Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sunday Surprise: FlipaZoo Flip Box Surprise by Jay at Play!

I feel like my Sunday Surprise options are always at an extreme: either in short supply or overflowing.  Currently I'm experiencing the overflowing scenario!  I already have two things that I want to review, and another great reader suggestion that I'm in the process of tracking down.  But despite all of this, I couldn't resist something new I saw at Walmart!  I don't actually think it's super-new–as in just released–but it's new to me.

I don't go to Walmart much anymore, mostly because the toy department seems to be shrinking. That might be the only reason I noticed these surprise toys, though.  They were in the stuffed animal aisle, which I don't usually spend much time in, but last week I wandered through because I'd quickly run out of other things to look at.

The toy I found is called a FlipaZoo.  There are many varieties of these "flippable" stuffed toys, but the ones that caught my eye are called Flip Box Surprise:

Flip Box Surprise dog from FlipaZoo.
Sadly, I don't remember what I paid for this toy.  It was either $9.99 or $14.99.  I'll double-check next time I'm at Walmart.  These particular toys are advertised with a special deal of two for $20 on Jay at Play's website right now, though, which suggests that I paid more like $15.

The basic idea with the FlipaZoo line is that there are two completely different animal characters that can be swapped back and forth by flipping the body covering of one animal up over its head to reveal the head and body covering of the second animal.  It reminds me of double-headed topsy-turvy style dolls.  When I was a kid, I had a Little Red Riding Hood doll that flipped over to reveal a wolf in Grandmother's clothes.  For anyone else who had or has one of those dolls, the FlipaZoos are similar, but their body coverings play the role of the dolls' skirt.

The surprise element of this particular FlipaZoo series makes the concept even more thrilling, if you ask me.  I can only see one of the stuffed animals...the other is a mystery!

The colorful box certainly did a great job of getting me excited about the surprise:

In fact, notice how it says lots of surprises inside!  That's even more enticing.  What could the other surprises be?

When I first picked up the box, I noticed that it had several small items rattling around inside.  I could barely wait to get home to find out what the items were!

There's also a pink silhouette of what the stuffed dog might turn into:

I'm not sure what that is.  A parrot head?  An alligator?  A dragon?  A dragon would be really cool.

Whatever it is, the box makes the whole thing look like a party:

I also like how the packaging is 100% cardboard.  It's very nicely decorated and easy to recycle.

The dog's head is secured to the edges of whole in the box, so it's impossible to peek inside and try to figure out the secrets:

The best I could do was see a little bit of confetti pink fabric when I pulled the head up as far as it would go:

Unfortunately, the bottom of the box has a list of contents, so if you want to be surprised about everything that's inside, don't look at this next picture!

Spoiler alert!
Did you peek?  I saw a few of the things by accident, but most of this was a surprise to me, too.

Let's find out what's inside!

The back of the box opens pretty easily... reveal a whole tantalizing jumble of things inside!

First, there was a little wad of colorful paper confetti:

After the polka-dotted fun of the new L.O.L. Confetti Pop Surprise dolls, this was a little underwhelming, but it's compact and super easy to recycle.

The ring-shaped thing that I pulled out with the confetti is a felt collar:

The felt is stiff and has little stitches along both sides.  It closes with velcro...

...and is decorated with little purple stud stickers:

What else is in that box?

The next thing I pulled out is made of thin cardboard...

It's a pair of sunglasses!

I'll see how those fit the little dog in just a bit.

What could be next?

Hm.  This thing is made out of black ribbon...

It's a really short leash!

I got a bit impatient at this point and grabbed two things out of the box at the same time:

It's a (slightly crumpled) cardboard birthday hat and a little piece of green felt:

I took the little green felt thing (a tag?) and the black leash and tried to make sense of them:

The green felt tag has a loop that slides around the collar.  The leash also has a small loop that slides around the collar, so all together they look like this:

It looks pretty cute!

The ribbon leash is quite sturdy, but the felt pieces seem less durable.  The little green tag, in particular, feels fragile:

The loop of the tag is secured with a little row of stitches:

Those stitches might hold, but the felt around them feels ready to rip apart.

At this point I could see the last two things in the box pretty clearly, so I unceremoniously pulled them out.  I was anxious to get a better look at the dog.

