Rumble Robots are a line to robot fighting toys from Trendmasters. Think Battlebots meets Fisher-Price and you've got the right idea. There is a collectable card game mixed in there somewhere, but I really haven't explored it, because the extra card sets are difficult to find at this time.

There are two teams in the Rumble Robots Universe:

Each set comes with

  • Robot
  • Controller
  • Seven Power Cards
  • Instructions
  • Three watch batteries

The price point for the robots is $29.95 (USD). As near as I can tell, they are losing money at this point and hope to make it up selling the cards. Each robot requires 4 'AA' batteries and 3 'AAA' batteries. A pack of 50 power cards sells for $11.99 (USD) and a set of 11 cards sells for $3.99 (USD).

The robots all follow the same general body style with minor variations to give them distinct personalities. Each robot has four wheels, a torso/head/face section, and two arms. The card reader is located in the back of the head. On the front of the robot between the wheels are the laser (actually an IR diode), the laser sensor, and the five power indicator LEDs. On the end of the robot, there is a kill switch which looks very much like a tail. Triggering the kill switch with punches or by running into it will shut down the other bot. Each bot also has a tilt switch which will shut the robot down if it is tipped over. On the top of the head is the remote sensor which receives the commands from the controller.

The controller has a standard directional pad, a punch button, and a laser trigger. The directional pad controls direction. The punch button actives the punching action of the robot. The laser trigger fires the robot's laser. There is some time delay between repeated punches and laser fire so the games do not end too quickly. The controller communicates with the robot using infrared LEDs, just like a TV remote control. The control seems to work best if you stand above the robot and point the controller down towards the top of the robot. As with the TV remote, maintaining a clear line of sight is necessary.

To get the robot ready for battle, you must swipe four cards. The first card must be an upgrade card. This will set the basic level of your robot. The next three cards can be any three ability cards of the player's choosing.

Types of Power Cards

  • Upgrade - must be the first card swiped. Sets the basic level of the robot
  • Power - gives the robot more hit points
  • Laser - gives the robot a stronger laser
  • Laser Defense - gives the robot some laser defense
  • Speed - gives the robot speed and steering ability
  • Punch - gives the robot punching ability
  • Treasure - what you are fighting for
  • Bot specific cards - not sure yet

The cards that come with the robot are

  • Upgrade level one
  • laser
  • punch
  • speed
  • laser defense
  • power
  • treasure

Once the robots are ready, the battle begins. The battle lasts until one robot is left running. There are three ways to win. One, reduce the other robot's power level to zero with the laser. Two, tip the other robot over. Three, hit the other robot's kill switch.

My personal experience with Rumble Robots has been positive. For my son's sixth birthday, I purchased a Lugnut and Mefisto for me^H^Hhim. We have a great deal of fun chasing each other around the living room and fighting. There are two weak points to the robots. One, the card reader takes a bit of getting used to. The card reader is picky, and you have to take a few battles to get used to it. Two, the controls are sometimes unresponsive. Some of this is operator error, some of it is interference. We're getting better at controlling them, so there is also some bit of a learning curve there. The unresponsiveness is not a serious issue. Being able to move around and point the controller from a different angle seems to help. If you have a large enough arena to fight in, it really should not be a problem.

All in all, Rumble Robots are a pretty neat toy. For people who can't afford to build Battlebots, they make a pretty good substitute. The hacker in me wants to disassemble one to see what makes it tick. Can you say Linux port?

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