6 in 1 solar powered robot [toy review]

Vibe E-ssentials 6 in 1 Solar Kit
Vibe E-ssentials 6 in 1 Solar Kit

Item: 6-in-1 solar kit educational robotics

Manufacturer: Vibe

Made in: China

Cost: $3 at the Dollar Store

A few weeks ago my friend Fred Chu bought and sent me this awesome looking robotics kit to see if it was something that I could not only review, but also buy a lot of and sell in the Insanitek gift shop. I was excited when I opened the posted box from the mail and saw it; after all, who doesn’t want to play with robotics? Plus, I have kittens, and introducing them to a moving model would have been a hilarious way to spend an evening. We choose to start with the plane (as seen in the featured image) since we could set it on the ground and not try to run it over carpeting.That, however, is where the excitement stopped. You see, while the kit is an easy snap together sort, it also easily fell apart. We’re used to that from cheap made in China anything, so it really shouldn’t have disappointed me as much as it did. Despite of this, we trudged on to see what it was like put together, then have a few moments of fun until the rumbustious kittens killed it for good. As it turns out, not only did they not stay together well, but they also didn’t fit together well. We had to use a knife on it to shave some of the pieces to get them to fit at all.

Snaps together... falls apart.
Snaps together… falls apart.

The fact that it easily fell apart wasn’t even the worst of it, actually. Once we got it together following the decently done directions (actually, more like we looked at the pictures and cobbled it together without reading first…), we discovered an even worse fate. The photovoltaic cell they included in the kit either isn’t powerful enough power the motor that would run the robot or the motor is dead. As you can see, though, we pulled out the volt meter and checked the solar cell. It works, but barely. Since our bathroom scale and a few others things are also solar powered, we gave it a few minutes in both indoor lights and the fading evening sun. Neither worked after 3 minutes of letting it charge.

Give it more power, Capt'n!
Give it more power, Capt’n!

OK, so there was major disappointment after all this, but we kept the kit and parts. We want to go all science on it and see what the problem is. We hope to get another photovoltaic cell from Fry’s Electronics in the next few weeks (you know, when we have time to get there) as well as see about what we can do about getting a new motor. Eventually we might be able to discover what is wrong with it, fix it, then tormplay with the kittens.

Verdict: Don’t buy this unless you fully intend to spend more time making it work than actually playing with it. It’s a shame that something so potentially cool turned out to be utter rubbish.

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