Say hello to my little friend. This is Boxer, a miniature robot pal from Spin Master. Designed for kids ages 6 years and up, this robot is packed with play features designed to engage and entertain, but it's definitely going to most appealing to younger kids who are more into the play than the programming. Out of the box, you'll want to insert three button cell batteries into the remote control. Use the included USB cable to charge up Boxer's internal battery, which takes about an hour, though it has some charge when it comes out of the box.
There are different modes of play. You can drive it using the remote control, which is a pretty traditional handheld unit that allows you to go forward, backward, turn and do stunts. Play mode is all about interacting with Boxer by hand, interacting with the touch sensors, light sensors, picking him up, turning him over and so forth. Game activity mode is designed to get Boxer to play in different ways. Select one of the 10 game activity cards that come with Boxer. Push the button on the back, and let him drive over the barcode on the card. That will get the game going. Finally, you can download the Boxer App from the app store or google play. The app gives you a bunch of additional cards to unlock that you can use to activate different play experiences. Simply point your device at Boxer and swipe up to load the game into Boxer.
Boxer also has a bit of a personality, so it will be happy, sad, grumpy and more, all in response to how it's played with. We had a lot of fun with this, but there are some things you'll want to be aware of. When you turn Boxer on, it goes into a basic explore mode. He's a little like a manic kid at that point. To use the remote control, you don't want to be any further than 4 feet away, and you need to have a direct line from the controller to this receiver on the top of the robot. There are three different channels that you can use with your robot, and if you have more than one, you'll want them all on different ones. Select a channel and then turn Boxer on.
The manual play mode is really self explanatory, and this is great of open-ended, exploratory play.
The game activity mode can be a little tricky, at least in the unit we tested. You need to push the button on the back of the robot one time, and you'll hear a beep. Place the robot carefully on the card, noting where the front wheels go. The robot will drive over the card, and if it reads it, you'll see the "eyes" change and the game will activate. If not, you'll hear a beep, and see X's in the eyes. Some of the games are highly interactive, like soccer, DJ bot, Dance Party or Paddle Bot. Others, like Stunt Show, are just entertaining.
Finally, the app takes a little bit of finessing to get it to work. It connects via Bluetooth, and that part is very easy. The robot responds the same way as it does when it reads a card. This is definitely a toy that invites kids to explore and play. For the kids playing with it, Boxer will be a fun, interactive buddy that's packed with play and personality.
It will be great for kids who like interactive robotics. There's a lot to keep them engaged, but it's pitched at the right cognitive level for those kids.
Older kids will have a good time putting him through their paces, but kids after about 8 or 9 may be ready for something more sophisticated.
Spin Master says that the instructions are designed just to get you started. Spin Master says that Boxer has artificial intelligence, and to an extent it does, but it's rudimentary and more about unlocking already programmed features than machine learning.
This invites comparisons to Anki's Cozmo. However, Boxer is really designed as a toy companion for kids, rather than a more sophisticated robot for an older enthusiast. Plus, it's about $100 less.
This is a good, engaging toy that's comparable to other R/C toys but with a bit more personality and opportunity for interaction with the child.
3 cell batteries required
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