We get lots of stuff in the mail and my kids have truthfully become rather blasé about new toys and games, just as I too have rather become more skeptical that the latest box on the doorstep is going to be something fabulous. Often, it’s quite the opposite. Worse, I’m a bit of a toy and game snob thanks to both my board game addiction (thanks to Days of Wonder, Fantasy Flight and Zman Games, among others) and the fact that we just have a lot of toys. Think home “Toy Store”.
When Hasbro sent us a Magic Jinn, a little gadget that uses voice recognition to play 20-questions, I wasn’t sure how it would go. I knew it’d be much more interesting to my 9yo K- than either of the older children. And, rather to my surprise, she loves it and think it’s fabulous!
It’s also a great demonstration of how modern tech can creep into toys in a way that’s quite engaging rather than debilitating of our children’s imagination.
We have the “animal” edition of the Magic Jinn and to play with it, you think of an animal, then the Jinn asks you yes/no/sometimes questions until it can ascertain exactly what you guessed.
It might ask “Is it bigger than a washing machine?” or “Does it have claws?” or “Is it dangerous to humans?” or even “Does it start with the letter ‘P’?” or similar. It’s a decision tree, but with a surprising depth to it (we’ve stumped it once in about 20 different animals we’ve picked: It didn’t know “prairie dogs”) and a fun interaction.
The voice of the Jinn is a smarmy British male who proves to have quite the amusing vocabulary. The closest actor’s voice I can come up with is the great Terry-Thomas, most memorable for his performance in the wonderfully madcap It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
Comments include “I thought you’d say that!” and “I knew I’d get it, I’m smarter than you are!” and others in a similar tone. Quite hilarious.
What’s nice is that the Magic Jinn is also small so it’s very easy for K- to tote around: it’s about 5-inches tall. The nose is the on/off switch and it takes 3 AAA batteries. The only thing missing? A volume control. We quickly had to establish a “not in the car” rule since the older kids were going batty with the “I see” and “Interesting” and “I thought you’d say that” peppering our drives.
Otherwise it’s quite a fun little gadget, well worth its $19.99 price tag, and surprisingly smart. It successfully narrowed down and guessed dragons and unicorns, as well as ducks, lions, and even squirrels.
But you knew I’d say that!