RoboReview: Animetronics MCB-NIN0057
PRODUCT REVIEW: Animetronics® MCB-NIN0057 'Samus Aran' Merchandise Android
PUBLISHED BY: Aimi Fujitani, 2035/07/11
|Ease of Use||7/10|
TOTAL: 28% [F]
Animetronics' fembots are dirt-cheap, yet still feel like a massive ripoff.
PROS: Extremely cheap, no first-time setup required. CONS: Unreliable, tough to maintain, bundled with malware
Animetronics is notorious for its dirt-cheap consumer robots, the horror stories surrounding them, and their terrible customer service track record. They claim to be a 'proud Japanese robot manufacturer' but after doing a bit of digging around, the Animetronics brand is actually owned by a Chinese company called "Shenzhen Vivid Machines." But, that's a story for another time.
In this article, I'll walk you through the experience of buying, using, and maintaining these bots so you won't have to (and believe us when we say you really don't want to).
I've heard of just how bad people's experiences with Animetronics' products were, and at first I thought that they were exaggerating. That the stories of robots literally shorting themselves out during the first hour of operation or being held together with super glue was just hyperbole.
I was dead wrong.
By the time I finished writing down all of the notes for this review, most of it looked like excerpts from a comedy horror skit of sorts, because everything about this product was just so laughably bad. Without further ado, let's get to it.
The first thing I did was go ahead and peruse their website. It seemed like a pretty standard retail website, except for the fact that a lot of stuff, even basic words, were misspelled or misused, and I could've sworn that they even misspelled their own company name a few times!
Other than that, I was surprised at just how cheap their offerings were. A good quality budget bot from the likes of Akiya Electronics or C*STAR will set you back about a few hundred or even a thousand dollars, but most of the bots Animetronics had for sale couldn't even scratch one hundred! It seemed like a bargain that was too good to be true (and it definitely was).
Me being a die-hard Nintendo fan, I decided to go for a Samus Aran facsimile robot, which cost me $56 at the time of writing.
My package came in a large cardboard box, and inside of it was what looked like a giant toy package akin to a doll box, with clear plastic showing the contents inside. First impressions of the robot are best described as "all right"; not terrible, but not exactly good either. The Samus bot looked pretty good in the box, posing while holding a blaster prop and wearing the short and top that make up her Zero suit from the GBA games... At least, I think that's what they're supposed to be; they look more like a generic blue shorts and top. It also came bundled with a bikini and lingerie, for some odd reason. Plus, the bot wasn't even of the right body type; it looked more like a generic sexy anime girl than a bounty hunter.
Inside the box, there was the robot itself (duh), the extra clothing, an instruction manual written in Chinese and English, and a USB-X cable along with a power adapter. So, just about the only extras included are a few pieces of clothing.
The instruction manual was the cheapest kind: a single large sheet of paper folded up dozens of times. The English side of the manual was so poorly written, I couldn't even understand some of the instructions. Sometimes, I wonder if that's really how they translated it, or if the person typing had a stroke.
The instructions to turn on my Samus bot read: "To make the bot on, depress upon her eardrums to make your sexy toy sexy shine shine!" ...What? Eardrums? I figured that was an odd place to put a power button, and it turns out that's not where it was at all; the buttons were actually hidden behind both of her ears.
Booting up, the bot beeped and played a cheap MIDI rendition of the Metroid theme. And immediately, I could tell something was very off.
Instead of acting like Samus would, she was acting more bubbly and carefree, basically the complete opposite of what she'd be like. Her movements were very robotic and clunky, and her servos whirred pretty loudly whenever she moved. And, she claims to be Samus, but spouts out some pretty inaccurate information (like that she's from the Lylat system (Star Fox), for example). Overall, if acting accuracy were being scored in this review, this bot would get a 3/10.
One good thing I can say about these bots is that they’re ready to go right out of the box, only needing to register your name. So I did, and it seemed as though just registering my name was enough to put a strain on the robot’s processors. At this point, I figured that the highlight of this review was going to be the unboxing, and it would all go downhill from here.
Overall, as a merchandise bot, this one completely misses the mark. The personality’s completely off, the clothing provided just barely fits her theme, and the only way one could tell this was a Samus merchandise bot was by the fact that she kept babbling facts about ‘herself’, some of which aren’t even correct.
As a maid-bot, however, she fares much better. She does a pretty good job of cleaning around the house, and although robotic, her movements do have a sexual lilt to them, which some people may find appealing. I, personally, was only interested in her work quality and ethic, and I gotta say, she scored surprisingly high in this regard.
