Robots are becoming increasingly popular and OWI Robotics is determined to make them popular playthings. OWI Robotics offers a series of construction kits that must be assembled by the user before they can be played with. When put together correctly, OWI Robots move and even make noise. Recently, I had the opportunity to review OWI’s “Kingii Dragon,” a robot that is modeled after an actual creature that is native to Australia.
Firstly, it is worth noting that even though the age on the box says 10+ this is a model that is best suited for teens or adults. It is not hard to assemble but it takes time. Therefore, if this was given to a younger child as a present, an adult would probably end up spending a sizable amount of time assembling it. Although the instructions are very clear and all the parts are well labeled, it took over six hours to complete. Granted, it would probably take an experienced model builder much less time.
“Kingii Dragon” comes well-packaged in a very brightly colored box. It is a high-tech toy that includes features such as an infrared sensor, LED eye illumination and interactive AI. It contains many small parts and well-written, detailed instructions that show what to do via step-by-step images. Since the directions are visual, there is no language barrier or risk of confusion via poor wording. However, do note that you should go over the instructions VERY carefully before attempting to assemble the dragon. To avoid confusion, only remove specific pieces from the packaging when they are called for by the directions. Ratio measurements for the pins and shafts are to-scale in the instructions so, when in doubt, you can compare it to the illustrations in the directions.
The hardest piece to attach was the dragon’s frill. However, the set contains a spare frill in case the original one gets damaged. Attaching the head module to the body module also proved to be somewhat tricky since the frills have to be in the lowered position in order to make the connection properly (something that was not mentioned in the instructions). It is also quite difficult to see the numbers on the switch section—although this is a very minor complaint.
The dragon requires batteries which are the only pieces that are not included in the kit. Once turned on, the dragon clicks it mouth, moves its legs and puts its frill up and down. It can be programmed to either “attack” (lung towards people), “escape” (run from people), or “follow” people as if it was a pet. Its sensors enable it to know if someone is in front of it and it will attempt to back up if it runs into something. It tends to walk better on hard surfaces like wood and tiles although it can handle carpet—albeit at a slower pace. It is a very interactive toy and quite fun although it can be somewhat noisy and children will likely get bored with it after a while. It also must be handled properly or it can break. Interestingly, this toy also provides amusement for pets: it kept my cats fascinated for hours!
Although it is easy to simply market this model as a STEM kit that helps foster young people’s interest in engineering, it also teaches lessons about patience, following instructions, and strengthening motor skills. It can be put together by module over time and subsequently teaches people how to wait for their reward. These are life skills that go far beyond any lessons in textbooks—or construction kits—and are treasured by businesses seeking dedicated employees. Thus, this kit teaches builders how to work towards a goal rather than expect instant gratification.
The Kingii Dragon retails for $41.95 which is quite reasonable given the intricate parts and high-tech elements included within it. Overall, I rate this item 4.5 out of 5 stars and strongly recommend it to anyone above the age of 10 who is interested in building models. In fact, this kit is so sophisticated that it would make an excellent present for adults who enjoy tinkering with robotics.
To learn more about OWI Robotics visit the official website. To purchase the “Kingii Dragon” kit see here.