Advantages Lots Of Interaction, Cute
Disadvantages Poor Battery Life
|Value for Money|
Toys have come a very long way since I was a wee nipper. I’m thirty now and the ways things have changed is simply mind boggling sometimes. A prime example of this is a toy I bought a few weeks ago. This toy is what is known as a Fijit Friend. To be exact it is the pink one called Serafina. I have been amazed by exactly what this little toy can do so I wanted to share that with you and put across just how clever this little pink toy is.
Fijit Friends first hit my radar around six months ago. I do a lot of writing for another website and I wrote an article about big toys that were coming out over the Christmas period. One of these toys were Fijit Friends. Back then I didn’t realise how big these little toys would be. Over the past six months I have had several thousand reads of my article on these and they went on to be one of the biggest selling toys of 2011. Fijit Friends are made my the toy company Mattel, a company you are probably familiar with as they have been around for some time now.
Due to the massive success of Fijit Friends Mattel have actually brought out some smaller versions of the toys called Newbies and later in 2012 they are bringing out Fijit Friends Yippits. So as you can see these toys really were the start of something big. After all the hype surrounding these toys I decided I had to get one and see what all the fuss was about, for research purposes only mind due! So I bought one cheap on eBay and now it sits proudly on the kitchen table.
So as you can see this particular review is for the Fijit Friend Serafina. There are four characters in the range, Willa, Logan, Sage and of course Serafina. Each is a different colour and has a few slight differences in what it does. That is another thing I have not mentioned yet, this is not just a cuddly looking toy, a Fijit Friend is a singing, dancing, interactive mini robot! So what exactly can these Fijit Friends do?
So although this may look like a fairly innocuous little pink thing, there is actually quite a large amount of technology hidden away in there. The toys come with voice recognition software and they can recognise around thirty different phrases that you can come out with. In response to those phrases your Fijit Friend can make well over 100 different responses, so there is plenty of content in there for you to enjoy.
So what are the main things you can get this one to do? Well there are three modes which you can use when playing with the toy. These are dance mode, joke mode and chat mode. So first of all the most impressive, dance mode. To enter dance mode all you have to do is say to your Fijit, ‘dance with me’. When she hears this she will respond excitedly and ask you if you want to dance to her music or your own. If you say ‘yours’ she will then put on a song and dance along in time to the music. There seem to be three or four songs programmed in and it seems random as to which one you get. If you say ‘mine’ she will ask you to play something with a beat. So then you can put a song on and she will dance in time to the music.
If you want to talk with Serafina, when she asks you what you want to do now you simply say ‘chat with me’. Then she will respond and ask you a question. There are a few different questions she will ask you ranging from ‘what’s the weather like outside’ to ‘what mood are you in today’. There are different words you can use that will trigger a response, so if she asks you what the weather is like you could say ‘sunny’ and she will respond to that. The chat mode is clever but can soon get boring as you exhaust all the different responses.
The final mode is joke mode, to enter this you simply say ‘tell me a joke’. She will then proceed to tell you a joke, there are a few different ones programmed in and some, such as the knock knock joke, require you to make a response. The joke mode is perhaps the least impressive of the three different things you can get her to do.
As well as the standard features there are other little things you can do. For instance, press the light on her tummy and she will respond with a variety of different actions and sounds. The impressive thing about these toys is the amount of movement they posses, they literally bounce around on the surface you place them on.
There are a few other commands you can give that will give you a response. For instance, say ‘thankyou’ and she will respond with ‘your welcome’. When you have had enough and want your Fijit to be quiet, you can say, ‘goodnight’ and she will fall asleep and go into sleep mode. To get her out of this and ready for action again, you simply press her belly and she will wake up and be ready to perform again.
One thing that you can’t really see from the picture of Serafina is just how well her face lights up. When she is switched on her face glows and when she is talking or dancing her eyes flash different colours, the whole thing does look very impressive indeed.
One thing that really impresses me about the Fijit Friends is that there is more to them that you originally think. Although you get a list of things you can say to your toy to get responses, there are other things you can do as well. On the back of the toys head there is a little button called the chirp button, hold this down for three seconds and you get a little confirmation beep to tell you that it is in chirp mode. Now if you head to the Fijit Friends website there are little sound bites you can play which are called chirps. Play one of these and your Fijit Friend will respond with something you have not seen before, like a new joke or dance. Currently on the website there are four new dances you can unlock with chirps and four other bits of content you can unlock.
