Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
App Reviewed on: iPad 3
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
A new and interesting app by Toca Boca is Toca Mini, Toca Boca’s take on the classic character builder with a few touches all their own. Most app users will have some experience with character building apps where children can choose eyes, a nose, a mouth, and other features of their liking to create a character of their choice. Here, one will personalize a boxed figure; akin to a Lego character, bobble head, or other plastic toy that children play with and collect.
A nice selection of facial features as well as eyebrows can be selected, added to one’s character with the drag of a finger. From here, subtle yet highly effective animated details are included. Eyes blink, brows convey emotion, and mouths move to bring life to these characters. I was drawn in with the first movements from my eye choices. The effects are quite captivating, bringing the whimsy that Toca Boca apps are known for. Other effects include the selection of colors for the face and clothing as one creates a color choice, and a finger will create lines of differentiation; creating clothing and shoe choices for the trunk and legs of this character.
Although one customizes this character, the effects must remain within the 3D template so there is no flowing hair that one can create as all the hair options wrap around the head of the Mini for an interesting effect. It is worth reminding readers that this app is unlike Toca Tailor as the clothing choices need to work within the shape constraints of this Lego-like character. One can color and add details to the torso, also with the interesting wrap-around effect in use here, encasing the character in these colorful elements such as nature-inspired objects like a leaf, geometric shapes, or sewing notion details to create zippers or stitches - but devoid of any large, roomy garments one could create in the earlier application.
I enjoy the opportunity to choose the color of these details as well as to rotate them, but I wish the ability to personalize these elements were greater as one cannot stretch or shrink them in the extreme way that I was hoping for, and I have had some difficulty removing details once added to the Mini. The perfectionist in me can’t help but feel a little disappointed by my own lack of symmetry as I try to make shirt sleeves or pants legs the same length - difficult to eyeball and then craft with the swipe of a finger. I also miss the opportunity to produce my own details as there is no option to simply draw on this Mini character. I do appreciate, however, the fact that both left and right eyes and eyebrows are included - necessary details I am happy to have access to.
Adding hair is also an issue, as simple wigs are not available to place on the heads of these characters. Instead, hair pieces are offered that - in theory - can be used to craft a unique head of hair. In practice, however, the laying down of these pieces is cumbersome and I have difficulty adding hair to the top of my character's noggin; creating a look of male pattern baldness in each of the characters I have created. It would also be nice to have a selection of different colors that may closely resemble different flesh tones for children fond of realism in the characters they create. Having made notes of these issues, I hope not to dwell on the negative as this app - designed for young children - will surely captivate. I am smitten by the included animation of the blinking eyes and moving mouth, as soft and sweet language-neutral utterances can be heard and charming body language is included.
As I am not always a fan of computer-generated images, I have much fondness for this character before even adding my own touches. The resolution of this Mini is good, incorporating faint shadowing to create the planes of a face, back of the hair, or tips of the feet - even without obvious details are wonderfully subtle and impressive. Also a nice thought is the ability to choose the background of the box into which the Mini will be ultimately placed.
I do wish one could interact more with the completed character with a tap, but I enjoy seeing what movements these characters come up with on their own. It would be nice, however, if the Minis created could be saved to work on later as a great deal of work can be put into the building of one’s character - although a photo can be taken of the Mini created. Do take note of the creative, random pose of one’s Mini in the shot. I love the confident positions my characters often arrange themselves into, and the Minis one can create with Toca Mini certainly make this app worth the download. I appreciate the added animation, sound effects, and delightful personalities hinted at that these characters display as they are built within Toca Mini. This is an app that many ages will enjoy, showing off their own creativity as they come up with their own Mini characters.