Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Comparative Review of Fake Dogs

For Christmas, I got myself Hasbro's Fur Real Scamps my playful pup. It seems like a fun idea, a voice activated dog. When my husband saw it, he asked if it was for me or my daughter. For me of course, although I'll share. My daughter is really too young for it. Ideally, I wanted a fake dog to hold in my lap and pet, that would be happy when I petted it and "hear" when I talked to it oh, and would be soft and fluffy. Basically, that toy doesn't exist, so I got Scamps.

Anyway, in deciding which fake dog I wanted there were a couple of choices: One of the Fur Real dogs, Cold Nose Kisses Amazing Puppies, and Rescue Pets. Here's what I discovered. This is based on what I could glean from looking at them in the store and from websites. I don't actually own any of them except for Scamps, and I've only played with Scamps for about 5 minutes to make sure he works. If you know more and I'm wrong let me know and I'll correct it. (Most of the manufacturers' websites have the commercials so you can see what the dogs are supposed to do. Also check out Amazon.com for user reviews.)

Fur Real's newborn pup ($12)
What they do: Basically you pet them and they whimper, blink at you, and go back to sleep.
Body: fake fur over hard plastic
Manufacturer website: http://www.tigertoys.com/furreal/
Size: These pups are tiny. Approximately the size of beanie babies.
Impressions: If they were softer, I might be more tempted. You can also get a box with 2 puppies in it for $20.

Fur Real's Smoochie ($20)
What they do: Basically you touch it's nose and it's tongue moves and kisses you
Body: fake fur over hard plastic
Manufacturer website: http://www.tigertoys.com/furreal/
Size: small, about the size of a 5 lb dog.
Impressions: very cute. I didn't see any mention that the dog responds when you pet it, which was a big point with me. This model appears to be discontinued. Might find it on clearance though.

Fur Real's Scamps: my playful pup ($40)
What they do: Voice activated. As you play with it more you can "teach" it tricks, basically you say the name of the trick three times and it learns it. You can't teach it a trick that wasn't pre-programmed. It does respond to petting. It barks and can sit, and mouth its toy rope and bone. (It doesn't walk)
Manufacturer website: http://www.tigertoys.com/furreal/
Voice recognition manufacturer: http://www.sensoryinc.com/html/support/faqs.html
Size: about the size of a real larger breed puppy
Impressions: very cute, very expensive. Originally I wanted the black and white border collie looking one. I got the samoyd looking one. (I like "perky" ears, so the golden was out.) Look at them closely in the box to make sure the face is put together well and looks cute. Under the fur you can see the body line where the legs join. This is true on the 2 models I looked at closely, especially bad on the border collie one. (I suspect this depends on the dog, so look through them if you have a choice). I've read some of the dogs don't learn, so I'm tempted to try out my dog early and see if it does because I have a suspicion it might be a defect of the specific dog. Read the instruction manual first. I haven't been this excited for Christmas since I was about 12.
Updated (11/15/05): See my short review based on actually playing with it here.
Pictures of Scamps, including a movie are here.

Cold Nose Friends ($25)
What they do: Basically you squeeze it's paw and it turns on. As you pet it, it barks more and its nose gets cold. It also wags its tail and moves its head.
Body: plush fur. I'm not sure if the body itself is soft since the package was completely enclosed, so I couldn't touch it.
Manufacturer website: http://www.playmatestoys.com/html/amazing_pets/index.html
Size: small, the size you'd expect a non moving stuffed dog to be.
Impressions: very cute. Different breeds. These seem to be sold out online, but they are still available at stores (as of 11/07/05). In all honesty, this was my runner up choice. The main thing that held me back was that I couldn't touch the dog through the packaging to see what it was like.

Rescue Pets ($20)
What they do: They whimper and wag their tails. Motion sensitive, so they can tell when you are petting them.
Body: plush, soft bodies.
Manufacturer website: http://www.rescue-pets.com/
Size: small, about the size you'd expect a stuffed dog to be
Impressions: I couldn't decide if the big eyes were cute or really disturbing. When my pre-school age daughter heard it whimpering, she wanted to cuddle it and make it happy. As far as I can tell, it only whimpers and doesn't make any happy sounds. Go to the website and listen to the sounds the dogs make, because they are identical to the ones the toy makes. I'd prefer if it whimpered then made happy sounds as you petted it. Also, I'm not sure if there is an off switch. If you are shopping for a young child, this is probably your best bet.

Other kinds
Pound Puppies Here Puppy Puppy - size of a pound puppy. I wanted a more realistic looking dog, so these didn't interest me. It comes when you clap and follows its red leash so you can "walk" it. Be aware that almost all dogs that "walk" have wheels on the bottom. Web site: http://www.everythinggirl.com/poundpuppies/poundpuppies.aspx

Pound Puppies Pick Me Up - size of a pound puppy, whimpers, barks and moves its head. I wasn't too interested. See above.

(If you don't need a dog just an animated animal, the Luv Cubs are on sale for about $15 at Toys R Us, that's really good)

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