WowWee Alive! Chimpanzee
- It’s a Monkey! It scares children! Looks fairly real
- Hard to control, sensors don’t work consistently
Apart from the novelty value of owning a robot monkey, the Alive! Chimpanzee doesn’t really serve any purpose and is overly expensive.
Price$ 299.95 (AUD)
As the jungle gives way to a clearing, you step, eyes burning, into the sunlight. Bewildered by the vast valley below you, you barely notice the rustling in the bush behind you and spin around in time to catch a glimpse of something unimaginable. Full of dread you pry open the bush to find the most horrifying, creepy, blood-curdling sight you have ever seen. It's the Alive! Chimpanzee!
Despite the fact that it has a "wow" factor about it, we are rather confused by the Alive! Chimpanzee as we can't think of a single reason for its existence. Basically, it's an animatronic chimpanzee head that acts like a chimp, makes noises like a chimp, has hair like a chimp and realistically rendered skin like a chimp. It looks extremely lifelike but what practical use it may have escapes us - and the high price would make us think twice about buying one.
The Alive! Chimpanzee comes with a remote control which controls all its functions together with various preset motions. The eye balls, eye lids and eyebrows can be manipulated as well as the mouth and the head. Each controllable element of the chimpanzee can be manipulated with the two control sticks but these only work with certain elements as dictated by the two toggle switches on the front of the remote. Depending on the position of the toggle, a new element comes under control. This makes it rather difficult to perform fluid motions when controlling the chimp as you would need to learn all the toggle switch positions off by heart to effectively use them.
The Alive! Chimpanzee also has a guard feature where it will follow people around the room with its head and make noises according to what it sees. This feature worked well, but since the chimp is so loud (and there is no mute button) it became annoying rather quickly. The chimp can also track an object with his eyes and can detect sound too. A loud clap near the ears would make him appear startled but it was also rather inconsistent. The tracking feature worked well enough but the item had to move fairly slowly for the Alive! Chimpanzee to keep up, making it fairly useless.
The chimp also has sensors in the skin around the back of the head, on the forehead, in the ear lobes and in the chin which are supposed to react to touch and change the chimp's mood accordingly. A light tap to the back of the head was meant to make the chimp angry but he mostly ignored us. We were reluctant to hit him any harder in case we broke him. We were also concerned about the idea of getting a monkey head angry; we imagined all kinds of monkey mauling that could have occurred. In the end we plucked up the courage and hit the monkey only to have him react bemused and only slightly irritated.
Further hits and flicks of the chimp's ears resulted in it becoming increasingly agitated and then finally ignoring our attempts to enrage him. Hoping to test his various positive skin sensors we then gave him a pat and stroked his chin but he did nothing. The sensors did not appear to work very well at all. We thought perhaps we had angered him to the point of blind rage so much so that all the patting in the world wouldn't make him happy, so we switched him off and then back on again, but the chin and forehead sensors still didn't work very well. They picked up the contact now and then but this was somewhat inconsistent.
As much as we enjoyed the idea of becoming Jim Henson for a day, the Alive! Chimpanzee not only didn't work as well as it should have but it also ended up being nothing more than a head on a desk that did things that weren't interesting. If it had worked well we may have enjoyed it a little more but as much as we wanted to love it, we only ended up going bananas.
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