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Toniebox review: A cool storytelling gift for kids 

The Toniebox is a cute little padded speaker that pairs with colourful modern and classic characters to provide a wonderful story-telling experience for kids. 

If you’re wondering whether the Toniebox would make a great gift for your child I can tell you that having had this cool toy for nearly two years I would thoroughly recommend it. 

Toniebox with Room on the Broom Tonies character

This is a perfect screen-free toy for kids from toddlers who are just learning their ABCs to primary school kids who have a good grasp of reading. It nurtures a love of stories and is a lovely way for children to enjoy timeless classics as well as modern favourites. 

I’m going to share our experience with the Toniebox, plus a little more about whether it’s good value for money and what it can do. 

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This post contains affiliate links. 

What is a Toniebox?

A Toniebox is a square speaker that can be paired with small painted figurines called Tonies that have preloaded audio content, such as audiobooks and music. Plus you can create your own custom content – whether you want to record granny reading a book for your kids or your children singing their favourite song. 

Operating the Toniebox is extremely simple – with no screens or myriad of buttons – you just pop a Tonie on top of the box and off it goes. 

The Toniebox is small enough to be held (with two hands) by a child. It’s not heavy plus is padded with a woven sustainable fabric cover, meaning no sharp edges or potential injuries if they drop it on their foot! 

Tonieboxes come with a charging point, but can be easily lifted off this so kids can cuddle up with the Toniebox wherever they want to get comfy. 

This one of the reasons the Toniebox is great for kids, because it has that flexibility and ease of transport. You could even take it on a long car journey – it has a headphone jack – if you want to keep your child entertained. 

The Toniebox was created by Patric Faßbender and Marcus Stahl, who say they “wanted to create a way for children to experience storytelling in a digital age that stimulates their imagination while being educational and fun but also, and this was the main point, a screen-free experience”.

You can buy a Toniebox here.

What do you get in the box?

A Tonies Starter Set comes with your Toniebox, a charging point plus one Creative-Tonie figure. 

This Tonie figure will introduce your child to the device – once you’ve gone through the setup process – but does not feature any content. However you can add some free content from the My Tonies app!

You can use the Creative-Tonie to record 90 minutes of your own content, but you’ll want to purchase at least one other Tonies figure with your Toniebox to get started. 

Tonies sells bundles on its website with three Tonies characters, which it says saves you up to £15. 

You will need connection to WiFi to set up your Toniebox. 

The Toniebox does not come with a set of headphones – there’s a headphone jack on top of the box – and this is something you may wish to consider purchasing depending on where your child will be using their Toniebox.

I love these headphones from Philips for kids.

How does the Toniebox work?

The Toniebox is about as simple as it gets to operate, once you’ve gone through the initial setup process. 

You will need to set the Toniebox up via the My Tonies website or by downloading the app to your smartphone or tablet. You will need your WiFi password handy.

The square of lights – which turn green or blue to indicate whether the box is synched, in play mode or downloading content – is what you need to look for when running through the setup process.

The step-by-step guide to setting up your Toniebox is easy to follow and only takes around 10 to 15 minutes. I recommend doing this setup before you wrap up the box to give to your child – this way when they have unwrapped it it’s immediately ready for use! 

To use your Toniebox simply follow these steps: 

  • When you’re ready to get started place a Tonie figure on top of the speaker inside the square of LED lights on top (there’s a slight magnetic pull between the Toniebox and figure so it pops into place easily, but it then can be simply picked up when you’re ready to pause or switch content). 
  • When the lights turn green it will automatically play. If they flash blue this means the content is loading, just wait for it to turn green. 
  • To pause the audio just remove the Tonie from on top of the box. To start from where you were just put the Tonie back on the box. 
  • Tilt the whole Toniebox to the left to rewind it, tilt to the right to speed it on
  • Tap the Toniebox on the lefthand side to skip a chapter forwards, or on the right to skip back a chapter (you can use the My Tonies app to change these control settings or get rid of them completely).  
  • Use the ears on top of the Toniebox to increase and decrease volume. You can also press and hold either to sync your Toniebox with the app after making changes in your settings (such as setting limits on the volume). 
  • Once the story has finished the Toniebox will automatically turn itself off and go to sleep. 

How does the Toniebox app work?

