Top critical review
47 people found this helpful
Rugged, interesting RC car for little ones
on December 26, 2009
My 4 year-old son just received the Morphibian Rover for Christmas, and so far he and I have had a ton of fun playing with it. The "tank drive" mechanism means that the two joysticks on the remote drive the left and right wheels respectively, which in a way is more intuitive than the usual forward/back and left/right sticks you find on other cars. He's getting pretty good at it, although the turning can be baffling when the the car is heading toward you rather than away.
Right off the bat I noticed two things:
1) The car takes AA batteries, but the remote takes AAA. Odd, but not really a problem. The car, being amphibious, hides the battery compartment under two covers, with a rubber seal on the inside one and (cleverly) only two screws to undo. So far battery life has been good, but with the amount of use we've given it in only two days I keep expecting them to conk.
2) The drive mechanism has a stutter to it. Perhaps this is only our car, or weak batteries, but it's annoying - the car lunges forward in an uneven motion. It only really smooths out when going backwards for a few seconds.
After using it on both land and water (sink and bathtub), I noticed one other thing that keeps me from rating it too highly. While you can drive both left and right sides in the *same* direction simultaneously, it's not designed to drive them in the *opposite* direction at the same time. Which means that there's no rapid pivoting in place to turn, but instead a fairly wide turning radius while one side drives forward or backwards. I'm sure they did this to avoid wear and tear on the motors, but it's unfortunate - spinning in place is one of the great advantages of tank drive. I should know, I teach high school robotics and we design bots to do this all the time - very maneuverable.
The car's durability has been good - it survived a fall from countertop to tile floor tonight with no ill effects. Maneuverability on land is very good, in water less so, though it scoots pretty well in the forward direction due to the clever wheel treads. Lots of water gets into the housing though, and for a long time afterward it's still dripping out. I wouldn't submerge it for very long either, although I would hope the motors are as well-sealed as the battery compartment.
We haven't tested the outdoors range, it being very wintry outside at the moment, but indoors it seems fine. You don't expect a ton of range on a car this inexpensive anyhow. The remote is basic but good enough, although it has no off switch so it shouldn't be stored in a toy bin where the joysticks can be activated, draining the batteries.
Overall, I rate this as a very good RC car for small children - the amphibious feature makes it a great choice for summer play especially, in pools or deep puddles or perhaps weed-free ponds. I'd be interested to see how the bigger, more powerful models do in water.