What is it?
What isn't it is a better question. Sphero's take on Spider-Man (its mouthful of a full title is: Spider-Man Interactive App-Enabled Super Hero) is a crime-fighting alarm clock that doubles as your best mate. He tells stories, heads out on missions, fights crime, sits on your kitchen bench providing a running commentary, and basically just hangs out with you. Oh, and he also tells snarky jokes - and they're not too bad. Sure, Sphero's latest interactive toy doesn't move as much as their last, the Ultimate Lightning McQueen, but with LCD eyes and Sphero's promise of "hours of entertainment", he feels just as lifelike. And thanks to his motion sensors, he'll even guard your bedroom for you.
How does it work?
Through an app, mostly. A quick download and bluetooth connection, along with a few updates, and you're away. Through the app, you can set commands, complete missions, unlock rewards and "fight some bad guys". But your kids don't always need to commandeer your iPad or smartphone to make him run. Spider-Man has light up eyes and a glowing spider on his chest, and you can interact with him just by pushing his buttons and talking to him. My son spent an entire afternoon doing exactly that - and was still going at bedtime. I'm pretty sure I uttered the words: "Spider-Man, please stop keeping my son awake."
What's his best feature? Definitely the amount of voice work that's gone into him. Spider-Man is full of stories, jokes and missions, and his ramblings are thoroughly entertaining. Apparently he'll adapt his mood to yours, with Sphero promising he "listens & adapts to your unique personality". He doesn't seem to repeat himself either. At one point, he had five kids sitting around him in my lounge, listening intently, yelling instructions and doing his bidding for a full 40 minutes. Not bad for a stationary figure. My son also loved setting him up on guard mode and leaving him in his bedroom to make sure his sister didn't go sneaking around in there. Those motion sensors soon pick up on any toy thieving.
Spider-Man doesn't always pick up the Kiwi accent, so my son often had to yell instructions at him several times and in several different ways. And his initial volume level is quite loud. You might want to turn that down a bit.
Okay, so how much does Spidey cost? He retails for around $269. Not bad for a new best friend who busts crooks on the side.