Reviews - toys page 3

We have reviewed a selection of toys which have been sent to us, as well as recommending some that have been a particular success at home. These will help you and your children to have fun together while they are learning.

Poo-nicorns from Bandai

Bandai have taken two of the hottest trends and combined them in to one fun plush collection called Poo-nicorns. We received a selection of these neon coloured characters to review and I had my two mini reviewers with me to share their thoughts! Firstly my mini reviewers were both looking forward to the delivery of Poo-nicorns when we found out we had been chosen to review them; how many 5 and 7 year olds do you know that don't find the word 'poo' funny?!

25.5cm Plushiez - £12.99

This is a wonderfully soft and cuddly Poo-nicorn, ours is neon orange with huge eyes, multi-coloured hair surrounding its unicorn horn and big feet emblazoned with the Poo-nicorns logo.

15cm Plushiez - £6.99

This one is simply a smaller version of the one above, ours came in neon green and is more of a cute, hand-held size soft toy which my mini reviewer carried around with her for most of the evening.

9cm Hanging Plushiez - £3.99

Again, a smaller version of the Poo-nicorns above, but with the addition of a carabiner clip; this will no doubt end up on the book bag of one of my mini reviewers at the beginning of next term! They are a good size to add to bags or keyrings so they can be taken out with you without the risk of getting lost.

6.5cm Droplingz - £4.99

These surprise Poo-nicorns are contained within a colourful speckled egg that even has the hint of a horn poking out of it! When you open up the egg you will find a small plush Poo-nicorn that also has a clip on it so it can be taken around with you. You can also keep the egg they 'hatch' from to keep it in at home.

Squishiez - £2.99

These super cute Poo-nicorns come in a small plastic ball that they can sit in, they stare up at you with their big eyes and in my opinion are definitely the most collectable of the Poo-nicorns. These little characters also double up as pencil toppers and I like that they have a purpose rather than just being ornamental.

We really like this collection, it appeals to both boys and girls as the unicorn trend is very girl focused and the poo emoji is more of a boy interest; the Poo-nicorns bring these both together which makes for a unisex toy. Each of the plush characters are really soft to touch and appear to be very well made using good quality materials. I was also pleasantly surprised by the prices across the range, the most collectable (Squishiez) retail at £2.99 which is a good price for what you get. The low prices also means that the Poo-nicorns will make great gifts as there is one that will suit all price brackets. Poo-nicorns from Bandai are available in all good toy shops including The Entertainer and are aimed at ages of 4+.

Smooshy Mushy Series 3 - Creamery Core Pets

Series 3 of Bandai's Smooshy Mushy collection has all new characters within their ice-cream cone packaging ready to be discovered! Following on from the food themes of Series 1 and Series 2, the third series follows the trend with the 'Creamery Core' characters which increases the collectability of the Smooshy Mushy range.

Each toy has a hard plastic ice-cream cone shell, the ice-cream part unscrews from the cone part to reveal the characters and accessories inside. As soon as we opened these up we were hit with the lovely scent that came from the squishy character hiding in the top! The one we are reviewing is a cute penguin! In the rest of the cone we found a bag with a surprise 'Bestie' for our penguin (a pink sundae), a name tag, a sticker with an image of our character on, a mini ice-cream cone with 2 chains inside and an illustrated leaflet showing you the name of the character you have. On the back of the leaflet it shows you how to make an origami shape. The 2 chains found inside the mini ice-cream cone can be used to make your 'bestie' in to a keyring and one can be attached to the name tag.

I love that way that it all stores neatly inside the ice-cream cone, and that the lid screws on so nothing falls out. The cone also stands by itself and they will look great standing next to each other if you collect more than one! There are 8 characters to collect in this series, ours was Peggy Penguin and Sunny Sundae!

Smooshy Mushy Series 3 Creamery Core Pets are aimed at ages 4 and over, these have been a big hit with my mini reviewer, she is 5 years old and loved opening up the ice-cream cone to find out what goodies were hiding inside! These are really addictive and they are bound to be very popular with girls in this age range. The toys currently retail for £10.00 and can be found at The Entertainer.

 

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Strictly Briks Trap and Gap Baseplates

Strictly Briks are compatible with all the major brick brands so these Trap and Gap base plates are a fantastic addition to any current brick collections. Inside the pack you get: 2 x Trap and Gap Baseplates 10" x 10" 2 x Stackable Baseplates 10" x 10" 15 x Stackers

The Trap and Gap baseplates allow you to set the ramps to go either up or down and you can use the included stackers to go in between layers. You can use the base plates to create a multi-level garage where your cars can go up and down or you could use them to drop the floor out from beneath baddies!

