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Towards the end of last year my youngest daughter was going through a great liking for Fireman Sam, I was doing my Tesco supermarket online shop and found this toy reduced from £15 down to £10 and deciced it would be a great Christmas present for her. The toy is still being sold in our local Tesco store and even better it is now being sold at £7.50.
The packaging was a very simple cardboard box which was open at the front so that you couls have a play with it which I did when my shopping arrived to make sure I thought it would be suitable, the toy comes complete with batteries to make this possible. The box states that the toy is suitabke for ages 2 and up which I think is probably about the right age range as my daughter is 2 and she can play with this with some help.
The toy is a bright red plastic circle which can be pulled back to allow the middle of the circle to stand upwards for playing with. The inner circle is dark blue plastic and has a dark blue base which has 4 pictures of Fireman Sam on it with the settings of Discovery, Quiz, Search Out and Music. Next to the 4 pictures of Fireman Same there is a sliding button to turn the system on and off, to begin with Emily couldn't move the slider but she soon got to grips with it.
The main part of the inner circle has a arrow pointer with Fireman Sam pictured on it which can be moved around the circle which is split into 8 sections and each there is a picture, you have got Mike holding his hammer, Tom with his helmet, Norman with his skateboard, Penny with an axe, Charlie with a bucket, Elvis with his guitar, Helen with her handbag and then Station Officer Steel with a Ladder.
The toy is brightly coloured and all the sections are in different colours, the colours all of course make the toy attractive to young children. The characters are all exactly like they are in the TV show which makes them immediately recognisable and as soon as Emily opened the present she wanted it out of it's box so she could play with it.
When you turn the toy on you get a little bell sound and then the toy is silent until you pick a play option, I found it surprising that a toy for a young child doesn't keep making noises to attract the child as most toys this type do.
When you pick the Discovery setting you get a little tune played and then Sam will say "Ok let's get busy" if you don't do anything within about 30 seconds then Fireman Sam will keep saying this over and over again. In this setting your child has to turn the arrow in the centre of the circle and then the toy will announce who the character is in Fireman Sams voice and then the voice of the character says a little saying, you have
Mike - Not a bad job if I say so myself
Tom - It's gonna be a busy day
Norman - You need to call Fireman Sam
Penny - Penny to Sam i'm going to need your help
Charlie - The first rule at sea is never panic
Elvis - Reporting for duty
Helen - We don't want any accidents
Station Officer Steel - Good work everyone
Emily likes this setting and she tried to copy some of the sayings, I like the way all the sayings are things that the characters often say in the show and I think this is quite important for a young child as it helps them to recognise the characters from the show.
The quiz setting is exactly what you would expect it to be, Fireman Sam asks your child a question which is linked to the discovery setting for example "Who says not a bad job if I say so myself" when your child then turns the arrow to the correct character Sam will announce the name of the character and the character will say their line again before Fireman Sam will congratulate your child on getting the question correct, if your child turns the arrow to the wrong character Fireman Sam tells them they're wrong and asks them to try again.
Emily can recognise some of the characters but not others from the show although she still plays with the toy alot so I am sure she will recognise more of them in turn, She often mixes up Tom, Charlie and Mike but then I don't think their voices are as distinctive as the others.
This setting is where the pictures that go with each character come into play, Fireman Sam will ask your child to find one of the items that the characters are pictured with and then congratulate them for getting it correct just like with the Quiz setting. I like this setting as I think some younger children may find it easier to see an object than recognise a voice or syaing however at 2 year old not all the objects will necessarily be recognisable such as an axe but the other items are pretty much every day items making it an easy game.
The music setting doesn't really give any encouragement for your child to play with the toy, when you select this option you just get a little tune and nothing more. To play in this setting you have to turn the arrow aroudn the characters and you get sound effects rather than actual music, there are a couple of different sirens, Elvis singing, the Fireman Sam theme tune, children singing, a helicopter and a couple of little pieces of music from the show, the music and sound effects only last about 5 seconds each and this setting is pretty boring and Emily gets bored with it very quickly.
I like that the batteries come with this toy as I think it is awful for a child to open a new toy and not be able to play with it straight away, the battery life is brilliant and we haven't had to replace the batteries yet and they show no signs of being near ready for changing. When the batteries do need changing there is a flap on the back held down by a screw and it takes 2 x AAA batteries. The toy is really robust and when Emily hasn;t been able to get it to do as she wants she has been known to fling it yet it is still intact and the stand has no damage to it which would be the weakest part of the toy.
Emily enjoys playing with this toy and I love hearing her trying to repeat the sayings from the characters, she has now moved on a little from Fireman Sam and he is no longer a favourite character if hers however she still loves the toy but she does need help to get it onto the setting she wants and sometimes I have difficulty working out which one she wants it on.
the toy does get a little boring in that each setting only has 8 questions, sounds or sayings so it doesn;t hold her attention for long periods of time and she will generally play with it for about 10 minutes at a time but for £10 I am really pleased with the toy.