“ Brand: Bruin / Age: 12 months+ / Type: Activity Toys „
This was a gift for my daughter's 1st Christmas (2 years ago now). Well actually, the original present was a Disney Bubble Blowing Ride-on, which practically fell apart on Boxing Day, so when we went to exchange it, we ended up swapping it for this Bruin aeroplane. Which I am quite pleased about actually, and when you have finished reading my review, you will see why!
The toy's full name is the Bruin Flying Buddies Activity Ride-On, and if you know the name Bruin, you will know it is from Toys R Us. The price is currently £24.99 and I don't think that has changed since we got ours so I think it's a pretty good price and real value for money.
The actual toy is first and foremost a ride-on for children aged 12 months plus. But it is so much more than just a ride-on, this toy has so many features and has given my children, and many other visiting children so much fun and joy that I actually don't know where to begin with this review! I am going to attempt to keep it as concise as possible, and I think I may as well go into detail about some of the features first and dotted amongst these descriptions will be how my children have played and what they have liked and disliked about the toy. And of course what I like and dislike about it.
First of all, as I said earlier it is a ride-on and the thing I like about this particular ride-on is that the seat part is quite narrow. So for a smaller child (like my eldest daughter) they don't have to do the splits to get on it and her feet have rested comfortably on the floor while seated from when she was about 14 months (my youngest has been climbing on it and sitting on it comfortably since before she was 1, but then she is a larger and more independent child!) It is quite easy for a child to climb on because there is a handle at the back which they can use to steady themselves while arching one of their legs over the seat. The handle is also used as a back rest, and also to push the child on the toy if they are unable to push themselves along.
The plane is also very sturdy and if multiple children are wrestling with it and trying to get themselves onboard it doesn't tend to tip over. There is a black thing at the back at the bottom between the wheels (I don't know the technical term for it) which prevents it from tipping backwards and keeps it steady while children are either riding on it, or pushing it (yes it can also be used as a walker for a confident child!) The front end of the plane is quite heavy as well which also helps in preventing it from tipping backwards.
The 'steering wheel' is in the shape of the controls of an aeroplane so instead of a wheel to hold there are two handle parts which a child can easily grip, and yes it does turn the wheels (but this is only very slight and I wouldn't say it aided the child in turning the plane...) This control is also littered with buttons of various shapes and sizes which perform various functions, and which I will attempt to describe later on in this novel...
So what else does it do? Well it also doubles up as a shape sorter. The yellow seat actually lifts up to reveal a little compartment which houses 4 different shaped plastic blocks (square, circle, triangle and star, these also have the picture of the Bruin animals on for extra fun). Either side of the plane are the shaped slots for these blocks to slide through, and each slot has a little button which is activated once the shape is pushed through, and each plays a different tune. But before the tune is played, a little jingle sound is emitted, like you would hear in an amusement arcade if you had hit jackpot. I quite like this because it seems like it is rewarding your child for getting the right shape in the right slot.
The tunes are all well known nursery rhymes and to be honest, I don't even find them annoying. I find with some toys that the way the tunes are played are quite irritating, but these are really upbeat and I don't find myself getting annoyed when I hear the same tunes over and over again. Both my daughters enjoy this feature of the plane, and will sometimes not bother with the blocks and just sit with the plane and press the buttons to hear the tunes and sing along.
The compartment where the blocks are stored is also large enough to store other small toys that your kids may like to put in there. My youngest daughter is the type who likes to put little things inside things, and this plane is one of her 'places'. I have found jelly babies, biscuits, toy cars, little toy animals...etc in here. She likes to put them in and then push the plane to another location in the house and empty them out again, but sometimes she gets distracted and leaves them onboard for me to discover while she plays with something else.
On the front of the plane is a large propeller which is made from a foamy type material, so there are no severed limbs if your child gets caught in front of the plane on the runway. There are also lots of different coloured lights on this propeller and when it is activated (using one of the numerous buttons on the steering wheel) the propeller spins and the lights light up to create a circle of lights. They are really quite bright and this is one of the things that many children have enjoyed, especially when it is dark, they make a lovely pattern, and if you have gloss paint on your doors they can see the lights reflected in the doors while sat on the plane.
