These days you really only hear about hoverboards on “hey, do you remember?...” lists. But Ninebot, the company who bought the Segway brand, really wants them to still be a thing and continues to cook up wacky add-ons for the self-balancing devices, including a new ride-on that turns them into a tank that really fires.
This isn’t the first time Ninebot has tried to make its self-balancing devices seem more fun. Back in 2018, it created an add-on kit that turned the $1,000 Segway miniPro into a go-kart type contraption complete with a steering wheel and foot pedals for braking and acceleration. For 2021, the company has come up with an even better way to terrorize your neighborhood with the Ninebot Mecha Kit that appears to be playing fast and loose with the term, ‘mecha’.
Mecha is a term usually reserved for towering armored robots piloted by a human inside, not a rolling seat powered by either a Ninebot S-Pro, Ninebot S, or Ninebot S Kids hoverboard strapped to its underside. Instead of the rider having to lean their body forward and back to stop and go, the Ninebot Mecha Kit includes a pair of joysticks that are used in tandem to steer the vehicle around. The sticks also only function when they detect they’re being held, so if they’re bumped when someone is awkwardly climbing in and out of the vehicle, it won’t suddenly accelerate away.
The Ninebot Mecha Kit actually sounds a lot safer than using one of Ninebot’s hoverboards on its own because there’s no way a rider is ever going to faceplant with it, but all those safety gains go out the window when you factor in the pair of blasters sitting on either side of the rider. Instead of foam darts, they shoot tiny water-saturated beads and while they’re much softer than paintballs (and simply turn to dust when they dry up) it’s doubtful anyone is actually going to want to get hit with one. In the promotional video and photos everyone is wearing safety goggles, which tells you all you need to know about how powerful those blasters are.
The Ninebot Mecha Kit can also be wirelessly connected to a smartphone app and controlled from afar like an RC toy, so it could potentially facilitate an impromptu Battlebot-like skirmish—with a much steeper price tag. The add-on kit itself is $500, while the cheapest Ninebot hoverboard is the kids’ version that still costs $400. If you want more speed and range before a recharge, you’ll need to spend even more than that.