Product Type: Leapfrog baby toys
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Baby's best friend
Leapfrog My Puppy Pal Scout
Member Name: theda
Leapfrog My Puppy Pal Scout
Date: 20/02/10, updated on 20/02/10 (47 review reads)
Advantages: Can be customised, great range of features, good price
Disadvantages: Computer required
My six-month-old was given this as a Christmas present and it has fast become a favourite not only with him, but with my two-year old as well. It's a soft toy puppy, about 25cm high and is cream and bright grass-green with darker green ears. Each of its four paws has a different function (more on that later). It also has a blue collar with numbers on it, and at the front of the collar is a blue light which says 'Scout' and flashes when the toy is in use. As it is an electronic toy it has a box inside it, but the body of the toy is firm enough that you can't feel it unless you squeeze it. The box has an on/off switch which is difficult for little fingers to reach in case you get desperate! It's suitable from six months to three years, and there is also a girls' version called My Pal Violet.
The main feature of this toy is that you can customise it by connecting it to your computer (the cable for this is included). You have to download the software from Leapfrog's website, but this only takes a few minutes. You do need the latest version of Adobe Flash Player, but it will install this as part of the process if you don't have it (it's free). It will come up with a Welcome screen where you register and create an account - you need to give your name, year of birth and email address, but it doesn't ask for your home address or any phone numbers - and the program then takes you through a series of screens where you can customise your toy:
First, you upload your child's name - you type it into the search box and it will come up with options from its database. You can then listen to the pronunciation. This can be a bit hit and miss; luckily, they had the shortened version of my son's name as it didn't pronounce his full name in anything like the same way we do. Our son's name is quite unusual, but it was on there, and you can suggest a name to be added if yours is not included (similar to suggesting a new product to dooyoo).
Then you go to My Picks, where you can choose your child's favourite food, animal and colour. This is a little odd for a six-month old, as the answers are pretty much guaranteed to be 'milk', 'what's an animal' and 'any, so long as it's bright'. I nearly chose 'tacos' just because I thought it would be funny (and how many three year olds eat tacos?) but in the end went for the duller but more accurate 'Bananas'. Likewise, I did not choose Bison or Beaver (unusual option to have in an American toy) as his favourite animal.
Next is My Music, where you can add up to ten songs, five daytime and five nighttime. The daytime songs are a mix of tunes and songs such as Mary Had A Little Lamb, and even have three Christmas songs! The nighttime ones are lullabies, most of which are versions of classical compositions.
Once you've customised it, you can have fun finding out what it will do.
The right front paw talks - it says things like 'Hi x (your baby's name), want to play?', 'I really like bananas!', 'My favourite animal is a monkey, is that your favourite too?'. It also plays animal noise and counting games. It speaks with an English accent, which is a bonus.
The left front paw plays daytime music, some of it based on your selections. Some of the songs are based on 'My Picks', for example, one of them is now about a red monkey who eats bananas and has the same name as my son (the monkeys and bananas was quite unintentional, but worked out rather well. Less so the red - I foresee much giggling over monkey bottoms in my future. Mental note to change that before they start watching wildlife programmes).
The right back paw plays bedtime music for either two, five or ten minutes, depending on how many times you press the paw. It says 'Snuggle up x', which is rather sweet.
The left back paw - this will be your favourite - switches it off. Ah, blessed silence.
This is a fantastic toy, and I've really had to skim over what it can do as there is so much, both pre-programmed and customisable (my spell check insists that this is a word). It is available from Toys'R'Us, Boots and Kiddicare and costs £20.
Summary: Best. Christmas. Present. Ever
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