My five year old daughter has owned this mobile for around five months. I bought it for her as she is interested in the stars and planets and in stories about outer space. It came from our nearest Smyths store where it cost around £30 without the batteries, (it needs 3 x AA batteries for the sun and 2 x AAA batteries for the remote control). One of the things that attracted me to the box was the fact that it had a picture of a girl and a boy on the front, (albeit the boy appears to be impressing the watching girl), I thought this was good because outer space themed toys are often aimed squarely at boys and children can be very aware of whether a toy is genderized.
It needs to be put together, which doesn't take very long. There are straightforward instructions in an 'educational booklet' that comes with it. Pre-assembly, the main kit consists of; a Sun in two halves, eight complete planets and eight pieces of wire. All you need to do is line up the eight pieces of wire and hook the ends into the planets. There is a list that gives the order in which to do it; Mercury being the nearest planet to the Sun is on the shortest length of wire, Venus is next, then Earth, and so on. The planets also have discreet numbers on them. The next step is to insert the wires into the equating numbered slots on the sun. The widest part of the sun rotates on three levels, (it's like three stripes around the middle where the planets hook in), so the planets can rotate at different speeds.
Once assembled, a mounting plate needs to be affixed to the ceiling. This involves drilling a hole. The sun is then screwed into the mounting plate. It can be taken down easily enough, which will need doing when the batteries are to be changed. Once our box was opened the whole thing was up and away in less than half an hour. There is a small on/off switch at the top of the sun and the booklet recommends that it be switched off if it isn't going to be used for a while. We've never switched ours off.
The remote control has two large buttons and one small, the big buttons are on/off switches for the light and movement, the smaller button is a sleep button which is somewhat redundant. The big buttons can work together or separately, ie you can have just light, just movement or both together. The remote is rather small, so has the potential to be easily mislaid. There is an auto shut-off system which is activated after fifteen minutes.
~How it Looks and Moves~
The huge sun in the centre can be used as a night light. My daughter doesn't need a night light, but she liked the idea of having the remote by her bed so she could switch it on in the night if she wanted to. The planets around the sun are scaled to give an approximation of their relative sizes. They are made of lightweight plastic and encased in plastic wrap. Each has details to make it look like the planet in question and they look good. Saturn comes with some cardboard rings to hang over it. I did wonder if Jupiter might fall down, it's size does cause the wire to bend slightly and when Mercury passes underneath, the wires clip each other, but so far all planets have remained fixed in place.
As mentioned, there are three orbit levels, so the planets rotate at different speeds to each other. Of course it can't be entirely realistic, the planets don't rotate on their own axis, and their positions can't be entirely accurate, but it does give a general idea of how the planets are situated in space. The movement is a bit creaky and noisy. Our original batteries are still in, but it is only just managing to crawl around at the moment and we need to put new ones in. It hasn't had a great deal of use so I'd say the battery life isn't great, but it's not too bad.
~Does It Get Played With?~
It doesn't get much use. At first it was switched on every night at bedtime. Rather than a bedtime story, my daughter would have her mobile on, then choose a planet for me to read about to her. The accompanying booklet contains a couple of pages of facts about The Sun, The Moon and the planets, (Eureka also make an illuminated moon). It can be quite interesting to watch how the planets move in relation to each other. My daughter sometimes lay directly underneath the mobile and watched the planets 'having a race'. The novelty soon wore off however and apart from showing it to people who haven't seen it before, it now rarely gets looked at, although it did recently return to favour as something to taunt our new kittens with, (they really want to play with it, but can't reach).
In summary I'd say this isn't very exciting as a toy, it doesn't do much and it can't really be played with interactively. It does looks good and will please upon first opening of the box, but it looks more exciting than it is. It's worth bearing in mind that it's a mobile, rather than a toy. Children who are interested in the solar system will probably like this initially, but the novelty may well wear off. In terms of quality and longevity it seems reasonable value - not cheap, it is only a few bits of plastic and a motor after all, but not all that expensive either. It is educational, my daughter knows where all the planets are in relation to The Sun and I think this mobile has helped to consolidate her knowledge of the solar system. This review may not sound overly enthusiastic, but I do like this, so have given it 4 stars.
"With the incredible Eureka Toys Remote Control Illuminated Solar System you can explore the wonders of the universe from the comfort of your own bedroom! rThis amazing Remote Controlled, motorised mobile has eight detailed planets that actually orbit the 85cm diameter (33"") sun. Simply assemble the planets onto the sun and mount to the ceiling with the included fixings. Use the remote control to operate the light up sun and the rotation of the planets around the sun. As the sun lights up it casts its glow on the detailed coloured planets. By day, an impressive and educational addition to any room and by night the illuminated sun is an attractive night light making it perfect for bedtime as the auto-shut off mechanism will automatically turn the sun off. Also, learn about the planets in the fascinating and educational colour booklet. This product is intended to be mounted on a horizontal drywall ceiling and fixings are included for this installation. As it is battery operated there is no need to worry about connecting to the mains. Recommended For Ages 6 Years Plus"