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During the night some mad scientist must have broken into my home and let the dogs (and cats and monsters) out of their little egg homes, because apparently my old Giga Pets have come to life, and I will add, they are much easier to deal with once allowed to roam freely - there are no annoying alarms going off, no need to constantly feed, play with and take them to vet and when I tell them to sleep, they actually do it!
So just what new trend/fad am I talking about? What will be one of the must have items on almost every child's list? If you don't know already, let me tell - it's TOMY's Micro Pets. A Micro what you say - if you haven't seen the commercials or seen them in stores let me explain - a Micro Pet is one part Giga Pet and one part Poo-chi and just a lot a more fun when you merge the good parts and toss out all the junk - another way to put it - it's an understandable Furby that actually sleeps when you tell it to sleep.
If you're still sitting there going Furwhat, Giga who, Poo-chi, then perhaps you haven't around for all the fads I have - so let me cover the basics, get you up to speed and explain why this is one fad I actually like.
During the late '90s - maybe '98 the first hideous toy fad came out - Giga Pets, aka Virtual Pets, Tamogachi Pets, etc. My oldest then 9 had to have one (or two or maybe three). The Giga Pet was an oval shaped holder that housed a virtual pet (cat, dog, even monkey - that's the one I got myself to prove my child a point). It had more noises, buttons and instructions that I care to recall.
In fact they were so bad they got banned from our school because they were constantly going off - as you had to care for your pet, feed it, take it to the vet, bath it, praise it and just keep it happy every waking minute (hey wait, that sounds very familiar). The worst part was they had a clock, and if your child got it wrong that thing would go off in the middle of the night.
After that was Furby - an annoying little creature who spoke it's own language, that your child was suppose to master and who never shut up the entire time it was "awake". Putting it to sleep was also a nightmare, it just NEVER got that command and if you walked past it to fast that thing would wake up. Furbies were supposed to interact with one another, but good luck getting that feature to function properly.
Then came all other types of virtual pets like Poo-chi, a robotic cat, dog, etc. None ever worked that great and all had more instructions than any normal child could comprehend, let alone implement.
About June of this year we started seeing commercials for the latest fad - Tomy Micropets. At that point they were "exclusive" to Toys R Us - in fact so exclusive you couldn't find them in stores or online until about September. Usually our local TRU gets about one bins worth every other week, so you're lucky if you stumble upon them - which is the only way this mom buys fad toys -I don't stand in line - if I find it, you may get it, if not - too bad. K B Toys now sells them online as well, so I wonder when they stopped being exclusive.
I think Micropets run about $6.99 a piece - which still adds up when you multiply by four. A month or so ago I bought some as a gift for my kids helping out when I was sick and the hub was away - plus I wanted to get a chance to see them in action before the holidays - I now have four more socked away and few to give as gifts.
In a nutshell
Micropets run on two LR44 batteries - included with them. They are about an inch high and wide (give or take). They work using a "magic voice response system." Currently there are 10 models available, broken into four subcategories - monsters (Bob, Kuda, Yuk and Sumo), (bears (Kuma and Bongo), dogs (Siren and Moshi) and cats (Coco and Chumsley). I don't know if there is any significance to the groupings, nor do I hope to acquire the knowledge that allows me to become an expert on Micropets. To activate your Micropet all you need to do is remove the "clear plastic isolation strip" in the back - then read all directions and be prepared to be amazed (or at least not annoyed for hours.
The basics, and do they measure up
First things first - always keep in mind the price - 7 dollars. Don't expect any high tech gizmo for that price, but do expect more than a battery operated dog doing back flips.
What they claim:
*Magic Voice Response System
*Micropets run, zig zag, walk and turn around
*Over 18 different commands and functions
*Micropets ears really move up and down, and their eyes light up
*Three different personality modes
Micropets come with detailed instructions, and there is a website www.micro-pets.com
One added feature is that Micropets will interact with otherMicropets and each has a thing they love to do. For example the instructions for Siren the little Dalmatian tell me that he loves to sing and his friends (the ones he works with) are: Moshi, Coco, Bongo and me (awww, don't I feel special now).
Now with any electronic fad toy, there are some basics that must be mastered, or at least understood, before on can begin playing with the toy. This toy has no secret language to master or really any things to learn, that an average five-year shouldn't already know (age for the toy is five and up).
The most this toy requires is patience (to have the child watch that the eyes light up between commands and that the child speak slowly and as clearly as possible. My one son has several speech impediments, and he can get this toy to operate. The only time we have issues is when all four have them going and are barking out commands - at that point I can understand why the toys may not respond properly.
These toys can go on any flat/smooth surface - tabletops, books, linoleum and hard wood floors. I notice that they tend to stall out on my linoleum, as it is grooved and the little wheels don't turn as well, but they work fine on my mom's linoleum.
Turn on the pet, touch the button on its head. The eyes will light up when it ready to play, and it may move a bit or make noise. To turn him off hold down the button for five seconds or ignore the pet and he will get bored and go to sleep. The good thing is that once hes down, he wont get back up until the button is pushed.
Micropets operate on simple voice commands:
Say the name and the eyes will light up.
Say, talk to me or what do you have to say for yourself and the pet will make a noise.
Say the name and then walk or run and the pet will move forward.
Say turn around and the pet will turn around.
Say, lets go for a walk and the pet will zig zag.
Say, youre a good whatever (dog, cat, etc) and the pet will laugh, giggle and acknowledge your praise.
Clap your hand five times and the pet will sing.
Ignore the pet or keep giving the same command and the pet will get angry and/or cry for attention.
Ignore them long enough and they will go to sleep.
(Hey wait this sounds a lot like some dates Ive had).
Basically any noise your child makes will illicit some type of response from the Micropet its a cant lose situation. Now the child may not get the response they hoped for, but at least this thing works and works fairly well considering the price. I still recall the dictionary that came with my Furby there was no way I could get that thing to operate and I had no idea what I was saying half the time.
Overall I really like this toy its small, portable, fun and easy to operate. It does what it says it will and has provided hours of fun for my kids. I happen to think they are very cute and wouldnt mind having a monster of my very own.
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Amount Paid (US$): 6.99
Type of Toy: Other
Age Range of Child: Whole Family