This is a review of Big Hugs Elmo by Playskool. I received this product free through BzzAgent for the purposes of reviewing it; however, all opinions are my own and are not influenced by the company.
Clark is almost three, and while he is familiar with Sesame Street and Elmo, it isn’t his favorite franchise (he prefers the cast of Disney Junior characters). I was interested in seeing how he would react with this Big Hugs Elmo toy knowing his preferences. He surprisingly took to him almost immediately.
When I unboxed Elmo to prepare him for my child’s use, I found it to be fairly easy to set up. I liked that they used paper “strings” to bind Elmo instead of those awful plastic ones. I recycled mine after the fact. All I had to do after that was access the battery port by separating the velcro, unscrewing the cover, and adding batteries. I flipped his switch to “play” and he was ready.
I played with Elmo first to see how he worked and found that without the instructions, he wasn’t always intuitive. The hugging motions were a bit awkward because his mouth doesn’t move during some of the hugging bits. It was a tad creepy considering that his mouth moves most of the time. It didn’t seem to bother Clark, however. He’s pretty used to playing with Scout[[ASIN:B0080M1GX0 LeapFrog My Pal Scout]] and his mouth doesn’t move, so I imagine that is why. My son took to Elmo very quickly, and while he was a little concerned about hugging him at first, he loved the imaginative play and was hugging him in no time.
At first, Elmo’s arms seem very fragile, and I could definitely envision my son breaking this toy rather quickly. That concerned me a bit since the retail value is more than I would generally spend on a toy unless it was a birthday or Christmas item. But after playing with him for awhile, Clark seemed to not break him or mess him up, so maybe I’m a little overcautious in that respect. Also, the box containing his animatronic parts doesn’t have enough padding at the bottom in the back, so I’m waiting for him to smack it on his head at some point.
Overall, though, I really enjoyed how lively this toy was. It strongly encourages and supports imaginative play, affection and care, and physical movement. These are all essential to his growth and development, and I appreciate that they are integrated especially because I am a teacher. The specificity of the way the mouth and arms move in tandem with the words was a refreshing sight since it more closely mimics the natural movements we make ourselves than other animatronic toys. Clark insisted on bringing Elmo along for his weekly trip to his grandparents’ house.
On another hilarious note, as a teacher I thoroughly enjoyed the cardboard cutout of a boy that came with the toy. I’m totally going to use him in my classroom! I think he may become a way to post announcements or little fun French phrases on my whiteboard, haha.
UPDATE: Six months later and this toy is still going strong. I take back everything I said about it possibly being flimsy. It’s solid and not going anywhere. Our oldest son is super destructive on toys and yet Elmo still looks perfect! Anyone who knows him knows that that is seriously saying something!