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A Dad Reviews … The Animal

"The Animal" is an interactive toy truck with retractable claws, and I’m a hapless dad trying to figure it out. It’s Dad Reviews!

Gary Rudoren

Please note that the author is a dad. He will be reviewing toys with a general dadliness that only a dad can provide. This week, we’ll be discussing “The Animal,” an interactive truck that strongly encourages you to yell “Release the Beast” at it, which is awesome.


As a dad, I love a good box. I look at any toy purchase and ask myself, “Is the box sturdy? Is it easy to open? Will my kid like the box more than the toy itself?” I remember one of my kids’ earliest birthday parties where my main job was to gather up wrapping paper and boxes my kids had ripped apart. While everyone else ooh’d and aah’d at the toys, I became obsessed with the boxes, worrying about whether we’d need to hang onto them to store the toys and keep the instructions or whether I could just start breaking them down now for recycling.

So I was happy to see that The ANIMAL by Spinmaster is not shy about making a big deal out of their box. Sorry, boxes. It’s a two-box toy experience. Great graphics and pictures on the outside, with a tasteful, easily legible font. You – OK, fine, or your 5-year-old – rip open the outer box with easily identifiable tear tabs, and reveal an even cooler box underneath! Kids will have fun ripping that outer box, but I think it’s best to recycle it right away. There’s plenty more box-related fun to be had here without it.


The ANIMAL is so into boxing that it makes a huge deal out of the unboxing. There are step by step instructions and a “strong recommendation” to follow the video instructions at It’s a five-step process with the end goal being to “release the beast” and have an angry 4x4 with retractable claws come literally roaring out of the box. 


Here’s what that looks like in practice:

- The first step is easy – set the crate down on a flat surface. I chose my breakfast table wood top – it might not always be level due to the cheap leveling pads under the legs, but it’s flat!

- Next you pull the tab on one side to reveal a plastic key! A plastic key!

- Now insert the key on the other side of the crate. This will begin the process of making The Animal ANGRY!

- Step 4 is where it starts to get weird. They instruct you to yell at the box. There are no instructions as to what to yell, but yelling activates The Animal within the box to roar back. I started off tentatively yelling, “Hey, Animal! Yo, Animal!” a few times. Then my daughter asked me why I was yelling, and I told her the plain truth: “I’m trying to release the beast, honey.” (It says so right on the box!)  This turned into a delightful yelling / bonding moment, which I normally discourage for the sake of everyone’s sanity, but sometimes you’ve just got to let it out.


- Then you roll into Step 5, which says to “knock and knock some more” on the side of the box to make The Animal “angry enough to claw its way out.” The instructions on the box made it seem like these two steps were pretty essential to the experience. So I started yelling and knocking on the side of the box. I expanded my yelling to include “knock knock” jokes and political frustrations, and I even combined the two for some choice political “knock knock” jokes that I will spare you. I knocked as I yelled. The ANIMAL roared!

- The instructions clearly say that “full unboxing can take up to 2 minutes. After 5 minutes of inactivity, The Animal will go to sleep. You will need to re-insert the key to restart the unboxing process.” 


Once it finally emerged from the box, The ANIMAL turned out to be a pretty cool monster truck with monster wheels and retractable claws that help it to climb over anything that gets in its way. I took it off the breakfast table and let it roam around a little on the floor, which was full of obstacles like shoes and gloves, because the floor is where my kids like to keep things. The ANIMAL also has a plastic tow truck hook so you can drag other toys behind it if you feel so inclined. I tried hooking a small doll to it and it went pretty well. There’s no remote control, but it’s pretty easy to start and stop by pressing the top. Plus, it roars at you whether you yell at it or not.


Bottom Line Dad Review

Started off cool and got cooler. Whoever came up with this one was doing some real outside-the-box thinking. Sorry, that was a Dad joke.

THE DAD SCALE© - From 1 (annoying) to 5 (pretty awesome)

  • BOX: 5


  • INSTRUCTIONS:4 (graphically busy, but readable)

  • EASE OF USE: 5