Product Type: VTech baby toys
Newest Review: ... light. My daughter quickly mastered the buttons and spinning block. The buttons are very touch sensitive which was especially good as my ... more
Vtech Moosical Beads
Member Name: sandemp
Vtech Moosical Beads
Advantages: Looks Cute
Disadvantages: Stickers, design flaws
==I'm a cow... - A Parent's View==
Normally at this point I would start with a short paragraph about how easy it is to remove a toy from the packaging, but to be brutally honest I really can't remember if it took me an age or not. I guess this means that it wasn't too difficult, but there were probably a few ties to untwist. One aspect of preparing the cow for play is that the first pair of AAA batteries are included and even though they are only for demonstration purposes they lasted a good six months.
The cow itself is very cute to look at, his main body is made of a very soft plush material and he has the classic cow design of white with black spots (which makes him a Friesian). Standing approximately six inches in height (well sitting really) and being about the same width, the Moosical Cow is the perfect size for fairly young babies to hold and explore. While most of the cow's body is soft, he does contain a hard battery pack and he is holding plastic ring, meaning that he's not really a toy for cuddling as such.
The plastic ring, (that looks a little like a hula-hoop), holds a few activities, with there being two smaller shaped and textured rings on the upper half. These smaller rings don't really move that freely though as the head tends to get in the way, only a small problem, but a design fault if you ask me. The bottom half of the ring features the lights and sounds that Vtech is famous for. As this is a toy designed for very young babies, there are only three different components to this section, all of which are switched on by a small heart shaped button on the cows chest.
There are two flashing buttons, a red circle with abc printed on it and a green triangle with 123, then there is a blue square that can be turned. When the cow is first switched on it moos and then plays a tune that soon becomes very monotonous. If you want to know what song is played then just read the headings in this review, buy this for your child and trust me you'll be word perfect within a day. If the cow is left alone for a few minutes it will suddenly pipe up "hug me" to get your baby's attention then a minute or so later it bursts into that song again, before finally realising that baby has lost interest and saying "bye, bye" and switching off.
The actual buttons are quite large and really only need minimal pressure to operate. The buttons sets off one of several phrases and songs most of which are related to either the colour, shape or numbers and letters. There are some other familiar tunes played though, including "Twinkle, twinkle", the ABC song (tune not words) and "Farmer's in the den". The blue square sets off yet more sounds and lights, this time based on day and night.
As a whole the cow is very well made, it has been played with extensively over the last year and there is no sign of any stitching coming loose. The Velcro closing the battery compartment is also holding firm, it's difficult enough as an adult to access the battery compartment, let along a child. Talking of batteries we have only needed to replace them once within the last year with the second set still going strong. My only real gripes with the quality of the cow are that it is sponge clean only and so has become a little grubby over the last twelve months and that the decoration on the square consists of stickers that are starting to peal at the edges.
As for how many stars out of five I, an adult, would give it, well I'm probably edging towards four out of five. Yes it is a noisy toy, but not too noisy (Freddy certainly has much louder toys), and the songs do become a little repetitive (especially the play with me song), but at least the voice is English (if a touch patronising). The actual toy is quite cute, with the black and white being attractive to even young babies and barring the stickers it's well made. But it's not just my opinion that counts...
==Come Play With Me - A Child's View==
At just over a month, Freddy was a little younger than the recommended minimum age for this toy when he got it, but as he was just starting to take notice of the world around him and I would be helping him access it I was perfectly happy for him to have it. To begin with, we just placed it in front of him during tummy time as something for him to look at and he was perfectly happy to simply look and smile. Then we made the big mistake of turning it on. Although the sounds aren't particularly loud they can start quite suddenly and they terrified him. Cue a screaming fit every time he saw the cow for the next few weeks. We continued to persevere and place the cow within Freddy's sightline without switching it on and eventually he began to start 'talking' and smiling to it, as long as we didn't switch it on. This continued until Freddy was about four months and started reaching for toys.
