The Tomy i-Sobot claims to be the smallest humanoid robot in the world, and we haven’t seen anything to counteract that claim. We have seen similar robots. The Robonova-1 is much larger, but a similar design: lots of hinged motors controlled by a central brain attached to a battery pack.
Despite being much smaller than Robonova, i-Sobot feels just as solid, albeit a little floppy when turned off. It only stiffens up and finds its feet when the power goes to the motors and the internal gyroscope aligns itself.
It’s worth pointing out that, despite being sold on ‘fun product’ web stores like Firebox, i-Sobot is not really a toy: its intricate construction would not stand up to child or pet abuse for long.
Complex control conundrums
Nor would a child be able to get much action out of it. I-Sobot’s construction gives it incredible articulation and, through the remote control, around 200 special moves.
There is an instruction sheet, but most moves take a three- or four-figure alphanumeric code, not to mention i-Sobot being in the right mode in the first place. You can also program your own moves, and gain simple voice-control over it.
Once you’ve mastered the system, you can make it do everything from walking (at about ten centimetres a minute) to headstands to comedy routines like a Western brawl and drunkenness, complete with associated phrases and music.
It’s great fun, but without any autonomous actions – it won’t guard your room, or react to things – or any camera or Wi-Fi, we do wonder at the longevity of its appeal. Pretty soon you’ll be lynching the postman to come in and see your robot perform.
That said, if you like robots (and have £200), you’ll love this. It has an incredible range of tricks and battery life is good – ours lasted nearly two hours. It uses AAA rechargeables, but ones that use a lower voltage than standard AAA’s, so don’t go trying to extend your play with those – i-Sobot will melt.