You can use the My Tonies app to set up your Toniebox, and then after that it becomes a way to manage usage of your speaker plus a way to access free content, and create your own! 

I particularly like the fact you can use the app to set a maximum limit on the volume on the Toniebox, as the kids tend to play things as loud as they will possibly go whereas I need them a little quieter to hear myself think! 

If you have more than one Toniebox in your household then you can control them all from the same app. 

You can also see all of your Tonies and check out the playlist for each one. This is really useful with Tonies that feature multiple stories. You can see a running list and help your child find the story they want. 

You can add multiple “members” to your My Tonies account via the app, and set what access they have to edit your Toniebox settings. 

What age is Toniebox for?

The makers of Toniebox say their product is for ages three and up. However I would happily have one for a two year old or younger, with the proviso that you would always want to supervise them with the speaker and Tonies characters. 

They’re not quite small enough to be swallowed, but it wouldn’t be ideal for them to be chewed on or stuffed in the mouth of a teething child. In my view with any electrical devices such as this one you would want to keep a close eye on younger kids particularly. 

I think you can use a Toniebox and its content for a baby, for example there are nap time sound Tonies as well as nursery rhymes and songs, but you wouldn’t give the box to a baby to use themselves. They would benefit from listening to the content at that age, but I think you want to wait a few years until you let them handle operating the device.

Because the device is so simple to operate, once it’s set up, it suits pre-school kids very well. Plus there are a ton of Tonies with great content for them, such as nursery rhymes and popular stories for toddlers. 

However because there is such a fantastic range of content it also suits older kids right up to age seven and beyond. I would say age eight or nine is probably where a child would lose interest in a Toniebox. 

What kind of Tonies can you get?

Tonies are the characters you can place on top of the Toniebox speaker and they contain audio content. Once they’re placed in the square on top of the Toniebox that content will load up onto the speaker, and your child can listen to it all the way through or skip along chapters as they wish. 

This image gives you an idea of the size of a Tonies, they easily fit in the hand of a little one.

The Gruffalo Tonies

There is a huge range of Tonies, made from classic characters like Hansel and Gretel to new favourites such as Elsa from Frozen. 

You can find every one of the pups from the Paw Patrol, with each one featuring a different story for kids to enjoy. 

The length of content on each Tonie varies. Some contain over an hour of content while others, such as The Gruffalo, have just 17 minutes. It’s worth checking when you buy a new Tonie how long the content is (it should say in the product description when you purchase) so that you aren’t disappointed. 

The content on the Tonies isn’t just voices reading a book. For example with The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom Tonies there’s also music and sound effects as the story unfolds. It really brings the story to life!

The Gruffalo Tonies on a Toniebox

However there is also free content available on the My Tonies app Library. To use the free content in the app just put your Creative-Tonie on the Toniebox and then go into the app and assign the content to that Tonie. Press and hold one of the buttons on the Toniebox to sync and you can now play that content. 

The free content includes songs and stories. At the time of reviewing this there are 21 free items in the Library on my app. 

What are the best Tonies?

You may immediately be drawn to the most recognisable Tonies such as the ones based on Julia Donaldson book characters like The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom. These are brilliant, but they are only around 16 minutes in length, and you actually get better value for money in terms of the amount of content with some of the other Tonies.

Despite this if your kids love those classic Donaldson favourites then I would definitely get them as they also include some music and are lovely for fans of the books.

My top picks for the best Tonies are:

  • Trolls
  • Moana
  • Disney Cinderella
  • Favourite Tales – Puss in Boots and other fairytales
  • Favourite Children’s Songs – Bedtime Songs and Lullabies

Creating your own custom content with a Creative-Tonie

One of the coolest things about the Toniebox is that it also allows you to create your own content. 

Kids could have fun with this by recording themselves singing or reading their own favourite book. 

I think there are so many different ways of using this option, for example if a parent is going away for a few days they can record themselves reading a few of the child’s favourite bedtime stories. Then the reading can be played through the Toniebox so that the parent has a way of being involved with bedtime even when they’re away! 

To create your own content of up to 90 minutes you just need the red Tonie figure that will have come with your Toniebox. You can record your audio through the app, then sync it via the Toniebox. 

What my kids think of the Toniebox 

My kids love the Toniebox and have really enjoyed listening to the stories. 

Using the Toniebox is incredibly easy for kids to get the hang of, and even very young children will manage to swap Tonies around to load different content. 

