When the folks at Bluebee Pals asked if I might be interested in reviewing one of their adorable Bluebee Pals, I said “sure” thinking that it would be a cute little distraction for my kids but probably just a novelty item. You know, just a toy.
So, imagine my delight upon receiving Leo the Lion on my doorstep. I opened the box to find a large, plush lion (this guy is 13” tall) of excellent quality. As just a stuffed animal, he’s really top notch. But the thing is, he’s not just a stuffed animal. Leo is also a pretty sweet little piece of technology. Starting off, I have to admit that my imagination was pretty limited about what I could do with this Bluebee Pal. I thought “Oh, a stuffed animal with a Bluetooth speaker. Mmmkay.” OK, yes, Leo is a stuffed lion with a Bluetooth speaker, but he’s much more than that.
As soon as my kids realized that there was new tech in the house, they swooped in to “help” me review. We got Leo unpacked and plugged him in to charge (Leo came with a really great LONG USB charging cable so I was able to plug him in by charging station and then set him out of the way). Then the waiting started. I had a momentary flash of brilliance and decided that a trip to the park was in order while we waited. When we returned later in the afternoon, Leo was charged up and waiting to go.
Pairing Leo up with our devices was pretty standard as far as Bluetooth devices go. We easily paired him up with my iPhone 6+, both of our iPads, and my Samsung tablet. I was just covering all of my bases in linking him up; most of our testing was done using my iPhone. My first option for testing was to try one of the story books that I already had on my phone. So, we opened up Frozen in the Disney Storytime app. Suddenly my princess’ eyes lit up with delight and giggling ensued because Leo the Lion was telling us the story of Elsa and Anna (and then he was singing right along). It wasn’t just that we were hearing the story from Leo’s speaker; his mouth was moving along with the words giving the appearance that he was talking and telling the story.
My princess is five and was delighted with Leo and having him read stories to her. At that point, though, the novelty was wearing off for my eight-year-old son. But then we turned on some music. The sight of Leo the Lion jamming along to some of my son’s favorite music (classic 80’s rock, thank you very much) had all of us laughing and singing along.
But Leo isn’t just a one-way Bluetooth speaker; he also has the option to be paired up as a hands-free Bluetooth device for your phone. We tested this out with calls to the grandparents and silliness was the name of the game once the kids heard their gruff grandfather’s voice coming out of an incredibly cute stuffed lion.
Bluebee Pals are available in five cute animals – Leo the Lion, Lily the Lamb, Riley the Zebra, Sammy the Bear and Winston the Puppy. You can purchase them directly on the Bluebee Pal site here. The retail price for each of the pals is $64.99, but they are currently on sale for $59.99.
What I liked:
- Surprisingly nice, plush-y feel. Good quality stuffed animal.
- Good speaker quality.
- The mechanics that make the Bluebee Pal’s mouth move to “speak” are not flimsy and do not seem prone to breakage.
What I liked less:
- As a Bluetooth device for a phone, the quality of sound was a little bit less great, particularly for the recipient. I’m assuming that the muffled sound for the folks on the other end of the line is because all of the technology is literally inside a stuffed animal. But since this is probably not intended to be anybody’s full-time Bluetooth solution for their phone, it really shouldn’t be an issue.
- I’m on the fence about the price. $64.99 might be a little steep for just a toy. But if parents take advantage of the educational and communications aspect of the Bluebee Pals, the price is really in line with other educational tools on the market.
Overall, the tribe at my house is still tickled by our little Leo the Lion. What I was expecting to be a novelty item turned out to be so much more. The folks at Bluebee Pals say that they want to Entertain, Educate, and Communicate with your child, and they are right on target.
We’re giving away one Bluebee Pal to one lucky winner. You can enter to win a Bluebee Pal, valued at $64.99, via the rafflecopter widget below. This giveaway will run February 17-28.
Kelli vividly remembers the original Teddy Ruxpin. Does this make her old?