Even though my kids don’t have cell phones yet, they love texting their grandparents and especially love sending them audio messages (which iOS 8 made very easy to do). Sure, grabbing my phone and sending a sweet I scored a goal at my soccer game today! is fun, but imagine kids’ excitement when they can communicate the same message as an audio file through a squeezable plush toy.

Well, hello, Talkies.

Just out today for preorder, Talkies are the latest product from Toymail, a smart mom-run tech startup that created the adorable Mailmen we raved about when they first came out. Similar in concept, Talkies connect via your WiFi network so that approved people with the iOS or Android app — grandparents, parents, older siblings — can send and receive audio messages.

Think of it like a more 21st century way to stay connected with loved ones than scribbling a note on the fridge, and definitely faster than snail mail.

Related: Editors’ best: The 11 coolest new tech toys of the year

 

 

Kids communication: Talkies plush toys

 

Audio messaging for kids: Talkies

 

Buttons on the back of the toy enable kids to select a contact, record a short message and send.  And a big advancement from the original Toymail Mailmen is that kids can now send messages directly to other Talkies. Even so, you still have full say over who kids are messaging through your own app. All without any data subscriptions or monthly limits.

When not sending messages, the Talkies are just adorably designed little stuffed friends (if expensive ones) that can squeal when you toss them in the air, and even snore when you put them to sleep.  And for parents who work out of the house or travel, they may be even more of a comfort to you than to your kids.

Talkies are available for pre-order starting today for a special price of $59. After a limited time, pricing will go back to $79, with delivery expected in May 2016. 

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