You can use your own bricks on top of your base plates to create a more complex structure, or you can add them to existing buildings. The Trap and Gap Baseplates create endless opportunities for play which encourages creativity, and learning through play. They currently retail for £21.99.

Strictly Briks 12 Pack of 6" x 6" Base Plates

These rainbow base plates from Strictly Briks come in a pack of 12 and measure 6" x 6". They are compatible with all the major brick brands such as Lego and Megablocks so they are a brilliant addition to any sets of these bricks that you may already have.

The base plates can be stacked vertically to build some amazing creations, you can also make your own toy storage from them and use them to display figurines and models. The base plates can be stacked using your own bricks or you can use Strictly Briks spacer bricks which are available to buy as part of other packs. The choice of colours is much more exciting than the usual greens and greys that are commonly sold and they allow your child to let their imagination flow.

My mini reviewer has only ever had one small base plate to use his brick toys on and he spent all evening constructing things with the Strictly Briks base plates, he enjoyed being able to build up, as well as use them as a base for models. The base plates are great value for money, currently retailing at £17.99 for 12.

Toy State CAT Mini Machines 2 Pack

This two pack of CAT Mini Machines comprises of a dump truck and a bulldozer and each vehicle is approximately 10cm long. They are of good quality and robust so they will withstand being played with in a variety of environments. Both vehicles are detailed to look just like the real-life CAT machines and will provide hours of imaginative play.

The wheels turn so they can be used on many surfaces and their size means that they can be neatly stored away. There are different vehicles to collect in the Mini Machines Series and at only a few pounds per pack they are affordable to purchase. The CAT Mini Machines are aimed at ages 3 and over due to small parts. 

Hot Wheels Extreme Action Scorpedo

Hot Wheels toys have been popular in the children's toy vehicle department for decades and I can see why with the Scorpedo car from the Extreme Action range. It is grey with chrome effect claws, wheels and engine, orange and yellow detailing and orange buttons on top which sets off the scorpion style tail. It has a motorised drive; press the orange buttons on top to set the stinging tail in to action and watch the eyes glow yellow as it drives off! The stinging tail will whip up and down for a few seconds and the claws will open and close several times while playing realistic car sounds and music. There is however a mute button on the bottom which will stop the sound effects being played, but still allows the stinging tail to work. There is a lot of fun to be had from this toy and the high quality means that this toy will be durable, there are four other vehicles to collect in the Extreme Action series - Street Creeper, Sharkruiser, Turboa and Vampyra, each with a different special action. The Hot Wheels Scorpedo from Toy State requires 3 AAA batteries which are included and it is aimed at children of 3 and over. The Scorpedo retails for £19.99 and can be found here at Argos.

 

Twist


Twist n Chime Teletubbies

Teletubbies Twist n Chime figures are fun new figures for your Teletubbies fan to enjoy. These figures are chunky, solid and perfectly sized for little hands. They are the bright colours that you are used to seeing on-screen and each one is around 12cm tall.

 

Twist the waist of the Teletubbies and they will make a lovely chime. The waist can be twisted either way to make the chiming sound. Their heads also rotate 360 degrees and their arms are posable.

All four Teletubbies (Tinky Winky, Dipsy, La-La & Po) are available to buy and they are perfect for encouraging imaginative play as well as helping to develop dexterity skills. They are suitable for ages 12 months up to 3 years. My Teletubbies fan is 18 months old and has had at least one Teletubby in her hand all day. They are light and easy for little ones to carry around, and it won't take long for your little one to work out how to make them chime. They are excellent quality and I imagine they will be very durable, which is a very important feature for toys aimed at this age range. Each Twist n Chime Teletubby is priced at £4.99 and can be purchased here. For a range of Teletubbies toys head over to Argos where there is 25% off!

 

 

Po


Teletubbies 8" Talking Po Soft Toy

The Teletubbies 8" Talking Po is a wonderfully soft and cuddly toy. When you press Po's tummy you will hear a Teletubbies phrase or sound effect. At 8" tall these soft toys are just the right size for your little one to cuddle, squeeze and carry around. The material is supersoft plush and is a gorgeous vibrant red.

 

All four Teletubbies are available to buy (Tinky Winky, Dipsy, La-La & Po) and they are all a very close likeness to the on-screen Teletubby characters. I am very impressed with the quality of this toy; Po has very detailed eyes and the face is also very soft, rather than a cold plastic (which wouldn't be very nice to cuddle). There is a good range of speech and sound effects so that you are not hearing the same thing on repeat over and over again, and the tummy is easy to press so even younger children will find it simple to play with.

