The latest entry into the virtual-toy-that’s-also-really-a-toy category is about to hit the market. Funkeys are quirky little vinyl creatures who come to life on your PC. Unlike Webkinz and other similar products, Funkeys is not web-based. It actually comes with a CD-ROM for your Windows PC, and a large Funkey docking station that plugs into your computer using a USB cable. As you collect more Funkeys and plug them in to your computer, you gain access to new zones in the land of Terrapinia (home of the Funkeys). As you expand your reach, you can play new games and earn coins to deck out your Funkey Crib, all while working to save Terrapinia from the clutches of the evil Master Lox and his henchmen. Far out.
But these will be hot, I think. The design is pretty fresh, and the snazzy vinyl figures could probably be a collectible all by themselves. But add to the visual appeal the idea that each new Funkey unlocks new zones to explore, and I think kids will be hooked. The site looks like fun, though it doesn’t even try to come off as educational. There’s little or no opportunity for social networking here, but kids can share their Funkey Cribs with other kids.
Admittedly you wouldn’t want your kid spending hours and hours in front of the computer, but for a good downtime activity, playing with the Funkeys beats sitting in front of a TV.