Robert Oschler at RobotsRule recently interviewed Derek Dotson, one of Ugobe's founders, on the tragic story of Pleo's demise. The good news is that the robotic dinosaur is back this year with these improvements:
* The problem with neck wires breaking which affected some Pleos has been fixed.
* The problem of the skin separating has been fixed.
* The premature wearing of the paint from Pleo's skin and teeth has been fixed. The new paint should last 3 times longer than the old one.
* The packaging Pleo comes in no longer uses Styrofoam and is biodegradable making it friendly to the environment.
* The battery chargers have a new switch with two positions, one for regular charging and another that uses a special charging mode created specifically for those batteries that don't charge properly.
Via Robots Rule
Woohoo! Jetta Company Limited, the company that manufactured Pleo, has saved it from extinction. They bought both the property rights and assets at the Ugobe bankruptcy sale last month. Spokesperson Steve Ohler says that the company will relaunch the dinosaur as well as accessories for him, including a vital battery and charger. It may be a while before he is up and about again, still we find this to be very good news as his price has dropped dramatically. In other words, even though his demise may have been caused in part by his being a luxury in a recession, this might be the time to splurge.
Via Robots Rule
Like its earlier living generation, the Pleo is about to become extinct. Ugobe, its parent company, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. One of our fave non-human pets, the company had moved and gone through some changes in staff. We could speculate those might be the reasons, or perhaps its higher price tag than others in its class, or maybe the fact that he was never improved upon as they had planned at the onset.
Whatever the reason, their sites are no longer active, although we did note that he is still available for purchase on Amazon, at a definite reduction from the original $350.00 price. Pleo, we hardly knew ye.
It seems that Ugobe, the parents of Pleo, have been undergoing some financial hardships like the rest of the country. In the past six months, the company has gone through 2 CEOs, closed its California office and reduced its staff to 20 in its headquarters in Boise, Idaho. Over 100,000 of the robotic dinosaurs have been sold since its January 2007 launch. Current President and COO Doug Swanson says, "Not only are we alive but we are busy."
Ugobe plans on updating their pet and have plans to come out with another product sometime this year. Because we don't want our fave pleosaurus to become extinct, we make Pleo our Must Have of the week.
Via TPile at Pleo
Trossen is sponsoring a robot-building contest that will run through the end of December. If you have any skills in that area, now is the time to put them to use. They will be judged on ingenuity, creativity, documentation and probably the most important, the "wow" factor. First prize is a Pleo, second place is a Robosapien RS Media and 3rd place gets a Roboquad. Let us know if you build one and we will let others know here on Robot Snob. Check with Trossen Robotics to see who some of the past winners were. Good luck!
Robotics can get to be quite expensive, as those of us at Robot Snob know. But with the economy being the way it is, we have scanned the Net to find the best bots for fewer bucks. We have included categories by the budget as well as kids' stuff, those for adults, and some for DIY fans. Happy shopping with our First Annual Gift Guide!
Grandport has several kits for those who are just getting started in robotics. With brightly colored pieces and plastic pieces that snap together, choose from Tarmo, Sumobot, and TouchMe. Solarbotic's Herbie the Mouse needs some soldering, but will keep anyone amused by his battery-powered antics. Discovery's Kids Electronic Gadget Lab can make over 100 projects with 30 snap pieces.
There are many robots that may do a little less, but can amuse adults and children alike for under $25.00. Most of them have been out for awhile, and as we all know, the longer an electronic is out, the more outdated it is, and the price drops. But kids and those who are not yet robotically inclined will love one of these.
The WowWee Robotics Roboquad is one of these. Originally about $90.00, you can now get one for $23.97. WowWee also has other bots for little funds, such as their Mini Robosapien V2, the Mini Robopanda and the blue R/C FlyTech Dragonfly. We have shown you this one before, but the Discovery Build Your Own Robot Kit is a great kit for amateurs.
There are plenty of windup stocking stuffers and miniature bots for those on a super-budget. Our selections include Schylling's Classic Windup Robot, the Galactic Robot Windup, SparkDino, Boogie Bots, the Mazinger Z Wind-up Tin Toy and the Mini Robot Tin.
If money is no object, at the top of the list has to be our fave Sesame Street character, Elmo Live. Although they will be in short supply, we think it is worth the effort to find one, although you may end up paying more than the current list price of around $60.00. We also suggest a Pleo, who becomes more affordable all the time, and have new applications every time we turn around.
For pets, althought the Litter Robot LRII Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Box seems a tad expensive, think what a great gift this would be for yourself! And we cannot leave out our favorite module Lego Mindstorms NXT, the do-it-yourself kit that is so popular that it has its own site.
Of course, iRobot has the perfect gifts for those who hate household chores. Now there are several Roombas available. The original Roomba cleans both carpet and bare floors and starts at a mini-price of $129.99. The Scooba will clean the scummiest of bathroom and kitchen floors. It preps, washes, scrubs and squeegees on wood, linoleum, and other surfaces. The Dirt Dog cleans up sawdust, small nails, nuts and bolts, and is the perfect gift for wives that want to hint around to their mates. The Verro is perfect for those who can't afford poolboys, while the Looj is a good way to erase something off the honey-do list. Don't forget the ConnectR that allows you to see and chat with family and friends. There are limited supplies of the ConnectR, but you can get on their mailing list for future availability.
If you have someone in your life who prefers the DIY route, try one of these suggestions. Trossen has a wide variety of them that include their humanoid kits come in all price ranges. They also have kits for beginners that are not only fun, but will get your child on the early road to robotics.
Let's not forget those Movie bots. Although we covet the can-do-it-all U Command Wall-E any fan of the film and iPods would settle for the i-Dance WALL-E for less than $20.00. Transformer fans will surely love the Deluxe Payload Armored Truck. Movies are always welcome for the holidays and a really fine way to keep your kids occupied when you are exhausted from all the festivities. We recommend Robots or I, Robot for teens. Finally, if you have never seen the movie Short Circuit (from 1986), this is a fun family fare for the holidays.
For younger kids, try one of Hasbro's FurReal Friends. Their collection includes Squawkers McCaw Parrot to the more affordable Newborn Chimp, Kitten, Dalmation Puppy and Honey Bear, all of which are under $20.00. Buy more than one at a time and they are even less expensive.
Robot Gifts for Toddlers and Babies
Finally, let's not forget the little ones. If you know someone who recently added a newcomer to the family, how about a Robots : People of the Future or this Robots Love Dancing Onesie? There is even a plush Disney Meet the Robinsons 10" Carl the Robot Doll.
Still haven't found what you want? Keep checking in the weeks ahead with us and we will be relentless in our search to make this holiday affordable for all our botty friends. Let us know in our comment section if you find something that will make others gleeful this season.
It's hard to believe that anyone would want to make the normally sedate Pleo into a screaming monster, but the folks from Ugobe has a new download, Pleosaurus Rex. If you have an SD card you can grab yourself 1MB of tin soldier and mini-building crushing as he screams in that Japanese movie way. Check out their forum to find out how to destroy your pet (temporarily) when he wreaks too much havoc.
Via Pleo World