Newest Review: ... handle at the other. The gripping movement is simple to operate with a single bar inside the main handle which needs to be pressed. The amo... more
Works Like a Charm!
Toys R Us Robot Arm
Member Name: jo1976
Toys R Us Robot Arm
Date: 23/10/12, updated on 14/04/13 (176 review reads)
Advantages: Turns tidying up into a fun activity
Disadvantages: Gripping mechanism jammed over time
It's extremely rare to discover a toy that manages to keep children entertained and amused whilst at the same time being an aid to keeping the home tidy! That is exactly what this so-called 'robot arm' manages to do and consequently it proved to be a popular item (for both children and adults, although for very different reasons) in our household for several years.
Originally starting out as an impulse buy at the checkout at Toys R Us, the robot arm, known to us as the 'grabber', immediately grabbed my oldest son's attention in the way that random toys sometimes do. Unusually, although this falls under the category of being a novelty toy, the novelty didn't wear off within a few days as it tends to and this proved to be worth its weight in gold, for both ongoing play value and sheer usefulness.
One of the attractions of this toy is its simplicity. It is merely a long sturdy bar with a opening and closing 'gripping' mechanism at one end and a handle at the other. The gripping movement is simple to operate with a single bar inside the main handle which needs to be pressed. The amount of pressure needed to operate the opening and closing motion is not excessive, making this a toy that can easily be operated even by very young children. (My oldest son was around six or seven when we originally purchased this and was able to use this with ease.) The only thing to be aware of with little ones is that the main body of the grabber is very rigid and can cause damage if thrown about or used to assault others! (My kids have managed to utilise these as a weapon as well as a tool so I can vouch for the ability to cause injury!)
This may not appear to be the most versatile of toys, with its chief function being the ability to grip hold of, pick up and deposit small items, but it is something that has a strange enduring appeal to young and old alike. It's difficult to resist picking one of these up and having a go at opening and shutting the grabber. Every child that entered our house would make a beeline for this grabber and, amazingly, tidying up and putting toys back into their rightful place was instantly transformed into a fun game. The grabber can cope with most typical play items - toy cars, jigsaw pieces and even intricate pieces such as small bits of lego (which proved to be challenging but fun to my boys.) This really has to have been designed by a parent! I could emphasise the educational aspects of this toy, as it clearly has the potential to help young children develop their co-ordination by attempting to pick up and drop appropriate items but, let's face it, this is a toy that encourages children to find tidying up fun! I really don't think I need to oversell this any more!
As well as a being a fun, appealing and functional toy, this has the potential to be used by a much wider audience. The length of the body is sufficiently long enough to allow it to retrieve items that have got lost under chairs or behind the television and, as the pressure needed is relatively little, this could be a useful aid to an older person struggling to bend down and pick up small items. The opening section does have rubber padding around the grips, so it shouldn't cause damage to any items picked up.
In terms of durability, this proved to be a pretty robust toy, as well as being a useful household aid, surviving several years of regular use, misuse and abuse. The grabber is not entirely indestructible, however, and ours eventually began to stick in the open position, meaning that quite a lot of force was needed to operate the grabbing mechanism effectively. In one over-zealous de-cluttering session, I did get rid of the grabber - although part of me wishes I hadn't - and I am seriously considering replacing it as this is a pretty inexpensive and useful product.
The grabber or 'robot arm' is exclusive to Toys R Us but can be ordered online for free collection instore or for home delivery. Currently costing just £4.99 (excluding delivery costs) this is an excellent value product, designed to delight children and their parents alike.
Summary: A great novelty toy which is actually very useful
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