Extinction a likely fate for Roboraptor – and bad reporting

Mike Langberg, writing for the Mercury News predicts an early demise for Roboraptor. The article (opinion piece) was picked up by numerous newspapers across the US and elsewhere around the globe. The article seems factual enough, especially when Mr. Langberg sticks to describing the operational details of the Robosapien. In fact, a lot of the details are a repeat of what has already been published numerous times by WowWee in their online manual and press releases.

Unfortunately, when he ventures off into other areas more removed from the data sheet specifications, he makes some significant errors. Here are just a few examples that were immediately obvious:

Langberg: "Resembling a retooled Tyrannosaurus rex,..."

Excuse me! What did you just say? T-Rex??? Were you sleeping when they taught the section on dinosaurs? Didn't you ever have the opportunity to watch any of the Jurassic Park movies? Isn't the name "Roboraptor" enough of a clue for you to figure out it's a RAPTOR - not a T-Rex?

Langberg: "You turn on Roboraptor by pushing a button located exactly where a real dinosaur would produce coprolite, the fancy name for fossilized dung."

Excuse me again. A real dinosaur would never produce coprolite. The obvious fact, which appears to have gone right over his head, is that dinosaurs produced dinosaur dung which was later turned into coprolite over the years. If it was coprolite inside the body of the dinosaur they would have been in for a T-Rex size case of hemorrhoids.

Langberg: "But amazing isn't the same thing as fun, and Roboraptor's limited range of behaviors will probably doom him to back-of-the-closet extinction after children repeatedly hear several hours of his pre-recorded roar."

Roboraptor, like its predecessor the Robosapien, is highly hack-able and even without hacking its range of behaviors is only limited by the imagination of the user. That's not to say that the vast majority of them won't end up gathering dust in the closet, or for sale on eBay. They probably will. Most purchased items are eventually consigned to that fate no matter how strongly they captured our attention initially. Nevertheless, the original Robosapien managed to sell well over a million units and won numerous Toy of the Year awards. Roboraptor may not do as well - that remains to be seen. But it is certainly way to early to predict it's early extinction.

The other obvious problem with his statement is categorizing the Roboraptor as a toy for 'children.' Like the Robosapien, Roboraptor has tremendous appeal among adults of all ages.

There's more, and for anyone that has paid any attention to the technology and market trends the errors are child's play to identify. He seems to pay more attention to turning a cute phrase or making a joke than to getting his facts straight. It's particularly funny when he states, "Roboraptor, in other words, isn't the sharpest tool in the tar pit."

Kind of like the pot calling the kettle black, or tarring himself with the same brush...

MercuryNews.com | 08/22/2005 | Extinction a likely fate for Roboraptor


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