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Hi all,

First off, I want to say I'm a beginner. I have an Arduino Uno rev 3 and I want to make a simple robot. I have my eyes on either the Dadu magician chassis or the tamiya tracked vehicle set. Which one should I buy? Also, will a motor shield absolutely be necessary? Please help me on how to start!

Thank you
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If you have a motor that doesn't need reversing, it can be powered by a transistor setup as shown here. If you do need to reverse it, an h-bridge is called for.  The h-bridge chip doesn't have to be on a shield, nor even on a factory built board, and can be made from scratch using a chip like a 298 on a breadboard as shown in this tutorial.

H-bridge chips like the 298 (which by the way, is not the only or even the best h-bridge chip) drive 2 motors, and so shields / boards using them allow you to hook up 2 motors very easily.
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Have you looked at the Pololu Zumo robot?
I have one and I would highly recommend it as a first Arduino robot.
http://www.pololu.com/catalog/product/2505
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Quote
Have you looked at the Pololu Zumo robot?

Hmmm I should have mentioned we have one of those, which we run from their 2130 driver board.

ARDUINOROBOTS24, if you use a 298 driver like the MotoMama you'll see they have heatsinks the size of a truck; the 2130 is much smaller and (although I'm sketchy on the details  smiley-cool ) uses a different technology and doesn't waste all that energy.
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