October 2011

Street Price: $14.99 US
Manufacturer: Desk Pets
Mfr's recommended min. age: 8+
Our recommended age range: 7+
Primary use: Indoors
Top speed: n/a
Runtime per charge: 15+ mins.
Controller: Infrared

  • Assembled bot
  • Controller / charge adapter
  • Any device with a USB port for charging

Initial Impressions

I saw these Skitterbots at my local Toys R Us next to the popular HexBug section. The Skitterbots come in 4 different colors with intriguing translucent bodies with a matching controller. The insectoid robot has six legs that provide realistic movement. It has a built-in rechargeable battery, and to recharge that you use a plug on the controller as an adapter, and you plug the whole thing into the USB port of any device that has one open. It takes up to 1/2 hour to fully charge the battery if it is completely depleted.


There's really not a lot to the Skitterbot. It goes forward or backwards, or turns left or right in place in response to your commands. The legs move really fast, giving it a scurrying look that makes it very lively. People who are afraid of real insects will be instinctively afraid of the Skitterbot, especially when they see it actually move. It prefers fairly flat, smooth surfaces because the body is low and doesn't have a lot of clearance under it, but it will actually walk over low-pile carpet pretty well, and can even make some progress on medium-pile carpeting, though it can get stuck on the bigger clumps.

My favorite feature is actually the two lighted eyes up front, which glow through the translucent shell and actually pulsate smoothly in intensity when you stop moving. What I don't like is that no matter what you tell it to do, it keeps doing it until you push the "stop" button on the controller. I would have preferred more standard controls where you have to hold a button down to make it continue. It doesn't take long to get used to it, though, and the stop button is higher than the others and in the middle, so it's easy to push.


(Click a video a second time to view it larger in a new window.)


The Desk Pets Skitterbot is a very inexpensive toy to buy, and with all batteries included you can get a lot of use out of it without paying another cent. Eventually the built-in controller batteries will wear out, but those are small and cheap and because they're only used when you push a button, it'll be quite a long time before you need to worry about them. Skitterbots are cheaper than the RC Hexbug models, but provide the same type of enjoyment with perhaps a little more terrain-negotiating capability.