Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Review: Various Littlest Pet Shop Toys

Disclosure: In return for this review, I received three Littlest Pet Shop toys: a package of mini dolls (2 included), a Digital Pen, and a Virtual Interactive Pet (VIP).


My six-year-old daughter begs me to buy one of Hasbro's Littlest Pet Shop (LPS) toys each time we enter a Wal-Mart, Target, or Toys R'Us. I tell her no, my reason being that I don't want little toys littering the floor. Perhaps I should have paid more attention to the mini dolls as these have a magnet contained in one of the feet. This fact I learned when my daughter brought home LPS mini dolls that her friends dropped in her bag at school.

"Oh, alright," I thought. "These aren't so bad." She doesn't leave them on the floor like legos, and everyone knows how bad it hurts to step on one of those blocks. She makes lines of them on her bedside table, shares them with her sister, and trades them like baseball cards with her friends. The two mini dolls we received resemble English sheepdogs (#465 & #466) and make up part of the "Cuddliest" collection. The girls (ages 4 and 6) approve of these, and the magnets in the feet allow these toys to stay on the fridge or on the kids' magnetic bulletin boards. Storing them, important to a mom of three messy children, is easy.

I wanted more from the Digital Pen, as I expected her to be able to draw with it and upload that drawing. Why I had that thought, I don't know. Ridiculously high expectations for a toy? Yes. What this toy does do is function as a ink pen and as a digital pet in the vein of those Tamagotchi toys that drove me crazy when I taught young children. "Leave it at home!" I would silently scream. Eventually, a child would begin crying that its pet would die if I didn't give it back to him/her. It has to be fed! "Oh help." A parent informed me that I had caused the pet to die when I took the digital creature away during a three hour summer camp.

Surely, I did not just give one of those things to my child? Oh, I did, but as she has real pets, she understood that this was a toy. My pride welled when she hit the reset button yesterday so she could begin again. "That's the fun with this, Mom." So, she likes it. The controls are easy, twisting the barrel, moving the cute dog on top. She can play the games. The menu is intuitive. The simple dot matrix graphics don't bother her. Someone who can speak English wrote the instruction book. To be clear, I don't like the toy because children become consumed with taking care of the pet. Some children resist leaving it. Luckily, mine didn't.

Lastly, my four-year-old received the Virtual Interactive Pet, which is a plush toy, complete with overly large head and activation code for the online world at littlestpetshop.com. She cuddles with the plush toy, a cat which she named Tulip, mainly at night, and when we played on the website, the toy sat beside us. Thumbs up on the plush part of the toy.

I like educational games for children for two reasons: 1. they learn something without realizing it, and 2. they learn that learning can be fun and illuminating. The interactive part of the VIP is not composed of learning games. These are hand/eye coordination skills. A thumbs down for my type of parenting. Yet, when the kid plays a game, she earns LPS dollars, which she can then spend for different items.

Perhaps this teaches my child to spend money on rather frivolous items, like a hat or a new collar or the pet's own iPod. That makes me uncomfortable. We are a prosperous family, but we don't spend much on the latest technology. My cell phone is not very small, doesn't play music, and the ringtones won't work on it. I'm not getting a new one, though. The phone works for talking and texting. I don't need more. I'd like to send that message to my children. If I let her play with the web-based interactive toy too much, will she begin to disregard what she notices each day with us? Probably not, but my comfort level is low. However, there is a lesson that money must be earned, not given. So, let's put my comfort level a bit higher.

I'm not the only parent who worries about getting "Financial Tips From Fluffy". Kathleen Deveny wrote about this topic in Newsweek a few weeks back. Follow the link. It will make you think.

Overall, these are cute toys. I'd direct my family to purchase these for birthday gifts, and I will probably allow my girls to buy a mini toy or two with their own money. They do look adorable on our refrigerator.

3 comments:

dragon knitter said...

be careful with the magnetic parts on these toys. i've heard of a lot of recalls on them, because the magnets come loose, and can be swallowed, and cause internal damage. particularly the little guy.

my girls had the original tomagatchis, too, and i had to "babysit" them at work while they were at school, lol (i worked in foodservice at the time, and my boss didn't care (heck, he was little removed from being a child himself, considering he was 21 at the time!))

Mark said...

Sarabeth,
I thought this might be of interest.


Kids’ Favorite TickleMe Plant Seeds, FREE for Earth Day.
Help Your Child Get Excited About and Appreciative of Plants and Nature!


