Talking Nano Puppy

Product Review

November 18, 1997 Playmates introduced the Talking Nano Pets. We have a copy of the press release.

We obtained a Talking Nano Puppy 29 December 1997 at K-B Toys in Tulsa, only 2 days after their introduction for $19.99.

I ran the pet over the Christmas Holidays and also took it home to my family over Christmas. After I completed my review, my wife Lora, continued to use the pet.

The pet was in a clear case with purple around the screen and was equipped with a snap on chain. Packaging and instructions identified the unit as Asst.No. 40100 Stock No. 40102.

Packaging and Instructions

Similar to the other Nano Pets, Talking Nanos are plastic encapsulated to a "hanging card." The instructions were on an 8 3/8 by 11 5/8 nch piece of white paper folded up inside the "hanging card." As with most other pets, there was no indication on the packaging that the instructions were there. Many people throw them away because they do not know they are there. Also, we would encourage them to abandon their metric sized paper and use standard U.S. paper sizes. The odd sized paper is an immediate "tip off" that the pets are of foreign origin.

The instructions were printed in purple and text was very legible. The pet is controlled by 4 arrowhead shaped buttons. The two on the outside are larger than the two toward the inside. Also the outside two arrowheads are pointing up and to the outside while the inside arrowheads are pointing away from each other. The outside left button is the Cancel/Mode button, the outside right button is the Confirm button, the two inside buttons are the left and right curson buttons.

The instruction sheet uses a graphical approach to instruct you which sequence of buttons to push. The similarity in shape of the buttons makes the sheet very frustrating to follow. I scanned in part of the "Set the Timer"sect ion as an example. I have difficulty believing that even an adult can read this and understand it on the first attempt.

The instructions are not presented in the sequence the icons appear on the screen. They are easier to understand and relate to when they do.

The "hanging card" says it is for ages 8 and up, that it can say 26 different words an sounds and has 6 different grown up life outcomes.

The "hanging card" had a lot of small print on the back that I had to get out my magnifying glass to read. Even with the magnifying glass, it was printed over a swirl of colors (purple, orange, green) and very difficult to read. The small print said the unit used 2 AAA batteries (and the "demonstration" batteries might need replaced) and the toy confirmed to toy safety standard ASTM F963, the unit was assembled in China and the package was printed in China. A very small red, white, and blue icon included the Playmates web site URL in yellow print over a black background. I suspect I am among the first one to ever read it, it being so small.


The obvious groundbreaking feature of this pet is that it talks. The pet says 26 words, phrases or sounds. It also has many features similar to other pets:

The pets go throught 3 life stages:

At the beginning of each stage, you will hear a birthday song. When the pet moves to the Toddler stage the food choices change to solid food and a bone. The pet also begins to say some different words as you progress throught the life stages.

Using the Pet

Setting the clock - I found it not only confusing from first reading the instructions (scan is above) but for a while I had it going in some mode where the left and right cursor made it jump two digits at once. One of the cursors had it jumping through the odd numbers and the other one had it jumping through the even numbers. It does have a 12 hour clock with AM and PM symbols. The AM/PM symbol has to be set by a separate operation. Several of the other pets just "wrap around" from 12 midnight pm to 1 am when you are trying to set them. I was a bit confused about how to get the AM/PM set at first because that is how I was trying to set it.

Sounds - at first the sounds seemed like a record a DJ was hand pushing a record by the needle, real fast. Later they seemed better. You can turn the sound (bell icon) off and on from the clock screen. I seemed to have a lot of trouble with the "sound switch." The sound kept getting turned off accidentally when I was trying to do something else.

This pet is huge! Its size takes a bit of getting used to. By putting the large purple border around the screen and drawing ears on it, the screen is able to be used for only facial expressions. This is the first pet I have seen, that gives you such a good view of facial expressions. I thought that was a nice feature.

"Clean" is a toilet icon that cleans up poop or wipes your face. Wiping your face with a toilet doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

A "+" icon in top right corner of active display means your pet is sick and needs to go to the doctor. You have to give it medicine now and again, 2 hours later for it to be well.

If you discipline your pet for no apparent reason (while still an infant) it says "WHY?"

Games: One game was trying to catch falling candies in your pet's mouth. The other game was very difficult for me and others to understand. After a few days and several people playing with it we found it is a "sequence game." All four control buttons are used. A single arrowhead will appear on the screen on the right or left side at the top or middle of the screen. You then push the associated control button. Next, that arrowhead will replay plus another one will show up somewhere. You then press the two associated buttons in the proper sequence order. It works its way up to a rather lengthy sequence. If you can match it, your puppy is happy. We also noticed the pet's eyes follow the sequence as it appears.

Reset: the reset button is on the rear of the pet. It is accompanied by a decal that required my magnifying glass to read. "Before playing remove the battery isolation strip and press the reset button using a pointed object.

After I completed my review, my wife continued to use the pet. She became quite attached to it. Then on its 10th day a message came up, "Your Nano grows up and gets own couch." She was really hacked. She was enjoying the pet and it just grew up and left. I assume others have had similar experiences.

6 Diffferent Grown Up Life Outcomes

Several pets have multiple outcomes depending upon how well you take care of them. This pet has 6 outcomes but they are very, very weak. Other pets "turn into" certain characters that you continue to interact with. This pet just flashes a sentence on the screen telling you what it grew up like, and then the game is over. In our case it was, "Your Nano grows up an gets own couch." This is certainly not much feedback for your 10 days of effort in caring for the pet. I expect the very same outcome is used by the other Nano Pets as well. This is a very cheap way of creating a pet with multiple outcomes. I did not like it.


This is the first pet to take AAA batteries we have seen. I assume these large batteries are need to supply the talking sounds of the pet. They are the reason the pet is so big. From the back side, you can see the cover is held on by only one screw. It is a larger screw than used in most pets. The battery cover screw is retained by the cover so it does not fall out and get lost. This is a nice feature. Also, the other assembly screws are similar sized and quite deeply recessed into the housing. The batteries themselves have strap wrapped behind them to assist you in removing them.


This is one HUGE pet. We shot a photo of it beside a Nano Fighter to give you a size comparison.

If you turn the pet over and look at it from the back, it looks like a blunt nosed rowboat. The overall dimensions of the pet are about 2.285 inches wide by 3.045 inches tall by .96 inches thick (not including the buttons).

The cutout for the display is a little more difficult to measure than others. It is not recessed, the case covers the screen. I estimated the cutout to be about 1.090 inches wide by .795 inches tall. The display is large, but due to the design of the pet, it feels like you are at the movies. By showing the pets ears above the display it gives you the feeling the display is actually much larger than it is.

Overall Impressions

I liked the pet. The instructions need some help. Over the Christmas holidays many saw and heard the pet. Everybody was attracting to the "talking" feature. My wife really liked the pet, this is the first one she has used. As mentioned earlier, she was very dissapointed when it "left." The hugeness of the pet and the ability to display facial espressions was a nice touch.

This page was first published 21 January 1998

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