“ Brand: ELC / Type: Music „
Prior to Christmas 2011 I put a "ban" on buying new toys for my twin boys. Their toy boxes and cupboards were fully packed and with Christmas coming I was expecting another large influx of toys. My mum in particular can't help herself buying a "little something" especially when she see's toys on special offer. My toy ban was ignored as my mum came to visit with "a little something" she had bought in the sales which were the ELC Bongo Drums.
***ELC Bongo Drums***
The description of the ELC Bongo Drums on the ELC website is "create catchy bongo rhythms, and funky samba beats".
The Bongo Drums are basically a set of battery operated bongo drums. The bongos are made from bright red plastic and the base of the drums is around 45cm long, by 25cm wide and are approximately 25cm tall. The drums have two light up white drum pads, two scratch discs, four melodies, six sound effects, a detachable microphone, and they also have a record and play back function.
The drums require 3 size AA batteries which are supplied with the toy.
ELC state that the Bongo drums are suitable for children aged 3 and upwards.
The ELC Bongo drums are available from ELC and Mothercare stores and also online. The RRP for the Bongo Drums is £15.00 which I feel is average if you compare this price to other ELC battery operated musical toys. My mum bought these drums in a half price toy sale in October 2011 for £7.50 which I do think is very good value for money.
The ELC Bongo Drums come in the usual ELC packaging. A cardboard outer packaging and lots of ties holding the drums into the cardboard packaging. It takes around 5 minutes to completely remove all ties. You then need to pull a plastic strip from the battery section to "activate" the toy and then are ready to use.
My boys were 20 months old when they first started playing with the ELC Bongo Drums. This is obviously a lot younger than the recommended age of 3 years however firstly I do not feel that the toy presents any safety issues as there are no small parts that could detach and be a choking hazard and secondly my boys were more than capable of using most of the features on the drums even when they first were given the drums.
The drums are a good size for a child to play with. They are large enough for older children and toddlers to use and hit their hands on the drum pads but also for younger small toddlers not too large and bulky for them to sit with and pick up and move around. The drums are controlled by an on/off switch however unfortunately there is no volume control function. The music and sounds played by the drums is loud; although not excessive but as a parent hearing the melodies, sound effects and general noise created by the drums does get quite annoying and personally it would be preferable to have a "quieter" setting in which the child can hear the sound but not everyone on the other side of the room!
My boys tend to sit on the floor with the drums in front of them and hit their hands on the drums from a sitting or kneeling position and spend times pressing the buttons. When they were first given the drums they immediately knew what to do and started frantically hitting the drum pads with their hands. The drum pads are quite sensitive so even with light taps a bongo drum noise is played. The two drum pads play a slightly different type bongo noise, one plays a lower drum noise where the other slightly higher. The drum pads are a semi opaque white colour and when the pad is hit it lights up for around as second. Around the top of the drum pads are a scratch discs and a child simply rotates the pads to hear a scratching sound. This also causes the drum pads to light up. These are not the most obvious features and for young toddlers like my boys they required showing how to use these and rotate, but once shown they know by turning the discs they will may a noise. With only a very slight rotation a scratching noise is made and the discs can be turned clockwise or anticlockwise.
There are also a number of different buttons on the plastic casing on the bridge which joins the two parts of the drum together. These are very easy for a child to press and there are six different buttons which play a variety of sound effects. These sound effects are different cymbal noises, another louder drum sound and a bell type noise. There are also buttons to press which play a variety of melodies. There are four different melodies which are all upbeat and samba type music. My boys love the different melodies and dance along to these whilst banging their hands on the drum pads.
There is also a record and playback button. To record the music that you create you simply press the record button which triggers a red LED light to go on, you then play your music hitting the drums and various buttons, press the record button again to stop the recording and then press the playback button to hear your musical creation. For my boys at 20 months old I think this is a little complex and after a bit of messing around it took me sometime to figure this out. I feel that this function is the only part of the drum that is better for children over 3 years old however my friends 3 year old when playing with the drums still found this quite confusing. The record function only records around 20 seconds worth of music before the red light goes off and the recording stops. You also can't record multiple pieces of music and the last piece of music recorded is the only piece of music that is stored.
My boy's favourite part of the drums is without doubt the microphone. The head of the microphone is star shaped and curves forwards as it is connected on the bridge between the drums. When a child goes close to the microphone and speaks or sings this is amplified. A child needs to get quite close (no further away than about 2-3cm) to the microphone in order for the sounds to be picked up. Although the microphone is a lot of fun the design of it could be improved. The stem of the microphone clips in and out quite easily which means the connection is broken and the microphone needs reattached. Fortunately the microphone is easy to clip back into play in the connector and at almost 2 years old my boys can do it themselves it is just frustrating for them when the microphone gets knocked from the connection.
My boys get a lot of enjoyment out of the bongo drums and I feel they will continue to do so over the next few years. My friends children who are 3 and 4 play with the drums when they come to visit so I expect to get a few more years of use yet out of the drums. Although the age range states from 3 years old the only part of the drums I feel is too complex for my boys at 2 years old is the record and playback buttons therefore I see no reason why these drums are not suitable for younger toddlers.
Not only are these a fun toy I feel like most ELC toys there are many developmental benefits associated with the Bongo Drums. The different sound effects and music stimulates a child's senses and visually there are light up sections. I feel currently the greatest developmental benefit is the microphone which is encouraging my boys to be more vocal and their speech is very clear as they tend to shout words into the microphone and sing words from songs they know.
Like most ELC toys this is a very durable toy. We have had the ELC Bongo Drums for over 4 months now and they look as new and have suffered no damage despite my boys dropping the drums from the sofa onto the wooden flooring on numerous occasions and regularly fighting over the drums. The drums are made from a hard durable plastic that is very easy to wipe over and keep the drums clean. My boys play with these drums almost daily and after 4 months the batteries that came with the toy have not yet needed to be replaced.
I would definitely recommend the ELC Bongo Drums to other parents. I think for £15.00 this is a reasonable price to pay as the quality like most ELC toys is very good, this is a very fun and entertaining toy and I feel there are definitely a lot of learning and developmental benefits associated with the drums.
Although ELC state that these drums are suitable for children aged 3 and upwards I feel younger toddlers would also benefit and enjoy these. My boys were 20 months old when they first received these drums as a gift and not only could they press the sound effects buttons and hit the drum pads, they would "sing" into the microphone. They obviously were a little young to understand the record and playback functions and operate these in the same way a 3 year old child would understand but I do not feel the Bongo Drums were too complex for them or presented a safety hazard.
Aside from the microphone connection being pulled out quite easily (it also pops back in very easily) I do feel that the Bongo Drums would have benefited from a volume switch. For a child hearing their "music" is wonderful whereas for parents their musical talents may get a little annoying!