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The Teletubbies 8" Talking Soft Toys are aimed at ages 18 months and over, this is the perfect age as children really start to play with their toys in different ways. My Teletubbies fan loves to give Po lots of cuddles, sit it in her high chair and takes it for car journeys. The high quality of this toy will ensure that it is durable and last through lots of play. Each Teletubby retails for £9.99 and can be bought here at Argos where you can also find 25% off!

   

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Playground

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Seaside

Peppa Pig Pick up and Play Playset - Playground

The Peppa Pig Playground set is one of two designed as foldaway playsets in the shape of Peppa’s face. The attractive appearance will instantly appeal to children. The set opens up to reveal a colourful playground with a trampoline and basketball goalpost., plus a Peppa Pig figure (on a base so she stands well). The backgrounds are bright and colourful, showing Peppa's friends playing (who can your child name?) and lots of typical playground features.The hopscotch is a great way for children to learn numbers - and hopefully, to be encouraged to try this fun game for themselves. There are sounds to listen too as well -  just press the buttons to hear ducks quacking, bicycle bells ringing, muddy puddles being splashed in and more. This gives opportunity and stimulus for developing imaginative play, as children play out a variety of scenarios using the sounds and playground setting. This is a really practical toy, ideal for taking out and about. Everything stores inside to keep items safe - and there's room to add some other Peppa accessories too (perhaps a George figure would be a good addition). Perfect to while away boring car journeys, to pass the time when waiting  for appointments and to take when visiting friends and relatives. Ideal on-the-go fun for all Peppa fans of 18 months up, practical and well-designed. Buy from Smyths Toys and also available from Argos and Character Online. Price as of March 2018 is £14.99.

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Cat Buildin’ Crew Take-A-Part Buddies™ - Movin' morgan

Movin' Morgan is a lovely bright yellow big digger with moving front and rear buckets. This licensed cat vehicle is easy to assemble and remove parts - it includes a motorised hand drill to help construction; this can be used to take the wheels and other parts on and off, really adding to the play fun. Perfect for developing co-ordination skills, this is a classic take-a-part play set which offers hours of imaginative play. He is really friendly-looking too.  Little ones can experience the fun and satisfaction of building and removing the parts themselves, encouraging thinking skills as they work out how to reassemble the toy. There are 2 fun characters to collect - Haulin’ Harry™ and Movin’ Morgan™; if you have two children, it's good fun for them to have one each. The digger is really sturdily made and suitable for indoor and outdoor play - perfect for use in the sandpit. the big wheels mean it moves across the floor really smoothly. Ac well-made durable toy with lots of play value. Suitable for age 3+, the vehicles are also available from Morrisons, Toymaster and Debenhams.

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Thomas & Friends - Learn with Thomas Alphaphonics

Learn letters, sounds and spelling with the Thomas & Friends Learn with Thomas Alphaphonics. The easy-to-handle toy features every letter in upper and lower case and images of well known characters and places from the stories. Children can select from seven different play modes. The play patterns are designed to help develop memory, follow sequences and concentration. Rewards include fun music and sound effects.

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The Thomas & Friends Learn with Alphaphonics toy is a lightweight phonics learning toy aimed at ages 3+. There is a handle either side so it is easy to hold and has the 26 alphabet letter buttons on the front. Each button has an image on it showing the letter in both lower and upper case, along with a Thomas & Friends themed picture. For example 'H' has an image of Henry, 'R' has an image of rails and 'W' has an image of a whistle. Above the alphabet buttons are 3 big yellow buttons and at the top of the toy is the actvities slider. An easy to use yellow slider enables you to quickly choose the activity you want to play.

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This toy has an impressive 7 activities to choose from:

Activity 1: Press a letter button to hear the word and sound. A voice will make the letter sound and then says the word on the corresponding letter button. For example "Letter S, sounds like 'sss' as in steam".

Activity 2: Press a letter button to hear its name and the phonetic sound. This is a great feature as your child will still get to hear the name of the letter, as well as the sound it makes.

Activity 3: Find a character or object. The toy will ask you to find a letter or object. If you get it correct a bell will ring, if you get it wrong it will make a noise, but you do get three chances to get it correct!

Activity 4: Find the first letter of a word. The toy will ask you a question, for example "What is the first letter of the word kite?". You then press the button you think is the correct answer.

Activity 5: Can you find a phonetic letter from a spoken word? For example, you will be asked "Can you find the letter 'j' as in James?". Press the button you think is the answer.

Activity 6: Copy a sequence of funny sounds. Listen to the sounds that are made and then press the buttons in the same order. You might hear the voice of a person, one of the engines or perhaps the sound of a level crossing. This activity is a little trickier to get the correct answer. The sounds are not always that clear, and if the noise is the voice of an engine talking then you need to know the Thomas & Friends characters very well in order to be able to get the correct answer.

