Meet Brok – he's a Brachiosaurus “transformer” from VTech
If you grew up in the ’80s, you probably owned a first-generation Transformer (insert deep voice: more than meets the eye). My brother and I had a few, but two stand out: the Optimus Prime that my little brother got for Christmas one year (and I broke the same day); and the Transformer dog that turned into a cassette tape. So when the Transformers made a comeback, I was eager to share it with The K Man. It was right up his alley. And when my mother-in-law asked what she could get him one birthday (or holiday or something), I suggested the age-appropriate Transformers. You see, they come in a variety of difficulty levels now (kind of like Duplo is to Lego) and there are some that are appropriate for two and three year olds, which The K Man was at the time. But, no. She returned from a shopping trip with the most challenging Transformer I’ve ever seen. It took Big B 20 minutes to transform it. It wasn’t a fun experience for him, much less our stunned child who didn’t know why Daddy was cursing the toy Nana brought over. Now some of the pieces are long gone, and I have no clue where the instructions are to transform it into anything. It’s stuck in this mangled Transformer purgatory resembling nothing but a Mack truck that collided with a telephone pole or a moose. When PTPA asked if we wanted to help evaluate a “transforming” toy, I rolled myself up into a fetal position and started rocking back and forth. Until I read the description, that promised an easy transformation.
When the VTech marketing people wrote that the “Switch & Go Dinos crew is a 2-in-1 toy that easily transforms from a massive car carrier to a Brachiosaurus and back again in just a few simple steps,” they weren’t full of beans. In about six or seven steps, which are surprisingly intuitive, Brok the Brachiosaurus transforms from dino to truck. I only had to show The K Man how to do it a few times and he got the hang of it himself. While it’s good for him to have toys that he can operate on his own, it’s even better for my own mental well-being. Brok (and I imagine many of the Switch & Go Dinos) comes with a couple of extra components. In this case, there’s a car-and-Pterodactyl team that work with Brok in the truck position. You basically roll the car up Brok’s rear ramp and use a spoiler-type thingy to HURL the car forward. But that’s not the best part. As the car flies over the front of the truck, it triggers the Pterodactyl to detach and shoot out like a missile. I wish I’d captured the look on The K Man’s face the first time we discovered Brok the Brachiosaurus could do this. Cool stuff. When in dinosaur mode, Brok’s neck also mechanically moves up and down and his feet look like they’re stomping as my kid pushes him forward (which is easy to do because he’s on small wheels. Brok, that is – not my kid). I don’t believe there’s been a Brachiosaurus on Dinosaur Train, so this gave us an opportunity to talk about a new dinosaur. Did you know that Brachiosaurus means “arm lizard” or that it measured 85 feet in length? Or that it was an herbivore of the late-Jurassic period? Well, now you do. Two months in, I still find The K Man playing with VTech’s Brok dude. This is always a good indication of a toy’s longevity. They all start out exciting – even the inexpensive McHappy ones – but it’s the toys that still get attention after a couple of weeks that are the real winners. For this reason, among others, we were delighted to help award this toy the PTPA Seal of Approval. While the idea of the animated LCD screen that also transforms from dinosaur eyes to the head and shoulders of the truck driver (both customizable at the click of a button) is a good one…
…it’s very basic black & white old-skool digital watch-style. For the price (more on that momentarily), I expected more. Colour, perhaps? Or maybe animation that was more sophisticated. But, heck, my four-year-old ain’t complaining. Based on the photo of Brok the Brachiosaurus, I thought we were getting something fairly small; something akin to Transformers that would fit in my son’s hands. Boy, were we wrong – it’s big! Easily the size of a cat that’s been fed way too many Temptations. Let’s just say it might intimidate a teacup poodle. If you live in an apartment or smaller condo, and you’re already hard-pressed for toy storage, you might want to give this one a good think before bringing it home. I’m not comfortable with the suggested retail price of $49.99; I think it’s at least $10 (if not $15) too much. For me, a $50 toy is in gift range or has to be really special. Don’t get me wrong, this is an interesting toy that’s held my son’s attention pretty well – but I wouldn’t personally spend 50 big ones on it. It’s surely worth $35, though, and will probably be on sale at least once or twice leading up to the holidays, so snap it up then instead.
4/5 (based on finding the VTech Switch & Go Dino Brok the Brachiosaurus ON SALE!)