We received Marty the robot from Robotical and we’ve been testing it with our children, who are now 5 and 9 years old.
Marty came to life in 2016 thanks to a successful Indiegogo campaign. We are reviewing Marty the robot V2, which has some improvements compared to the first version.
Marty is a coding robot for kids, educators and makers from Robotical, a company based in Scotland.
Marty is based around 4 pillars: Build, Play, Program and Expand.
Table of Contents
Marty the Robot’s main features
These are Marty’s main features. Rest assured that you can go into more detail at their product webpage. Despite being a cute little
button robot, it also has serious functionality for educators and makers.
Motors and sensors
- 9 independently controllable, metal geared smart servo motors.
- Motor position sensors.
- Acceleration & tilt sensor.
- Obstacle sensor.
- Color sensor for screen-free coding.
- You can add a Raspberry Pi Computer and run ROS.
Marty is highly expandable and customizable so you can add and try new sensors, a camera, feet lights, a Raspberry Pi computer, a micro:bit or print your custom 3D parts.
For kids, you can buy a complete set of LEDs or a pack of A5 colored card set for the color sensor which enables screen-free coding. At Robotical’s page you can check all the add-ons and extras.
Marty comes in a sturdy cardboard box. It’s practical and easy for storage after use.
It’s a blue biped humanoid robot (yes, gotta love blue coding robots!), with an impressive walking mechanism (lots of servos doing its work) and highly customizable.
Assembled robot or robot kit
Customers can buy the robot kit and build it themselves (that could help kids understand how robots are put together) or buy the assembled Marty. We think it’s great to have both options because there is more than one type of customers, be that home, educational or the maker customer.
We have received the assembled Marty, which we think it’s the best option for our family (our kids are still too young to assemble the robot). We just opened the box, charged the battery, installed the app and started coding straight away.
About the robot kit
As we’ve said we got ours fully assembled but we checked and the step by step instructions are great. You get a booklet included with the kit and there’s and app with a build guide (Android, iOS). Not only that, the robot is put together in a consistent and logical way. Kudos to the engineers at Robotical!
More good news is that no soldering or special tools are required. The screwdriver is also included so maybe (big maybe!) in a couple of years we’ll get our kids to disassemble and reassemble Marty.
It’s possible to control Marty with a remote control from a smartphone or a tablet.
Marty the Robot app can be downloaded on any smartphone or tablet with Bluetooth 4.2 or above, running Android or Apple iOS. You must enable Bluetooth and allow location permissions to connect to Marty.
After that, you just need to start Marty, calibrate (eyes, arms and legs, it’s just two minutes), synchronize, connect with your WiFi or Bluetooth and get ready!
The remote control is an easy activity and perfect to discover Marty (and maybe check some impossible positions and watch it fail!). Marty can walk, balance on one leg, sidestep, turn, dance, kick a ball with both legs (by the way, the ball is included). We tried it with our 5 years old and he was super excited!
There are lots of options to program with Marty, from beginners to advanced users.
Screen free coding: perfect for beginners as young as 5 years and great introduction to coding and sequencing commands. You need the A5 sized colored cards, and use them with Marty while in “Screen free mode”, which can be activated by pressing the “A” button.
With the app, you can change just with two clicks from Scratch Jr to Scratch.
Kids can code Marty with Scratch Jr. It’s quite basic and it’s the perfect option for beginners. It’s really fun to see Marty’s moves.
Scratch is ideal for kids who can read. Starting around 8-9 years old they could discover the potential of block programming via Scratch. It can be used from the computer or the app itself.
One of our next activities will be testing the Marty robot with the BBC Micro: bit board and programming it with Scratch. Here’s the step by step explanation on how to do it and in this link you can download the lesson resources for the student as well as the information to work with it at the classroom.
Marty the robot checks the boxes with coding and electronics but it’s also related with other subjects like Maths, Literacy and Language and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL).
There’s one important difference with good and great robots: having lots of resources. With Marty you get the Marty’s learning portal (you can filter activities by age, difficulty, language or topic).
Marty the robot activities webpage (it’s a Marty V1 website but we found lots of activities).
As a fun activity, we really enjoyed this workout video session that Appysmarts created with Marty the robot. We did that!
Marty the app
Available for iOS and Android. Be careful as there are 2 Marty apps. You should download “Marty the robot V2”.
We have tested it with an iPad from 2018 and everything was quite good. We had some problems with the first connection but it’s something that usually happens with different robotic kits. And nothing that a little patience cannot fix!
The app can also be used to change Marty’s WiFi settings or to give your Marty its own unique name. That might seem a silly thing but kids love it! (and we suppose it is very useful in a school setting with lots of Marty’s running around).
Stickers and customization
Within the packaging, there are lots of stickers to customize Marty: eyes, mustache, flashes, hearts… Both of my kids appreciate the option to add stickers to their robot. We would also have preferred some less humanoid stickers, maybe some animal features.
You can also dress up Marty with other craft supplies like card-stock, fabric, 3D printing materials, or laser cutting wood. Look how cool is this Christmas reindeer costume, explained step by step.
A thing that our children have missed in terms of customization is that we can’t add Lego figures or bricks to Marty. But, we’ve seen at Marty’s webpage there’s a Marty LEGO Compatible Top Plate that we just need to 3D print.
Marty the robot is quite awesome. Especially because we’ve seen it’s so customizable and expandable that everyone has a huge amount of projects to try and explore. Kids as little as 5 year olds can try it and keep playing with it as they get older. Sky is the limit here… Just keep in mind Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics and we’ll be fine!
Also, the robot seems quite robust and we have read that it has been tested to be assembled and reassembled several times so it’s also perfect for school projects.
Marty the robot V2 for the classroom. It’s Marty’s main focus. We find it a very interesting proposal to consider for schools, high schools and robotics after-school programs. They have some incredible packs for schools (and you also can try Marty for free).
Marty the robot V2 for home schooling’s families. In addition to the above, you will find great support in the web resources, the Robotical team (we got in contact with them and they’re great) and the Marty the robot activities webpage.
Marty the robot V2 for after-school activities at home. We really love the robot, the STEAM projects are limitless, especially in programming, electronics and robotics.
The price is £ 314.00 / $ 419.00 + TAX (you can buy it online). There are some school packs. The biggest downside is that it might seem expensive but you’ll understand when you see and touch the pieces, sensors and interact with it!
If you have a child interested in STEAM and robotics, the price is on a similar range than that a of a Lego Mindstorms Robot Inventor. Marty the robot V2 gives you the ability to grow and customize as your kids get older and more experienced.