Sunday, 13 November 2011

Toyologist Review: Chou Chou Magic Pacifier

£44.99 from Toys R Us

Granted, they're not aimed at me but I've always wondered about dolls.  Specifically, how many does one child need?  One, I understand.  Little girl wants to play 'mummy' (yes, I'm generalising with the genders, forgive me!), put baby in pushchair, take her for a walk etc etc.

But does a little girl want 2 dolls?  Gets harder to transport then.  What about 3?  You're a bit stuffed then, right?  Normally by the time an adult has 3 children the first is one is big enough to do a bunch of stuff (like walking) by himself (okay, on rare occasions there are triplets etc).

But, like dads, dolls never grow up.

What I'm getting at is if you're going to only have one you need to make make sure it's a good one.

Do you go for a straight-forward static doll? Or something that takes a handful of AAs and does something? And then does what in particular? None of them can do everything, after all a doll is a model of a baby, not a real one. As George Box said, 'all models are wrong, but some are useful.'

Chou Chou does perform a baby function. Bizarrely, it's actually an improvement on real babies; an evolutionary jump. It hasn't sprouted wings, or able to fire optic blasts from its eyes but it does something every parent desires more than anything. More, even, than getting a good night's sleep. This baby tells you what's wrong when it cries.

More than once in my parenting career I've been faced with a screaming baby and no idea what's wrong with it. Hungry? No, just been fed.  Nappy? Clean. Wind?  Nope.  Then what?  What's wrong, Baby?  It's 3am and you've woken me and won't stop screaming and I'm tired and irritable and... WHY WON'T YOU TELL ME???!!!!!!

And breathe.

Chou Chou comes with a dummy (definitely not a pacifier, despite what the box says), a Magic Dummy, for indeed only magic could reveal the inner workings of a child's mind! Place the dummy in Chou Chou's mouth and her desire is revealed!

(What's the current consensus on dummies? Good? Bad? I find it hard to keep up with popular opinion on the matter.)

Bottle picture on the dummy? She wants feeding. Moon? Put her down for a sleep. Medical bag? Time to use the spoon to give her some medicine.

Once satisified, Chou Chou will stop crying and start making happy giggling noises. A little heart picture will appear on the dummy.

Of course this all relies on one thing: being able to get the dummy into the doll's mouth in the first place. The box has an age recommendation of 3+. Since I'm ten times that age and had difficulties getting the dummy to plug into its mouth, I'd hate to think of the trouble a 3 year old would have.

Maybe it's just me, I thought. Maybe I'm not doing it right. So I had a read around on various websites and it turns out that it's not down to me being useless, it really is very tricky to get the thing into the doll's mouth. You need a decent amount of strength to get it to click in place. You shouldn't need any kind of strength at all to get a dummy into a doll's mouth.

This a complete and utter FAIL in the design department. The actual feeding/playing/sleeping bit of the doll seems to work reasonably well (though there were times there was a heart on the dummy but the baby was screaming), but it's let down by the fact that you can't perform the dummy-insertion manoeuvre without specialist training and a big does of luck.

After my little play, I passed the doll onto my son's five year old friend at school. Of course she LOVES it. She thinks it's the best thing in the world EVER.

But she still finds getting the dummy in overly difficult. So I'm standing by the opinion I'd already formed.

Battery insertion. Look away if you're squeamish.
Is this a 'good one'?  The doll to carry round everywhere and love as though it were a Real Girl? The fact that I stopped using 'her' and resorted to 'it' may have given away the answer. Or perhaps it was the slightly less subtle scathing review of the dummy that made you realise. This doll is my son's friend's bundle of joy because she likes babies, not because this particular doll is any good. She'd love it just as much if it didn't do anything. In fact, I suspect that her parents will be removing the batteries as soon as she isn't looking.

Other Toyology reviews can by found in the Toys R Us Toy Box on Facebook.

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