What We Like
Numerous play and learning modes
Adjustable audio settings
What We Don't Like
Unnecessary bells and whistles
VTech Kids is a familiar name in electronic learning toys, and the company is always turning out new models that light up, buzz, and beep—including the VTech KidiBeats Drum Set, a popular gift for toddlers. While the mere idea of a toddler drum set might get most parents stockpiling headache remedies, the KidiBeats Drum Set has many fans. So we put this mini percussion set to the test with our 18-month-old to see how educational and entertaining it was (plus, how it fared on the parental-annoyance scale). Read more to see what we found after several weeks of playtime.
Design: Small and slightly complicated
The drum set is made up of four playing surfaces: three drum pads and one cymbal. This description makes the toy sound larger than it is, though; the whole set only measures a mere 12 inches wide and 10 inches high. While it’s a space-saving design for sure, it’s also a little underwhelming, and the small size will likely come as a surprise to many people.
There’s a control pad with several touch buttons that control the toy’s mode and operation, including an easy-access power button. The default setting includes background music, in addition to the sound effects produced by your child hitting the drums. It’s possible to turn the background music off, but when the toy is turned off and on repeatedly—something even our young toddler was able to do with ease—it can be annoying. The one saving grace of the toy’s design is that the volume is adjustable to two levels. The volume switch on the back is somewhat concealed and less likely to be turned up by curious kids.
Our son was too young to make proper use of the advanced modes of play. However, even for an 18-month-old, the 12-inch-wide drum set seemed rather small—so it would certainly be too tiny for children who are actually old enough to properly make use of all of the features.
The small size will likely come as a surprise to many people.
Entertainment Value: Didn’t keep our toddler coming back for more
This small plastic instrument is equipped with four modes of play—Follow Me, Number Jams, Alphabeats, and Free Style. Different lights and a voice calling out phrases such as “awesome” and “follow the beat” encourages kids to play along.
Our toddler was initially drawn to the lights and sounds, but he quickly tired of all the bells and whistles. It seemed he found them overstimulating, and we felt the toy encouraged passive instead of engaging play.
Of course, older toddlers might stay engaged longer if they can follow the learning sequences, which offer the ability to teach both letters and numbers. However, the small size of the drum set makes it more likely to be passed up for bigger, flashier models.
It doesn’t address the learning needs for younger toddlers or offer the size necessary for older children.
Age Range: Too small for intended age
The recommended age range is 2 to 5 years old, but it doesn’t address the learning needs at the younger end of this group or offer the size necessary for older children. As a result, the features it does have are overly ambitious for kids who are the right size to use the drum set. By the time children could appreciate all that the VTech KidiBeats Drum Set can do, they’re likely too big to really find the 12-inch spread of tiny drum pads very engaging.
Take a peek at some of the other best gifts for 2-year-olds you can buy.
Most major retailers offer the drum set for around $20. That’s not a bad price for an electronic toy, but depending on your child’s age and size, it may not be worth the spend for a toy that can be outgrown quickly.
It’s possible to turn the background music off, but when the toy is turned off and on repeatedly—something even our young toddler was able to do with ease—it can be annoying.
Competition: Acoustic models may be less noisy
The drum set competes with simpler kiddie drums, such as the B. Toys Drumroll Please!. While it lacks flashing lights and electronic sounds, this set includes two drumsticks, castanets, a whistle, tambourine, and egg shaker—all of which can be stowed away inside the drum. It’s a bit more expensive but not significantly so. Parents who are bothered by noisy, flashy toys may opt to preserve their sanity with this kind of acoustic instrument instead.
- Product Name KidiBeats Drum Set
- Product Brand VTech
- Price $19.99
- Weight 1.5 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 4.75 x 12.1 x 9.5 in.
- Manufacturer Recommended Age Range 2-5 years
- Required Battery 3 AA (included)
- Model Number 80-134400