Product Type: Fisher Price baby toys
Newest Review: ... 5 tunes selected using the piano keyboard. Whilst the music is playing, you can use one of the other instruments to make that section sta... more
Dance The Night Away
Fisher Price Dancin' Bandstand
Member Name: t4mof
Fisher Price Dancin' Bandstand
Advantages: Stimulating and fun for young children
Disadvantages: Short battery life; The slightest touch can set it off .
Seeing as though this toy was advertised quite a lot before Christmas 2004 and it looked like fun, the Fisher Price Dancin’ Bandstand was our choice for Jon’s main present. Costing around the £40 mark, it can be bought in Argos, Toys R Us or anywhere that sells Fisher Price toys. On Amazon it’s called “Dance Baby Dancing Bandstand”. Not sure where they got that name from.
The first thing that attracted me to the Bandstand was the dancing monkey on top. While the songs are playing the monkey spins round and wiggles from side to side. Instantly it catches the baby’s attention and makes the toy interesting. Of course, the first thing Jon did when he saw the monkey moving was to grab it. The toy seems to stand up to this kind of (mis!)use and although the monkey makes a not very healthy clicking sound when it isn’t allowed to turn round, there doesn’t seem to have been any lasting damage.
Underneath the monkey is a flat yellow area that baby can hit and use as a drum. When this is pressed (or bashed) it starts flashing, again gaining baby’s attention. To the left are three brightly coloured horns that can be moved around, again roughly if that’s the way your child likes to play. They are very sturdy and would take a lot to break. To the right is a guitar and baby can pull a piece of plastic down over the pretend strings. And across the middle are five piano keys. Bright and chunky, perfect for baby fingers, they also flash when pressed.
The toy is switched on by a small switch underneath the main body of the toy. There are 2 volumes, bearable and too loud if kept on for too long, depending on how far you move the switch along. Once the toy is switched on, we are treated to If You’re Happy and You Know It in a sort of calypso style. Whenever one of the “instruments” on the toy is activated, the song changes it’s focus. For example, hit one of the piano keys and the tune is then mainly played by the tinkling piano. Bash the drum and drum sounds become more prominent. I think this is an excellent feature because the baby can change the sounds easily, therefore keeping their attention and making them realise that they can interact with the toy. And also it’s teaching them early sound recognition. OK, so they might not know what the instruments are yet, but they certainly learn very quickly that the different things they hit produce a different sound.
The other songs are Caribbean versions of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes and Looby Loo. Three songs might not sound very much but they do play for quite a while and to be honest, they are quite funky so you don’t really notice their repetitiveness.
There are 3 Levels of play. The first level plays the songs and focuses on whichever instrument is activated, the second plays a tune very quietly and as the baby hits more instruments, it build up the sounds. So it will play just the drum beat until the guitar is pulled and then you get the guitar and the drum. This is OK but the monkey dancing on top can be quite loud and it is not drowned out by the music. Level 3 requires a lot more interaction from the child. All you can hear on this level is the monkey until an instrument is played. Then you get a brief snippet of that instrument before it goes quiet again. The idea is for the child to make up their own songs by mixing the instruments together. They have to keep setting the instruments off for the song to continue. The piano also plays “real” notes in this mode.
Attached to the base of the stand is a dance mat and movement on the mat also sets the music off. This is a great idea when baby is playing with the toy and wants to get it going again, not so great when the toy has not been played with for a while, has gone into stand-by mode and then big brother comes along and “accidentally” walks on it so that we’re all treated to yet another rendition of If You’re Happy and You Know It, calypso style! Going anywhere near the mat does see to set the toy off though, so watch out of you’re minding your own business while walking past. One slip of your little toe and you will wake this toy up.
The Bandstand is quite a bulky toy and isn’t the easiest thing in the world to store. It is built with a standing baby in mind and so the base is quite wide so as not to topple over. The height is perfect for a sitting baby to get the most out of the toy and I expect to get a bit more use out of it once Jon is standing on his own as the height adjusts to grow with your baby. Keeping it clean is easy as it’s all plastic and easily wipeable, including the mat.
The toy comes complete with 3 C batteries (except from Toys R Us where they have to be bought separately for some reason) and the obligatory screw driver is needed to get into the battery compartment as is the same with all young children’s toys these days. I have found the battery life of this toy to be very disappointing. It was first played with on Christmas Day and just 3 months later they completely ran down. And the toy hasn’t been used for extended periods or even been on every day. Just shows that dancing monkey must use some energy! The sound started to go a bit “wobbly” after only 6 weeks or so which when you consider the price of batteries makes it an expensive toy to keep running.
So is it worth parting with 40 of your hard earned pounds? Probably, just about. As with a lot of baby toys, it didn't keep him occupied for long periods of time but it is a fun toy to have around and, as it grew with him, he found more and more to do with the toy.
Recommended age for the toy is 6 months+ which is right considering that the baby really has to be sitting unsupported in order to be able to use the toy. It kept Jon’s interest until about 18 months so a year out of a toy in the baby stage isn’t too bad at all. Having said that, there was plenty about the toy to entertain his older brother who is 3 years older so it's likely to get more use over the coming years. It’s certainly built for the roughness of young babies and is very sturdy. I just wish the batteries lasted longer.
Summary: Good baby toys with a poor battery life
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