Really young kids aren’t ready for their own cell phones yet, but we love the idea of being able to communicate remotely with our elementary age kids while they’re with a babysitter or just send them a funny message while they’re playing in their rooms. Which is why the Toymail Mailmen is about the coolest alternative to something like the dryer Voxer app. And the Mailmen looks way more fun.
Developed by two smart Brooklyn women, these little guys are colorful Wi-Fi enabled plastic toys that can receive (and send back) messages to any approved contact, anywhere. So while you’re stuck at work too late, you can use Snort to tell the kids to brush their teeth. Or while your sister is traveling around Paris, she can send a sweet bonjour to her nieces and nephews at bedtime, and they can say it back.
The design is inspired by city mailboxes–look closely–and I love that they look so hip and modern.
Once you load the app on your phone (iOS now, Android in 2014 which is here before you know it) and connect to Fairfax or Buck or Rochester, you’re ready to send your kids messages in your own voice, or choose from their selection of silly voices.
Now like a phone, this service isn’t entirely free. Each message from your phone requires one Toymail stamp, though it’s very reasonable; a pack of 50 is $.99 and you get ten free with the app. [edited to add: Users will now get 10 free every month without a subscription.] If you think you’ll use it a lot, get unlimited messaging for just $2.99 a month. I don’t know any calling plan that can beat that.
Also be aware it’s not Bluetooth, it’s Wi-Fi; so kids can’t be in the car getting new messages. That’s probably a good thing though.
There are essentially push notifications that enable your Mailman to check for new messages every seven minutes, and he’ll whinny, growl or snort when a new one arrives. To keep things interesting, you can also sign up to get a fun, ad-free message sent daily so the toy stays fun for kids even if you’re not using it yourself.
I’m in love with this toy in every way. My only suggestion would be to keep an eye on your kids if they decide to communicate with their friends through these; especially tweens who like the kawaii aspect of the design. As for us, I can’t wait for them to come out. For my kids, of course. –Kate
Visit the Toymail Kickstarter campaign right away and for just a $50 donation you’ll get one Mailman at 10% off plus free shipping in time for Christmas. They’ve only got til Dec 2 to reach funding goals, so let’s make this happen! Learn more at their website Toymail Co.