Activity 7: Choose a button and have fun listening to all the sounds.

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In addition to the 7 activities there are also 3 other buttons. The first is the 'abc' button, this will speak the phonetic alphabet from the beginning each time it is pressed, this is a great way to keep your child hearing the phonetic sounds. The second button plays music, there are 3 different Thomas & Friends tunes to hear. The third button is the repeat button. Once pressed this will repeat the last question or sound from the activities above.

There are also volume control buttons on the right and left of the toy where the alphabet buttons are. I must say I didn't realise these were there for a while. They are small and quite subtle, there is also no mention of them in the instructions! These are useful as I did think it was quite loud, but much better once turned down a little!

The age recommendation of 3+ for this toy is appropriate as children will start picking up letter recognition at this age. My mini reviewer is 4 and recently started school so she is currently learning the first phonics sounds and she has been enjoying using it. It is fun to use so it holds their attention well and benefits them by building memory skills from using images along with the letters. The range of activities is great as there is so much to do. Electronic learning aids are proving to be popular as they are able to incorporate so much fun in to learning.

The Learn with Thomas Alphaphonics retails at £19.99 and can be found for sale on Amazon (link on left).

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World Globe from Brainstorm Toys

The best way to teach children about the world and the relationship between all the places is by using a globe. This compact globe is perfect for children's bedrooms and it will really increase their understanding. The small size doesn't mean loss of detail - it shows political boundaries, natural features such as lakes, rivers and deserts plus capitals and major cities; the scale is 1:90,000,000. The base is sturdy and the globe spins well. It's neat and attractive - an educational toy that will fascinate children. "Brainstorm Toys is a range of fun, educational and interactive toys that brings together a host of fascinating items. The aim of Brainstorm Toys branded products is to entertain children but also to inspire them to learn more about their environment."

Glow 3D The Moon from Brainstorm Toys

Decorate your child's bedroom ceiling and encourage an interest in space with these glow in the dark stickers (they are daylight visible too). All year round the glow 3D moon makes an interesting room decoration. For added interest, the pack includes three additional stickers - a landing module, astronaut and lunar Rover. The stickers all adhere easily with self-adhesive pads. To glow, they just need to be exposed to a light source (daylight or artificial) for a few minutes. It's a subtle glow, so it won't disturb children's sleep, just give them a restful image; it did fade quite quickly. A fun and educational, gift for children who are interested in the stars, constellations and the universe - a great way to foster that interest, leading them on to greater discoveries.

Stikbot Pirate Movie Set from Brainstorm TOYS

Poseable Stikbots are here to make animated movies; this set includes the free StikBot stop frame animation app for iPhone or Android for children to download and produce their very own pirate movie masterpiece. The set is easy to build and includes a ship, sharks, treasure chest, trees, cannon, walk the plank, rowing boat and plenty more. StikBot comes dressed in pirate gear and there is a sticker sheet of pirate outfits included to dress your other StikBots - a really good idea. It's a super way to develop children's imaginative and story-telling skills as they use the animation app to film inside and outside of the ship. We also received two Stikbot figures, a pink and a blue one. These are jointed plastic figures that come in a variety of colours; they have suction cups on their hands and feet, and the bodies are held together with elastic cords that make for easy posing. On the box, children are encouraged to pose their figures, then share them in the Stikbot Studio (with parental permission, of course). An inexpensive and fun way to learn animation skills.

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Wow Toys Sam 2

Sam the Steam Train from Wow Toys

We've been lucky enough to review several toys from the Wow range in the past, and I am a great fan. The toys are so bright and colourful and when I put a boxful of toys out, the Wow toys are always the first to catch the attention of young ones.  Sam the Steam Train is a new addition to the range, and a much bigger toy than we have seen before - there is so much here to keep children (recommended age range 1.5 to 5 years) occupied. He has a motorised engine - just push and go to keep children on the move - with whistle sound (not too noisy!) and a detachable passenger coach. The engine moves smoothly along the floor; just press down the chimney to sound the whistle in case of any obstructions en route! The coach, which easily hooks onto the engine, offers lots of play value with opening side and roof which when opened reveals stairs from the platform into the coach. Inside the coach are a table and chairs for passengers to sit in, plus beds up on a balcony; the walls are colourfully decorated. There are also three figures - an engine driver and two passengers. No batteries are needed - this is a great feature of Wow Toys. The quality is superb - there are no rough edges and everything is really sturdy and durable (our previous toys still look as good as new). Wow Toys really encourage imaginative play as well as developing fine motor skills; they are also super to encourage two or more children to play together. It can be hard to find toys for children of 1+ as so many are marked as suitable for over 3; Wow Toys really fill a gap in the market. Find out more about Sam and buy him from Wow Toys here. Look out for the colourful Wow Toys displays in shops, garden centres and elsewhere - you can't miss them and I can guarantee your child won't!

