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One of the kids received this as a present from my brother at Christmas. They get so much that this kind of got pushed to the back of the cupboard, but with all the rainy weather we have had in recent weeks, we have got this out now, and it is a shame we haven't got round to it a little sooner as it is quite a nice activity for kids to do.
The set is basically a cross between a colouring set and a sticker set, alongside making your own book. The set came in quite a large impressive looking box. As usual, most of this is extra packaging that is not that necessary. The outer cardboard box is 24cm by 35cm and 5cm deep. Inside is one of those plastic inlays which has slots to contain the different bits that come in the set. The box could easily be about 2/3rds of this size. I kind of get annoyed by packaging like this, as it is not very environmentally aware in this day and age.
The outer box looks really nice, and lets us know you make a book by colouring it, sticking it and then reading it, then there are pictures of a little boy getting on with it.
Inside is 8 sheets of stickers. 4 of these were pre-printed in colour, the others were left white for the kids to colour in as they see fit. The set then had 8 different coloured crayons to use to make your book. The book itself contains a card outer for the harder cover of the book. There are also 10 loose sheets of paper with the text of the story and some picture for the child to colour and add stickers to. When you are done colouring your book, you can then use a ribbon provided to thread it through all the pre-punched holes and make up a book of sorts. This book is a bit of an unusual size as the pages are about 22cmx 22cm. The set also comes with a cardboard bookmark featuring Woody the cowboy, which is a nice little extra feature to use with the book, and my boys really did like this as they know we use bookmarks in our books, but we don't usually in their books as we read them in one sitting.
===Our Impressions of This Set:===
My boys are both very fond of Toy Story, and have been for a long time now, so anything featuring the characters from the franchise is popular with them whether it is any good or not. They really took to this set, and spent a long time colouring in the sheets and the stickers and making them up. There was quite a lot of colouring in to do, and it was quite nice that the sheets for the book were all loose as if they had been in one book and my boys had to colour the same sheet at the same time I would have found tears over who had spoiled the other ones picture. They both were given there own sheets to do, and both took a lot of care over their work, wanting it to look good.
The recommended age of the kit is 4 years old. My youngest is 4 next week, so I would say if your child is a little younger, but enjoys creative tasks and has a good concentration span for this sort of activity, then by all means try them with it. My eldest can now read quite well aged 5 and a half, and he got far more out of this as he was able to read the line of text on his colouring page and decide by himself what he needed to do, and he got a lot of pleasure out of working independently and colouring in as neatly as he could.
We found they happily worked on this for the whole of the afternoon with no arguing, and it was absolute bliss.
As an actual book, well the individual sheets are a bit thin, and I can't personally see it lasting a long time if you are reading it all the time, but the cardboard outer cover provides a bit of protection, and I think this is something that they will want to keep for a while and look again at what they have created. The story is quite basic, and is based upon Buzz and Woody's Accidental Adventure, which features Scud's garden from Toy Story One. An example of the level of reading, is 'Buzz decided the best way to save Woody is with his friends.' This is one sentence from one page of the story.
As a parent, I was happy to see my children so happily engaged, which was partly because of the love of the characters, but also because this is actually a well thought out set with plenty to keep coming back to. This would take one child a long time to do all the work on their own, so I think that it is a good value toy, and the packaging that bugs me so much by being bulky will soon be in the recycling bin, leaving a slim book which will sit on the shelf.
The price of this currently is £6.49 on amazon's website, which is a reduced price. Apparently it is normally £10. I would say it is definitely worth it even at the higher price. It would make an excellent gift for a child. I know my brother and his girlfriend quite often shop at the B and M store, and this is probably where they purchased this from, so it may be available cheaper than on amazon if you have a hunt for it.
I have been impressed by this set. Anything that helps ease the boredom of energetic children when they have been cooped up indoors for weeks is a great buy in my books.