Here is a run down of some of the toys we have tested recently.
In the Night Garden PJ Iggle Piggle currently available for £16.99, down from £19.99
If your child loves In the Night Garden, they will love this Iggle Piggle soft toy. He comes complete with pyjamas and slippers and that all-important red blanket (that's attached to his 'hand' by velcro). He also has a light and story book so your little one can tuck Iggle Piggle up in bed and read him a bedtime story.
My boys love this Iggle Piggle and both spent a good while trying to dress and undress him. They also read to him, which is really sweet.
For the last few weeks, however, Iggle Piggle has been *whispers* naked. The clothes on ours were a little tight, this made it almost impossible for two and three year old fingers to manage. They still play with him and take him to bed though, so this hasn't spoilt their enjoyment.
Animal Planet 9" Wild Eyes Dinosaur £19.97
I was going start by saying that this dinosaur is really realistic, but of course I have no idea whether it is or not! Anyway, it is an animatronic dinosaur that moves like you would imagine a dinosaur would move. The vivid blue eyes flash and you can hear jungle sounds.
It is easy to operate, by pressing its foot and the animation lasts quite a while.
The downside is that it is a one-trick pony dinosaur. It only has one operation, but my children still play with it. They call it a crocodile and give it cuddles!
If your child loves dinosaurs they will love this. There are three to collect.
Tomy Aquadoodle Animal Magic Sounds £21.99, down from £26.99
This large Aquadoodle mat comes with one pen (my big bugbear with Aquadoodle products is that when you have two children you need two pens)! The pen fits into a holder that plays the animal sounds of your choice as you draw.
The pen is easy to operate and both of my children could choose which sound they wanted to hear, but they lost interest in this element fairly quickly.
What my boys really love is the drawing on the Aquadoodle mat. This is our second Aquadoodle product so we have two pens. They can both empty their pens and have them re-filled a couple of times a day because they play with it for hours at a time. The mat dries quickly and they love to colour in the animal footprints and pictures over and over again. There is no mess and they haven't been able to open the pens - even if they did, they only contain a little water.
At £21.99 I think this is a bargain.
Fisher-Price TRIO Airplane Set £5.99
This is a wonderful toy and, at only £5.99, great value for money. You get plenty of coloured plastic pieces, different sized blocks and connectors. You have everything you need to make any number of different planes. My boys made planes and robots out of theirs. Other sets are available.
Fisher-Price TRIO is really well made and it fits together beautifully. It's played with regularly (my test of a toy's real value). I can't fault it.
Pop Goes Froggio Game £11.97, from £14.97
My boys really liked this game. In our version, you take it in turns to stamp on the foot pump and make Froggio shoot up in the air. You can try to catch him or hope he lands on a lilypad. If so, you win a lilypad.
I say 'in our version' because I found the actual rules overly complicated. They involve animals on the reverse of the lilypad cards and a spinner and I thought this element was unnecessary and slowed the game down. After all, what you really want to do is stamp on the pump and watch the rubber Froggio hit the ceiling! Older children may appreciate more of a challenge, but for my two it was enough to get Froggio to move.
Pop Goes Froggio is energetic and a lot of fun.
Ravensburger Jolly Octopus Game £11.99, from £16.99
In this game you have to retrieve coloured crabs with the tongs provided while the jolly octopus spins round waggling its arms. On each person's turn they press down Jolly's head and listen to a harp while he gets up to speed. Once the music stops you have to grab a crab.
My three year old, Presley, worked out that he could get any crab he wanted just by holding one of Jolly's arms. When you do this Jolly laughs, as if he is being tickled and stops moving. Clever Presley. He also 'helped' me on my turn. by stopping Jolly for me.
I like this game, it reminds me of the games of skill we played when I was young, like Operation. My husband likes it because he thinks Jolly looks jolly inebriated and the boys ask to play it a lot. It's well made and good fun.
I'll start my saying that my children enjoyed this toy, but having said that, they like painting - full stop.
As you hold the brush over the clear gel in the paint pots it lights up to show you the colour you will be painting with. As the gel reacts to the paper it develops into that colour. So far, so clever.
But... you're supposed to clean the brush between colours. My two weren't interested in that, so a lot of the pictures are a bit muddy looking. They just couldn't see that the brush was dirty. It took a long time for the colour to develop on the paper so you couldn't instantly see what you're painting. My two used too much gel trying to see the colour on the paper. The gel was messy and took hours to dry. In fact Cash, my two year old, came running into the room where we were drying the artwork and came to a standstill with one foot in the middle of one painting and another foot in the middle of another. He was stuck, like he was on fly paper and after walking around with paper on his feet for a few steps started to cry. We started to cry with laughter - it was comical!
I'd imagine that an older child would see the magic of this toy and be more sparing with the paint, but we only got two hours use from use from this toy - that's how long it took to use up all of the gel. Give me real paint any day.
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