Her mannerisms are very much on the sexy side, and although she’ll offer to strip for you, she won’t get very far as the underlying lingerie seems to be glued on to her body. Speaking of which, her body is made of cheap, hard plastic, and totally lacks any sexual functions and private parts. According to my Samus-bot, she says that this is because of Nintendo’s strict guidelines regarding merchandise, although I’m pretty sure this one breaks all the other guidelines, given that there's no way to turn the sexuality down or off. Not that I could find, anyway.
Although she claims to be able to do more than maid work, I wouldn’t trust her with anything sensitive or fragile, as she is quite prone to slipping and falling. I also wouldn’t trust her with data of any sort, as she’s very prone to glitches. Her speech is constantly distorted and skipping like a scratched CD, and she sometimes misinterprets even the most basic of instructions. Asking her a question is a complete crap shoot, as she’ll very often only give you half of an answer before going on about how sexy she is.
MAINTENANCE & BUILD QUALITY
But, surely some of these shortcomings and technical problems can be fixed with some TLC, right? Well, yes, but unless you’re willing to give your Animatronics bot a complete hardware and software overhaul, you’ll still be stuck with a twitchy, glitchy mess. Worse still, performing any sort of maintenance on these bots is easier said than done.
There are three maintenance panels on the MCB series of robots: on the back, chest, and stomach.The I/O on them is really weird: the only things I could recognize are one USB-X port on each panel, along with an NFTi/NFC transceiver on the chest panel. But every other port seemed to be either fake or proprietary. I tried snapping a pic of some of them and looking them up, and the only matches I could find were from Chinese websites. In short: you get 3 USB-X ports and and NFTi/NFC writer… If you’re lucky. On the unit I received, 2 of the 3 ports that I plugged the cable into didn’t work at all, and one of them actually shorted out with a spark and loud pop when it was plugged in. The last one seemed to work just fine.
There’s no RF shielding on the panels, so you can get a good look at the internals of the bot just from the panels… and my God, it is a nightmare. The circuit boards are arranged haphazardly around the chassis as though they were just chucked in there, then held together with - I kind you not - duct tape and super glue. Yes, the stories and rumors are true. Worse still, my unit was sold as ‘new’ but had definite signs of negligence; some of the circuits and interior panels had stains and cracks on them, and I could see that some of the components were burnt out already.
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS & SOFTWARE
Even if the build quality was half-decent, the hardware would still be unimpressive at best and insulting at worst. Almost all of the parts in this bot are over-the-counter budget parts released 10 years ago, some of which are from vendors we’ve never even heard of.
On the software side, things are not looking much better at all. This Samus-bot was running an equally old build of AKIX-NN 7.2, which was released 12 years ago, although heavily modified to look like a newer, more modern OS (which it does very poorly, given that almost no new software runs on it properly without extensive tweaking.) The software it came with was just as poorly thought out as the hardware. There were a bunch of cheap maid and schoolgirl AI packages, along with programming packages on how to clean and cook. I’d bet some serious money that most of these packages were pirated, because as soon as I interfaced with the Samus-bot, my buffers were flooded with junk data and my anti-malware software was going crazy due to all of the malware from my Samus-bot's systems. Had it not been for that, I’d probably be just as glitchy as the Samus-bot, if not completely wrecked. I’m no cyber-law expert, but I’m pretty sure that what Animetronics is doing here is illegal on multiple counts.
Due to its outdated hardware and software, there’s not much room for customizability out of the box, unless you take the time and effort to learn how to superuse your bot and swap out some (or most) of the parts.
The Animetronics MCB series of androids is a failure on almost all fronts. They can’t act like their characters, they can’t hold any meaningful conversation, they’re prone to glitches, and they’re near-impossible to maintain. Not to mention that their software packages come with a hearty dose of malware.
There are pretty much only three positive things that I can say about this unit: It’s very cheap, and easy to use if you just want it to do basic tasks. And, If you’re a hobbyist, you could use this bot’s chassis as a base of sorts if you don’t know how to make one from scratch or are too lazy. So if you are a hobbyist or power user who's not afraid to get their hands dirty (more literally than you may think), then it might be for you.
In short: Unless you’re amused or aroused by your bot glitching out and malfunctioning frequently, don’t buy these, even if you have money for nothing else. If you still want to pick one up, then I guess we can’t stop you; it’s available for purchase at the link provided.
NOTE: The store link has been removed due to a product recall on several MCB series Aminetronics products.