Have you heard of Tony Box? If you have young children and are always looking for fun, creative and educational ways to entertain them, this toy is worth your attention, so keep reading please. Here is my honest Toniebox review…
My Toniebox review
What is a Toniebox?
Toniebox is a speaker for children.
It’s a simple square box with a little bit of cushioning and a water-repellent finish (no worries if little hands drop it!)
It comes with two small ears to adjust the volume and a charging docking station. When it’s not connected to a docking station, there’s no screen or complicated buttons, and it’s completely wireless.
It works by placing the Tonie character in the rectangle at the top of the box. Once the character is in place (there’s a magnet to guide it into the correct position), Tonie will play pre-recorded content.
You can tap the side of the box to skip to the next song or section of the story, but other than that the controls are pretty simple.
What is a Tonie character?
What makes Toniebox truly special and unique is the Tonie character!
Tonie characters are 2- to 3-inch figures that come preloaded with audio content that plays through the Toniebox. Think of it like a modern day CD for toddlers!
As soon as you place Tony on the box, the story, music, theme tune, and songs will start playing. When you take Tony out of the box, it immediately stops playing.
Many of the characters are from your child’s favorite movies, books, and TV shows. Features include Frozen, Peppa Pig, Minions, The Little Mermaid, and The Gruffalo.
There are around 60 Tonie characters available in the UK and each Tonie costs around £14.99.
Tony’s is a fun and easy way for toddlers to control what they listen to, and they can play with hand-painted figures just like any other toy.
Another smart speaker option for kids is Yoto Player. Our full Yoto Mini review is here!
Yoto Mini Review: Screenless portable audio player and great Christmas gift for kids!
Toniebox Review: What is a creative Tonie?
In addition to the preloaded Tonie characters, you also get Creative Tonie, a figure that you can use to upload up to 90 minutes of your own content. Upload your content using the Tonies app. This app is very simple and easy to use.
Want to read a bedtime story to Grandma and Grandpa, or maybe Uncle Nick from Canada wants to record a message? You can even preload your child’s favorite songs. Maybe someone wants to sing Happy Birthday. Or maybe your child just likes hearing her parents’ voices while she’s working?
Creative Tonies are a lot of fun and I think they can also be used in an educational way.
Toniebox review: What ages is a Toniebox suitable for?
Toniebox doesn’t have a specific age range, but I think it’s best suited for ages 1-8. I read in another Toniebox review that it’s suitable for children aged 3 and up, but I’m sure all my kids could use it from 18 months and have enjoyed it since birth (Alba I let her listen to audiobooks when she was 1 year old (newborn) because she didn’t like silence).
My three children are 20 months old, 4 1/2 years old, and 6 1/2 years old, and they all love it.
It’s really nice to have toys that everyone can play with. You can work on it alone, but you can also have fun together.
Once they get into the habit of taking turns picking Tony, they really get along and play together. They like to build a den and stuff it with blankets and put Tony Box inside to listen to stories. It’s so cute and if you’re a parent with multiple kids, you’ll know that it’s unusual for kids to sit and play together all day long with one toy!
A screen-free media device!
One of my favorite things about Toniebox (and what led to Toniebox’s positive reviews!) is that it’s a screenless media device. My kids have the latest interactive elements that they love, but because they’re not glued to a screen, they can be creative and play at the same time.
You’ll need an app to set up Toniebox when you first unbox it, but once you’ve set it up, you won’t need to use the app unless you want to preload Creative Tonie. I really like this because so many multimedia toys require the use of apps. So inevitably the kids end up using my phone and everyone is inevitably distracted by it.
Can you use a Toniebox on a plane and while travelling?
Of course, we haven’t used the Toniebox for travel yet (this blog post was written during the coronavirus pandemic!), but it’s going to be great when we do!
Toniebox has a 7-hour battery life, so you can use it on the go or on a plane. There’s also a headphone jack so as not to disturb your fellow passengers, but if your personal device is playing quietly, it will be drowned out by the plane’s noise, so don’t worry if your child doesn’t like wearing headphones there is no.
It’s also great when you’re traveling, as once your device downloads content from Tonie, you can use it without WiFi.
No wonder Toniebox has won so many awards!
- Red Dot Design Award 2016
- German Design Award 2017
- IF Design Award 2017
- LIMA Awards 2017 and 2018
- German Founders Award 2019
- Winner of “Best Innovative Toy 2019” and “Loved Byparents” awards
- European Product Design Award 2019 “Products for Children”
Benefits of a Tonie over a smart speaker?
You may be wondering if it’s worth buying Tonibox when you can do something similar with a smart speaker. I have several Alexa smart speakers dotted around my house, and I often play audiobooks to my kids at bedtime.
Smart speakers are great, but I think Toniebox is more of a toy that kids can hold and operate. Children can choose what they want to listen to, and Toniebox becomes their device. It’s fun, exciting, and portable to different places. Choosing Tony is just as much fun as actually listening to him. They like to hold Tony and play with him or sneak into a quiet corner with Tony’s box.
Another advantage of the Toniebox is that it is portable, making it perfect for long car trips, travel, or just taking it with you.
Should I just get a smart speaker?
If Toniebox is out of your budget, I think Amazon’s Alexa smart speaker is a great gift for kids. As I mentioned above, I have these speakers scattered around my house and my kids love them. They have to be plugged into an electrical outlet, which limits where you can use them, but they’re not too expensive, so you can have several around the house.
My kids use them to play music (via Amazon Music, which we subscribe to) and audiobooks. We buy audiobooks through Audible and it’s a lot cheaper than buying Tonie. For example, Tony costs £14.99, while most of her Audible books for children cost between £4 and £7.
This music and Audible books can also be played from your phone, so you can listen to them in the car or while traveling.
Their kids may also use Smart Speaking to ask Alexa questions. Sure, some questions are silly, but other times they’re educational, like asking what the weather will be like or what time it is. They love doing this, especially since Joseph can’t tell the time but Alexa gives him some independence.
At the time of writing, the Alexa Dot was only £17!
If you’re still not sure if a Toniebox is a good idea, I’ve listed a few of the pros and cons
Pros of a Toniebox
- The simple design allows even young children to use it independently, promoting independence and reducing frustration with devices they can’t control
- It is fun
- Tony is also a little toy that loves to play with
- It’s rechargeable so you can use it anywhere and it’s perfect for traveling!
- Makes a great gift. Tony is also available as a small gift
- It’s a toy that can be used for years
- It is durable because it has some cushioning properties and water repellency
Cons of Toniebox
- Content cannot be paused and tapping the box to skip sections does not always work. You have to tap in exactly the right place, which can be annoying if you have a creative Tonie with 30 songs!
- More expensive than smart speaker + audiobook. A tony box containing one of his creative tonys costs £69.95 and each tony costs approximately £14.99. You can see how this can get expensive quickly. (But I also think it’s such an easy gift. I can picture Nana and Grandpa buying a tony box for Christmas and then buying a new tony for every birthday or special occasion after that).
That’s all for my Toniebox review! If you have any questions, please write them in the comments section below!
For more information, visit Tonies.com and Tonieboxes. You can also purchase individual Tonie’s on Amazon.
Don’t forget that we also have a review of the Yoto Mini on the blog.
Yoto Mini Review: Screenless portable audio player and great Christmas gift for kids!
Read more from our blog:
Travel Hacks: How It All Began – A 10-Year Timeline of My Travel, Blog, and Life
What is it like to have three children? Good things, bad things, and chaotic things
Also, if your child is a big fan of Toniebox, you can get these gorgeous Toniebox wall shelves on Amazon. I love this one below, but there are so many to choose from!