When I was a young girl I often romanticized battery operated toys; primarily because Momma was insistent about keeping them out of our house. She had no desire to hear me whine about dead batteries, or spend a small fortune shoveling them into toys I would be over within a week. As an adult of my own, I feel a similar alliance with imagination ran activities that inspire children to use their head rather than glowing screens and flashing lights. Zoomer, the robotic dog, has seamlessly melded both modern technology with creative play, and even responsible role playing. While Zoomer won’t leave an oil patch on your carpet when he pees, he certainly won’t be much fun to play with without constant love and patience from his new owner. If you’ve ever had to argue that the landlord won’t except pets, or your child simply isn’t old enough to care for a dog yet, consider this affordable solution that is sure to have them mesmerized far longer than the traditional 3 week phase.
Zoomer is incredibly simple to operate out of the box; that being said, this really is an impressive display of modern technology, and the toy itself is very complicated in build. Classified as a Dalmation, with more designs in the works, Zoomer has grip stabilized feet that walk/roll him around his surroundings and enable his flexible joints to perform impressive 360 degree tricks. Not only can Zoomer effectively move in a circle, zig-zag, backwards, and even full roll, but this little dog is impressively quite in operation, and lightweight. To get going, you’ll need to charge Zoomer about an hour for 20 minutes of constant play. This can be done via a micro-USB to USB/AC Adapter port on the underbelly of the toy, which can plug directly into any laptop for convenience, through the provided cable. While you’re waiting for your new best friend to charge, be sure to read the instructions. While Zoomer is classified for ages 5+, we found even our 11 year old needed some initial guidance to understand the patience of operation.
Ironically, the part which will frustrate younger owners the most is the aspect I found most beneficial. Zoomer understands English, Spanish, and French communication, but will take time to learn his owner’s voice and commands, much like a real dog. With over 40 tricks in his current repertoire, Zoomer provides endless hours of training, and claims to learn quicker when it is feeling ‘loved’. His LED eye panels easily communicate the mode and mood of the robotic dog. Gently press down on the dog’s nose and speak a command, always beginning with ‘Zoomer’ and watch as the dog obeys, or does something entirely random. If better pronunciation, or a louder command is necessary, Zoomer’s eyes will display question marks and the command may be given again. If Zoomer is left on and alone for too long her will wander, much like a real dog and ‘pee’ on items and even beg for attention.
I was surprised how realistic many of the command motions, and results were. Training Zoomer to ‘Shake a Paw’ proved to be one of the harder tasks as the owner must say the command in conjunction with performing a physical interaction in front of the dog’s sensor. This front sensor will also prevent Zoomer from walking into furniture, and allow him to ‘Follow’ his owner through the house. The initial start guide offers users some basic commands out of the box, but you will have to work to discover the remaining commands. The online Zoomer Pup website is very useful for unlocking an extra 10, with more added all the time, but you truly just have to pay attention to Zoomer when he is misbehaving and decipher what the coinciding command could be. For example, we saw Zoomer turn onto one paw and do a circle, as through he were break dancing, one time, and decided to try the command ‘Zoomer Dance!’ and, Voila! we had a dancing robotic dog. Zoomer also plays, or rather barks, 3 secret songs, so be on the lookout for those.
Zoomer is a little bit smaller than our 6lb Morkie, Nora, but only about 2lbs in weight. I was relived to see this robotic toy was very well designed with shock resistant joints and a clear encasing around his LED panel head. The antennae like tail bobbles too and fro playfully as the dog moves about, but it’s the interactive ears I find to be the weakest point on the dog. Always make sure these are pointed down, in sleep mode, when storing your dog. Sabrina, 11, immediately began walking the dog off small, 6″, drops in the living room table and up and down ramps. I’ve had my fair share of miniature heart attacks watching them play, but rest assured, this is one robotic dog that is designed especially for kid companions.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that Zoomer stole the attention away from our real dog for quite a long time. I was a very good adult and let Sabrina, 11, explore her new toy on her own for the first round of charging. Ironically, Zoomer always seemed to respond to me and my commands instantly, while Sabrina often took 2-3 requests. We had an interesting incident where we were asking Zoomer to ‘Play Dead’ (video below the post) and he surprisingly began dancing- Sabrina burst into laughter. Perhaps that is one of the best things about this toy, there are always new tricks and actions for children to discover. When you get especially stumped, looking for new commands, try pushing the small button on the base of the dog’s back, which will initiate a random interaction. Zoomer moves around the house, carpet and linoleum, with impressive ease, but can often take a moment or two to complete a trick in full (especially ones that require him to lay down).
For the current price point, Zoomer is certainly one of the must have toys of the season, and 2014. I’m sure there will be a slew of similar toys coming to the market in recent months, but Zoomer has without a doubt been developed through years of labor and love, with kids in mind. Sabrina couldn’t wait for this thing to finish recharging when she first got it, and still plays with it every day, weeks later. She even brought it to the bowling alley on multiple occasions to show it off to the other children and parents. Having a toy like this is especially nice for kids who love attention, since this is one dog that doesn’t need a leash or an apology when it unexpectedly does it’s business. Zoomer is sold at retailers such as Toys R’ Us, Walmart, Target, and Amazon, worldwide, and is now available in Purple too! The only downside? Santa will NOT be able to top this toy, in our house, this Christmas!
What Daughter Says: Here’s one dog you can finally day yes to without breaking the bank, or your back. Teach kids responsibility with Zoomer, the robotic dog.