 Wow Toys Sam

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Playmags 60 Piece Set

Suitable for all ages, this super set has plenty of pieces for play by one or more children. It offers limitless possibilities to create whatever children's imaginations want - cubes, houses,  towers, planes, cars, fish - the list goes on as these can be whatever you want them to be. The set includes seven different shapes that can be combined in any number of ways. There are 2 large squares, 22 small squares, 14 windows, 10 small triangles, 4 medium triangles and 8 tall triangles, plus a bonus 6 ABC Clickins which fit inside the squares. We have had smaller sets of a similar toy before, and the children got really frustrated at not having enough pieces to build what they wanted. Playmags are far superior - the magnets are far stronger, meaning the creations stay in place and can be played with once made. I love the colours of these too - they are really vivid and attractive They are suitable for 3+, but have the benefit of being big enough to be perfectly safe for younger children - I have seen a one-year-old fascinated by them. As well as being a fun and educational toy for the home environment, schools find these really valuable, as they help learn children about geometric shapes, symmetry, architecture and basic math concepts through creative play. Creating models with Playmags develops motor skills and imaginative play, and develops design skills in 3D. This is not a toy which dictates to the child - it's a toy which allows them to give free rein to their creativity, and to learn a host of valuable skills at the same time. Superb a toy that will be loved for many years. Find out more on the Playmags site, and see the whole fabulous range.

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Velocitrax box

Nikko 9019 "R/C Velocitrax  Electronic Toy

This is a really impressive remote control toy that is bound to get a 'wow' from any lucky recipient. Definitely a futuristic looking toy with its jazzy colours and streamlined body. The Velocitrax is really manoeuvrable and intuitive, and children will soon be whizzing it around just where they want it to go - it does amazing 360-degree spins as well as other tricks. The battery lasts well for a good session of play and it comes complete with a one hour quick charger. The technical bits - it works on 2.4GHz multi band frequency, and it measures 27.9 x 17.8 x 11.4 cm; recommended age is 8+. It has two motors and a top speed is an impressive 9mph. It's suitable for multi-band 10 player racing - I'd imagine this will be enormous fun. It really lives up to its claim to be multi terrain - we tried it out on newly mown grass as well as on paving and it works really well on both; it's a tough looking vehicle that's perfect for outside play although it can be used indoors too. Wrll made and brightly coloured, this is a super looking toy. This superb remote control vehicle is available from Argos, Debenhams, Menkind, Hamley’s SMYTHS, Morrisons, The Range and Toys R Us.

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LEGO City: Jungle Cargo Helicopter

Young explorers can head right into the jungle with this helicopter, which comes with all sorts of additional features for extended play value. The cockpit opens, with a space for one of the figures included; the other figure fits into the ATV. The helicopter also has spinning rotors and a working winch (this attaches to the ATV, which can then be raised and lowered), so children can really make use of the imaginative play possibilities. There's a temple which features a moving leaf; this opens to reveal a golden chalice. Finally, you'll find a spider figure, a machete and a treasure chest - lots for children to explore and get excited about. The helicopter including rotors measures over 3" (9cm) high, 9" (24cm) long and 7" (18cm) wide - it's a good size to play with; recommended age is 6 - 12. The LEGO City range includes plenty of other kits which all work well together, and each additional one really enhances the play value. As always with LEGO, the instructions are very clear and easy to follow for the recommended age. With all the accessories, this is excellent value and will give many hours of play.

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Power Rangers Ninja Steel: Deluxe Ninja Megazord

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Power Rangers Ninja Steel is the twenty-fourth season of the long-running children's television show Power Rangers. Galvanax is the reigning champion of the most popular game show in the universe and he sends his warrior contestants to Earth to steal the Ninja Power Stars. The Power Rangers must master their arsenal of Ninja Power Stars, Zords and Megazords to stop this evil threat and save Earth from destruction!

Megazord

The Ninja Steel Megazord is the main Megazord for the Ninja Steel Rangers. It is created when the core 5 Rangers' Zords merge. This impressive action figure combines all 5 Zords, which are all separate figures, and once they are all clicked together they create the Megazord. The 5 separate Zords are:

Zoom Zord (the Pink Rangers's Zord)

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Kodiak Zord (the White Ranger's Zord)

Megazord 4

Dragon Zord (the Blue Ranger's Zord)

Megazord 5

Nitro Zord (the Yellow Ranger's Zord)

Megazord 6

Robo Red Zord (the Red Ranger's Zord)

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The separate figures can be played with by themselves, or combined to make the Megazord. The Megazord stands at 25cm tall and it is compatible with the 12.5cm Power Rangers figures (sold separately) which can take a ride inside the cockpit and take control! This is a great feature for Power Rangers fans who will enjoy being able to use current figures they may have already. The Megazord can also be built upon with the purchase of additional accessories (not included), such as the Mega Morph Vehicles. The Megazord figure will provide hours of imaginative play as well as thinking skills and fine motor skills when combining all of the figures.