There's a little plastic food bowl:

And a sheet of stickers:

The stickers include several FlipaZoo animals (including my dog!), some party decorations...and two mustaches!  How strangely wonderful!  I can't wait to try those on the dog.

Speaking of the dog, after I cut those pesky plastic ties, he slid right out of the box.  Here he is!

He has pug-like coloring with embroidered features and a little pink felt tongue!  Notice that his ears are even folded over to resemble real pug ears.

He has an adorable face.

From the side, you can see the basic construction of these FlipaZoo animals.  They have a flap of fabric over their backs that conceals a second plush head:

I can see a smiling face peeking out from under the dog's flipper-like feet!

I see you...
Ok!  Let's reveal what this second creature is!

I pulled the back of the dog's body up a little bit at a time...

I see some freckle-like dots that make me think of whiskers...

Oh!  And now I see a second tail!

The tail is about the same size and shape as the dog's feet.  Hm.  What kind of animal has a small stubby tail?  A hippo, maybe? A hamster?

Now I see a big pink nose...

And some cute eyes!

I was really counting on the ear shape to give me a big clue about the type of animal...


So, that's all of the information we're going to get!  It's a confetti-colored animal with whiskers, a long white nose, a stubby little tail, and pointed ears:

Oh wait–look!  The tail isn't quite as stubby as I thought:

I guess it's a cat?  Or maybe another dog?  I don't think I'll ever know for sure.

Unlike many surprise toys these days, this little flipping duo does not come with an identifying collector's sheet.

Who are you?
The cat/dog surprise animal is cute, but I like the pug side better.  The coloring is realistic, the fur is soft, and the dog has more detail.  

Let's flip back over to that side and see how the accessories look!

I think the collar is a cute, useful accessory.  I can't see the tag unless the dog is flipped up, though, and this is a strange angle: 

The cardboard party hat and glasses are a bit of a throwaway, but they make for a pretty cute picture:

These Flip Box Surprise toys would make great birthday presents or party favors.

The sticker mustaches are not going to last very long, either, but they're really fun in the short term!

This one stands out even better against the pug's dark face:

Some of the stickers fit on the little green felt tag, too:

So, that's the Flip Box Surprise experience!  The extra accessories are fun, but many of them are just included to enhance the experience of opening the box.  The leash, collar, and bowl seem to have a bit more staying power, but even with these, the felt pieces don't feel very durable.

The stuffed animal itself is fun.  The pug puppy is cute, and while the confetti-colored surprise animal is unrealistic and hard to identify, its presence sets the pug apart from the myriad other plush options on the market right now.  I like the nostalgic element of this toy, too, since it makes me think of my old topsy-turvy Little Red Riding Hood doll.  Frankly, the Little Red Riding Hood doll freaked me out a bit when I was younger.  I rarely flipped from Red to the creepy wolf-grandmother, but I knew he was lurking there, underneath those skirts.  The FlipaZoo animals have no sinister secrets–they're sweet and lovable on both sides.

Most of the FlipaZoo animals come without any surprise.  In other words, you can see the identity of both animals when you purchase the toy.  You can, for example, choose to buy a unicorn that flips into a dragon (that'd be the one I'd pick!).  These animals come in a variety of sizes and take up a pretty big section of the shrinking toy aisles at my local Walmart.  

There's one other variety of FlipaZoo that has a surprise element, though. These are the little blind bag plastic figures that sell for just under $2.  

I bought two of these blind bag toys to open today:

The cartoon versions of the FlipaZoos are really cute, making these blind bags quite appealing.

Another appealing feature is that because of the nature of FlipaZoos, these little toys actually have two surprises (the identity of each animal) for the price of one!

Apparently, there are over 100 possible FlipaZoos, which is much more variety than I've seen with other blind bag toys:

This impressive number reduces the chances of getting a duplicate, and getting duplicates is my biggest pet peeve with blind toys.

The back of the bag has an assortment of FlipaZoo cartoons, but this must be only a small sampling of the possible options:

I won't show close-ups of all the animals on the back of the bag, but one group caught my attention.  

It looked to me at first as though it would be possible to get a golden seal that could turn into a rainbow dolphin, and also a pink seal that turned into a golden seal:

This kind of repetition would help explain how they can offer such a large number of variations.  However, if you look closely, it's actually a pink seal that turns into a golden walrus.  The walrus and the seal are incredibly similar.

