Remember Tamagotchis, the pocketable electronic pets that bleeped themselves to death unless you fed them digital dinners and cleaned up their pixellated poo? It looks as though kids tech makers Vtech do – they’ve put together a range of electronic pets called KidiPet Touch that could spark off the craze with youngsters all over again, while adding an educational element into the mix. We had a quick play with the range at an Amazon Summer Wish List event yesterday, and here are our initial thoughts on the new techy toys.
Aimed at children aged 4 years and older, the chunky circular toys fit in the palm of your hand and come in three styles; a blue Dog version, a pink Kitten and an orange Pony. In the centre of the devices is a small low-resolution touchscreen that shows your pet and its mood, which you can tap to interact with the digital animals in all manner of ways, feeding them, playing games with them and other activities.
A ring sits just outside of the screen, which can be twisted to let your pet visit one of six different locations, including a market and a vet.Where the VTech toys differ from the Tamagotchis of old is the way they subtly teach children while they play. Playing games with the animals and treating them well lets you earn coins, which you’ll then use to buy food for your pet from the market with. As well as teaching nurturing skills, it’ll also teach them simple maths skills and the concept of sticking to a budget.
On the edge of each KidiPet also sits a sensor which KidiPet toys communicate with each other, meaning that if you get a gang of the toys together, the animals housed within can interact and play, making them happier. With a built-in microphone, the toys also allow children to train the pets to perform tricks.
Weighing 240g and measuring 19.6 x 15.5 x 4.4 cm, they’re perfectly sized toys for toddlers hands, with durable casing that’d survive a fair few drops we’d imagine. However, that touch screen felt a little bit soft, and if kids were to dig it with a pointy object it may well break. It’s worth noting that the KidiPets run off of 2 AAA batteries too, so you’ll want to keep a few dozen handy if you don’t want your pooch to suffer an untimely power-related death.
At a mere £16.99 on Amazon, the KidiPet Touch toys should see little ones happily at play for a good few weeks, though slightly older children may not see the appeal if they’ve already discovered Pokemon and Moshi Monsters.