Last Christmas, my father asked for ideas for presents for the boys. As they were constantly pestering me to let them have a pet, I suggested some kind of toy animal that they could 'look after' but wouldn't need cleaning up after!
My Dad seemed a little apologetic when he dropped off a sleighload of presents, in case he had bought the wrong thing with this Animagic toy. Once the boys opened it, I could see why he was a little unsure about his choice. This Animagic toy 'hopping bunny' sounded appropriate enough as a gift for two young boys (aged three and eight at the time) but had clearly been packaged and marketed with little girls in mind. The box featured girly pink writing and lots of pink love hearts, as well as several images of different girls cuddling the different animals in the range. I find it a little surprising that a manufacturer would specifically target young girls with this range of toys, as I can't really see any reason why an interactive pet shouldn't be just as suitable for little boys. The packaging would make me think twice about buying one of these animals for a boy, however, just as it did my Dad.
The toy itself is a cute looking baby rabbit called 'Snowy', according to the box. There are others in the range, including a brown rabbit, a kitten and a guinea pig. Despite being described as a baby, the toys is quite large and is probably not much smaller than the fully grown real rabbit that we actually own. This contains a battery pack and internal mechanisms that operate the functions of the rabbit, meaning that the bunny is nowhere near as soft and cuddly as its appearance might suggest. In fact, the rabbit is really hard and lumpy which the fur covering does little to disguise. I suspect this is why the toy has never found its way into one of the boy's beds, as all other favoured soft toys do. This is not really a toy pet that a child is going to enjoy cuddling and snuggling up to at night.
The bunny does have a few fun little features to keep little ones entertained. It comes complete with a small bottle of milk (unfortunately with a pink top, further reinforcing the image of this being a girl's toy) and a tiny plastic carrot. The rabbit can be given a drink or a carrot to chew and it makes relevant little sound effects as it is eating or drinking. The crunching sound while chewing on the carrot is particularly realistic and the cute little bunny even gets hiccups after finishing his drink! It makes a different noise to indicate that it is hungry and wants a carrot. My boys' favourite feature is that the rabbit will cock its back leg up a little while after having a drink and make a distinct tinkling sound! As this also hops about unaided, the only thing that this toy rabbit doesn't do that a real one would is produce any little droppings. (IMy kids would probably be delighted if it did!)
The bunny is recommended for ages from three upwards. I would guess the minimum age guidance is purely based on this presenting a choking hazard as the plastic carrot is, in particular, very small and the perfect size for a toddler to pop in their mouth. With supervision, I would imagine that a slightly younger child (from around two and a half upwards) would probably be fascinated by this toy. My youngest (at sixteen months) is too young to appreciate this at the moment and is a little wary of this strange toy that comes hopping towards him, making strange noises! At the upper age range, I'd probably say that five or six years old would be a realistic estimate. My oldest son has paid little attention to this toy, beyond his initial interest. My four year old shows a little more interest but, in all honesty, this isn't a toy that is regularly played with by either of them.
The rabbit does appear to be fairly well made although I suspect that the hopping mechanism would be fairly easy to damage through rough play. (The mechanism does make some strange noises if the rabbit is picked up by its legs while it is trying to hop!) It comes supplied with the four AA batteries needed to operate the sounds and movement which haven't needed to be changed to date, despite owning this for a year now. This is less an indication of good battery life than further confirmation that this hasn't been played with as much as I'd hoped. Obviously as this contains batteries, the surface of the bunny can only be sponge cleaned so this could become grubby if played with regularly. (Needless to say, ours is still pretty pristine.)
I think my Dad paid around £15 but a quick online search shows this selling closer to the £18 mark currently from stockists including Toys R Us and Tesco. At that price, I'd be reluctant to recommend this toy particularly given its limited long term appeal. This is a cute novelty toy but I don't think it offers enough to keep a child interested once the initial novelty wears off.