Behind this propeller is a little teddy who I guess is the driver of the plane (but thinking about it, your child is perhaps meant to be the driver, maybe teddy is just the gunner). Anyway, he moves up and down when the propeller spins. This is a nice aspect of the toy, but not something either of my daughters have been interested in.
Also on the front of the plane are two wings, well they are attached either side of the front of the plane. They can be folded up for a more streamlined look, or folded down to a horizontal position for a more 'aeroplane' feel. Both of these wings have mini propellers on the front which when turned make a clicking noise. This clicking noise is something which has entertained non-moving babies. You can sit them down next to the plane with the mini propellers within reach and they will sit there flicking it back and forth to hear the little noise. I'm not quite sure what is so good about this, but it has definitely been a winner with the babies that I know!
The wings also have another function. If your child is lazy (like my eldest) and prefers to be pushed by someone rather than use their feet to move themselves along, they can rest their weary feet on these wings, they are at just the right height for both my daughters to prop their legs on. I'm not sure if this is what they were designed for, but it is a very handy feature because if you have a child over the age of 2, trying to push them without breaking their legs because they are trailing on the floor is quite difficult, so getting them to put their feet on the wings is a brilliant idea.
The fact these wings fold up is good as well because it makes it just that bit easier to store in the corner of a room with the wings folded, and also my daughter sometimes pretends to 'park it up' and folds the wings in herself, all part of her role playing.
So onto the controls...
Either side of the steering wheel are a key and a lever. The key can be turned to set the propeller going and also to hear a couple of plane noises, and the lever can be pushed forward or pulled back and I actually think this stops the propeller from spinning and you hear a braking sound (I only just figured this out the other day!) as if you are stopping the plane.
On the actual steering wheel there are 4 buttons, 2 large round ones and 2 long sausage shaped ones which do different things depending on which end you press, so in reality there are 6 different functions on this control pad. I'm not sure which button does what, but it doesn't really matter because once a kid is sat on this plane the buttons are constantly randomly pressed and they will eventually find something they like.
There are various tunes to be heard (9 in total I think), most of which I don't have a clue what they are, but I'm sure 'We Have All The Time In The World' is in there somewhere, and most of the tunes are pretty groovy and feel good. There's no tinkly type music, it's full blown good soundage and pretty loud (there's no volume control either).
Again, I don't find this music aspect of the toy at all annoying, maybe when you are trying to have a conversation and it's blaring out it can be difficult to hear yourself think, but apart from that I enjoy the tunes.
And that is about it for the workings of this toy. We have had it for 2 years now and it has worn unbelievably well. It is played with every day, and that is no joke. I have to admit my youngest daughter has played with it a lot more than my eldest daughter ever did or does. But my youngest is a lot more active and likes to be wandering about a lot, and has a thing about toys she can push from one end of the house to the other.
Every single child that has visited our house has also played with it, and their ages range from 0 to 12, and surprisingly it has survived completely intact. It is definitely a favourite with visiting children; it is usually the first thing they will go to when they arrive and usually the thing they try to take home when they leave. What I have noticed is that when little boys play with it, it is more likely to tip over when they are being rough, but this has only occurred on a couple of a occasions. Neither of my daughters have achieved this. Boys are just too boisterous.
I can understand that some adults would find this toy irritating because of the variety of noises and tunes it plays and if you are the type to not really like noisy toys, then this is perhaps not for your children. But I have to admit that I am not a fan of noisy toys but I still can't help but like this one, I think maybe it's because the children really do get a lot of enjoyment out of it and in the end that's all that counts.
It takes 3 AA batteries which admittedly do have to be changed quite often, but we use rechargeables so it's not that bad. I'd say they probably last near enough a month before they start to fail. Of course you don't 'need' the batteries, because it can be just used as ride on and shape sorter. The sounds, lights and moving propeller are not an essential part of the toy, but I think they do add to the enjoyment for the children.
It's a brilliant toy, and the fact that it is not tailored for a boy or a girl (i.e. it's not pink or blue) makes it even more versatile and can be used for boys and girls.