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WowWee MIP Robot: The First Balancing Robot

£69.13
build quality
fun
design
longevity

4.4

5

Overall

The MIP Robot is fantastic fun, especially if you're fortunate enough to be able to get two of them together and engage in laser combat. One of the best toys of 2014.

User Rating (31 votes)

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Sam Applegate

17th November 2014

By Sam Applegate

I like bacon sandwiches.


It's easy to look at a lot of the toys of today and to compare them unfavourably to the wonders of Christmases past. You can't say that with any fairness about the MIP Robot, which looks set to sell by the thousands this year.

The reason for that is both beyond and, on the surface, far simpler than any Bluetooth or WiFi gadgetry that other toys have begun to incorporate. It's as simple as a little thing called balance. When you look at the MIP Robot, it seems remarkable that it's even upright. Only eight inches or so tall, it somehow steadies itself on its two wheels and can trundle around the house upright, as you'd expect from any proper robot.

OK, it's not quite ASIMO and it'll definitely fall over sometimes, but on the whole MIP performs remarkably well, and stays vertical. Smooth floors and flat carpets are navigated easily, but if you try to take it out of the house or over thick carpet then you're bound to run into trouble. Then again, such has ever been the way with such toys.

Thankfully, the MIP Robot is also a sturdy little fellow and all the tumbling he ends up doing various different modes doesn't seem to do any harm. They've managed to make him look reasonably cutesy and unthreatening too, which isn't always the easiest task when designing a robot.

Robot Rising

What does this robot actually do, then? Well, apart from the impressive balance, the MIP can show a surprising turn of pace. Moving in arcs and curves is a little more clumsy, but it's still good enough for zooming round the room at speed.

Both the black and white versions have exactly the same functionality. There are seven different program modes to mess around with. In roam mode, your MIP will go for a wander around the house, and most of time manages to look after itself pretty well. You can use hand gestures to control it (admittedly these are fairly limited), or play in cage mode, where you hover your hand in front of its eyes as it moves around and tries to escape.

The big LED on the front changes colour according to the mode it's in, and you can change the program by rotating the right wheel by hand. It's fairly easy to get to grips with. You can also indulge in a dance mode, or challenge MIP to balance items on the tray you can attach to his front. You'll almost certainly be surprised at how much weight he can manage.

WowWee also make some play of the “personality” that they've imbued MIP with. In practice this is a pretty shallow feature, but the robot's happy burbling and colourful lights will likely please younger children in particular.

Kids and adults alike will get much more out the MIP Robot by connecting up a mobile Bluetooth device and taking manual control, just like you would with a remote-controlled car. The app you need to use is free. All of which leads us nicely onto the next feature, which is where the MIP really comes into his own.

One's Company, Two's...

To some extent it's every parent's worst nightmare: a moderately expensive toy that your child loves, which happens to be even cooler if you own two of them. Darn.

The MIP Robot can shoot lasers... in a manner of speaking. Get two of them together, connect them to tablets or smartphones and let battle begin! Thanks to the infra-red sensors that every robot is equipped with, you can line up your robot and let rip. On screen you'll see your opponent's health bar, and if you manage to hit them enough times, the enemy will keel over dead. It's pretty awesome.

Aim, run for cover, perhaps even play dirty by knocking the other MIP over physically. It's up to you. Your own health regenerates slowly over time, so if you're taking a beating, find somewhere to hide before returning to the fray.

Another two player mode that's a bit less satisfying is the boxing option. Essentially you rotate MIP at speed, swinging his arms like mad until the other MIP is lying at his feet. It's less varied than the laser battle, but it does satisfy the odd craving for mechanised violence. Real Steel it's not.

Terminated

Aside from the cost, which is significant if not wince-inducing, the single biggest criticism that you can level at the MIP Robot is that it's a power hungry little beast, and as a consequence has the potential to be fairly expensive to run. You'll need 4 triple A batteries to get the lights to flicker on behind its “eyes”, and those batteries might last up to an hour's sustained play. If MIP proves a favourite with your kid, it's going to help Duracell meet their sales figures, and it's a great shame that the manufacturers didn't build in some kind of lithium ion rechargeable pack.

I'd recommend getting yourself some high capacity rechargeable batteries for it. It'll be well worth the investment.

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To read more on this model, check out the MIP Robot homepage here (opens new window).

Images

  • Meet MiP, your new robot friend from WowWee
  • A balancing robot on dual wheels, multi-functional and autonomous
  • with Gesturesense Technology, responds to motions , be it your hands or objects
  • with in-built game modes or app control via free app download IOS or android (phone not included)
  • Immersive personality and great fun

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