Pros: Fun, long-lasting, durable, educational, easy to assemble
Cons: Discontinued :(. Boo, Fisher-Price, Boo.
You, my dear, loyal, faithful reader must be pondering why I would write a review of a discontinued product. There are many toys that Aidan plays with, many childcare items I have used, that have been discontinued and I'd never write a review about those. Why? I simply don't care enough to -- afterall, what's the point in writing a review on a product that would be hard to find? They just didn't make that much of an impact on me. But I sit here thinking about how much my son still plays with the Intellitainer that sits in his playroom a full year and a half after we first trotted it out.
That's right, dear reader, 18 months of almost daily play. That means this toy is the longest-running in our household, with the closest competitors at only a year of play (and not even daily). Discontinued or not, that sort of devotion from a toddler with a bright, shiny new kitchen merits SOME sort of review.
So what is the Intellitainer
First, let me start off with how we found it. This was one of those items we knew we had to have while registering at our local Babies R Us. We were walking down the bouncy seat aisle, looking at all the different kinds of exersaucers when this caught our eye. We commenced playing with it and realized that, five minutes later, we knew it was the one we wanted. Some nice person (I believe it was my father) purchased it and we got it as a shower gift. Yippee.
So, what caught our eye? What made it different from the standard exersaucer concept?
First, it's not really an "exersaucer." It is a play station with three sides and a seat in the middle. The seat has a buckle (to keep your baby strapped in) and it swivels in a 360 degree circle. In addition to the swivel action, your baby can also move the seat back and forth along the rails allowing the baby to reach all three sides of play. The seat is soft cloth (decorated with an ABC 123 pattern).
The sides are made of yellow plastic and have the following features:
*On/Off switch with two volumes, quiet and loud
*Music/ABC mode, when the button is moved it will play music
*Storybook that tells Twinkle, Twinkle, Jack and Jill, and Mary Had a Little Lamb (when in music mode, it'll either play music or sing the story)
*ABC/Red,Green,Blue buttons (when in song mode it'll play music). Hit the button once for the letter and again to hear the color. When you hit the button, it lights up
*ABC wheel that can be spun around to play the Alphabet song (it plays London Bridge is Falling Down in song mode)
*Trumpet that can move up and down and says Up/Down whenever moved (it plays the trumpet in song mode)
*Drum that can be moved up down and says Slow/Fast whenever touched (it plays the drums in song mode)
*Plastic bus with a number wheel on it, when spun the number wheel will sing the numbers from 1 - 10 (it will sing another number song in song mode)
*The plastic bus could also move back and forth (I believe it says "The schoolbus is yellow")
*Large plastic ball on a bendy leg with beads inside of it
*Spinning mirror with a clock on one side
*Gears that can be turned
*Blocks of different shapes form an "abacus" (I wouldn't call it that, that's what Fisher-Price called it)
Back Side (red plastic):
*Hanging apple whose core spins
*Hanging yellow school bell that rings
*Hanging purple thing with beads
The seat is completely removeable and machine washable and comes with a built in snack tray. It uses 3 "C" batteries and has a maximum weight of 25 lbs. Its recommended age is 6 months and up. The original cost was around $80, though you can find it on CraigsList and Ebay for MUCH less.
Ease of Assembly
I seem to remember this thing having a LOT of pieces but the assembly not being that bad. You have to attach most of the stickers and completely assemble the legs and seat. Again, it didn't take me that long (and trust me, if I had a hard time with it I would have remembered). The seat is particularly easy to put on and take off (once your child reaches the 25 lb weight limit) without having to deconstruct the entire toy. I'd say it was done somewhere around 30 - 45 minutes.
Ease of Cleaning
Throw the seat in the washer and wipe down everything else. I give it a spritz with my Clorox spray every once in a while. but it's no big deal. There aren't a lot of nooks and crannies for dirt and crumbs to get into.
At first... and then on...
The first pictures I have of Aidan in this are around five to six months -- they want your child to sit up well independently and I seem to remember that happening around five months. Even though I put the seat height on the lowest setting, only his toes reached the floor but I wasn't too concerned about it because he could pull himself along the rails with just his upper body strength. Within a few months he had grown enough so that his whole foot was on the floor. This toy was amazing! He'd sit in that chair for what seemed like hours, touching everything, spinning around and hitting buttons. While it seemed like hours, it was probably only around 10 minutes or so... but 10 minutes is complete bliss to a mom of a 5 month old who demands routine attention. He'd gnaw on the "ice cream cone" (the rattle on a bendy stick), play the music and just smile. He touched and examined everything over and over again.
The months past and my son started to be able to maneuver better, he learned how to push off with his feet and send the seat sliding to the end of the rail without him having to walk. He learned he could uproot one end of the abacus by pulling hard enough (that allowed him to remove the blocks). He learned about flipping the pages of the book and spinning the bus's wheel. The seat was washed an uncountable amount of times, the sides wiped down and sanitized well. It's been played with by a ton of toddlers. Through all that, it still looks fairly new (with the exception of the random crusting of food that mommy missed in her cleaning). Oh sure, some of the stickers are peeling up and the abacus is broken... but most of the toy is still intact. The sound still plays and heck... I've only had to change the batteries once in a year and a half! I removed the seat once Aidan hit 25 pounds (also because he could climb into the seat, but not out of it), so he could walk around it to his heart's content.
He then turned two and I tried to disassemble it and put it away. You've never seen the temper tantrum that child threw when I broke out my screwdriver and explained what I was doing. In a choose your battles world, I figured that if it still made him happy and he still plays with it... why not? And he still does (play with it) to this very day.
What mommy likes, besides the peace and quiet she gets when Aidan is playing with it
First, I like the ease of cleaning and assembly that I've already described. I like how durable the plastic is (a few bruises for a good 18 months of hard play by multiple toddlers is excellent in my opinion) and how it will last me through quite a few more children... but really, I love the longevity of the piece. Most of the other kids I know outgrew their exersaucers a long time ago, but they still love to play with Aidan's Intellitainer. What's really neat about it are all the features they manage to include. It teaches numbers, colors, letters, opposites, and shapes. It reads stories and improves motor skills. It acts as a would-be walker (without the danger) and helps improve muscle coordination while building leg strength. He rarely sat down once he could stand in it. I like the two different modes, allowing younger babies to learn through music, songs and rhythms, while allowing older ones to learn their alphabet and numbers. I like that two whole sides are completely without batteries, giving the kids coordination toys like gears that turn and blocks that slide.
In essence, this is probably one of the most perfect toys I've found for my son... which is completely fitting that they discontinued it. I still can't figure out why Fisher-Price got rid of one of their best toys on the market (since most of the reviews you'll read are overwhelmingly positive).
I think this is one of the few toys that is actually worth the $80 price tag that was paid initially. If I had the option to do that purchase over again, I'd still make this decision with no hesitation. My friend gave us her exersaucer when her son outgrew it but it was never a hit like the Intellitainer. Sure exersaucers are portable and collapseable, but they're nowhere near the fun that the Intellitainer is. In fact, I'm actually telling you that if I could... I'd buy this used in a heartbeat. It's colorful, durable, educational and fun. It entertains your child and stimulates their brains. It provides a safe environment to try walking for the first time. My son (who NEVER liked his walker) was walking in this from an exceedingly young age. It's something that your child won't outgrow for a long time and, in my mind, that makes it a "Best Buy" type of purchase.
I give the Fisher-Price Intellitainer a Five-Star rating and a notation of: One of the best products I've reviewed to date. If you're in the market for an exersaucer-style of toy, I'd highly recommend you investigate the Intellitainer... even if it is used!