The furReal Makers Proto Max, from Hasbro, is a robotic pet pup with a Bluetooth-enabled app that makes teaching this dog new tricks a whole lot easier. Hasbro's Furreal line has long brought to life the animals kids would love to own as pets through sound effects and different interactive features, Proto Max puts the power of puppy training into kids hands, while also sneaking in a bit of coding basics as they play. There is a bit of assembly required for Proto, but it only takes a few seconds for kids to snap on Proto's face, ears, and tail.
Once assembled just tap the button by his ear to make Proto Max spring to life. Without the app, you can cycle through customizing Proto with different eyes and colors using the side buttons as well as interact with Proto with the touch-point sensors on his nose, back, tail, and ears-just like a typical Furreal pet. But synced to the free-to-download FurRealMakers app is where the real customization begins.
When you first enter the app, you have the option of changing Proto's name to further make him feel like your own, kind of like adopting a pet. Then you'll be greeted by a home screen that offers four different activities kids can explore. Some sync up with Proto and others can be used as stand-alone in-app activities.
In the Program activity, kids can drag and drop different commands to associate with the different touch-point sensors on Proto Max. This includes directional commands, such as making him move forward, backward, turn 90 degrees in either direction, do a 180, or spin in a circle. You can also activate different facial expressions depending on how many times you tap his nose, or remove his tail or his ears. The more you play with Proto in this activity, the more new features you'll unlock, such as the microphone to detect sound and the accelerometer to detect change in position.
In the Code activity, kids again use the same drag-and drop commands but instead of the actions corresponding to the touch-points on your pup, you are creating a sequence. What's cool about this activity is that it allows kids to not only control your pups movements, sounds, lights, and eye animations but to have them perform multiple actions at once-just as say a real pup might bark and spin in a circle at the same time. Kids can also create and save different blocks of code to go back to later. The more you create, the more blocks of code you'll unlock.
In the controller activity, kids can operate their pup using their smart device such as they would use a remote control, allowing them to move their pup and control its actions in real-time.
In the playtime activities section features three in-app activities for kids to do perhaps on the go when they can't bring their pup along. When Proto Max is placed nearby, he will interact through sound effects and lights. In House, kids can decorate their pup's room. Thought bubbles will appear to let you know what your puppy needs. This in turn will also help better the mood of Proto Max-after all, a happy pup leads to an equally happy owner.
Kids can also also play imaginary catch with their pup and a kind-of Simon Says game, which also in some ways works to drive in the concept of sequences in coding.
The nice thing about this toy is that it really does a good job at combining classic elements of pet play with introductory coding and programming concepts. We also like that there is a rewards system to it. The more kids play and interact with the activities, the more features they unlock and badges they earn for play. This is especially great for younger kids that might feel more empowered to keep playing, which is also good for parents.
Additionally, as with any app toy, we like that you can enjoy play independently of the app (using Proto's touch-point features). Thus, there is still a lot of hands-on play as opposed to being totally screen focused the whole time.
furReal Makers Proto Max is for ages 6 and up. It will appeal to fans of the furReal toy line from Hasbro but offers kids a bit more customization than the previous toy pets. It will also appeal to kids and parents looking for a beginner STEM coding/programming.
As of the time of this review, furReal Makers Proto Max is an Amazon exclusive product.
Some basic assembly is required for this toy (8 pieces) but it takes seconds to do, especially with the help of a parent (if needed).
Four AA batteries are required but they are not included.
Note: The Furreal Makers app is currently only compatible with select iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Android devices (see below). Hasbro also notes that updates to your smart devices can affect the compatibility of the app, however we did not have any issues when tested with our (slightly older) iPhone 6 and iPad. The app is currently only available to customers in the U.S. Canada, and the UK.
The furReal Makers app supports the following Apple devices running iOS 9+:
The furReal Makers app supports the following Android devices running Android 5+:
4 AA batteries required
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