Toy Wizards would like to thank Retevis Toys for supplying us with a set of these walkie talkies for review. To get your own, visit the official Retevis Toys website for purchasing information.
Part of the reason I accept review samples from new companies is because I really want to broaden my toy horizons and give everything a fair chance. I have kids, kids like Walkie Talkies, so perhaps I could be enlightened and somewhere out there help someone pick out a new toy for their kids. Thus, I gave these Walkie Talkies to my kids, ages seven and five, for a full day to watch how they played with them. I wanted to examine the ease of use, intuitive functionality versus reading the instructions, and then lastly how their game would evolve on its own. Plus, I wanted to see how long the batteries last on this thing.
Spoiler: The answer is not long.
As children, my sisters and I adored the opportunity to play with Walkie Talkies. They didn’t come out often, but when they did, the games were endless. But remember, back then, we didn’t have cellphones. We had cordless phones, sure, (even those popped up when I was about five years old, I have many memories of sitting at my mom’s desk and just being on the phone twirling the cord around my fingers) but the idea of walking around with your own phone that no one could take from you was very novel.
Because Retevis has a large inventory of different Walkie Talkies (though all aimed toward children) I wonder about the strength of the signals. One of my biggest delights as a child was when our Walkie Talkies picked up strange radio and police frequencies. It was so mysterious and exciting! Back then, remember, everything was a one-way-street. You couldn’t contact companies on social media. We didn’t even have email. It was hand written letter or phone. There was such a disconnect with information, that if you were just sitting around hanging out and a mystery signal came your way without you even having to do anything, BAM! That’s the premise of a serialized children’s book!
I think I’m straying from the original point here.
Because my kids are kids, they were indeed quite excited for these Walkie Talkies. I appreciated the robot aesthetic. These things are small though. The devices have two buttons on them, and even that is too much for my kids. There is Mode A and Mode B and the Walkie Talkies must be synched up in order for them to work together, or you’re screwed. I think the two channel options is too much for my kids. Also, and I don’t blame Retevis for this at all, but my kids kept forgetting how to use these. To the point where I started jokingly calling my kids goldfish for the evening (the whole three second memory reputation, I don’t know if it’s true, my attachment to fish isn’t that grand).
When I was a child, my father installed an electric automatic opener on our front gate (so guests could drive up to the house) and we operated it closed circuit camera and phone. It was probably very sophisticated for its time. But in retrospect, the camera looked pretty terrible. That’s how the camera on this Walkie Talkie looks. Somewhere between 2001 web cam and flip phone cell phone camera. It doesn’t even look as good as an iPhone 4. Children will be delighted that they can run around the house or the yard and see each other, because in spite of technology today there is still that naive innocence of childhood, but even the most inexpensive tablet has a nicer camera. And these are tiny– I don’t think a better camera is a big ask.
That said, my kids really did like the flashlight feature very much. Plus, the moment they woke up, they went back to playing with these. So yes, they are items that have replay value! Hooray!
Definitely feeling a little Zordon over here.
Now, onto the cut and dry “Do not like” about these toys. First off, the battery cover does not have screws and pops right off. My daughter, who is five and has never known the glory of changing her own batteries in a toy, was shocked to see the batteries exposed. For me, it’s more of a safety issue, and I think it is completely out of safety compliance. I haven’t seen any toy in ten years or so that does not have screws over the battery compartment. I didn’t like that at all. It’s weird too, because there is a USB plug in battery charge option, but with the AAA batteries flashing their majesty in my eyes, I’m not sure which portion of the Walkie Talkies is rechargeable and which has USB charging. I hadn’t realized that until I sat down to write this review, but now I’m just scratching my head all confused and stuff.
Second, these things are loud as hell and there is no volume button. That means that my children, who are Eff-Loud to begin with are now screaming instead of speaking into small plastic items that are amplifying their crazy little voices, which is not a reality of which I requested. I love hearing my kids have fun, of course, who doesn’t? But with the immense volume, exposed batteries, constant cries of “Mom, help me make it work, what happened, I forgot how to use it!” (again guys, there are two freakin’ buttons. Try screwing your NES into the VCR port and come back to me with complaints) and cheap cameras (which to me, kids and cameras always leads to troublesome games) I’m just not so in love with these.
I give the Retevis Toys RT34 Walkie Talkies 3/5 stars on a good day. They work, they function, they’d be cute as stocking stuffers, but these are impulse bin last minute tchotchkes at Rite Aid quality at best.