Where Mattel have been really clever though is how they have kept some content hidden away for future use. Now if you buy one of the small Fijit Friends Newbies, you can get the two to interact together. Again using the chirp feature you can get the two toys dancing in harmony and talking to each other. This seems to be the only way to unlock certain bits of content, which means when kids find out about this they will be nagging mum and dad to buy a Newbie for them.
Later in the year we are also getting Yippits which are going to unlock even more hidden content that we were previously unaware of. We are expecting new dances, new jokes and even more interactivity than ever before. Maybe in the future Mattel will bring out even more Fijit Friends toys that will unlock yet more content.
Before I bought this product I was a little sceptical as to how well it all actually works. You see the adverts and you think surely it can’t be that good. Well sorry to say it isn’t, however, it’s not far off. When using the Fijit Friend I would say that more often than not it responds in the way it is supposed to. These are designed to recognise a young girls voice, so I suppose my gruff tones may not be what she is used to. As I said though, more often that not the phrases I use do get a response. It says on the instructions that when giving a command you should be no more than two feet away, this does seem to be the case. If you are further away and raise your voice, it will sometimes work but not as often.
One thing that is important in a toy that is aimed at young children is ease of use. I would say that Serafina is pretty simple to work. To turn her on there is a simple little switch on the base, then there are three buttons. The one that glows on her belly and two on the back of her head. The home button is easy to use, you press this when you want to reset her and get her ready to take your next request. I can imagine some people being frustrated as you do have to use the right words to trigger a response, but if you have the instruction and the cheat sheet which come with the toy then there should really be no problem at all.
One thing I have failed to mention is just how these feel. They are made of quite strange material, the head is solid plastic but the body is made from soft rubber material. It bends and stretches and feels quite odd, not really in a bad way, just in an unexpected way. This is not really the kind of toy you would take to bed to cuddle but it still has a nice feel to it. Another feature is the removable ears, all the Fijit Friends characters have different ears so if you buy a few you can easily swap the ears around.
The Fijit Friends come in a large box, part plastic part cardboard. There is a little window at the front so you can actually touch the Fijit and press the button to try a few phrases. I must admit it took a bit of getting out when I first got it, a few complicated tags on the bottom took me a few minutes to work out, I almost felt like I was on Krypton Factor.
The major downside to this toy is the amount of power it uses. To run this you need five AA batteries. Five being a bad number as they tend to come in packs of four! I went to the shop and had to buy eight, due to the price I opted for some cheap Panasonic ones. This turned out to be a mistake, for the first hour or so of playing I had no problems. But on the second day when I was giving my confused grandma a display of Serafina’s talents, I noticed she sometimes seemed to glitch and reset herself. Over the coming days this got much worse and now she barely works at all. So it seems the battery life of this toy is not good at all. Admittedly if I had bought good quality batteries it would have lasted longer, but even so if your child plays with this one a lot, it will cost you are fair whack in batteries. Getting the batteries in is not so easy either, you have to find a tiny screw driver and mess around getting screws out, not something a young child would be capable of.
I have had a look at these a few times down in the local toy shop. I often thought about buying one but the price put me off. Buy this on the high street and you would be looking at paying around £55. Very expensive and annoying as in America these retail at around $60 which works out at about £40. You can get them cheaper over here if you shop around and buy online, mine was a slightly used one and it cost me £20 on eBay.
They are not so widely available in the UK either, there are four Fijit Friends but I have only ever seen two in the shops over here. You may have to head for some of the larger stores if you want either Logan or Sage or maybe just try and buy online.
Overall then I would have to say I have been very impressed with my new Fijit Friend. As I said at the outset, toys certainly have come along way in the last twenty years and I really was genuinely impressed at exactly what Serafina could do. I would imagine that after a few hours play the novelty of this toy may start to wear of slightly, but there is all that hidden content you can try and access which makes this more appealing. For price it is a little expensive but for the amount of technology involved and the fact that there is more to come from these, they are not really bad value. So if you are looking for an impressive little toy for your children this year, then why not get them their very own singing dancing robot, get them a Fijit Friend.
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