James, our illustrator Toyologist reviews one of our bestsellers, the Leapfrog Leapband. This review is part of the Toyologist programme, where a team of hand-selected reviewers test toys with their children for both entertaining and useful insight by parents, for parents.
Unboxing the toy
The bright packaging of the box presents Leap Frog’s activity tracker very nicely, with the band itself on full display within the box. The Leap Band is white with a colour accent and is available in different colours. The one that Toys R Us sent us to review was orange (which I think most boys or girls would be happy with). It’s modern design gives the impression of a high end gadget. Elwood’s first impression was one of wanting to wear it immediately!
Opening up the box, the band is held in place by a piece of plastic visible when looking at the box so there are no surprises in trying to gain access to the toy.
The wearable motion tracking band logs movement in a way that encourages kids to play activity. It has very simple controls which most children in the 4 to 7 year old age range should find straightforward and intuitive. The LCD hi-res colour screen is 1.44 inches diagonally. It seems well made and tough.
As a parent I was very pleased to see it uses a rechargeable battery and is charged through a USB port on your computer.
The tracker encourages active play with 50 games or challenges focused around a virtual pet. There are eight pets to choose from, including a monkey, a dragon and a panda. Youngsters earn points and unlock rewards for being active, caring for their pet and completing challenges.
When you connect the Leap Band to a computer, parents can set limitations for play and select additional games to install. There is a silent mode ad you can deactivate the games at night or during school hours.
Thoughts on the toy
Elwood tells me the band is comfortable and not too heavy to wear. It’s a very neat wee toy. The strap is the right size for the age range, but I certainly couldn’t wear it as an adult.
Many of the games involve three buttons so there’s nothing too complex. There are lots of things to discover within the device so it should keep a child entertained. Actually, even after the ‘new toy’ novelty starts to wear off, I would imagine Elwood will keep going back to it as he has with his Leappad.
You can customise your pet’s colour and name. The graphics are very good and friendly. Having played with several of the animals, Elwood likes changing them around and often says that they are ‘cute cute’.
Connected to the PC you can see how your child is doing. I really like how you can limit play times with it and, yes, I admit it, there are times I am really appreciative of silent mode!
The battery life is pretty good. Depending on use, you can go a couple of days, maybe three.
Regardless of the motion tracking stuff, just having a watch is something of a novelty and this watch has analogue and digital modes and a timer. Elwood loves this as it shows times passing in large friendly numbers. If you were thinking of buying a watch for your child anyway, I think this crams a lot of entertainment value in with it.
The toy is quite compact and therefore would be easy to store but Elwood often wears it (when it isn’t charging). It seems quite durable and tough.
We were all very pleased with the toy. It’s a great concept. Technical toys like this are a great way of encouraging a child to embrace technology. The active nature of the toy seems to appeal to our very active 4 year old!
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