PLAY - Roboreptile

[28 November 2006]

By Karen Zarker

PopMatters Managing Editor

Roboreptile Robotic Reptile [WoeWee International Ltd. - $99.99]

This is a kind of freaky beastie boy / grrr grrrl toy in that it doesn’t always do what you expect—or demand—of it. That must be the “fiery personality” mentioned in the press sheet.  I tell it to leap back on its hind legs, it snarls at me, takes a few menacing steps forward, and then leaps back on its hind legs; I tell it to “feed” and it sometimes roars, sometimes squeals, but always makes this funny little bone crunching sound while “eating”, and then, quite of its own accord, it may (or may not) waggle its tail and shake its head, clearly “happy” with the imaginary, bloody meal just imaginarily ingested.  Sometimes I tell it to eat, but it refuses—with a snarl.  Roboreptile is simultaneously sophisticated in its behaviors, and with its sensors that will help it back out from under a sofa, but also clumsy,  in that it’ll whack its head around a bit, before it figures out how to get out from under a narrow plant stand. 

Roboreptile is about two feet in length—that’s the size of my cat, stretched out—a cat that, to my perverse glee, Roboreptile will stalk with little prompting.  One drawback: it can’t leap up on the bed after the cat.  It can, however, throw what looks like a tantrum that it can’t leap up on the bed, flinging its long head and tail about and screeching.  So perhaps you can image that if Roboreptile doesn’t want to eat, you shouldn’t try to make it eat.  And if you haven’t “fed” it in a while, don’t expect it to cooperate with your remote controlled demands until its eaten.  And that unpredictable “sass”, if you will, is what really makes this a cool toy.  Set the controls down and walk away; you’ll hear it snapping and growling, raring and lunging, roaming about of its own accord.

The Roboreptile is expensive at $100; as demanding of your wallet as it is demanding of your attention when it’s turned on.  But it’s so freaky cool. [Amazon]

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