Earlier this year, inventor Jamie Mantzel unveiled a prototype of a remote-controlled robot he had nicknamed "the greatest toy in the universe" in a YouTube video that garnered over 2 million hits in three days. In the video, an exuberant Mantzel demonstrated how the six-legged creation could fire different toy weapons and react to hits when battling another bot. Now, just in time for the holiday season, distributor Wow! Stuff has expanded the idea into a full-fledged toy line, called "Combat Creatures," starting with the inventor's original model, now called the "Attacknid."
It all started with one man trying to bring his little bot to toy stores, but it's quickly turned into an entire toy series, complete with an absurd back-story (robots fight over depleted oil reserves on an alien planet) and a marketing overhaul. The name "Attacknid" itself was chosen out of over 10,000 suggestions the distributor received in just one week after Mantzel announced a contest in his video. Wow! Stuff has released the Attacknid first, but has stated that other designs are planned for the Combat Creatures brand as the company expands it into a full line of battling robots.
Even though it's the only one in the series so far, the Attacknid is still an impressive toy on its own. The 10-inch tall robot maneuvers easily in any direction and has a 360° rotating head that can rapid fire projectiles up to 30 feet. The first wave of Attacknids can only shoot foam discs from an attachable "Dissector Bolt 'N' Battle Weapon," but future weapons will clip on to fire ping pong balls and foam darts.
Where the toy really shines though is when two or more of them get together to battle. Armor pieces snap onto the legs and fly off if they're hit, while users aim for a main target area called the "Battle Brain." Once the Battle Brain is hit three times, the entire robot shuts down, indicating that it's out of the match. And with the 2.4-Ghz wireless chip in each bot, over 40 individually-controlled Attacknids could all battle at the same time. The distributor is even sponsoring special arena events at specific toy stores, with prizes going to the overall winners later on.
Each robot will come packaged with an R/C handset, 20 discs, two interchangeable targets, and six pieces of battle armor, along with other pieces it requires to work properly. The one thing that won't be in the package though is 6 AA batteries, which the Attacknid needs to function (4 for the robot, 2 for the remote). Right now only a black robot with a red skin set is available, but other color schemes are planned for the future.
Wow! Stuff has already sold out of the first batch of Attacknids, but is now taking pre-orders through the Combat Creatures website, with each bot priced at £69.99 (about US$112). However, only the UK will be able to receive any orders this year, but US orders are expected to be sent out in 2013. If the online response is any indication though, the Attacknid could quickly become one of the must-have toys for the Christmas season.
And what would a good toy be without a cheesy TV spot, tailor-made for Saturday morning cartoons? Check out the frenzied commercial below showing a group of Attacknids duking it out.