“ Manufacturer: Mini mix „
Ani-mates "Top Dogs" are a new range of collectible little animals which are available in packs from Newsagents and seem to be priced at £1.99 everywhere. They are billed as "series 1", so though this is a new product I can only assume more are planned in the range, currently there are 13 different dogs to collect.
Having successfully avoided the "go go's" craze, which has been has been a big feature of primary school playgrounds throughout the land I believe, I was a little surprised to find myself buying this new product for my kids. The little dogs have featured heavily in adverts on kids' commercial TV over the last few weeks, and seeing as I know my girls treasure little models, and the toy falls into "small treat" or more frankly "bribe" range, I did decide to purchase some of these to see if they were any good. I won't deny that pester power featured heavily in my agreeing to do so!
In each small foil pack you get a mini fur-covered dog, a card with their details, a stand and a leaflet telling you all about the other dogs and their names. On the leaflet there is also a unique code allowing you to log into the animates web page.
As a one-off this item is actually pretty good. The dogs themselves are a little weird looking, they have over-large heads for some reason, but they are fairly cute. They are pretty similar to "puppy in my pocket" and the like, however what makes them different is that they have tails and heads that are on springs - think mini nodding dog. This is actually quite a good feature, they have a little green plastic paw-shaped stand that you can put them on (they have a hole in one paw), and this can be used to make the dog rock and spin. When we went on the website we found pictures of all the others, and that we also could vote for our favourite dog and enter a competition. The card that came with the dog was a bit like a "Top Trump" card, with various levels of cuteness, fun and a "dog rating".
All in all it has been designed to appeal to children, and my kids certainly liked their dogs ( Lulu and Beefy if you are interested) and are keen to collect more. I can imagine that they would be very disappointed if they got the same dog again. This range is quite new so hasn't yet taken off amongst their peers, if it does I expect they could do swaps.
The dogs are pretty well made (in China like almost everything it seems), at a couple of centimetres big they are just right to be carried around in pockets, and my girls have played with their dogs a fair amount and enjoyed making a house for them out of lego. The paw stand makes the toy have some added interest and works quite well. Fur and nodding feature are both intact through play, and my children really like their dogs so, to me, they were worth the price I paid, even though they are a bit gimmicky and disposable.
That said, I would be loathe to encourage them to collect the whole set, and the cards they come with are a bit of a waste of paper in my opinion as even if you had all 13 cards I can't see it being much of a game. The dogs I feel would be more likely to appeal to girls, and it will be interesting to see if these are the next craze at my daughter's school. I would buy these again perhaps in preference to a kids' magazine or sweet treat, recommended, just with the proviso that once you start this sort of collection you may end up having to buy a lot of them - which I guess, to be fair, is probably the reasons these were made.
Overall these dogs are cute, fair value as a one-off and kids seem to like them!
More details here, if by chance you have missed the adverts: