its back is pressed. It avoids obstacles by backing up and trying a different angle and exhibits three different moods: Hungry, Satisfied, and Hooded. Hungry is its natural state, agressive and snappy. Satisfied comes after it’s eaten–in this case, gone through a feeding animation cycle where it crows and snaps its jaw–and this makes it lethargic for about a minute before it’s hungry again. Using the included hood, or cowl, to snap over its vision and hearing sensors and effectively put him in sleep mode.
There’s also a program mode where you can enter a series of up to 20 steps. Think of it as dance choreography, only with tail swipes and biting. You can put Roboreptile into guard mode, where it’ll sit upright, poised for attack. If anything gets picked up by its sensors (passes within inches of its face), it will let out a growl and lunge in that direction. Its hearing is better than its sight (wasn’t that the case with dinosaurs, too?), so in the guarded state, it’ll react to a slamming door or a whistle with a howl and swinging its neck from side to side.
Parents should note that Roboreptile comes with two volume settings: loud and soft. We tested it on a hardwood floor and kitchen countertop and noticed that, even on the soft setting, its hard plastic thumps and servo motor whirs still created a sizeable ruckus. –Porter B. Hall
- The ultimate herpetological species. Don’t be fooled by this beast’s size — he is fast, ferocious, cunning and intelligent.
- A sly and ruthless creature, Roboreptile uses advanced technology for greater intelligence. He can be programmed with movements and animations and is packed with personality.
- Roboreptile’s powerful infrared vision and sonic sensors swiftly alert him to disturbances in his environment. In Guard Mode they make him a formidable sentry. In Free Roam his sharp sensory systems make him a ruthless predator.
- Roboreptile can be extremely hostile or harmless, alert or asleep. He has four moods aggressive, ferocious, passive or tammed. Can be controlled directly, programmed or put into Free Roam, Demo Mode, Guard Mode or Sleep Mode.