Note: Alphie Robot is no longer being produced by Playskool, but is still available from third-party sellers.
Can a hard plastic toy be cuddly? Playskool's Alphie Robot almost pulls it off. The expression on his electronic face changes, and he has a host of verbal expressions that he delivers in an engaging computer-generated voice. He has so much personality that the grandchildren may forget that he's actually educational.
As a beginning robot toy for kids of preschool age and older, Alphie rocks! Actually, he beeps.
If you had kids in the house in the 1980's, they may have played with an earlier Alphie robot toy. The updated version of Alphie features upgrades and even more personality, so that your grandkids can enjoy Alphie, too. Retro toys are a fun way to bridge the generation gap.
How to Play With Alphie
Alphie comes with a pack of cards. Insert one in Alphie's tummy slot, and you are prompted to complete a task. Most of the cards in the starter pack focus on letters, numbers and shapes, but many contain tasks that are couched in creative ways, so that kids must use problem-solving as well as recognition skills. My grandkids' favorite is the music composition card, which allows you to add and take away the sounds of particular instruments. Four booster packs of cards are available: letters, numbers, animals and music/sounds.
Alphie also plays in Hide-and-Seek mode. When the kids push the button on the top of Alphie's head, he asks for a particular type of card. The kids get to sort through the cards and find something that matches the description. When the child completes a task correctly, Alphie offers congratulations.
He has a fairly large repertoire of congratulatory phrases, all of which are guaranteed to bring a smile to a child's face.
Drawbacks of Alphie Robot
That brings me to one disadvantage of Alphie. He has a lovely backpack for storing the cards, but I still find them all over the house. Maybe that has more to do with my grandkids than with the toy.
The other questionable quality of Alphie is his voice. I find it cute. Some of my family members find it annoying. In fact, when I started to write this review, I had to launch a search for Alphie. One of my grandsons wouldn't stop playing with Alphie. Another grandson retaliated by kidnapping Alphie and hiding him in the closet.
Alphie does come with a volume control. In addition, if he is not played with for 90 seconds, he will "go to sleep." There was really no need to put him in the closet.