In 1985, Worlds of Wonder released Teddy Ruxpin, an animatronic teddy bear with a built-in tape deck. It was dubbed the “original animated storytelling toy.” We’ve come a long way since Teddy Ruxpin, but the adolescent cravings for interaction, friendship, and exploration persist. With that in mind comes TROBO, a new storytelling toy for the screen-time generation.
TROBO the Storytelling Robot is the creation of two dads, Jeremy Scheinberg and Chris Harden. They created TROBO, a super soft, plush stuffed robot to help kids between the ages of two and five learn more about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Through a small Bluetooth speaker in its chest, described as its brain, TROBO connects to an iOS app where you can download new stories and adventures. As a bonus, the speaker battery is USB rechargeable and TROBO is machine washable. Anyone with kids can appreciate both of those points.
When I say TROBO is soft, I mean it. We’ve come a long way since the heavy, hard as a rock body of Teddy Ruxpin. This little robot is absolutely adorable. TROBO is so soft and cuddly, in fact, that my 5-year-old daughter was instantly taken with him and has been sleeping with him ever since. I say him because the version we received was Newton, one of two versions of TROBO available. Newton is grey with blue, red, and yellow accents. The other version, Curie, has lighter, pastel-like pink, purple, and green accents. I’m not entirely sure why a unisex TROBO wouldn’t suffice. I’m not a fan of color-coded gender separation. Do we need to assign gender to a robot?
TROBO is currently only available for the iPad and iPhone. The app is very kid friendly and allows each child to create their own character and share their name so TROBO can personalize its stories to each user. Out of the box, TROBO comes with six stories and eight companionship games like hot potato and hide and seek. The stories are all educational and interactive and teach everything from how honey is made to where lighting comes, the mechanics of cars, and how to count money. Additional stories are available to download for a fee on the app.
The app design of TROBO allows for a steady stream of downloadable material, creating a world of options for years of play. The interaction between the toy and the app is really nothing more than an external speaker, but in the eyes of a child can bridge the gap between technology and imagination. This is why TROBO is so perfect for the screen-time generation. When you bring teaching and tech together, the end result is creativity. The focus on STEM education nowadays is prevalent. It’s important and necessary. But I’m personally a STEAM advocate myself. I believe that the arts should always play an integral role in teaching our children as well. I hope future TROBO stories incorporate that “A.” TROBO is available for purchase at mytrobo.com.
Disclosure: I was provided a TROBO toy for this review. The opinions in this article are my own.