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My son was adamant that he wanted a new Buzz Lightyear toy for his fourth birthday last year, even though he already has his older brother's Buzz Lightyear toy to play with. Luckily, Grandad obliged and my four year old is now the proud owner of a Buzz Lightyear Jet Pack - much fancier and more high tech than our original figure.
The basic design of this Buzz is pretty much identical to our original toy. It is pretty large and heavy and a good likeness of the popular Toy Story character. This particular version features the familiar pull-down visor as well as the pop-out wings and a selection of sounds and phrases that will be familiar to fans of the Toy Story films.
This version stands out by having its own 'jet pack' which is operated by pressed a button on the rear. Once pressed, the toy makes a fairly convincing rocket noise and, most entertainingly, the jet pack also lights up and releases a blast of air which causes the fabric 'fringes' at the back to blow about. The overall effect is designed to resemble flames coming from the bottom of the jet pack. It is pretty novel and very effective, as this isn't something that we have come across with any other toy, so my four year old was delighted with his new improved version.
The only drawback with the design is that there isn't actually any on/off switch. The button to activate the jet pack is very easy to press and it has been switched on unintentionally whilst in the toy box many times. My curious toddler has also managed to activate this accidentally - causing him to nearly jump out of his skin when the toy starts making noises, lighting up and blowing air at him!
The other main feature of this toy is a 'laser' on his arm, which lights up and sounds (quite loudly) with a gentle press of a single button. There are also three buttons which activate some of Buzz's trademark phrases including the unmistakeable 'To Infinity and Beyond!' Despite the supposed Toy Story 3 branding, this model doesn't include any phrases that could be specifically linked to that particular film rather than to any of the other two but that isn't something that tends to bother most young children, I suppose. The phrases used are ones that can be incorporated into most would-be Buzz Lightyear's adventures and imaginative play. There are, from my own tests, around ten different phrases included which are repeated randomly. This is enough to become familiar with the sayings although it can get a little annoying if played and pressed repeatedly by little fingers...
The jetpack, laser and the phrases are all quite loud noises and, unfortunately, this doesn't come with any volume controls. Luckily, this isn't a toy that continues to talk to itself long after it's been played with. Each press of the button activates a single phrase (or light/jetpack feature) and doesn't send this jabbering away for a set amount of time, thankfully.
In terms of age recommendations, I think the suggested age of three years plus is probably fairly accurate. Younger children might enjoy playing with this but the size and weight of the toy makes it difficult for it to be lugged about comfortably, particularly by unsteady toddlers. At the upper age range, this would appeal to any Toy Story fan up to around seven or eight, especially those who still enjoy role playing and imaginative play.
I do find that along with most of the Toy Story merchandise, this is vastly overpriced. My father paid well over £40 for this single toy from Argos and, much as my son insisted on having it, I can't honestly say that it has provided £40 of ongoing play value. (Even more shocking is that this is currently - January 2012- listed on Amazon at over £50 with a hefty delivery charge on top!) Certainly, once the initial novelty value of the lighting up jetpack feature had once off, this has not been played with on a regular basis. I think the sheer bulk of the toy means that it tends to lurk towards the bottom of the toy box, only to be rediscovered on rare occasions.
This is a sturdy, unusual and well-built toy but this does not justify the current over-inflated selling price and, for that reason alone, I'd be reluctant to recommend this to other parents unless you can find it for considerably less than the recommended selling price.