Spybotics isn't the general-purpose robotics kit of Mindstorms, but it offers similar fun. It's a symbiosis of plastic construction and computerisation, only this time with a theme of completing secret missions.
There are four Spybot kits, which can be used on their own or in competition. Once you've connected the serial cable to your PC and loaded the software, a Wizard guides you through the construction procedure. It's then time to try out the missions, for which you must download different programs to the Spybot to tell it how to react to input from the remote control and vehicle sensors. Missions have time limits and set objectives, and you score points for completing them successfully.
Programming the Spybot controller isn't child's play: care needs to be taken in choosing which capabilities to download for each mission. Although it may not have quite the appeal of Mindstorms for adult robot fans, Spybotics is still very diverting. Intended for age nine and above, it brings out the big kid in most of us.