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The Ninja Steel Deluxe Megazord is a well constructed toy, it feels sturdy and robust and all of the pieces are easy enough for a child to put together. Its bold use of colour makes it really stand out and we love the fact that you can add parts to it from other Power Rangers products. The Ninja Steel Deluxe Megazord is aimed at ages 4 and over and retails at £42.99. It is available from all good toy stores.

Hape Wooden Beetle Walker

Hape Logo

We were really looking forward to receiving this walker for review as one of my mini testers is very close to walking. The walker needs minimal assembly and just requires 2 nuts and bolts (included) to fix the handlebar in place. There are 2 different angles at which this can be placed and the instructions advise that for babies who are just learning to walk that it is fixed in to the more vertical position.

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The wheels have a very clever speed reducer which can be adjusted to slower speeds for babies learning to walk, a quick tweak allows them to spin faster for toddlers who are confident pushing the walker around. I think this aspect is great and I have not come across it from a baby walker before, sometimes the speed at which they move can take your child by surprise so you can see that this is a well thought out feature. Your child can use the walker to push their favourite toys around in, but however your child uses it, it just looks great!

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As with all Hape wooden products, this walker is excellent quality and the design of the Volkswagen Beetle is just gorgeous. There is so much detail, the headlights look very realistic and it even shows all the chrome detailing on the bodywork. The wheels have the 'VW' logo moulded in to them and the handlebar is metal so you can be sure that the walker is strong and sturdy.

Walker

The Hape Beetle Walker is also available in red and you can read all about it on the Hape website.

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Zomlings series 6

Zomlings are a highly collectable range of colourful and unique zombie-based characters, all at pocket-money prices which make them great for children to collect - and a good incentive to accompany Mum and Dad to the shops! Zomlings have shifted forward in time for Series 6, called Zomlings in the Future giving a lovely new aspect to this highly collectable series. It includes hi-tech new vehicles and a futuristic new world, with over 100 brand new characters for children to collect. These new Zomlings live in special capsules that can fly across the skies and they have new types of Zom-Mobiles with advanced Zom-tastic technology for extra speed! We received a fabulous boxful of goodies to review, which contained a starter pack (£4) - I really recommend that you get this to start off with as it contains a guide map, a Zom-mobile, a shiny metal capsule and 3 Zomlings to get the collection off to a great start. We also received 10 blind bags which each contain a single Zomling (50p), 3 capsules (with 2 Zomlings) (£1.50), a blister pack which includes Zomlings and Zom-mobiles (£8) and, finally, 3 blind bags with a Zomling plus Zom-mobile in each. Series 6 includes 6 Ultra Rare (silver) and 3 Limited Edition (gold) Zomlings. Also look out for limited edition Gold Zom-Mobiles! Zomlings are suitable for 4 - 7 year olds. I like the fact that these new toys include some larger packs which are good to treat children to as gifts. These include the Magic Trick School (RRP £5), Pirate and Race Blister Packs (RRP £12 each) and the Crazy School Bus (RRP £25). Zomlings are a great way to encourage imaginative and collaborative play (good for swaps too!), as with so many different items to play with, the variations are endless. These cute creatures look super on a display shelf too. Readily available, they can be bought from Co-op, One Stop, Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda and a variety of other newsagents and toy stores across the UK. Follow Zomlings on Twitter.   You can find out all about Series 6, and watch a video, here.

Zomlings 
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Figure Eight Railway Set from Hape

This is a lovely wooden railway set. The figure of eight layout is ideal as a first railway set, as it is easy for even young children to set up the track - it's recommended for age 3+. The Hape Figure Eight Railway Set includes three brightly coloured wooden train carriages which really capture children's attention; they couple together magnetically. There are 12 pieces of curved track, plus ramped pieces to take the train up and over the bright red bridge - this feature really adds a good dimension to the set. There are also two trees to decorate the track; there are 27 pieces in all. The pieces are all really well made with no rough edges, with a commitment to sustainability; compliant with international safety and quality standards. Railways are a constant favourite with children and while they are playing, they will be developing hand-eye coordination, creativity and imaginative play. The possibilities are endless, with the many expansion packs available, just a few of which are reviewed below. See the Hape website for the whole fantastic range. This makes an excellent starter railway set, and there are lots more sets on the Hape website, so your child can gradually build up their collection - you need never be stuck for present ideas again! See the whole HAPE railway range on their website.