As with most blind bag collectibles, there are varying degrees of rarity, culminating in extremely rare  and even limited edition FlipaZoos:

For me, since I'd never seen any FlipaZoos before, and the only pictures on the packaging are cartoons, there was a third surprise involved in this first bag opening: what would the small FlipaZoos even look like?  And, how did Jay at Play manage the flipping gimmick with a plastic figure?

Let's find out!

First, I cut one end of the bag open and peered inside:

I see a blue, lizard-like bottom!

I pulled out the animal and its accompanying collector's sheet.  I was surprised to see a yellow head on this little guy!

It's a crocodile!  Or maybe it's an alligator:

It's a crocogator!
The rounded nose is more like an alligator (or a hippopotamus) but the snaggle tooth reminds me of a crocodile.

The rainbow coloring is nothing like an alligator or a maybe it's a dragon?

Whatever it is, it has a hard vinyl head and a very soft vinyl body covering...that can be flipped over the head to reveal a second mystery animal!

So fun!

Let's find out what's hiding underneath those colorful scales:

That tail is nowhere near long enough for a crocodile or an alligator!
I tried to lift the body cover up a tiny bit at a time...

But right away I saw some whisker dots and a big pink nose!

The whisker dots and their corresponding indentations are really misaligned.

But I'm getting a strong lion vibe here...

There's an orange head hiding under there, with some worried-looking eyes!

It's okay!  You can come out!
It's definitely a lion!

This fellow is pretty cute, and he's really different from the crocodile!

Here's what he looks like from the bottom:

I searched and searched the large collector's sheet and finally found what I think is my FlipaZoo...

...and I was wrong about what animals I got.

Its a rainbow alligator and a cat!

Those cartoons don't look much like the actual toy.  The alligator's coloring is quite different–the cartoon is much more evenly rainbow-colored.  Also, the nose proportions of both animals are different.  Because the toys have to have heads that double as bodies, their noses tend to be quite elongated.  This works fine for the alligator, but the cat's long nose is probably why I had a hard time pinpointing exactly what type of animal it was supposed to be.

Let's back up for a second and take a look at the full collector's sheet.  It has two sides, both packed full of FlipaZoos.

One side has the common and rare figures:

There are 62 total figures on this side.

And the other side has the limited edition, special edition, and extremely rare items:

There are 39 FlipaZoos on this side, so that's a total of 101.  Oh, and now I see that it says so right there at the top the sheet.  I guess I didn't have to count.  

The "over 100" advertising is accurate, but vague.  Over 100 could mean anything from 101 to infinity.  100 options is really great for a blind bag toy, so why not just be proud of that instead of implying that there are significantly more? 

Here's a slightly closer look at the common characters:

The little cartoons are so cute!  It's fun to look at all of the variations.  The unicorn/dragon pair stand out to me:

Here are all of the rare animals:

My rainbow alligator and orange cat are in this group.  I also really like the pig who turns into a golden dragon!

Here are the extremely rare FlipaZoos:

I have to say, I don't notice any obvious way in which the figures are getting more interesting or special as their rarity increases.  Some of the pairs seem especially great, though, like this unicorn and rainbow cow duo!

Here's the special edition section:

I can tell why these are separated.  They each have a food theme!  Also, the colors seem more vibrant overall.

I love Popcorn Unicorn and Jelly Bean Dragon!  Two of my favorite mystical creatures paired with two of my favorite snacks:

The limited edition group is pretty small:

Again, these don't stand out visually or thematically to me.  There are several sparkly figures, but those appear in every section:

By the time I opened up the second blind bag, I was dreaming about getting a Popcorn Unicorn or a Gold n' Rainbow Cow Giraffe!

This bag ripped a little when I opened it, so I could see the first animal pretty clearly right away:

Looks like a purple hippopotamus to me!

I shook him out of the bag...

...and sure enough!  It's a purple hippo:

This guy is pretty cute, and his large nose works well:

The soft vinyl covering on his back has a lot of marks and bits of debris on it, though:

I'm not wild about the tuft of hair on this fellow's head.  I looks like a watery serving of squash.  I like the big eyes and raised eyebrows, though!

I'm always reluctant to reveal the last surprise of the day, but here we go...

