There's a new buzz in the air at CES, and robotic toy company WowWee is creating it. The FlyTech Dragonfly is a remote-controlled dragonfly that can fly, flutter, swoop and crash with gusto. The little Styrofoam-and-plastic bug is thrown like a paper airplane, then controlled using the included Xbox 360 controller-like remote. Because it uses wings rather than a propeller to generate lift, it flies like an erratic airplane. While it's slightly harder to keep in the air and can't take off on its own, it's far easier to steer than spinout-prone remote-controlled mini-helicopters.
The Dragonfly offers a few options to pilots with varying skills, thanks to a "beginner/expert" switch on the controller and a detachable ribbon tail on the bug itself. In beginner mode and with the ribbon connected and producing drag, the Dragonfly flies in leisurely circles. In the more sensitive expert mode and without the tail, the bug flutters fast and frantic.
I got some time with the FlyTech Dragonfly, and after a few crashes and near misses, I was flying it around with ease. Of course, when I took the tail off and switched to the expert setting, I started crashing again. Thankfully, the Dragonfly's body proved surprisingly durable; I saw the little flier survive crashes of more than 10 feet. (Crave reported more than a month ago on WowWee's initial plans for the Dragonfly, which was seen in action on YouTube.)
WowWee also showed off some other interesting robotic toys at its CES booth. Following in the footsteps of the RoboRaptor and the RoboReptile are the RoboQuad, an insectile but strangely endearing robotic bug creature, and the RoboBoa, a programmable robotic snake. The sickeningly cute RoboPanda lacks the remote control of the other robots and instead uses touch sensors all over its body to give it interactivity.
Finally, the WowWee Alive Elvis is a disturbingly realistic singing animatronic bust of the king of rock and roll. He and the Burger King's rubbery visages will haunt my dreams. The FlyTech Dragonfly will retail for about $40, the RoboBoa and the RoboQuad for $110, the RoboPanda for $230, and the WowWee Alive Elvis for $350. All of the new WowWee products ship later this year.