My girls and I recently got to test out a new toy product called Toymail. Toymail is a fun, creative way for children to exchange voicemail with friends and loved ones without using screen time.
Toymail makes these funny little animals that are basically "receivers" for your child's voicemail messages. We got Buck, the quirky little deer. There are 5 other animals to choose from: pig, fox, raccoon, bear, and skunk. All of them are a little wonky looking, making them a fun and modern toy for boys and girls alike.
For Toymail to work, you do have to download the Toymail App on your smart phone. If you do not have a smart phone, the toy would be useless to you. Then, you can set up your animal, connect it to your profile on the app, and connect it to your wifi so that it can send and receive voice mail messages.
When your child gets a new message, the toy alerts them. There are easy-to-use buttons on the animal that make it simple for kids to listen to their new messages as well as record new ones to reply. When they record a voicemail to send, they can send it using their own normal voice, or they can give themselves a voiceover by choosing one of the funny voices the app has to choose from. The Toymail operates on regular batteries, but goes "asleep" when you're not using it to conserve energy, which I like.
My girls, ages 3 and 4, played with their Toymail buck only a handful of times. They thought it was cool at first, but lost interest soon after, because they only had 1 message to listen to (from me). Because you have to rely on others downloading the app and sending messages, I feel like it probably won't get used at all, especially not regularly. I could see someone enjoying it if they had to work out of town a lot or something, but even then, it's a pretty expensive toy when a phone call would be easier.
Features I Love
I love the idea of it being a screen-free gadget. As much as we try to limit screen time for our kiddos, it still seems like so many toys out there have that feature. I also love the funny quirky animals. They are so much cuter than just a plastic box or something.
Features That Could Be Improved
When your child records a message to send to someone, they can either record in their own voice or choose a quirky character voice. And honestly, some of those voices are just downright creepy. Those voice-overs could definitely be improved.
Features I Hate
The one thing that really stinks about Toymail is that for anyone to send a voicemail to my kid, they have to have the Toymail app on their smart phone. I was thinking it would be fun for my girls' grandparents to send them messages, but because the app is a requirement, that's just not going to happen. Not all of their grandparents have a smart phone, and even if they do, downloading and trying to figure out how to use a brand new app is a lot to ask.
Would I Buy This Toy for a Friend's Child?
Absolutely not. At $60, this is a pretty spendy and unnecessary gadget. I feel like you could get something pretty awesome for 60 bucks! I'd much rather buy them something else that will get a lot of use and that doesn't require others to do so much for it to be worthwhile.