WoWee “Alive” Chimpanzee Head
It is universally acknowledged that the creepiest toy ever is the infamous “Cymbal Monkey”. Oh sure there have been attempts recently to paint friendly eyes on them and remove a little of the bloodlust from their ever-present sinister sneer, but underneath lurks the classic cymbal monkey. You know the one – it always sat on the top shelf at your grandmother’s house staring a baleful challenge to turn on the switch so it could clang it’s cymbals in hellish paroxysms and then pause to bare its teeth and show terrible red eyes. Now WowWee toys, the people who brought us the brilliant Robosapien, have decided to up the ante and created the ominously named “WowWee Alive.”
Nothing screams “play with me” quite like a fully articulated disembodied chimpanzee head. The WowWee Alive is completely interactive and has four distinct modes of operation: curious, fearful, happy and angry. The head has a built in infra-red vision system to track hapless victims, and should one be brave enough to actually touch the thing it’s got sensors for that as well. The head, or rather bust, is also programmable through a playstation-style remote control.
The Alive chimpanzee head has endless party possibilities. Imagine throwing an Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom themed party and when desert rolls around you can put on your best baritone voice and say: “Chilled, monkey brains!” then lift the cover off of a giant silver platter to reveal your chattering chimpanzee head. Okay so maybe you wouldn’t do that. It could also play a vital role in child rearing: “Alright little Jimmy be good and brush your teeth, don’t make me bring the head in here again!”
All in all the WowWee Alive chimpanzee bust is a really cool interactive toy and demonstrates a lot of the advances made recently in situated behavior-based robotics. The biomorphic systems developed for WowWee’s other toys by the ex-NASA scientist and creator of BEAM robotics Mark Tilden reaches another level of seamless integration, even though I am convinced it switches on in the middle of the night and watches you sleep.