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Hape Extended Double Suspension Bridge Set

Perfect for giving a train set a city feel, and of really impressive proportions, this is the perfect add on for any railway - children can take their trains right into the heart of the city. The extended double railway bridge has 17 pieces in all, including track. Many railway sets seem to have a country feel, so this is great to bring a more urban feel to children's play, giving yet more scope for imaginative play - how about drawing a road or river to go underneath, then bringing in vehicles and boats from other play sets? This is a really stylish addition to a model rail set and will immediately transform any set. It's well made, with wooden tracks and plastic parts for the bridge. A great addition to any rail set.

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HAPE Triple Tunnel

Now you see it, now you don't! Children will love to see their train and carriages appear and disappear through the three separate tunnel parts; one is a double size and two are single. The tunnels come without track, so they can be p;aced anywhere children want on their rail layout, thus extending play value. They fit neatly over the track and there's plenty of room for the carriages to pass underneath - but there is just a little extra dexterity needed which is great to develop those all-important manipulative skills. The tunnels are wooden, attractively decorated. A super addition to any wooden train set.

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Hape Automatic Train Bell Signal

Ding! Ding! The train is coming! Hurry up and cross the track safely, heeding the warning from this automatic signal. It can be connected to the tracks so that the bell rings as the train approaches the bend, or it can be rung loud and proud as a separate piece. This gives children plenty of scope for imaginative scenarios - and it's also a good excuse for adults to bring in some discussion about road and rail safety. The signal comes ready mounted on its own piece of track and it's a really good size, giving off a very satisfactory ring. We really enjoyed reviewing these train sets and accessories from Hape. They are excellent quality, and they can be combined with all manner of other toys for even greater play value, ensuring that children will get many years of happy play. And, thanks to the high quality, they can be passed down the generations too - good quality wooden toys never date.

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Hape Wooden Crane Lift

Hape are the world's largest producer of wooden toys, they depend on the use of natural materials and any plastic parts they make are designed to be durable enough for generations of use to encourage toys to be passed down, rather than thrown away.

Inside the box you will find the crane mechanism and cab which comes pre-assembled. Along with this is a box which contains 5 accessories (a men at work sign, 2 barriers and 2 cones), a platform and blocks for hooking to the crane and the base of the crane, which needs to be assembled. The base of the crane consists of 2 wooden parts which slot together to form an 'x', on top of this a round plate is placed to keep them in the right place and the long tower section is then placed on top of the plate. 2 screws (supplied) are then used to hold it all in place, an allen key is also supplied for tightening them up. The platform with blocks on can then be hooked on to the crane ready for play. The whole process only took a few minutes and once together it feels very solid and sturdy.

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The crane can be moved using 2 dials, the dial at the back of the crane moves the hook backwards and forwards and the dial at the front lowers and raises the hook. It is also a great size, standing at 53cm tall. The crane encourages problem solving and discovery along with improving fine motor skills as children have to put the pieces in the correct place. It also inspires imagination and creativity through play.

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The Hape Crane Lift is aimed at children of ages 3 and over, and is one of those toys that even much older children will enjoy playing with. The set can be added to by purchasing Hape trucks and diggers to create your own construction site. Hape products go through strict quality control so you can be sure that there will be no sharp points, they do a drop test, bite force test and use water based paints on their products. The Crane Lift retails at £37.99, for more information take a look at the Hape website.

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Casdon Self Service Supermarket

Casdon have been in the toy market for over 65 years and produce some excellent role play toys, we have been reviewing the new Self-Service Supermarket. It was relatively easy to put together and it is a very good size for little ones as it stands at 75cm tall. It comes with an incredible 75 pieces and the food items included are branded, this can help younger ones as they may be able to recognise the products from the packaging before they are able to read. Included is a chip and pin machine, bank notes, coins, receipt paper and a basket for all of your shopping!

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The goods can all be neatly displayed on the shelves around the stand and there is a hook for the basket. On top of the stand is an electronic till which has realistic scanning sounds, lights, spoken instructions and a touch-screen display. You can pay for your shopping with notes or coins and these can be placed in the till, change will also drop out which is a great feature. The till also produces receipts and the product comes with one blank roll of paper for this. The food boxes are well designed and printed, there are also price labels for the shelves that make it look like a real shop.

