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Amazing Allysen: animatronic dolls keep getting weirder

Evan Blass

If you haven't already guessed by the unusual number of Hello Kitty, Tickle Me Elmo, and MystiKats posts that have graced these pages, we've got something of a Peter Pan complex going on around here; we're even more embarrassed to admit that whenever we come across a toy that's even remotely autonomous, well, there's no small amount of bickering about who gets to cover the story. The newest does-it-all doll to hit stores and Christmas lists this holiday season is Amazing Allysen by Playmates, followup and big sister to the company's last trip to the Uncanny Valley, Amazing Amanda. While Amanda was just a toddler meant to be "mommied," Allysen is a full-grown tween designed to replace your child's peer-pressuring real-life friends, and like most 10-year-old girls these days, loves smoothies, sporting the hottest new fashions, and gabbing on her cellphone. Allysen can perform all the same neat tricks that Amanda does -- responding to vocal stimuli, contorting her plastic face into "lifelike expressions," and recognizing her own accessories -- but steps up her game by actually remembering little details about her overlord BFF (birthday, hobbies, favorite smoothie flavor) and including those facts in future conversation. The $99 doll has already started trickling into stores along with several of her "sold separately" peripherals, and while you can pick up several expansion packs, it seems that her cellphone is limited to the pre-programmed ringtones -- which actually isn't a bad thing, because the day they start selling 'tones for dolls' non-working phones is the day we fall off "the grid" and move into a rustic little shack in Montana.

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