Because the audio content comes on very cute and fun figurines shaped like favourite characters this makes it no only easy to find the story or songs they want to play, but it also adds to the fun. The Tonies become little action figures, and friends, that the kids love to play with. 

Toniebox and Tonies

Everything is very durable. The Toniebox has taken more than a few knocks and the Tonies have been dropped on the floor many times, but everything is still in working order. There is a scuff mark where some of the material has worn away on the front of the Toniebox – not sure how the kids managed to do that but it still works exactly as it should.  

We have chosen to keep our Toniebox in the children’s playroom, as we tend to read to them ourselves at bedtime. However it’s a great way to help kids fall asleep particularly with Tonies such as the Nap Time nature sounds – which features tranquil forest and flowing water noises to soothe kids to sleep. 

Key facts about Toniebox

  • Size: 12x12x12cm
  • Speaker colour options: Red, Blue, Green, Pink, Purple, Grey 
  • LED status display 
  • Shock-resistant 
  • Battery-operated with recharging station included 
  • Battery life: Up to 7 hours 
  • Headphone jack 
  • WIFI enabled 
  • For ages: 3 and up 
  • Made from: Woven sustainable fabric and plastic
  • Price: £69.95

Buy Toniebox now.

Buy Toniebox in the US here.

Toniebox pros

  • Good range of audio content to suit lots of tastes and ages.
  • Very easy to operate for kids.
  • Parental control of volume.
  • Rechargeable battery means kids can take the Toniebox on a car journey or move easily around the house.
  • Soft exterior means it is a cuddly speaker.
  • Value for money as will hold children’s interest for several years.
  • Ability to create your own audio content.

Toniebox cons

  • Figures are easy to lose due to their size. You may find yourself hunting for them under sofas and in toy boxes.
  • Expensive – you will want to buy at least one Tonies with the speaker.

How does the Toniebox compare to the Yoto Player?

The Yoto Player is a very similar concept to the Toniebox except that it uses cards instead of figurines for loading different audio content. 

The Yoto Player costs £100 for a starter pack, but you get six cards – a mixture of storybooks and music – to get your started whereas the Toniebox only comes with a blank Tonie. So price wise they’re pretty comparable. 

It really comes down to which one you like the look of best – you may prefer the look of the Yoto Player with its pixel display that brings the audio to life visually. 

Both work from a charging dock and both have very simple controls. Both have a huge range of content available. Really when comparing the Toniebox vs Yoto Player it comes down to which one you like the look of the best, as your child will find both easy to get the hang of using and both get rave reviews from users.

Final verdict: Is a Toniebox worth buying?

Yes the Toniebox is a perfect gift idea for kids aged two and over (and there’s also plenty of content babies would enjoy too). They will get years of use out of it (up until around age eight or nine) plus it’s so compact and the speaker looks so cute it will look great in any bedroom. The Tonies are adorable too! 

I love the selection of colours available and when placed on a shelf or bedside table the Toniebox and Tonies add a lovely splash of colour to a bedroom.

We’ve had our Toniebox for nearly two years so I’ve had a lot of time to test it out and gather our thoughts on it. I would most definitely recommend one to friends. 

The big downsides are the initial cost of the speaker – although I personally think £69.95 for this is actually great for the amount of use we have had from ours – and the cost of the individual Tonies – starting at £14.99. 

Having said that I do think it’s good value for money and I think it’s something all kids can get a lot of enjoyment from. 

Plus it’s so easy to use that kids do not need any help when it comes to playing music or a story through the Toniebox. It’s great if you’re looking for something that encourages a little independent play, as well as nurtures their love for stories. 

Our Toniebox was a gift from the children’s grandparents. We placed it in the girls’ playroom so that they could both get use from it – as we didn’t want any squabbling over whose bedroom it went into! 

This has been the perfect location for our Toniebox, as they kids can listen to songs when they’re playing or snuggle up on one of their bean bag chairs and listen to the story. 

The great thing is with lots of Tonies to collect I know that we still have quite a few years to go yet with out Toniebox – my girls are four and six at the time of writing this. 

It’s a fantastic gadget and perfect for kids, with Tonies content to suit any taste. 

If you’re looking for a gift they will be excited to open, and will appreciate for years to come, then this is it. 

Honest review of the Toniebox

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