Disclosure: This product was sent to us free of charge for the purpose of this review. However, as per my disclaimer, this review represents our honest opinion of the product.
Product: Pebli Town
Age Range: 3 years+
Manufacturer’s Description: Pebli Town is a connected pre-school toy from Toys Alive. It uses fun traditional play pieces and a physical play board that interact with a tablet to bring the toy to life. Pebli Town comes with 4 exciting interactive game modes. The board uses hot spot technology, which means that any actions on the board are translated to the tablet. 99% of all game play is done on the board with the physical characters, so children don’t have to directly interact with the tablet.
Review: Pebli town has been a huge hit with our two girls, and they have played with it almost every day since we got it – and several times it has kept them amused for an hour or more. This is a clever gadget that brings together technology and imaginative play in a way that really appeals to the kids.
The main part of the kit is the Pebli Board, which is a white plastic board which has four hotspots on, and connects to your tablet via Bluetooth. On top of the board you then place a cardboard mat, which has four plastic coloured pegs on. Four different places slot onto these pegs, with the colour of the plastic matching – which makes it easy for the kids to set up themselves.
You get four characters with Pebli Town; Fireman Freddie, Doctor Daisy, Painter Poppy, and Chef Charlie. Each character has hotspot technology on the bottom which lets the board know which character is standing in which hotspot location.
Setting up the game is simple; it is obvious where everything goes on the board, and you need two AA batteries for the board to function that you have to pop in before you can get going. Once you have installed the app on your tablet it will do a long download on first launch and ask for some basic details about you & your child to open a Pebli account. The download does take a while so it’s worth doing before giving it to your kids to play – they do offer some spot the difference games during download though which is quite fun.
When the game begins, it asks the child to press the button to activate the Bluetooth connection and then once that is connected the game invites the child to place Fireman Freddie on the board. Freddy then introduces the player to the town places and other characters, by asking the player to move Freddie around and place other characters on the board. This intro activates each time you play the game, and is easily skippable by tapping the X button on the screen. So far the kids have opted to play through the intro about half the time they’ve played.
Once the intro is skipped or played through, you select an activity by pressing the blue button on the board and then selecting one of four activity types on the tablet screen. The four categories are: Story Teller, Game Player, Story Creator, and Video Room to watch.
Story Teller – each story is based around a different character and as such they start the same. The player chooses which character they want and places it on the board. They are then directed to place the character in their story starting spot, and the interactive story begins. At various points within each story there are choices to make – does your character go to place A or place B, or talk to character A or B, and so on. Much like the books I used to love as a kid that would
Game Player – there are four games available on the Pebli Town app, each one relating to a different character. The girls really enjoy each of these, and they all involve different skills which is fun.
Painter Poppy has a sort of dot-to-dot game where different characters paint different colours, and each level has a different picture to paint. The game for Chef Charlie involves fetching different ingredients from around the town, Doctor Daisy’s game is a sort of hide-and seek, and Fireman Freddie has a game which involves matching characters to objects and getting the timing right to bounce up and grab them.
Story Creator – this mode of the game is a little movie maker with the four characters being able to stand in the different locations. Each time you move a character you can record your voice for their speech, and there are lots of special effects like snow, rain, nighttime, rainbows, and so on. Georgie really enjoys playing with this although she still needs to master the idea of speaking a little bit louder!
Video Room – With 200 approved videos from YouTube, this mode is a bit of fun, with a cinema where the characters can go and watch their favourite videos. Fireman Freddie likes to watch Fireman Sam, and so on. The girls have enjoyed discovering some new kid-friendly shows and it allows them to chill out a bit within the app – Georgie likes to line up the characters so they all get to watch too!
Overall we have been really pleased with Pebli Town. £59.99 is a lot of money but the girls have had loads of fun with it, and this is the starter kit with the board which justifies a lot of that cost. Extension packs with other scenes will be coming out soon, with Safari coming first and looking great fun!
You do need to have a compatible tablet and it’s not the longest list in the world – only the newer iPads work with it (our iPad minis are too old) and you’ll need to have a fairly decent Android tablet if you use those. We use our Pebli with James’s Hudl 2 and it works pretty well – sometimes the app is a little laggy but a tablet restart goes a long way to making sure that the app runs well, as with all Android apps. We borrowed an iPad Air from James’s work to try it out on iOS and it did work a bit better than the Hudl 2, and the girls had a lot of fun playing with it.
The girls have really engaged with this toy and love the interactive elements, and I really like the combination of physical toy and tablet app. The majority of the gameplay happens with the board and the characters, with everything you do with the toy effecting what goes on with the app. It has been lovely to watch them playing together with it, and getting creative & imaginative with a digital toy like this.
Both Georgie and Lydia have really taken to this, as you can see from this video.
5 stars for Pebli Town, and we look forward to seeing what new characters, games and activities the expansion packs bring!