Every year, there are the ‘big presents’ – the ones that every child wants, that parents scramble to find and that are sometimes the best thing ever, and sometimes at the bottom of the toybox before the new year! This year, for obvious reasons, trawling the shops to get your hands on that perfect present just isn’t practical, and more and more of us are turning to online shopping to get organised. I have even bought my wrapping paper and cards online this year, but the one problem with online shopping is how easy it is to become overwhelmed by the sheer choice of what’s available.
Well, this year Amazon has released its list of top 12 toys that they think will be big this year, will be loved by the kids and are available with their Prime delivery service. We had a good look at the list, and there is sure to be something to inspire even the most baffled of present buyer, and we’ve been lucky enough to have been asked to try one out. Amazon’s top 12 picks for this year are:
- Barbie Fresh ‘n’ Fun Food Truck, currently priced at £49.99
- L.O.L Surprise! O.M.G. Remix 4-in-1 Plane Playset, currently priced at £89.99
- L.O.L Surprise! O.M.G. Remix Honeylicious Fashion Doll, currently priced at £40
- LEGO Star Wars The Mandalorian Bounty Hunter Transport Starship Toy, currently priced at £119.99
- LEGO Super Mario Adventures Starter Course Toy Interactive Figure & Buildable Game, currently priced at £44.99
- Mattel Games Uno Showdown, currently priced at £14.99
- PAW Patrol Dino Rescue Dino Patroller Motorised Team Vehicle with Exclusive Chase and T-Rex Figures, currently priced at £64.99
- Playmobil Back to the Future DeLorean Toy, currently priced at £39.99
- Present Pets, currently priced at £58.33
- Squeakee Interactive Balloon Dog, currently priced at £59.99
- Star Wars The Child Animatronic Edition “AKA Baby Yoda”, currently priced at £59.99
- VTech KidiZoom Studio (Red), Amazon Exclusive, currently priced at £59.99
The one that caught my daughters’ eyes the most though was Squeakee the Balloon Dog. Squeakee is a digital pet with a difference; there is no fluff, no cute puppy dog eyes and not a hint of pink in sight. Squeakee is a shiny red balloon dog who comes complete with his own pump, squeaky toy and even a pin!
We all eagerly awaited Squeakee’s arrival, and were delighted when he arrived less than 24 hours after he was ordered. He comes in an attractive, clear fronted box and really does look like a balloon animal dog. As I said before, the box contains Squeakee himself, a pin, a pump and a balloon toy for him along with an instruction manual. The box promises an interactive pet who has over 60 sounds and movements, can respond to your voice and touch, as well as weeing, farting, deflating and inflating. It all sounded very cool, but the thing that excited the kids the most is what Squeakee looked like; he’s a really good size, substantial toy and is a lovely bright shiny red colour. And he really does look just like a balloon dog!
The attention to detail in the design is great fun, and whilst most of Squeakee is a hard plastic material, his tail is a rubbery spring to it that’s super satisfying to flick and we love how the balloon knot that makes up his mouth is where you place the pump to feed and inflate him. Squeakee takes 4 x AA batteries, two in each of his rear legs and we found he definitely worked best with decent, higher powered batteries.
After we got the batteries inserted and switched him on, we were able to start interacting Squeakee and training him. Lots of interactive pets have apps that go with them, but not so with Squeakee, which I have to say I was really pleased about. It can be hard enough work as it is persuading kids to play with real toys, so when they do want to get one out I like that there is no temptation to connect it to a screen and start focussing more on that than the toy.
The pin and pump were my daughter’s favourite bit – the pin (not a real pin!) is used on a spot on Squeakee’s back and he deflates and collapses before your eyes with a hilarious squeak. Pump him up my placing the pump in his mouth and he reinflates like magic! Squeakee also has sensor points at various places on his body – tickle his tummy and he will roll onto his side for more. If you keep tickling, he gets happier and happier. If you stroke his ears, he sits for you, and if you tickle them some more, he stands up and gives you a really happy squeak!
If you feed Squeakee with his pump, he makes some realistic glugging noises, and if you’re really lucky, he’ll show his appreciation by farting for you or even doing a wee (cue much hilarity when he weed and the kids saw the ‘yellow patch’ on the table!). And if you’re not awfully happy with Squeakee for leaving his little presents for you, telling him off and that he’s been a naughty boy will also get a reaction! When you shout at him, he squeaks and if you keep shouting, he will pop and deflate. My kids, the unpleasant individuals that they are, seemed to love making Squeakee sad before perking him up again with a tummy rub and a pump of air. He really is hilarious and the way he moves mirrors a balloon deflating and reinflating perfectly! It’s like he has a personality all of his own and we all love him.
We found that Squeakee works very well and reliably – he doesn’t seem temperamental like some of the other interactive pets that the kids have had. We also loved that he wasn’t a cute, fluffy pet – he is something a little bit different, and we thought that would make him more appealing for slightly older kids too. My girls are 8 and 11, and although my eldest has grown out of all of her other virtual pets, she thought Squeakee was really quirky and cool. My youngest loves everything about him, but most especially making him fart!
I would absolutely recommend Squeakee to anyone who is looking for a fun and interactive toy this Christmas. We have had the same set of batteries in all week and they are still going strong. The kids both keep picking him up to play with, so he’s getting lots of use and keeping their interest very successfully. And he’s a lot less work than a real dog – if only we could get him to stop weeing and farting all the time!
Available to buy from Amazon here.