If your kid loves fantasy and crafts, there’s a chance you may have constructed a fairy jar with them. For the childless among us, that’s an art project where an ordinary mason jar is filled with glitter and lights along with a carefully cut silhouette to make it appear as if a magical creature has been trapped inside. It’s cute, though the magic eventually fades away when the lights die or the child gets bored with it. Toy maker WowWee has a $40 digital version coming next month where the fun doesn’t have to end once the lid is closed, thanks to a roster of interactive creatures to collect, feed and trade. It’s Pokémon Fae Version.
The WowWee Got2Glow Fairy Finder looks a lot like a milk jar, with a white plastic casing and pink lid that looks like it untwists except it doesn't (don't try). Instead, there’s a small heart-shaped door at the top, which also has light and tilt sensors along with a microphone. The biggest sign that this isn’t your normal fairy jar is the 2.5-inch LCD screen in the front. It’s a black and white display, though lights inside the jar will tint the LCD according to the type of fairy is currently on deck.
There are three flower-shaped buttons; pressing the middle button twice engages the fairy finder mode. The child opens the top flap and after a few seconds a fairy will “fly” inside, as indicated by flashing rainbow lights and a cheerful chime. The type of fairy that appears on the screen depends on the jar’s surroundings: how much light or noise is in the room, and whether the jar is being shook or turned upside down. There are even upside down and glow-in-the-dark fairies.
The screen will usually default to the last sprite captured when the jar is on, but any currently-held creature can be displayed by going into the menu. Options include viewing the collection, a very basic mini game where the player guides a fairy around cloud obstacles, the trade function and, of course, system settings — namely screen brightness and device volume. You’re going to want to turn the latter up, because it’s pretty quiet to start, and even at its loudest it’s not that annoying at all. (Though some stressed out parents may disagree.) Don’t worry if your kids forget to turn it off after playing, as the device will go to sleep on its own after a few minutes of inactivity.
There are over 100 fairies to collect, split between three jar styles with different lid colors: pink, blue and a dark fuchsia exclusively sold through Walmart. To catch them all, so to speak, kids will need to trade fairies back and forth by holding their jars together at the lid and activating the trade mode. (I’m getting Pokémon Link Cable trade flashbacks here.) And a few special fairies are being held back for a holiday release. (Not unlike Mythical Pokémon distribution.)
Even though there are supposed to be 100 fairy types, some of these just vary in color: I have an upside-down fairy in pink, purple and blue and it’s kind of hard to really tell the three apart. And the jar doesn’t display the names of the fairies or tell you which ones you’re missing. For that, kids will need to go to the Find My Fairy app on their mobile device to look up the entire fairy roster. Unfortunately, that app and its accompanying website weren’t live when I was testing the jar so I can’t tell you how well they work.
I’ve had the Fairy Finder for four days and have caught 10 different types of fairies so far, including one with that flew into the open jar on its own, without me engaging fairy finder mode. It has an ice cream cone for a hat. So I have a third of the possible variations so far, with minimal interaction — hopefully some of the other varieties will be more of a challenge, so that this $40 toy has a lot of play time in it. I’d also like to see future versions of the jar that incorporate more games and maybe even a full color screen. It's pretty delightful but feature-wise, the Fairy Finder still has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to capture the Pokémon and Tamagotchi audience.