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The Self-Service Supermarket is a fun way for children to learn basic maths skills such as number recognition and counting, for older children they can start to recognise coin values. Play encourages the development of hand-eye coordination, expands the imagination and increases social skills through role play. It retails at £45.00 and requires 3 x AA batteries (not included) and it is aimed at ages 3-8 years. My 4 and 6 year old testers have played with this endlessly, they have each enjoyed being both the shop-keeper and the customer. That is a bonus of this toy; children can play by themselves, or with siblings and friends and it is still just as much fun. Overall it is a really engaging and educational toy as children love being able to do what they see grown ups doing.

For more information and to see a range of the other toys Casdon offer click here.

Brio

Brio - Ant with Rolling Egg

This is another lovely wooden toy from Brio. Brio have been making toys for children for over 130 years and they say they base their products on four key rules:

  • The toy must be safe to play with
  • The toy must comply with Brio's high quality standards
  • The toy must be intuitively easy for the child to understand
  • The toy must help the child grow though play

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The Ant with Rolling Egg is pulled along by its brightly coloured cord and as the ant rolls along, the big yellow egg on its back completely rotates. The Ant has a springy tail, antennae and neck which all bob up and down as it rolls along. It will catch your toddlers attention with its gorgeous bold, block colours and big white eyes. As you would expect of a Brio toy, it is very well made and very durable, it is definitely the kind of toy that is kept and passed on to younger siblings when it has been grown out of.

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The Ant with Rolling Egg is aimed at ages 12 months+, it encourages early walking and coordination skills. This toy makes a perfect gift, the RRP is £17.99 and can be purchased directly from Brio.

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Little Tikes Fountain Factory Water Table

The Fountain Factory water table is so much more than it looks at first glance. It was very quick to put together by following the included instructions, it all slotted together easily and there was just one screw! There is a central water tower which has a network of 3 fountains with interchangable tubes and taps so you can choose how and when the water flows. Different nozzles give different water patterns and a clever hidden tube fills a funnel at the top to keep the water level high enough to allow the water to flow to the various water outlets. The hidden tube pumps the water in to the funnel via a manual pump attached to the side of the table, you press the plunger button down whenever you need to top the water tower up. My testers loved this part of the play as it makes them work to get the water level they need.

There are water spinners at the top of the central tower and around the edge of the table there is a dump bucket (which fills up and then empties itself back in to the pool of water), the pump which fills the tower and a peek-a-boo character that rises with the water level. The Fountain Factory allows you to connect the different pipes and faucets in countless different ways, it is educational by bringing together science and engineering as you work out how to re-arrange them so that they work correctly.

The Fountain Factory is aimed at ages 24 months to 5+ years. My 2 testers are 4 and 6 years old and have both played with this endlessly in both rain and shine! They have had a water table before but there was little to do aside from pushing boats around and splashing each other but the Fountain Factory has kept their interest for hours. It isn't all for the children though, the easy-drain plug makes cleaning it out a doddle! It comes with 3 play accessories: a funnel, a scoop and of course, a boat! As with all Little Tikes products it is extremely good quality with lots of bright colours which promote sensory play. The table is a great size and can comfortably fit 3 or more children around it for group play.

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The Little Tikes Fountain Factory retails at £59.99 and can be purchased directly from Little Tikes online.

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Casdon Kenwood Mixer

This is another in Casdon's exceptional range of role play toys. They are so well designed, and look just like the real thing, so are brilliant for extending children's role play. Little ones always love to copy Mum and Dad and copy the jobs around the house that they do. Role play offers parents plenty of opportunities for discussion and explanations of what is happening, helping children to develop skills for later life. Casdon's Kenwood Mixer has specially been designed to be true to life, so your little cook will feel like the real deal as they whip up pancakes, cakes and omelettes! This working mixer with its two speed motor with the Kenwood planetary action, is ideal for lightweight mixing tasks such as whisking up omelettes and pancakes helps develop real life skills, including, hand eye coordination, social skills, problem solving and even cause and effect. It also offers the chance to explain about healthy eating and where our food comes from. This replica toy includes a whisk beater and the iconic K beater, spatula, a recipe book and a manual handle as well as the working mixer. Usefully, it can be either hand or battery operated.  The recipe book includes a wide range of recipes, including flapjacks, pizza and cakes. I really like the silver (titanium) of this mixer, which is so realistic - and all the features on it are true to life, so when children move on to using the real thing, they will be familiar with the features. Like all Casdon toys, this is sturdily and will withstand plenty of enthusiastic play; the recommended age is 3 - 8 year olds. It is so good for children and parents to work and enjoy toys like this side by side - and then to have something to show and enjoy for the effort! An impressive role play toy that is more than just a toy - it's a proper functioning mixer that children are going to love. You can see all Casdon's role play toys on their website.
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