With the holiday season fast approaching, we’ve been featuring quite a number of toys here on SlashGear that, in our geeky opinion at least, are likely to be must-have items if you’re under the age of twelve. However, as self-confessed jaded cynics we turned to SlashGear’s latest reviewer, 8-year-old Tanner McBee (and his capable assistant and scribe, David McBee aka “Dad”). WowWee’s Femisapien has sashayed her way into many an adult reviewers heart over the past few months, but can she keep Tanner entertained?
Updated with video review from Tanner McBee himself.
David McBee writes:
Right out of the box, Femisapien got the “big eyes” from my eight-year-old. What else should I have expected? This was a robot, and a very cool looking robot at that.
Rushing to get her out of the box, the instruction manual was tossed aside and the experimenting began. He learnt right away that she would make sounds and movements of her own accord, and that a push on the head would get her moving and grooving in a way one doesn’t usually see from the robot persuasion. All very cool and exciting to an eight-year-old.
But after a few minutes of dancing and experimenting, it became very clear that we were going to need the instruction book in order to see what else this female robot was capable of. (BTW, my son did comment that he felt that Femisapien’s rounded chest was “inappropriate”. You be the judge.) So, back to the instructions.
Thank goodness my wife was around, because one look at the extensive manual and my head started spinning. But thanks to my wife’s tenacity, we learnt that Femisapien has a learning mode, an attentive mode, and a responsive mode. She speaks her own language and even detects objects in front of her. She has a sensor that tells her when she has fallen over and she even “cries” for help or just gives up and goes to sleep.
Each of her hands are joysticks and with a combination of movements of these joysticks, she’ll do a ton of cool stuff. (I would have liked a remote control better, but unfortunately it’s sold separately). After about thirty minutes with the directions, we had Femisapien walking, dancing, kissing, handing out a business card, following directions, singing and making pirate noises (AAARGH!).
My son even discovered a few tricks that weren’t in the instruction manual, which had the effect of finding an Easter egg. Okay, so spending some time with the directions opened up several opportunities for Femisapien to impress me and keep my son excited and busy. I certainly can’t claim that this robot doesn’t live up to expectations.
Cut to a few hours later. The neighbor boys come over and my son is eager to show off his new toy. Problem is, he can’t remember all the ways to get Femisapien to do all the cool things she does. So we go back to the demo dance – again, very fun and impressive. Then what? Does he take the time to get the directions out again to show his friends what he’s learnt?
Nope. Maybe it’s because he’s eight, maybe it’s a short attention span, but even after having the toy in the house for several days, he can’t seem to get her to follow more than one or two commands. The box says ages eight and up. Since I don’t have any “and ups” in the house, I can’t say. Perhaps an older child might remember the different joystick combinations, but heck, even I don’t.
My guess is, despite all the cool things this toy is capable of, she’ll ultimately become a $99 collectible that occasionally shows off her dancing for two minutes at a time every now and then when someone gets the urge to tap on her head. My son would disagree, saying that she’s totally cool and fun to play with, but he’s too busy playing video games to prove me wrong.
Tanner’s Femisapien Video Review:
The WowWee Femisapien is available now, priced at $99.99; she’s compatible with both the programmable USB WowWee RoboRemote, priced at $19.99, and the original WowWee Robosapien remote, priced at $20. Our thanks to Tanner and David for their time!
Writing for R3 Media since 2006, Chris Davies is currently executive editor for SlashGear, Android Community and the other network sites. Based in London, UK, he's responsible for SlashGear's editorial decisions and covers all forms of consumer technology. You can follow him on Twitter.