I received this product free for review, courtesy of Hasbro Canada. All opinions remain my own.
I kinda sorta have a thing for Elmo. Okay, no, mind out of the gutter, not that kind of thing. Elmo just has a special place in my heart. I loved Sesame Street as a kid, and I know I was watching when I was way older than the target demographic. When I was in high school and I still fit into size 6x children’s t-shirts, I may or may not have had a shirt with Elmo on it, worn like a baby tee, with a pair of baggy jeans and the elastic of my Winnie-the-Pooh boxers sticking out. (Note: I didn’t have a boyfriend until grade 12.)
When the Ticke-Me-Elmo craze hit, I was also not in the target demographic for that toy, but I got pretty excited about all that frenzy… and secretly hoped Santa would bring me one.
Elmo was also the lovie of my most precious non-biological offspring. You see, I was a Nanny for many years to my two cousins, being sure to make all of my parenting mistakes on them in preparation for my own children. (This includes forgetting about the 2-year-old napping in the basement and not knowing she couldn’t open the bedroom door herself.)
Erika loved her Elmo, and never left home without him! (Her Elmo happened to be a puppet.)
So when I had the chance to work with Hasbro on a toy review for the fast-approaching Christmas season, and they offered me Let’s Imagine Elmo, I accepted it more for myself than for Cub.
Cub has never really been into plush toys, but I was hopeful that an interactive plush toy might pique his interest. Let’s Imagine Elmo was really one of the first big-brand, batteries included, Toys R Us-style toys he had ever seen.
As for me, it had been a while since I’d examined this type of toy, and my first concern was that it was going to be attached to its box with impossible-to-undo plastic twist ties (having once scalped a Barbie I was attempting to extricate from similar packaging).
I was pleasantly surprised that Elmo was actually secured to the box with paper twist ties that seem more environmentally friendly, and were definitely easier to remove:
I know most toy reviewers may not discuss the packaging, but the environmental footprint of toy packaging is one of my criteria when shopping for toys. I’d love to see Hasbro do away with the plastic display on the front of the box for a fully recyclable package!
Let’s Imagine Elmo encourages the child to interact with him (Elmo’s a boy, right? S/he’s always been kind of androgynous to me.) in different ways depending on which hat is placed (well, okay, shoved into the slot) on his head. With the Cowboy Hat, the child helps Elmo count by squeezing his nose. With the Crown, they play “Prince Elmo Says,” and with the Captain Hat Elmo sings and children have to listen and react to a specific sound.
Cub was initially both enthralled and a bit apprehensive about a talking plush toy, but Elmo soon incited plenty of giggles and grins. Cub’s biggest frustration with the toy was that he doesn’t quite have the dexterity to pull the hats on and put them back on without my help. My biggest frustration is that there’s no volume. All talking children’s toys should have a volume.
Cub had no idea who Elmo was before playing with this toy, so I think there’s a lot to be said for the familiarity of the character and how much your child will love the toy. Cub loves Thomas the Train and things with wheels, but doesn’t have any connection to Elmo (unlike his Mama).
Things we liked about Let’s Imagine Elmo:
- The different interactive modes make for more interesting play;
- The toy helps reinforce concepts like the names of body parts and counting;
- That he sits without needing to be propped up, so Cub can set him on a chair or the table to play with him;
- Elmo definitely made Cub laugh, and even cheered him up in the midst of a temper tantrum. (Mama was very grateful.)
Things I would improve with Let’s Imagine Elmo:
- I would make more of his body parts interactive… that sounds kind of gross…. but what I mean is that it would be great if the toy responded to the child’s actions not just on his belly and his nose, but also on his feet and his toes (for example, “Clap Elmo’s hands,” or “Give Elmo a high five” could be added to the “Prince Elmo Says” mode);
- I would make the on/off switch easier for the child to operate;
- I would add a volume control;
- Since Hasbro is “committed to being an ethical and responsible company and is a recognized toy industry leader in the areas of product safety, environmental sustainability, ethical sourcing and philanthropy,” I challenge them to make a product package free of plastic for Let’s Imagine Elmo!
Is your child a big fan of Elmo?
You can purchase Playskool Sesame Street Let’s Imagine Elmo at Amazon.com. (affiliate link)