"Senario, LLC," a company that produces a full-line of entertaining toys for kids, has released a fantastic interactive pet dinosaur named "Little Inu."
Over the past couple of years, we, at "ToysBulletin.com" have seen interactive robots, dragons, dogs and every conceivable type of action figure supposedly reacting to a human voice or touch. Unfortunately, many of these flat out did not work very well, or had limited playability.
We think "Little Inu" may be the first in a new generation of interactive pets that actually perform as promised. "Little Inu" stands about 9" tall with his head fully raised, and is approximately 16" in length from the end of his tail to the front of his nose. The girth at the widest point is about 16" as well, and "Little Inu" weighs in at a sturdy 2 pounds.
"Little Inu" is powered by a rechargeable battery pack, which is included. Before first use, it takes about 3 hours to charge the pack, which should provide several days of quality interactive play time. An easy to use battery cradle is provided as well.
When "Little Inu" is activated for the first time, he is sleeping, almost snoring. You need to pet him on the head, tickle his chin or scratch his back to get him to wake up and begin to react. The first thing we noticed was how much his skin feels like the real thing. This is not a typical toy with a hard plastic exterior, but instead features a realistic, almost stretchable skin. It takes a few minutes to get used to the feel.
"Little Inu" can walk, but very slowly, and his eyes open and close too. He will react to touch, making appropriate sounds of joy, while moving his head from side to side and wagging his tail. He can also smell both the "Taro Root," and "Coconut," (both included) and will move toward them, as they are sources of food and water. He can hold things in his mouth and even play "tug of war," with you. But, at the same time, he can get frustrated and make angry sounds if he is turned upside down, or you pet him excessively. The "Toysbulletin.com" staff was certainly impressed but we had to see what the kids had to say.
The recommended age for "Little Inu" is 8 years and up, without adult supervision. This is primarily due to the fact that "Little Inu" should not be dropped or placed in water. "Senario, LLC" suggests that "Little Inu" be treated just like a real pet, so utmost care must be taken at all times.
We assembled 4 kids from our elementary school focus group. Their ages ranged from 7 to 11 years old, 2 boys and 2 girls. Before powering up "Little Inu," we explained the interactive play guidelines to the entire group, including how they must treat "Little Inu" as if he was their very own pet. They all nodded their heads, and we let the excitement build just a bit before pushing the "on" button. Once "Little Inu" was activated, we and the parents stood back and watched.
There was an initial hesitation by all four youngsters after touching "Little Inu's" skin for the first time. It was a new experience for them, just as it had been for our staff, but they went back for more, and began petting, scratching and rubbing "Little Inu." He quickly came to life with happy sounds. Two of the older children had been assigned the "Taro Root," and the "Coconut." They were able to get "Little Inu" to walk toward both items moving his head up and down and opening his mouth as well. We also knew if too many hands got involved in the play, "Little Inu" could get a bit grumpy. We were lucky, as the kids seemed to take turns playing with him. We had to shout some reminder instructions from time to time, but the kids were well behaved. After about 20 minutes or so, we said it was time for "Little Inu" to take a nap, and turned him off.
We interviewed the youngsters and their parents immediately afterwards. Before starting, we advised the parents that "Little Inu" retailed for $149.99. Here is a range of comments.
From the Kids:
"That was the neatest thing I have ever seen."
"Why can't he run?"
"Where is the remote control?"
"I wish I had gotten that for Christmas."
"He is so cute."
"Can he talk, or just make sounds?"
From the Parents:
"That is very nice, but a bit pricey."
"We will definitely be buying one."
"That was an amazing toy."
"Where can we get one?"
"Maybe next Christmas."
"Could make a great gift for my nephew."
We answered all of the concerns, including that "Little Inu" cannot speak, only make dinosaur sounds, that no remote was needed, and that this dinosaur could only walk not run. We told the parents that "Little Inu" could be bought at Amazon.com. We also mentioned that there were many additional accessories available to enhance playing with "Little Inu," including a "Ti Leaf," a catnip like toy, a special "Leaf Nest Bed," a "Preemie Glow Egg" with a hatching baby dinosaur and even a "Native Doll," a "Baby Squid," and some "Lil' Fishes" to play with.
Our final thoughts after listening to the focus group are that "Little Inu" is an outstanding interactive toy, with the feel of real skin and the ability to communicate and even change moods based simply on touch and changing circumstances. Despite the fact it is fragile, and would be an expensive investment for many parents, it could also be the "gift of the year" for some lucky little kid.
-- RJ Cullen