Product Type: VTech baby toys
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A Bus Full of Activity!
VTech Playtime Bus
Member Name: Foxy-Lady
VTech Playtime Bus
Date: 07/02/08, updated on 23/03/10 (299 review reads)
Advantages: Lots to do
Disadvantages: More batteries!
Amongst the huge amount of toys that my son received for Christmas was the V-Tech Playtime Bus. V-Tech is a very well known brand that produce some excellent educational toys for babies, toddlers and young children. As a pre-school toy designed for 1 to 3 year olds I thought the Playtime Bus would be ideal for Jack (aged 2).
Being bright red in colour and featuring fun character images the bus is instantly attractive. The overall shape is quite basic as it's just rectangular with four rolling wheels. There are no twiddly bits to pull, levers to tug or objects to move...but there are lots of buttons to press! With four modes of interactive play, this talking bus is sure to be engaging for any inquisitive toddler. The different activities are easily selected by a sliding button mechanism on the side of the bus.
All of the letters of the alphabet are also featured on the side of the bus as raised buttons (yellow for consonants and vowels are highlighted as white) along with numbers one to ten. A friendly female voice pronounces each of the letters and numbers when pressed in 'PHONICS' mode. When pressed a second time the sound of that letter is made.This is simple but perfect for children who are beginning to learn the alphabet as it teaches the letter names and sounds plus basic numeracy skills to the little avid listener.
'LETTERS' is highly educational as after naming the letters a related object is given to the child...'A is for apple', 'P is for pig' and so on. A sound effect also follows each example as added emphasis - a crunchy apple being bitten, a pig oinking. This mode of play obviously goes a long way in encouraging language development and expanding your child's vocabulary.
In 'QUIZ' mode, play becomes even more complex (although not too difficult) as the user is prompted to press the character buttons to subsequently hear randomly generated questions such as 'Can you help me find the number eight?', 'Where is the letter 'T'?', 'Which letter does the word elephant begin with?'. Praise is given to correct answers and encouragement to try again if the answer is wrong.
Each of the letter buttons plays its own individual tune in 'MUSIC' mode which creates pleasant musical play, injecting a great element of fun into the toy. And as there are 26 letter buttons, that's a wide selection of melodies! Familiar songs such as Old MacDonald, Twinkle Twinkle and London Bridge are included with some less recognisable offerings also thrown into the mix. In this mode the number buttons allow your little musician to create their own tunes as each one represents a musical note, like piano keys.
Throughout the different play modes a large 'GO' button that is found on the top of the bus can be pressed to change the destination shown on the rotating screen at the front. This is accompanied by a corresponding song and phrase...choices are school, zoo or train station. Other features on the bus teach shapes, play vehicle sound effects (accelerator, horn and brake) and the character buttons are the trigger for a selection of fun phrases.
In addition to all of that the bus can be used quite simply and more traditionally as a toy vehicle which can be pushed around. In Jacks case, he likes to sit on it as some kind of mini ride-on which isn't really a good idea and I try to discourage it whenever I see him do it. I can understand why he attempts it though as the bus is relatively large. This does make the bus quite hefty for little hands to grasp around but it doesn't cause a problem as a handle has been incorporated into the design, near the back of the bus. A child can therefore easily carry the toy if they prefer not to push it. Jack has dropped his a few times but the robust construction means it is still in one piece without a mark on it - I think there has been more damage inflicted upon my laminate floor!
There are two volume settings on the bus which would be a bonus except that Jack has realised what that particular button is for and chooses to have it on the highest level all the time! I don't mind too much though as the sound isn't really annoying. The voice isn't irritating unlike some other toys of this nature.
As with most V-Tech toys, battery life is preserved by automatic shut down if the toy hasn't been touched for approximately 30 seconds. This is great because it helps make those batteries last a whole lot longer! And incidentally, the battery life seems to be really good in this toy.
Overall, I think this toy provides exceptional value for money at around £15 (plus the price of two AA batteries) as so much play can be achieved across the different levels. I think it helps develop imagination while promoting independent play. Mums and Dads can also join in and encourage repetition of sounds and words to help get your little one off to a great start.
Gaining the Practical Pre-School Bronze Award back in 2005, the V-Tech Playtime Bus is most certainly a winner in our house. So hop on board!