Toys that last

This Storytelling Speaker Is The G.O.A.T. Product For Traveling With Kids

It keeps them entertained around the house too.

Had To Share
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I was out in the yard gardening one day when my 6-year-old pranced out of the front door holding a green cube with a little monkey figurine on top, matching green headphones hugging her ears. She was listening to something, gently smiling and bobbing her head side to side, while watching me pull stubborn weeds from the feet of the apple tree. Once in a while a toy or product comes along in your child’s life and the way they interact with it is so genuine and simple, it just surprises you in the sweetest way. The Toniebox is one of those toys.

What is the Toniebox?

Truth be told, I wasn’t expecting much from the Toniebox — how could it compete with the toys and screens of this day and age? It’s essentially a cube-shaped speaker with asymmetrical ears (that double as volume control buttons) and a discreet magnetic landing pad that lights up when the speaker is activated. The magic happens when you place a Tonie (a magnetized figurine) atop the Toniebox, and they work in tandem to play songs and stories that fall under the theme of the figurine. For example, a Lightning McQueen Tonie plays snippets of songs from the Pixar movie Cars and narrates the basic storyline of the movie. The Steiff plush bunny Tonie, my 3-year-old’s current favorite, narrates stories about an adventurous and curious bunny named Hoppie, which just so happens to be my son’s nickname. My daughter loves the mouse Tonie which plays playground songs, and she’s been asking for the Rapunzel Tonie (from Disney’s Tangled) for Christmas.

There are dozens of Tonies available, including Disney and Pixar characters, a nightlight Tonie, a slew of Paw Patrol characters (just in time for the new movie release), and more. Some are holiday-themed, some are movie-themed, and some aren’t based on recognizable characters or movies, but are entertaining nonetheless.


  • Price: The Toniebox starter set, which includes one speaker and one Tonie, is $99.99. Individual Tonies start at $9.99 each, but you can save money if you buy themed bundles.
  • Sizes: The Toniebox comes in one size and is a 4.7-inch cube
  • Colors: Blue, pink, red, green, purple, and grey
  • Who it’s for: Toddlers and kids, or basically anyone who enjoys story time, no matter what their age is. The brand says it’s not intended for kids younger than 36 months because the Toniebox has small parts that are a choking hazard.
  • When to use: At home, on road trips, and during flights
  • Pro-tip: If you buy a bundle of figurines, you can save Tonies and dole them out before trips or as a special reward.

How does the Toniebox work?

Using it is extremely simple and even toddlers can do it all on their own. You simply place the Tonie on the magnetic pad for it to play and take it off to stop the audio. Squeeze the ears to control the volume, or give it a firm tap its right or left side to skip tracks in either direction. Tipping it to its side, right or left, will fast forward or rewind the content. A full charge gets you up to seven hours of playing time. And it has a headphone jack so your kid can listen quietly.

The one thing you need to be mindful of is that the speaker will need to be connected to a WiFi network at initial set up, and every time you introduce a new Tonie figurine to your library. This is how your Toniebox will access and download the new tracks from the figure. It isn’t a big deal if you’re at home as it will stay connected to your network, but if you’re in a car or at a hotel, you won’t be able to listen to a new figurine until you’re hooked up to the internet. (Yes, you can do this over a hotspot connection too.) Once you do this one time though, you won’t have to do it for that figurine again.

Our Toniebox and Tonies set-up at home.Courtesy of writer

With the TonieBox, there is an app that allows you to control some of the speaker’s settings, like the volume and whether or not your child can fast forward and rewind; it also serves as the portal to record your own content for your child to play off select Tonie figurines, called “creative Tonies.” But all of this is optional — you need to download the app to register the speaker, but you don’t need to revisit the app unless you want to or need to troubleshoot an issue.

When to use the Toniebox

Our Tonieboxes (my two kids each have their own) have their own special places in our house. My older kid’s stays in her traveling case most of the time because she likes to bring it with her on longer car rides, and our younger one’s lives on the charging dock on the bookshelf in their room. Because it can hold a charge and be used wirelessly, it travels with them from room to room often. Lately my 3-year-old will insist on listening to a Tonie as we get ready for school and bringing it with him to breakfast to listen while eating.

I also find it useful in helping my kids wind down after chaotic moments. Sometimes I’ll sit through a story with my tot before nap time or let them listen to a Tonie as a form of entertainment during a meal. It’s storytelling with no heavy lifting on your part as a parent.

During car rides, each kid brings their own box and headphones and listens to whatever they want to, swapping Tonies throughout the ride. This can hold their attention for an alarming amount of time — I would say for about an hour if the conditions are right.

How does it compare to the Yoto Player?

This was one of my main curiosities. The Yoto Player is probably the most similar product on the market, but the main difference is that instead of adorable figurines, the Yoto player uses beautifully illustrated cards. We have both, and I would say that initially, the adults in our household were pro-Yoto Player simply because we were more into the library of content — Queen and Beatles songs? Come on. But I can’t deny that my kids are just way more into the Toniebox, probably because the figurines are so engaging — the kids just love playing with them even without the box. The Yoto Player in our home lives next to the Toniebox and perhaps will one day be used more.

Pros & cons


  • It actually keeps kids engaged at home, in the car, and during flights.
  • It’s sturdy enough for toddlers who are bound to drop it and knock it around attempting to transport it from room to room.
  • It fosters independence — give them a speaker and bag of Tonies and send them off to their room to figure it out.
  • The Tonies themselves double as toys.


  • It’s not cheap.
  • It’s not the most lightweight item to travel with, and you have to keep track of multiple Tonies (but for us, it has been worth any inconvenience).

The final verdict

I’m not going to tell you that the Toniebox is the answer to giving your kids less screen time. I’m sure not every child is going to respond to it the same way mine have, and there are still plenty of screen time conversations in our household (like, constantly). But it is something that keeps them occupied and distracted away from screens, while also taking the pressure off of me to play with them and entertain them. Like everything in this world, the Toniebox will only hold their attention for so long in one sitting, but I’ve been impressed with how well it can do it, and that they’ve stayed so interested in it over many months. And whenever I introduce a new figurine, they fall in love with it all over again.


The Toniebox has fostered independence for my kids, is easy to use, and gives us a few moments of peace as parents. I’m surprised and oh-so-grateful that we have this thing in our house.

Had To Share highlights the products and finds that Romper editors and contributors love so much, we just had to share in the group chat.