FurReal Friends Makers Proto Max Toy
FurReal Friends Makers Proto Max Toy
Price: CDN$ 119.99
More fun than a barrel full of monkeys or blowing bubbles in the summer
Because of the way this toy makes the kids engage and think while playing with it plus the way they repeatedly go back to it and learn something new I’m happy to give it a 5 star rating.
I have good luck with FurReal critters and this one carries on that tradition. This is however a much more involved toy than the others. There is a real leaning towards educating kids while allowing them to have a ton of fun.
The toy does require some assembly but all of the pieces are major and easily snapped together. A small Phillips head screw driver is required to remove the cover where four AA batteries are inserted. Other than that it was a simple thing to follow the manual and set everything up.
The app was easy to find and download/install on a no name inexpensive Android tablet. Connecting via Bluetooth was simple and in all, downloading, setting up, and connecting via Bluetooth took less than 5 minutes.
Once the above was completed things got a little more involved and this is where reading the manual becomes important unless your one of the people that like to find their way around. There are so many different items to select and work with, there are levels that can be achieved by working through lower levels. In each newly unlocked level new “programming” instructions become available. It really is a good thing to work through the levels so that the kids get an understanding of the fundamentals before getting into slightly more complicated steps. These steps are really just slide and place commands, there is no real programming required – think writing code, that then make the critter run through the steps once the kids hit the execute button. There is a long list but things like go straight, turn right, bark, backup, turn left go straight, go straight then right, blink the eyes, turn LED’s green… and a lot more. There’s enough to keep the kids engaged for several hours over and over again.
This toy has a lot of repeat playability and the kids are on it at least once a day. The older has taken sitting and “thinking” of different ways to make the critter work its way through the house and also see just how many steps he can make it execute without running into anything. It really has him immersed and this is ok, its making him think through sequential logical steps. He gets to use the game like app to make a real-life robot do his bidding. For us this is better than the same amount of time he would spend playing video games or watching brainless YouTube vids.
Besides the sequential step layout, there are also sensors on the robot that allow physical interaction which then results in responses, little whines, snuffles, and various noises. The responses can also be programmed. While it makes noise it’s not like the much hated repeated incessant brain eating noises that so many other toys make.
About the only real down side I can think of here is that you need a tablet. A phone can be used but the screen is just too small to interact with the app properly. Use a tablet, it doesn’t need to have a lot of memory but even the 8 inch we use makes the app so much easier use.
The AA batteries so far last about 5 days, wholly dependent on how many hours the kids use it, and we’ve simply changed to rechargables. They don’t last as long in running time but we’re not spending extra dollars and tossing batteries in the garbage. If there was one thing I would like to see changed it would be to have internal batteries which can be recharged through a USB connection.
End result is that this little critter is a lot of fun while being an actual teaching tool and when kids have fun they learn the best.