Pawling, N.Y.—Earth Day 2008- The TickleMe Plant Company will send a packet of TickleMe Plant® seeds to one hundred people, selected randomly, who respond to this question, “What are three or more reasons why plants are important to the health of Planet Earth and Its Inhabitants?” Send your email response in the form of words, pictures, poems, etc to: customerservice@ticklemeplant.com or mail a letter to: Earth Day Contest, TickleMe Plant Company, 60 Hurds Corner Road, Pawling, N.Y 12564. Be sure to visit www.TickleMePlant.com to learn about the TickleMe Plant.

“We are offering this contest because we want kids to become sensitive to and aware of the importance of plants. In addition, we love seeing how excited kids get the first time they tickle their plant and it moves! ” says Larry Chipkin –President of the TickleMe Plant Company. Everyone is a winner, as all entries and letters with email addresses will be emailed a two dollar discount coupon. Winners will be informed on or before Earth Day April 22, 2008. Some responses will be posted on the website.
In addition, The TickleMe Plant Company will donate 1% of all 2008 profits to The Nature Conservancy’s program to save the rainforest called “Adopt an Acre®.”

What is a TickleMe Plant?
Native to Brazil, they can be found there and in other tropical areas, growing in the wild. The scientific name for the TickleMe Plant is Mimosa pudica.
"You simply plant the seeds in one of our growing kits or a flower pot with soil, water it and the plants will sprout in days," says Larry Chipkin. Two weeks later, you can tickle this very sensitive plant and watch in amazement as the plant closes its leaves and lowers its branches. Then, usually within 15 minutes, it lifts its fernlike branches and re-opens its leaves. TickleMe Plants can be grown any time of the year, as an indoor houseplant. They also can produce pretty pink fluffy flowers!

About The TickleMe Plant Company
Mark Chipkin, Educational Project Director says, "We want every child (and those young at heart) to have a positive experience growing plants. Growing the TickleMe Plant from seeds is an adventure children (5 to 105) will never forget."
All TickleMe Plant products are easy to grow, no green thumb needed! Thousands of teachers and students (K-Graduate School) have grown their own TickleMe Plants. The TickleMe Plant product line includes: packets of seeds, complete growing kits with soil pellets and greenhouses with flower pots. These seed packets retail for $4.95 plus shipping at www.TickleMePlant.com

For more information, cool experiments and activities, visit www.TickleMePlant.com TickleMe Plant products are available throughout the continental United States. They make great gifts and party favors for all occasions. They can be found at science museums, nature centers, stores and catalogs that offer educational products which excite youngsters about science, gardening and nature. TickleMe Plants also are sold on line at web stores, such as Educational Innovations, Edmund Scientific, and eNasco.

Date: March 30, 2008
Re: TickleMe Plant Company, Inc.
Contact: Larry Chipkin, (845)350-4800
Larry@ticklemeplant.com
www.TickleMePlant.com

##
More about the TickleMe Plant Company
My name is Mark Chipkin. I am a science teacher and co-owner of the TickleMe Plant Company with my brother Larry Chipkin. I am the Educational Project Director of our family run TickleMe Plant Company.
We formed the TickleMe Plant Company with the intent of encouraging children to become more excited about plants and the wonders of nature. In my elementary and middle school science classes, I always provide a plant growing experience. The TickleMe Plant experience is the one the students always remember.
On our site, www.TickleMePlant.com , we include videos, pictures, activities and experiments to help encourage children (and those adults young at heart) to want to grow and care for plants. We hope that through the wonderful experience of growing the TickleMe Plant they will become more excited about, sensitive to and aware of nature.
In the school setting, we have found that the name TickleMe Plant is much easier for young children to get excited about and remember, than Mimosa pudica, humble plant, embarrassed plant or sensitive plant. However, more importantly, we wanted to distinguish our brand of seeds and grow kits because of the individualized educational and customer support that we offer. Our family members spend the time to help each of our customers with their science fair projects, cultivation questions and insect control questions. We answer all email and phone calls.
We will remain dedicated to helping people enjoy the wonders of plants and indoor gardening. We pride ourselves on always listening to feedback from our customers and those who take the time to write about us. We guarantee our seeds to grow for each customer and will replace them if anyone has any difficulty growing them.
Our focus is primarily on caring about children and plants and not on marketing. Thank you, Mark@ticklemeplant.com or TickleMePlants@aol.com

Laser Pegs said...

Really a nice resource of toys shop online . I have got more about different type of toys and gifts for the kids like kids building toys, kids building kit, kids toys on line and many more...