Puppet Pals HD

App review by
Christopher Healy, Common Sense Media
Puppet Pals HD App Poster Image
Free but limited animation app; full experience costs money.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about digital storytelling using Puppet Pals HD. While recording their own audio, kids practice speaking clearly. They also can observe how multiple forms of expression -- visuals, movement, voice acting, and sound effects -- come together to tell a story. By choosing characters from themes, kids can learn about different genres, time periods, and historic figures. Adding personal photos to the app to create new characters adds even more digital creation. Puppet Pals HD is a fun, creative way to help kids learn thematic storytelling.

Ease of Play

Moving the characters around with your fingers is certainly easy, and the controls for recording your own video are simple to use.

Violence & Scariness

Certain character sets (with in-app purchase) include characters who wear pistols or swords. There's a "War and Peace" character pack that includes historic characters with ancient weapons. The Zombie Attack character pack includes a zombie holding its head in its hand.

Sexy Stuff

Only one themed characters set is included with the free app. If you want any of the 17 other character sets, you'll need to pay $0.99 for each one. Also, a $2.99 Director's Pass will buy them all and allow you to use your own photos as characters.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Puppet Pals HD offers an easy way for kids to create and record their own animated shorts. However, the app only comes with one set of characters. There are 17 other character sets available for purchase at $0.99 each, including one that features caricatures of politicians. The app's most appealing feature -- the ability to cut people out of your real-life photos and use them as puppets and to use real-life photos for backgrounds-- will cost an extra $2.99 to use. Versions called Puppet Pals for iPhone and Puppet Pals 2 also are available.

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What's it about?

Simply tap "Press to Start" and choose up to eight actors from the available theme packs (depending on in-app purchases). Next, select up to five backgrounds. Swipe and pinch to place, resize, and move characters. Tap the red button to record audio, tap the yellow button to pause, and tap the white square to stop. Tap a tassel to change backgrounds. Give the performance a title, and save. To replay, tap "Saved Shows" from the main menu and "Play." There's easy, themed storytelling through movable images and voice recording.

Is it any good?

As an animation app, PUPPET PALS offers a simple and easy interface that could work well for kids, but it also lacks many of the bells and whistles that similar apps, such as Toontastic and PlayTime Theater, feature. Here, you can change the size of a character, flip the image, move it around, and, of course, record voiceover -- and that may be enough for most people. The app does allow you to record and save several shows, though, and even export them, which is a very nice feature. But the one limited character set is not really enough to have much fun. To get truly creative, you'd need to buy more with the in-app purchases option.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Offer to be one of the characters in your kid's story, adding a different voice to the script or improvising the scenes.

  • If your kid really loves storytelling on this app, consider purchasing the Director's Pack so they can mix and match characters from different themes and eras.

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love to be creative

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