Jada Toys I-Playaz Chub City Interactive Figure Chub C.
With literally hundreds of different iPod speakers out there - many of them regrettably unimpressive - we've opted not to do extensive reviews of every single new release that comes our way. Short reviews suffice for speakers that are a little interesting for one reason or another, but ultimately not products we'd strongly recommend to our readers, and today, we're covering a few such options, including two speakers from Jada Toys - the I-Playaz Interactive Figure Chub C. ($30), and the I-Playaz Interactive Volkswagen Vehicle ($25). Chub C. is the African-American, gray-clothed version of an Eminem-like Caucasian I-Playa called Hype, and the red Volkswagen is also available in a blue version.
Both of these speakers are parts of the company’s Chub City line of hip-hop-inspired toys, featuring kid-like rappers and their hydraulic lifted cars. Like earlier iPod-compatible toy speakers we’ve checked out, these come with audio cables that can optionally be connected to any music player you may have, and they run for hours off of four AA batteries. You’ll need a Philips head screwdriver to open their battery compartments - we wish this wasn’t necessary - located on the bottom of the Volkswagen and inside the feet of Chub C., then can activate two playback modes via a three-position switch: with or without motion. Other than the audio input port, there’s an audio output port, here located on the back of Chub’s right leg.
Without motion, both toys put on a modest light show and play back your iPod’s music; each version has a pressure point that creates sound effects. Standing 5.5” tall, Chub C. has a glowing, pressure-sensitive medallion on his chest, blinking white, blue, red, or green, playing a scratch sound when pressed once, and otherwise activating a gangsta-style sampled song, sans lyrics. The tops of his shoes also light up in blue, and can be pressed for two different types of drum beats when he’s not in motion. When in motion, Chub’s arms bob and his body moves, making some attempt to match up with the beat of whatever’s playing.
Even as hip-hop fans, we weren’t super impressed by either of these toys, which didn’t sync up well with our music or look cool enough that we would want to keep them on our desks. Sound quality was part of the reason: neither one of the systems sounds especially great when connected to an iPod - their simple, cheap speakers are monaural and pretty distorted, with the VW version’s speaker pointing downwards and sounding especially bad. Chub C.‘s fires backwards from his head and sounds a little better, but neither is really great. The appeal here is supposed to be in the fun combination of motion, lights, and sound, but in all honesty, neither one looks so cool or sounds so good that we’d recommend it to most of our readers. Because of their themes, these are niche toy speakers that some people may find amusing enough to buy for their kids, but we’d sooner recommend the more universal i-Dog and i-Cat instead.