After he got to this stage, Freddy would enjoy twiddling the smaller rings and the square and loved that he could make the noises work for himself. It did frustrate him though that the cow turned off after a relatively short period of inactivity. At that age, babies are only just starting to master the fine motor control required to press buttons and turn the square and it can take time between presses, meaning that he'd finally succeed in pressing the button only to discover that it had switched itself off. So although the cow is suitable for very young babies, a lot of adult intervention is required and it's not a toy that can be used to keep them amused for five minutes while you get on with a bit of housework.
Over the last year, Freddy has steadily become far more capable of playing with this semi-independently. He does love to press the buttons, dance to the tunes and watch the lights flash, but he's still unable to play with it completely independently, which is all down to one small problem. Although he is brilliant at operating switches, Freddy finds it really difficult to press the on button on the cow, even though he knows where it is. This is because the button is actually very tiny and partially obstructed by the lower ring. I really would expect a little more thought to have gone into the design, especially from such a well known toy manufacturer. Because he finds it so hard to switch the cow on and it switched off so quickly if no buttons are pressed, the cow only holds Freddy's attention for a very limited period of time and while he will occasionally choose to play with it, he soon becomes frustrated.
So from a child's point of view I would probably give the cow three stars out of five. It's a toy that Freddy will play with for a limited period of time, but also one that he finds a little frustrating.
==Learning Colours and Say Yippee, ABC and 123 - Educational Aspects==
Being manufactured by Vtech, it's sort of expected that this is an educational as well fun (well not that fun) toy, unfortunately I don't personally feel it is as educational as it could be. Admittedly the black and white colouring is fantastic for grabbing the attention of very young babies and the friendly, cartoon like face will also draw their gaze. But the other educational benefits are very limited. Basic fine motor skills are rewarded by lights and sounds as the buttons are pressed, but these are large buttons that won't really tax a baby above six months of age. The smaller rings also encourage fine motor skills, but the way their movement is limited reduces their attraction. The songs and tunes, perhaps encourage musical creativity, Freddy does like to sing and dance along, but the short timeframe before the cow switches itself off, means that the older toddler becomes a little frustrated. In fact the only way that I think this is really educational is the way it names the shapes and colours (I'm not convinced over the abc and 123 aspect).
As to the recommended age range, well while there's nothing about the cow that would make it unsafe for babies at the lower end of the range (three months) or even younger, this really isn't the best of toys for them. There are very few textures for them to explore and the lights and sounds turn off far too quickly. Really I wouldn't recommend it for babies below six months and even they will need considerable help to play with it. The higher end of the age range is also a little problematic, yes at thirteen months, Freddy does like to play with occasionally, but there really isn't that much to hold his interest and again it switches itself off far too quickly. Toddlers have very short attention spans and do tend to go back to toys after a few minutes, by which time this has turned off. (The more I think about this the more I know what my final recommendation is going to be).
==We'll Have So Much Fun You'll See - Final Words==
At first sight, the Vtech Moosical Beads Cow looks a very attractive toy for young babies, but in my experience it really is style over substance. Although it is perfectly safe, the activities and textures it contains are very limited and there are a number of what I feel are basic design flaws. I paid £9.99 for this a year ago, and the more I think about it the more I wish that I had spent my money elsewhere. This is a toy that is occasionally played with, but also a toy that frustrates, is soon discarded and certainly wouldn't be missed if it disappeared to the great toy box in the sky. So I'm afraid I can really only give the Moosical Beads Cow three stars out of five and am not recommending it as there are far better toys on the market (both musical and not).
However should Vtech address the following issues, then I'm sure my opinion would change.
1. The stickers on the square. What are you thinking Vtech, stickers on a toy for young babies, did you forget that everything goes in their mouth?
2. The top half of the hoop. Lovely idea having the rings at the top, but the head gets in the way.
3. The on/off switch. Far too small and hard to get to, remember young toddlers like to be independent.
4. Time out. It switches off far too quickly, which combined with point three leads to lots of frustration.
Summary: Not the best baby toy