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e-Briefing | Ad Test

RAD Robot Isn't

November 09, 2000

The ad: RAD 2.0 Radio Controlled Robot is seen carrying a soda can and pawing through a pile of laundry on the floor. The ad, shown during Saturday morning cartoons, says this mechanical helper will do almost anything you want it to.

The pitch: This toy, which stands more than 2 feet tall, can help with your chores.

The scoop: RAD is barely functional, and it simply can't do the things the television ads imply, much less almost anything you'd want it to. And at a cost of nearly $100--plus a special six-volt rechargeable battery pack--it's outrageously overpriced.

RAD moves fairly well on its tank-like treads, which offer a low-gear setting for carpets and inclines that is very effective. But its functionality is severely limited because its arms are not well articulated. They can move only from the shoulder, and then only in a kind of pinching motion, out and in. The robot can bend at the waist. But that's it.

Needless to say, this means that RAD has trouble grabbing stuff. Its "hands" can barely touch the floor. Picking up a soda can is possible, but picking up an open soda can would be disastrous. And as for pawing through the laundry, RAD has pretty limited lifting power; a pair of jeans quickly overloaded its puny motors and it shouted out, "Warning!"

The lack-of-fun quotient on this thing is quite high. The range of the radio control is about 20 feet. Forget operating it from another room. The remote controller lets you transmit your voice through RAD, which might be fun except that it works only when you're standing so close to the toy that your own voice is also clearly audible. One thing that is cool about RAD is the battery of soft, safe missiles that you can launch remotely from its chest. It's just like a little Tomahawk system to smite the evil older siblings.

When we were coming out of the toy store with this, an adorable moppet holding hands with her parents gazed at RAD's box with wonder and blurted out, "Wow! It could help me clean my room!"

That's just what they want you to think, sweetie. But RAD is just another thing you'll wind up putting away after about 15 minutes.

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