Over the past couple of years, sneaking coding lessons into fun toys and apps seems to have become pretty lucrative! Toys combined with apps that help kids learn how to code were all the rage at the New York Toy Fair earlier this year, and Microsoft has even gotten Minecraft in on the act. And of course, we’re never going to forget about that Ryan Gosling app, which might have been what touched the whole thing off for all we know. This week, Parrot took that concept into the skies by partnering with Tynker to sell a special coding version of one of their Minidrones.
The Parrot Mambo Code, as a drone, isn’t any different than the existing Parrot Mambo — a small drone that can be controlled using a smartphone app. It’s not a bells and whistles drone — the cameras aren’t fancy, and it’ll get blown about in the wind quite a bit (despite sensors and software that help stabilize flight). What separates Parrot Mambo Code is the partnership with Tynker, a subscription-based educational platform that helps kids learn how to code, with an emphasis on visual learning. It’s an approach we’ve seen a lot of — commands and values are turned into something like puzzle pieces that kids can put together to take control of simple robots and drones.
The Parrot Mambo Code comes with a six-month premium subscription to Tynker, which will let kids start programming their new drone using Tynker’s software for free. That includes a handful of coding courses for both tablets and the web, hundreds of puzzles and tutorials, and a virtual drone flight simulation course. Kids can use Tynker to program routes and tricks that the drone will pull off in reality. The Parrot Mambo Drone even has a little pea shooter on it, so a couple kids can choreograph a drone fight if they get really into it. Basically, this is how you get your kid in the director’s chair for Star Wars: Episode XXIII or whatever they’ll be on by then.
But, it’s important to note that the Parrot Mambo Code is really just a package deal including the drone and Tynker’s software. If you’ve already got one of Parrot’s Minidrones, chances are good that it works with Tynker’s coding program anyway — you’ll just have to subscribe to Tynker’s service instead of getting the six free months. Actually, if it looks like you’re really sold on the service, it might make sense to buy them separately — the Mambo drone costs $100 right now, while one year’s worth of Tynker is $96. That’s $46 more as an up-front cost, but it’s $2 cheaper looking at just the cost of the drone and six months of service.