The trend in toys seems to be cyclical; many toys which I had as a child I've seen come back again and again, just with a modern take on them each time. I was a little too old for the Furby when it was launched, although my 21 year old niece had one when she was young, and my 10 year old nephew has one now. They've been updated for the more tech savvy child and there are now other competitors on the market, each with their own spin on the animatronic toy.; Hatchimals is one toy which is a serious contender to take the crown.
The main difference here is a major play element; the animatronic toy comes in an egg which needs to be nurtured and encouraged to hatch into one of two options, either a Draggle or a Penguala. In fact, there are five stages of development for the Hatchimal and each brings a different level and feature of play;
- child (or 'kid' as it's referred to in the instruction booklet, but I can't bear that word)
Firstly though, let's discuss the packaging. The egg comes in a very attractive, brightly coloured box with a domed lid designed to replicate the Hatchimal egg. Inside is the egg, carefully protected to ensure the treasure inside is kept safe until its new owner can hatch it. In reality, the egg is a clever part of the packaging as well, but it adds so much excitement to the game play and in fact my son found this initial stage the most exciting.
It's suggested that hatching can take between 10 and 40 minutes, dependent upon how much the children interact with it during the in-egg stage, and how responsive you are to its needs. There is a guide in the instruction booklet which explains that the Hatchimal's eyes glow different colours depending upon its needs; cold, upset, needs cuddling, etc. It can also develop hiccups which is very amusing, and then it needs to be scared sufficiently to make them go away, but go careful or you'll actually frighten him and then have to reassure it!
The magic time for the hatching process is when the eyes go rainbow colour (a kind of whitish mix of all the colours) and it starts to rotate inside the egg, the beak pecking away and trying to crack open the shell. It took us about 25 minutes for this to happen, but then it stopped and was tricky to get going again. However we managed it and the Hatchimal happily rotated away inside for the next 30 minutes pecking away at the egg. I think we may have been expecting the lid to pop off, but this doesn't happen and you will need to break away the remaining plastic shell to reveal whether you have hatched a Draggle or a Penguala. The tip next is to wait until the Hatchimal has stopped turning and reach down inside and yank him out to remove him from his fixings. The shell can now be discarded as each Hatchimal can only hatch once, although it can be reset to baby stage once you have gone all the way through the stages.
Once the hatching process is complete, there are three further stages; baby, toddler and childhood, and each stage brings different aspects as the Hatchimal learns new skills. Baby stage starts off with the Hatchimal singing 'Happy Birthday' to itself, and during this time it needs to be nurtured and cared for to progress onto toddler stage. Its eyes glow different colours at each stage, for example yellow during its babyhood and then it flashes different colours to give clues as to what it needs from you. We found the toddler stage the most fun, as this was when Fluffables (as The Boy called him) learnt how to talk, walk and dance, and play games. Seeing the little fluffy creature learn how to 'walk' on his wheels was very cute indeed, and my son loves playing games with him by pressing his tummy to turn on the interactive mode. The final stage of childhood progressed quite quickly and this unlocks further games which include tag, silly sounds, Hatchimal says and Psychic Hatchimal.
The RRP of £59.99 per Hatchimal could initially make some parents cautious, but its different features need to be taken into consideration and compared with other animatronic toys of the same ilk; it's actually cheaper than its more well-known counterpart, and comparable to others. Added to this is the unique hatching element, which makes owning this toy a really wonderful experience and far more fun than just simple unboxing. I'm fairly certain that the fact that there is an on/off switch on the bottom of the Hatchimal will also be a big plus point to parents; no-one wants to be woken up at 3am by a robotic chirrup for a cuddle!
We were sent this product for the purpose of this review, our opinion is honest and unbiased.