Charlie the Astronaut: The Ultimate Space Toy?
Space… the final frontier! In the decades since humanity was finally able to land on the moon, our sense of curiosity towards the stars has only grown. Movies like Star Wars and Avatar have dominated the box-office, the James Webb telescope continues to make out-of-this-world discoveries, and companies like SpaceX are now offering rideshares to space. To be a kid in this current space-crazy climate is truly a gift.
In turn, many kids have been pulled by the gravity of scientific discovery, and want to know all they can about intergalactic happenings - and many gift givers are in search of the ultimate space toy.
Enter Charlie the Astronaut. Charlie, recommended for ages five and up, is a remote control robot and STEM educator all in one! With programmable actions and dozens of data pages on planets and exploration data, this space-explorer has something for everybody. Might this be the coolest space toy ever?
Out of the Box:
Straight out of the package, Charlie’s silhouette echoes that of some robot friends we’ve gotten to know from years past. The Robosapien, which was a gigantic hit in the early 2000’s - comes to mind immediately.
Charlie’s helmet features a golden visor, much like what we’re used to seeing on modern spacesuits. The first golden visors were implemented in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s - and are used to this day to protect astronauts from harmful rays of sunlight! While Charlie is a robot, and doesn’t need protection from the sun, we still appreciate the accuracy.
Along with the accurate visor, the helmet also features two lights on either side of his face, which can be lit up with a command through the app! The lights are bright LEDs, which make for a really cool aesthetic, but they probably aren’t bright enough to light up your little one’s room at night.
However, Charlie brings a whole lot more to the table than just his friendly figure and posable arms, he’s actually a great learning tool for any cosmonaut interested in trekking to where no man has gone before.
The compatible (and free) app can be found easily by searching up “Charlie the Astronaut” on either Apple’s App Store or on Google Play. The app was the first to pop up, which made beginning our trip to the cosmos that much easier.
Following a quick download, we opened the app and were greeted by an image of Charlie floating through space, along with some really cool sci-fi music. (Think Blade Runner meets Black Panther!)
Using Bluetooth technology, the same that many people use to play music on speakers or use maps in their car, you can link your phone to Charlie using a simple process.
- Make sure your phone’s Bluetooth connection is open.
- Go to “settings” on your device.
- Click on “Bluetooth”
- Make sure the Bluetooth button is switched to the on position and green.
- Turn Charlie on by switching to the “I” option on the back of his space-pack.
- Open the “Charlie the Astronaut” app and press the Bluetooth symbol in the top corner.
- Click on “Charlie the Astronaut” when the prompt pops up.
And voila! We’re ready to play with our new toy!
The app features four main categories in the menu:
The “Charlie the Astronaut” app is many things - one of which is a remote control! In this mode, you have the ability to turn on Charlie’s headlamp, access gesture and gyroscope controls, as well as use his “walk” and “slide” commands. We found that the slide feature was the most fun to play with!
In the program mode, you are able to chain up to fifty consecutive commands together to make Charlie carry out a mission! This mode really reminded us of early programming software like Scratch, and can be a gateway for kids to get more into creating their own code. Once done with the current set of commands, the trash can button clears the queue and makes way for more fun!
In the “Spacepedia” mode, the Charlie the Astronaut app covers tons of great space trivia for any little learners interested in the cosmos. There are three main sections to this mode, which delve into our solar system, the history of space exploration, and the universe as a whole. Generally, there will be a paragraph or two about the topic at hand, which provides a general overview of what took place or what the planet is like. Generally, these write-ups seem to be pretty kid friendly, but a younger reader might struggle with the difficulty level. Due to the difficulty, these sections may be better suited for use during a story-time activity.
In the “Space Quiz” mode, intergalactic explorers will be tested on the knowledge that they’ve accrued from using the app’s Spacepedia features. This is a pretty standard “quiz” game with two modes. The “countdown” mode gives two minutes to answer as many questions as possible, while the “to the limit” mode gives unlimited time, but three strikes before the game will end. Currently, the quiz is a scramble of facts from all categories in Spacepedia, but it would be great to see a “by category” feature added later so kids can learn by section.
After exploring the cosmos with Charlie the Astronaut, we can confidently say that it’s a fantastic learning tool and a great introduction to many STEM concepts for young learners. If you’re on the hunt for a space related toy for your future cosmonaut, Charlie would be a very wise choice.
“What age is Charlie the Astronaut best for?”
Charlie the Astronaut is recommended for space explorers age five and up! Although, for younger explorers, some more difficult reading sections within the app may require some assistance.
“How is Charlie the Astronaut powered?”
Charlie the Astronaut is powered using three AA batteries, which aren’t included in the box.
“Do I have to program Charlie the Astronaut for him to move?”
No, you don’t. Charlie has three modes for movement - the first is the “gesture control” mode which allows for the user to move their hands in a direction in front of Charlie, and have him follow! This is the simplest to set up, and simply requires him to be put into his “II” mode on his space-pack. There is no in-app activity required for this mode.
The second is the “control” mode which allows the user to direct Charlie using the simple in-app remote.
The third mode is the in-app “program” mode, which will allow the user to program up to fifty actions in a single run!Charlie the Astronaut is available for purchase on the kiddywampus online shop here!