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Because my 2-year-old son has gotten a little too adept at working the iPad — "my iPad," as he now boldly calls it — I've been eager to shift his attention to toys that require more fine motor skills and, well, fewer pixels.
That's where the VTech Go! Go! Smart Animals Playset comes in. While the VTech brand is known for cool, kid-friendly tablets, action cameras and smartwatches, the company also makes toddler-focused toys that require young kids to build, make choices and interact, all while learning about things like simple construction and fun facts.
The playset has kids building a colorful, winding track on which they can place different battery-powered plastic animals (in our case, Ryan the Rhino). The animals slide down hills or ride up a kid-powered elevator while lighting up and talking when they slide over SmartPoint locations on the track.
In addition to keeping my toddler entertained for longer than you can say "swipe and click," the Go! Go! Smart Animals Playset also had him spending quality time with his 8-year-old sister, who wanted to join in the fun, too — which was basically like parenting gold.
Features I Love
Designed for kids ages 1-5, the Go! Go! Smart Animals Playset was just the right balance of fun and challenge for my 2-year-old. While the set comes with many parts in several plastic bags (which can often be a nightmare for parents and kids), the pieces themselves were large enough to safely fit in toddler hands, and the puzzle-like construction was easy for him to master. Also, with help from his sister and me, he could look at the picture on the box to see how the pieces fit together. That said, he was also free to use his imagination to zig where the picture suggested he zag. I also liked that kids could place the animals at different points on the track or even change the direction. Ryan the Rhino entertained my son with fun facts about letters and words.
Features That Could Be Improved
While I appreciated how easily the pieces snapped together, it was a little frustrating to see how easily they also came apart. If Ryan the Rhino took a particularly brisk turn on the track, or if my toddler pushed a little too hard, some of the pieces just broke away from each other, especially the part that connected at the bottom of a slide.
I also would have liked the playset to contain two animals instead of one. While my kids played together nicely for the most part, there were a couple of moments when Ryan the Rhino was caught in a bitter custody battle between my daughter and son.
Would I Buy This Toy for a Friend's Child?
Definitely. My son has since gone back to the toy several times, and he really enjoys snapping the pieces together and pushing Ryan the Rhino up and down the slide. As a parent, I love seeing him creating his own adventures — with family or on his own!