Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Fall 2013 Toys
Ages: 5 & Up
Manufacturer: Spin Master Toys
Price: $99.99

Zoomer is a technically sophisticated robotic Dalmatian puppy. We've seen these robotic animals before and they are 15-minute wonders; the kids can't wait to open them, but they forget about them after they have run through all their tricks. Zoomer is a life-like charmer. He wiggles his rear and his tail wags happily. His articulated limbs help him sit, roll over, raise a leg to pee (can't beat that potty humor), and play dead. His feet are wheels that move easily around both carpeted and hard floors. His puppy bark and other sounds are realistic and very cute. You can't help but smile when you play with him. He is very interactive; he has sensors that detect movement and touch. But the most impressive feature of this toy is that it learns to follow commands. In fact, you must train Zoomer by speaking commands to him until he learns to perform tasks. Like any puppy he makes mistakes, is defiant, and sometimes just does what he wants; once, he made the sounds of a slot machine and his eyes rolled. Zoomer operates on a lithium polymer battery that is charged using the enclosed USB charger. Charging takes about an hour and a full charge is good for about 30 minutes of continuous play at which time it completely dies - I thought our Zoomer broke because of the outright shutdown of the toy. The toy is easy to wipe clean of fibers and hairs that stuck to it from static electricity (note benefit of having a robotic dog that does not shed). It was hilarious to watch Zoomer interact with our black lab, Jessie. They kept barking at each other and the little dog kept moving and scaring the 90-pound chicken.

Ellie and Don Homce   ©2013 Parents' Choice
Don and Ellie Homce are the parents of two sons. Ellie is a former chemistry and physical science teacher and trainer in the hazardous materials field. Currently a professional volunteer at local schools and a thrift shop, Ellie continues to pursue her interests in art. Don is a health and safety and environmental science professional who enjoys building and fixing things. He has been a Boy Scout Leader for the past ten years.

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