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

Remote Control Machines DLX

Remote Control Machines DLX

Fall 2014 Toys
Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Thames & Kosmos
Price: $124.95

Remote Control Machines DLX is a science/engineering kit that explores remote control and robotic technologies. The kit includes over 150 components necessary to build the 20 models described in the 128-page experiment manual.

Models range from a "simple" robotic arm to more complex robots that could move material or perform useful functions such as drilling. The significance of the models is not to show how machines can take the place of people, but how robots can perform work that keeps people out of harm's way. For example, robots can work in hot or hazardous manufacturing operations and drones can be used to assess the environment in emergency situations.

The models use up to three motors which are connected to a battery pack. A handheld infrared controller operates the motors so that the machine can perform some function. The touchpad controls were easy to use and models performed impeccably, much to the dismay of our dog who did not enjoy having her toys picked up by robots. Templates for making boxes and pallets for materials handling are included in the kit. One minor criticism: models are designed to be disassembled and rebuilt, but they are difficult to get apart, even with the special tool provided. One of the long rods broke during one dismantle.

The excellent, colorful manual presents detailed illustrations to complete each build (with three levels of difficulty), and provides activities to use/test the model. Every time I thought of a topic not covered, it would show up in the next sections; the manual is extensive and thorough. Outstanding "WANT MORE?", "CHECK IT OUT", and "WHAT'S HAPPENING?" sections extend the experimental activities and provide real-life applications of all the topics presented. Nice photographic examples include the Roomba vacuum, industrial equipment, the Mars Rover, and even glimpses into the future of robotic technology.

Ellie and Don Homce   ©2014 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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