Chatimal Meerkat Review

10 November 2010


Just over a month ago, we asked PlayPennies mum Andrea to review the Chatimal Hamster for us. Although she was entirely unconvinced to start with, both she and her daughter ended up loving the little guy so much that when we received his Meerkat friend, we decided they were definitely the right people to review him for us too.

The Meerkat Chatimal is the second in the series of Chatimals and as with the Hamster would make for an entertaining Christmas. In case you don't already know, the Chatimal critters are plush rodent toys. They are very cute, lovable and cuddly, and they have one very important feature that sets them apart from the rest of the rodent toy pack... they can talk.

By which we mean that you can record something for them to say, and they will copy it. Chatimal toys can “speak” for up to 30 seconds at a time, with the ability to mimic your words and speak them back to you either in a hilariously high-pitched voice or a low husky voice.

You have no idea how many times I have made this poor creature say, “simples” or do that “oooohhhh” noise that the muskrat does in the Compare the Meerkat campaign. I am deeply sad, I know, but the entertainment value is enormous,” confesses Andrea.

The Meerkat Chatimal does everything that the Hamster does and it is every bit as entertaining.”

And one month down the line Andrea hasn't swayed from her original opinion one little bit. She still loves the furry little copy-cats.

hamster chatimalsLook, I think you can eke out plenty of fun from these toys. They are ingenious, funny, daft and just perfect as Christmas presents. They are the toys that have the whole family giggling after the huge lunch and keep little ones entertained while we sleep by the fire.

I wanted to love the Meerkat more than the Hamster, if I am honest. The Hamster was, well, a hamster. The Meerkat? This creature has been made famous by the Compare the Meerkat adverts and, of the two, feels far cooler to own. BUT he doesn’t seem to have the personality of the hamster. The hamster’s mouth moved more obviously and animated more, the Meerkat is a bit stiffer. But he is supremely cute to cuddle and play with – more so than the Hamster.

I must admit, though, that the Meerkat voices don’t seem as obviously different from one another as the Hamster's are. The first few goes had him repeat to me in pretty much the same voice, and then the last few had him speed it up, slow it down and sound a bit strange.

Chatimal MeerkatWe wondered whether this would be a common consensus or simply a glitch on our review unit, so we did a little test. When both toys were placed side-by-side in front of a panel of three Reception year children, who were then asked to choose your favourite, they all opted for the Hamster. Similarly, when the cuddly duo was placed in front of the parents of these children, they all chose the Meerkat. The moral of the story? Choose the Hamster for a child and the Meerkat for an adult.

According to the Chatimal blog, everyone wants the Meerkat these days, and that of course is almost single-handedly thanks to Alexander, the Meerkat from the Compare the Meerkat adverts Andrea has referred to as well. From the Chatimal blog: “The Meerkat has become a household name amongst animals in the UK in recent years thanks to the character named Alexander who has the main role in those car insurance price comparison advertisements, you must have heard his catchphrase – 'Compare the Meerkat dot com'."

"Everyone wants a cuddly Meerkat!”

And finally...

Andrea's final word on the Meerkat?

As with the Hamster, I feel that the Meerkat is also quite expensive at £19.99 but what I have seen my kid get out of it is amazing. She can spend hours and hours and hours with this toy. At one point he went with us everywhere.”

So here at PlayPennies HQ, reaching a final verdict on the Chatimal Meerkat is relatively simples (see what I did there?). It really is a great present for that special someone who already has everything and would appreciate the novelty value, or really for anyone who enjoys a bit of harmless fun and laughter. So if you can't quite stretch as far as that Lamborghini they’ve been asking for, who knows – perhaps a crazy novelty toy could be the answer this Christmas.

TOPICS:   Toy Store

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