Notice the gunge and discoloration on the lower part of the hippo's body.  Yuck.

I peeled up the edge of the body, and I knew immediately what animal was underneath!

Have a look for yourself:

The spots give it away.

But I love how this guy was peeking out at me from...well, from underneath his own body flap!  Ok, that's super-weird, but look at how cute he is:

This giraffe might be my favorite of all the FlipaZoo characters I've gotten!

His body has a fair number of scuffs and missing paint, too, but he's still cute.

Once again, the pictures in the catalog don't look much like the toy, but at least this time I could easily tell what I got!

The FlipaZoo blind bag figures are pretty small.  Each one measures about 2 inches long. They're about the same length as an L.O.L. Surprise Pet, but half as tall:

FlipaZoo blind bag figures with an L.O.L. Pet.
They look tiny next to a small Surprizamal:

FlipaZoo blind bag figures with a regular Surprizamal.
But are large when compared to a Hatchimal Colleggtible:

FlipaZoo blind bag figures with a Hatchimals Colleggtible.
Bottom line?  The little blind bag toys, while reasonably priced, are mostly a novelty item.  I'm sure that creative kids could come up with fun transforming games for some of these dual-identity figures (a regular pig who can transform into a magical golden dragon!), but not all of the figure pairs have an obvious association.  Also, the constraints of the flipping gimmick give all of the animals similar features.  This can make each character hard to identify, and also makes many of the animals look alike.  This similarity diminishes the excitement of having an impressive 101 possible figures to collect.

I think the plush toys have more staying power.  The larger plush FlipaZoos that I saw at Walmart don't offer any mystery surprises, but they're really soft and cute and they have even more detail than my pug. They remind me of pillow-style stuffed animals (like Squishables and Pillow Pets) and are no doubt great for bedtime snuggles.  They could even double as a small reading pillow for older kids.  The different sides of the larger animals seem fairly equal in quality (although I can't confirm this personally) and it might be nice for kids to flip their pets according to specific occasions or moods.

While the cuddle quotient and level of detail is not as high in the smaller Flip Box Surprise series, I like these toys because I was able to choose an animal that was appealing to me in the store, but I still got the fun of having a surprise at home.  Granted, the quality and realism of the surprise animal (cat? Dog?) is not as good as the original pug.  The mystery accessories don't add much long-term value to the product, although the leash and collar look cute and the sticker mustaches made me smile.  I wish I could remember the exact price of my pug, because there's a big difference between $10 and $15.  While $15 is clearly overpriced for such a small stuffed animal, $10 is not bad, especially given the fun flip feature of these critters.  Something around $6-8 would be perfect.  Back when my kids were under ten, I would have been tempted to get a few of these as party favors to hand out at a small birthday gathering.  The confetti-themed accessories and shared surprises would have been a hit.

I'd say if the price is right, it's hard to go wrong with this line: at worst, my little pug is a cute, mid-quality stuffed animal, at best he's a great little portable companion with a hidden alter ego and a box full of surprises!

Flip Box Surprise plush and blind bag toys from FlipaZoo.


  1. Oh I would have absolutely loved these as a kid! XD Thanks for reviewing!
    I know you have a lot on your plate, but have you heard of Bible Quest figures? We have a bunch at our house, and they're really neat and detailed. I'm sure you'd have a ton of fun with them. Here's a picture -

  2. I love blind bag animal toys! Thank you for the review :) Giraffe is especially cute. I believe that surprise anumal in the Flip Box Surprise is a cat, comparing it to a FlipaZoo cat figure. I'd love that cat as a a kid xD

  3. O, the pug is really cute and sweet. And I think, the second animal is a dog, too, with a very strange pattern.

  4. That orange creature is a cat?? I can see it now I know, but I feel like they're stretching the concept of "cat" quite far for this one :)

  5. Wow. The shape of the little rubbery ones is weird!


    My mom chewed me out when I tried to spring for the Black Panther one today, but as Toys R Us is still around until the end of the month, maybe you could find one

  7. I was given one of the blind bags for Christmas. It's really fun, but you're right about being hard to determine what combination you have. Actually, yours are easier than mine was. I had to study the bag and go online to see larger photos and then look at the sheet again. LOL

  8. Have you heard about 5 Surprise balls from Zuru?