Hasbro is constantly launching some great toys for pre-schoolers and we were recently invited to test out two of their recent additions – Baby Alive and Furreal Chatty Charlie, the Barkin’ Beagle. Having Grace (aged 5), Noah (aged 4) and Marley (18 months) to hand, we had plenty of fun testing out the goods….
Marley loves her ‘babies’, she has been lucky enough to have been gifted with a whole host of hand me down dolls from Grace so this brand spanking new doll has been more than worth the wait!
Baby Alive, as the name suggests, replicates actions of real babies, particularly in relation to emotion and there’s plenty of real tears to be had by her (as many of us parents can most definitely relate to!) This Sweet Tears baby follows a successful line of other babies from within this range that are each focused on different areas of understanding the world around young children. This doll is feeling a bit under the weather and is really aimed at bringing out emotion and empathy within your own little ones as they digest and manage someone else’s feelings and emotions.
She’s a chunky doll with an easy-to-read face and while she is teary and a little unhappy as she’s not feeling particularly well, she’s not too sad looking with plenty of bright floral clothing and a modern well-kept hairstyle.
She has a good selection of phrases to hand. Over the years I have noticed that children either go for the most basic, cheapest, ugliest doll they can find or the all-singing, speaking, expressive doll that becomes their best friend. This definitely falls into the latter area and is a really good choice to tick off that box.
There’s a really intelligent backstory to the toy that helps children to understand emotions and problem solve. A range of included accessories helps bring to life some scenarios and my children really enjoy working out why she was upset and how they can rectify it. It actively promotes creative role-play for those early years in giving them direction within an everyday scenario that they can then act out.
Marley and Grace both played beautifully together as Grace directed the set up e.g. she had turned a corner of the play room in to a doctor surgery, and Marley would bring in upset, poorly Baby Alive while Grace assessed her needs. I really like little elements such as the doll’s response to the thermometer so it guides children through real life and for parents with sick children themselves, can help relay the process when they don’t necessarily understand. Intuition, combined with structured play, makes this a fantastic starter baby toy for children to establish a dialogue.
Baby Alive is priced £49.99 from Smyth Toys.
The second toy that Hasbro has recently launched is Furreal’s Chatty Charlie, a barking beagle pet dog that will have you building up a new language.
As a toy it’s super cuddly and soft on the outside, although it has a tough inner shell so it is less of a teddy and more of a toy to pick up and put down. With the flick of a switch you get that added interaction which really makes it a good interactive toy as it responds to touch and sound. The main focus is on the barks, which the collar button translates in to phrases such as ‘I love you’ and ‘I need a hug’, and with over 80 on offer, there’s a lot to be said so it keeps the interest. Some of the phrases are a little American and focus on being very cutesy but there’s nothing your child won’t understand. It also sings some of your favourite nursery rhymes for that familiarity and mixes up some of the sayings.
The expressive beagle doesn’t just have sound but its ears move up/down and in/out; the collar lights up and replicating a real dog’s excitement, the tail wags side to side.
My three kids enjoyed playing with it – the older two lost interest sooner than Marley who kept returning to it asking for more for quite some time – until I actually had to ‘put Charlie for a lie down’ for a break from a very chatty Charlie!
Furreal Chatty Charle, the Barkin’ Beagle is priced £54.99 from Smyth Toys.
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