1. cjvitek's Avatar
    Toontastic, by Launchpad Toys
    $1.99, ****


    • Great cartoon editor for kids
    • Easy to use, easy to create
    • Online sharing (with parents permission)

    • Some glitches cause it to crack
    • No ability to import music or images

    Kids love to create. Whether it is drawing a face on a piece of paper, or taking advantage of new technology and using iPads, they always seem to enjoy it. Toontastic is a cartoon/animation creation app that takes this built in desire to create and tell stories, and turns it into a wonderful creative experience for kids.

    Toontastic is all about animation. You are there to create cartoons. When you start “playing” there is a great built in tutorial for kids telling them about the dynamics of storytelling, combined with the in and outs of using Toontastic. Kids learn the purpose of a story arc, how to build the tension and excitement to a climax, and what a scene resolution is all about. I think this is great – rather than just giving kids tools to created an animated scene, they are instead giving them the knowledge to tell a great story.

    When you start creating an animation in Toontastic, you are told the idea of story arc, from setup, to conflict and challenge, to climax, and finally resolution. Kids are taken step by step to create each scene in that arc. Eventually, you can add more scenes if you like. Creating scenes means picking a setting (or backdrop), choosing the players and characters that will be includes, and then animating. Animation is basic – with the built in characters, making them move around on the screen causes various movement (arms swinging, legs moving, etc). It is nice to see that they have multiple perspective – if you have a character shift directions, he changes the way he is facing. Once you finish, you can then choose the mood music (depending and the point in the story arc, as well as if you want happy, scary, sad, or other kinds of music). Once you finish a scene, you move on the to the next, to complete the story.

    Once a story is finished, you can choose to share it on the Toontastic sharing site. If a parent registers, you can upload you animation for all to see. Most of the animations on the site are okay, although I wish there was some sort of rating system (I watched one that just talked about dog ****). People can choose favorites and rate the quality of the animation as well.

    One great feature is that you aren’t limited to the included characters and scenes. When you are choosing each, you have the option of drawing you own. Now, certainly they aren’t going to be up to the same quality as the built in scenes or characters, but it is great that kids are able to do that. Unfortunately, there was no option to import pictures or images from the photo roll on the iPad, so you can’t take a picture of something and have it appear in the animation.

    There was also no option to either import or create your own theme music. Now, certainly a child is not going to be able to achieve “mood” music, but I would think if they have a favorite song that they want in the animation, there would be no problem with that. Perhaps it has to do with copyright issues or something.

    I also wish there was more advanced image creation tools. As I mentioned, with the built in images and characters, they move a little bit, and can change perspective. If you create your own, it is a static image. I wish you could choose a side “view” or choose something that could move as the character moved. I also wish you could export an animation via email or something, save it as an AVI or MOV file, but you can’t do any of that.

    I did encounter a few glitches in the program, specifically the program qui while it was trying to save some of the images I had created . It only happened a few times (oddly enough, only when I was doing screen captures for this review) so it certainly wasn’t a big problem. But to a kid creating a masterpiece, it might get frustrating.

    All in all, I found Toontastic to be a great tool to encourage the imagination and creativity in children. The animation tutorial is great, and kids can be creating fun and engaging cartoon animations in very little time. AS they go, they can also draw their own characters and scenes, although you can’t import anything from the photo roll on the iPad. At $1.99, the app is almost a must buy for anyone with creative kids, especially if those kids already like to draw AND play with the iPad. Four out of five stars.

    Rating scale:

    * = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
    ** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
    *** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
    **** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
    ***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.

    Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating. Please comment on these reviews. If you own the app, tell me what your opinion is. If the review prompted you to buy (or not buy) the app, let me know why. If you want more information about the app, go ahead and ask.
    08-28-2011 09:48 PM