Product Type: VTech baby toys
Newest Review: ... this bear has a lovely look, he looks a happy little bear and my daughter cuddled him as soon as he came out of the box although I admit ... more
I?m Your Best Friend
VTech Alfie Bear
Member Name: t4mof
VTech Alfie Bear
Date: 29/08/04, updated on 09/03/05 (796 review reads)
Advantages: Keeps children occupied with different modes of play
Disadvantages: The pronunciation of certain letters leaves a little to be desired
Alfie is a teddy bear with a friendly face. His two arms stick up in the air and each hand has five numbers on it. His right shows the numbers one to five, and his left has numbers six to ten. He wears red dungarees and across his chest are four circles. Each of these circles puts Alfie into a different mode but more about that later.
Underneath, on Alfie?s tummy is a bright yellow block with the letters of the alphabet printed on it. Each letter has a corresponding picture eg A is pictured with an ant, B with a ball etc. The consonants are in blue and the vowels are in red to make them different. Alfie is sitting down so that you can see the bottoms of his feet. The right foot has the different coloured shapes and the left foot shows a piano, musical notes and a bear?s face.
Pressing any button on Alfie will start him up. He will play a short tune and greet your child in one of a few ways such as ?Hello. Pleased to meet you? and ?How are you?? On the first use he will ask your child to press one of his circles (modes) but after that he will be in a mode and starts whichever game he is in straight away.
MODE 1 ? ?Let?s learn the letter sounds.?
The first circle on Alfie?s chest shows the letters ABC. Pressing this will enable your child to learn the letter sounds. Pushing any of the letters on Alfie?s tummy will make him say the letter in phonic speak (ie not the adult way of saying letters). Alfie does have an English accent but I don?t like the way he says M & N. They are said as mmmm and nnnn
. X is also bad. Rather than saying Ex, he says cks. I?ve never heard X said this way ever and it is especially poor as the picture that goes with X is X-ray so this is said as Ex anyway.
In this mode the numbers are said when pressed so the child can learn the names for each of the numbers 1-10. The child is told the shapes on Alfie?s right foot ? Star, Triangle, Circle and Square ? and the musical notes on his left foot play one of three tunes ? Looby Lou, Hickory Dickory Dock or Three Blind Mice. The piano plays a musical scale and when the bear?s face is pressed, you get the famous line ?I need a hug.?
MODE 2 ? ?Press a picture please.?
The second circle shows several of the pictures that are on his tummy and this mode enables the child to learn words.
The child can press any letter and Alfie will tell them the word of the picture. There is also a sound effect with most of the pictures. For example pressing E will make Alfie say Egg and then there is a sound of an egg cracking. Some of the sound effects are better than others. Pig, Girl and Cat are good ones. Jacob also liked ball because it makes a funny boing noise. Several of the pictures don?t have a sound effect and just make a noise or play a tune. Hat, Kite and Web are three of these.
In this mode the numbers are said again when pressed and the left foot does exactly the same as in mode 1. But on the right foot, the shapes are now given their colours. So we have a red triangle, a yellow star, a green circle and a blue square.
MODE 3 ? ?I?ve hidden a letter. Can you find it??
This is a game that young children can play and gets them to use their knowledge of the alphabet. You have to find the letter that Alfie has hidden and you have three guesses, each guess coming with a clue. Guess 1 is just random and Alfie will tell you whether his hidden letter comes before or after your first guess. Using his clue, you then go on to choose another letter
. Alfie then tells you whether his hidden letter is before or after your second guess and he tells you that ?it is the first letter in?? The child can then use picture clues to find the letter. If the child guesses correctly, Alfie says ?Brilliant? and there is a round of applause. If the child chooses the letter either side of the correct answer Alfie will tell them that they?re ?Nearly there? and give them the correct answer. If the guess is completely wrong a tune will be played and Alfie will say the correct letter.
This game is quite good fun for young children and enables them to make use of knowing the letters and pictures but this is where Alfie can start to drive you mad. He doesn?t give up with his ?Press a letter please? and ?Go on you can do it? and ?I?ve hidden a letter. Can you find it?? so if the child walks off Alfie will still be asking them to press a letter. It doesn?t last too long but young children often go onto another activity and so a few times of this can start to get annoying. It would be better if he had an on and off switch so that he hasn?t got to shut himself down.
In mode 3 pressing the numbers and shapes will still make Alfie ask for a letter to be pressed so his hands and right foot are out of action. His left foot, however, still plays the scale, tunes and asks for a hug.
MODE 4 ? Let?s play.
This is the music mode. Pressing the letters just produces the sound effects and the shapes are given their colours as well, as in mode 2. The numbers in this mode change into tunes. Each number plays a different tune. Three examples - 5 plays Twinkle, twinkle little star, 2 plays Row row row your boat and 4 plays If you?re happy and you know it.
On Alfie?s left foot, the piano still plays the musical scale, the bear still needs a hug but also plays ?Teddy Bear?s Picnic? and the musical notes plays a very fast drum beat which keeps Jacob entertained for ages. He used to find it hilarious.
Alfie takes 2 AA batteries which are included with the toy. When the batteries need replacing, his dungarees have a Velcro opening on his back and the battery compartment needs to be opened with a small screwdriver. The panel can then be removed and new batteries inserted. Because of the limited space this can be a bit fiddly.
According to the Vtech website Alfie is currently retailing at around £20 which I think represents good value for money when you consider that he could remain interesting to the child for a long time. The recommended age is 2-5 years and I think this is just about accurate for getting the most out of the toy, although Jacob at almost 3 and a half seems to have had the majority of his use out of it. Younger children will enjoy pressing the buttons and getting Alfie to speak.
Stockists of Alfie include Argos, Toys R Us and Mothercare. The Vtech website at www.vtechuk.com gives a more comprehensive list.
I think Alfie is a very good interactive toy which could be excellent with a few improvements such as pronunciation of certain letters and perhaps a few more games. I also think the design needs to be worked on more. It can be hard for the child to press the correct letter because the buttons underneath the letters are slightly adrift and therefore the child can try to press K but may end up hitting the D button which is just above. This can be especially demoralising when trying to find the hidden letter.
Alfie certainly kept Jacob occupied for long periods of time and we expect the same when Jon becomes old enough to appreciate. Once the child starts learning language and starts copying words, Alfie can be trusted to say words clearly and correctly in an English accent. Alfie also grows with the child as each of his modes requires something else from the child. All in all, a very successful present.