Oh Me Oh My

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sit Bot-Bot Sit, Bad Dog

Because the holiday season is quickly approaching I thought I would make a public service announcement: DO NOT buy the "RoboPet" (seen above) as a gift for anyone, unless that someone really loves shoddy robotics and impossibly frustrating crappiness. I was told it would only sell in Europe but then I saw the commercial on TV and knew it had invaded North America. I was a production assistant on the set of that very commercial this summer and my loathing for this toy runs deeper than my loathing for children aged 2-18.

The shoot was supposed to be about 12 hours which is long in itself but ended up being 17 hours due in large part to the fact the RoboPet is an electronic pile of feces. The commercial featured both this robotic dog and a real life dog which should have been my first clue things were not meant to go smoothly: working with both an animal and a temperamental robot--awesome! The commercial had about 24 shots that needed to be captured. One of those shots included the dog running up to the counter where the RoboPet then stands on it's hind legs and barks. This one shot took over 3 hours to get! It was hard enough to get the dog to run down the stairs and stand on its mark but then then fuckin' RoboPet would just do whatever the hell it wanted:

Director: Action
*dog runs down the stairs*
Director: Cue the Robot
*RoboPet sorta gets up and then falls into bowl of apples*
Director: CUT! Fuck, Shit, Balls, Fuck!

Almost every shot was equally frustrating. At one point I was no longer "Jamie" or "the production assistant" I was "The Wrangler". RoboPet would be sent into the shot and inevitably walk the wrong way, or fall on his side, or some other random tomfoolery; I was under the counter ready to put him back on his mark--and there I stayed for an obscene amount of time. The worst was the shot that was supposed to illustrate that RoboPet was smart enough to know his surroundings. The kid who stars in the commercial walks away to take a call but leaves RoboPet on. Ideally RoboPet walks to the edge of the counter, sees he is about to fall off, and then takes a few steps back. About half the time he wouldn't walk to the edge at all and just sorta do his own thing instead; the other half of the time he would walk right off the edge and hit the tile floor nice and hard. "Can the Wrangler please get another stupid robot". And so I would run up the stairs to the bedroom where an army of them waited on the floor. It was like a scene from I Robot if the robots in that were smaller and embedded with a mental retardation chip.

The controls were impossible; I mean, just look at the converter they give you, it's just a random collection of buttons. "To make him bark press arrow, arrow, triangle, square, down, upper right circle" Who the hell designed this? To add to the frustration was the fact that the actor who was playing a 14 year old was actually 18 and was growing facial hair like a fuckin' werewolf so Carrie the makeup artist had to constantly powder him up and shave him on 3 separate occasions. We kept thinking the continuity of the commercial would be a mess since the scenes are not shot in order. He goes from clean shaven, to a hillbilly beard, to a five o'clock shadow to a handlebar mustache all in the course of 40 seconds.

But I'm getting off-topic from the primary message: The RoboPet is a disaster. Take the money you were gonna spend on it and buy yourself some booze, then stumble around and if possible topple into a bowl of produce--that way you can experience what it's like to be a RoboPet first hand.


At 7:28 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay - so you thought the Robopet was stupid, a waste of time and money. That's very clear.

What I can't figure out is why you would want to publically trash it like this. WowWee, when they read it will definitely hit the ceiling and demand that your company can you. Even if WowWee doesn't, your company should view your post as a violation of your employment contract and willful disclosure of confidential information. And anyone in the industry would have to be a fool to hire you for any similar job. You proved that you can't be trusted and will arbitrarily disclose anything, even if it damages your company or their clients.

Who's more stupid? You or the Robopet? At least the dog didn't take a dump on the people paying his salary like you did.

At 8:56 a.m., Blogger Jamie said...

Normally I wouldn't bother responding to a comment but I need to make something clear:

I was on contract with a production company (and they were the ones who paid me)not "WowWee". Second, and most importantly, what am I arbitrarily disclosing? It's not like I revealed the schematics of how it is made or some top-secret corporate information--I watched the toy at work for a full day and it never functioned properly, is that what I'm supposed to keep under wraps? The same way you'd tell friends that something you bought turned out to be a lemon I put up the posting.

This is a blog mainly read by a few friends of mine so I doubt WowWee will suffer any great fiscal loss as a result.

At 3:42 p.m., Blogger adge said...

Damn man, there are some serious tight asses out there! (Just trying to stir the pot some more! :P)
Don't worry Jamie, I wouldn't have bought the piece of shit anyways.


At 11:38 p.m., Blogger Earl Falco said...


are you friggin kidding me anonymous who peed in your TPS report. Go back to your 4'x4' cubical without a window and eat these peanuts while i watch. Seriouly who gives a SHIT its a BLOG.

At 11:34 p.m., Anonymous Bob Loblaw said...

Um, I'm gonna exaggerate the issue, just to make a point. Imagine you are at a shoot for, say, the next president. And in between takes, he is making clear that he is a racist, sexist homophobe. Revealing the truth behind this man is not libel or slander because it occurred. Neither is it a violation of any confidentiality contracts unless one was signed.

Also, with the product already on the market in other regions, the opinion stated here is not unique and doesn't need to be guarded. There is nothing stated here that violates any patents or intellectual properties either. In addition, ethics is based upon the good of the people and clearly, knowing of a deficient product (or president) is good for the people. Just because someone pays you, doesn't mean you are owned by that someone. In other words, anonymous is trying to make Jamie a whore.

At 7:59 p.m., Blogger Trish said...

Jamie, you know I'm a lovah of your blogs, but the 'comments' section of your blog is seriously beginning to rival you. Bob Loblaw, will you marry me?

At 1:32 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loblaw said: "anonymous is trying to make Jamie a whore"

A guy goes up to a beautiful woman in a bar and offers her a million dollars if she will go to bed with him. She's shocked but thinks about it for a moment and decides that it's a huge amount of money, and just this once... So she says, "Yes."

Then the guy says, "How about for $25?"

She's totally insulted - irate. "What do you think I am, some kind of whore?"

He replies, "We've already established that. Now we're just haggling about the price."

Jamie took the money.


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