Product Type: Jumbo Child Development
Newest Review: ... The main part of the game is the spinner area. Included with this is a green, circle shaped dish which is decorated as though it is a gras... more
Taking Peppa For A Spin
Peppa Pig Tumble & Spin Memory Game
Member Name: Hishyeness
Peppa Pig Tumble & Spin Memory Game
Advantages: Well designed. Easy and fun to play. Builds memory skills. Great value.
Disadvantages: Music can grate with less patient adults.
Keeping your first pre-school child happy when a new one comes along can be something of a challenge. The focus of attention, out of necessity, is usually lavished on baby and so you have to be careful not to inadvertently leave the older one out, ensuring enough quality time is spent with them so that they don't resort to "other" means (tantrums, strops, and creatively destructive behaviour...) to get one on one with a parent.
The temptation is to plonk them in front of Nick Jr. or CBeebies for hours on end, but turning your kid into a goggle-eyed zombie spouting catchphrases from the likes of Dora, Diego, Peppa Pig and Lazytown does not strike me as the height of responsible parenting. As such, along with her bedtime routine, we have created some time after dinner to play games with Little Miss H, and so far, it is proving to be a stonking success.
Courtesy of her doting grandmother, alongside her favourites, like Pop-up Pirate, Buckaroo, Shopping List and Snakes and Ladders, we now have the Peppa Pig Tumble & Spin Memo Game ("the Game") which is fast turning into her number one choice. Although she's a big fan of Peppa Pig in any case (I didn't say we never give into temptation!), I have often been disappointed with the sub-standard fare that lurks beneath glossy merchandising. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality, playability, educational elements, and above all - fun - to be had when playing this game with my daughter.
Most parents will already know of the cute bossy little cartoon piggy with her own animated series on Nick Jr. and Channel Five. For those who aren't similarly enlightened, Peppa has a veritable menagerie of friends with alliterative names (Danny Dog, Zoe Zebra, Rebecca Rabbit etc.) and lives with her Mummy and Daddy - and baby brother George - in a house on top of a hill. Each animated five minute episode is aimed squarely at the pre-school market, and like all kids TV franchises these days, it has spawned a mountain of merchandising that includes plush dolls, DVD's, toys, character tie-in computer games on DS and Wii, and of course, board games.
The Game is currently available on Amazon for £6.99 (RRP £9.99)- a veritable steal at the price. It is manufactured by Dutch company Jumbo, it is suitable for ages three and up and is ideal for group play for three to seven year olds. It works equally well as a family game -which is how we use it a majority of the time.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX
At its heart, the Game is a simple memory game that is imaginatively and creatively put together. It comes in a colourfully decorated, sturdy and hinged top-opening cardboard box. The robustness and re-usability of the packaging made an immediately positive impression, as so many kids games these days are thoughtlessly packaged so that once you open them, there is no hope of keeping the bits and bobs together without creative intervention.
Inside, you get a set of four character "markers", twenty-four thick, glossy character cards (six each of four different Peppa characters), a green container reminiscent of a pet's feeding bowl, and a Peppa character that slots onto a half sphere that acts as the "spinner". The instruction booklet is easy to follow and is printed in a large enough type to facilitate reading by older, more literate, children.
The spinner is electronic and has a speaker and motion-sensor built in to it - when you spin it, the Peppa theme tune plays and the character utters various instructions (more on these below). The spinner takes two AAA batteries and has a discreet on/off switch at the side. When you turn it on you get a the pleasing confirmation of "I'm Peppa Pig! Oink", and when you turn it off, she says "Bye Bye". This is a useful feature that would have been easy to leave out.
You turn on the spinner, place the figurine onto the base, and then put the assembly in the "bowl". The game accommodates two to four players. Each player chooses a character marker - either Emily Elephant, Peppa Pig, Rebecca Rabbit or Suzy Sheep - and places the marker into one of the slots at the side of the "bowl". There are six slots and they are colour coded - yellow, red or half and half - so that no matter how many people (or kids play) the markers are evenly spaced apart. The twenty-four cards are then shuffled and arranged, face down, in a circle around the base. You will need a fair bit of space to do this.
The youngest player goes first by spinning the Peppa figure in the bowl. The first few bars of the signature theme tune play for a few seconds with Peppa encouraging the player to spin "faster, faster, weeee! - this is fun!" and then, after a short pause, "she" issues one of three instructions - "One", "Two" or "Close Your Eyes!".
If Peppa says a number, then the player whose marker she is closest to (or just passed) turns over either one, or two, character cards, trying to match them to their character marker (i.e. the player who is Peppa Pig has to try and find all six Peppa cards). If they succeed, they keep the card. If not, then they show the card to the other players, making sure to say the character's name. Play then continues clockwise.
If Peppa says "Close Your Eyes", the player immediately to the left of the one whose marker she has landed on, gets to remove one of the cards that player has successfully found, and place it back, randomly within the circle. Play continues until one player has found all six cards. Trust me - it's a lot simpler than I am making it sound!
Play is relatively quick, but also depends on the age and faculty of the players involved. We found it frustrating to play strictly by the rules, as where and when Peppa lands on your marker is a bit arbitrary, and as such, younger players (like my daughter) can find it frustrating to wait a while for a turn when they can flip over cards. As such, we did away with the marker idea and instead made a "House Rule" that you follow Peppa's instructions whenever it is your turn to spin. This made the game easier and quicker to play.
The game won the "Best New Children's Game" award at the 2009 Toy Fair, and its not hard to see why. The quality of the materials and attention to detail is top notch. For instance, the character cards are robust, durable and wipeable and each of them has an individual design (Ex. Peppa riding a bike, playing with a ball or flying a kite).
My only real criticism is that the four character markers are easy to bend if pushed into the slots a little too forcefully - a fate that sadly, Peppa and Suzy have suffered since we started playing the game. I don't think it would have been too much to ask to have these made of harder wearing plastic - but seeing as this is the only downside in an otherwise excellent design, it seems churlish to complain too loudly.
The motion sensor is pretty sensitive, but on balance, the other point worth mentioning is that sometimes, the Peppa character fails to "start-up" with the theme tune when you spin, but that's usually corrected by spinning it again with a little more force (which the game, to be fair, encourages you to do). We have played it on the carpet as well as the dining room table, and the game seems to work equally well on both - as long as it's a flat surface.
I like the toys my daughter plays with to have a solid learning element, and whilst there is always something to be gleaned from even the most basic toy, I prefer them to have a bit of depth. The Game obviously improves and develops memory skills. My daughter has gone from turning over the same cards (or near enough) every turn to learning that she has to try different parts of the circle if she is to succeed. It is also a useful tool to develop social skills such as group play, patience and taking turns. My daughter is very goal-focussed, and wants to win every game she plays, so we have also been using it to teach her (with some success) that it's OK not to win all the time.
As mentioned, the game is a firm favourite and, in terms of parental endorsement, I don't find it boring to play - that may sound like damning it with faint praise, but it's not made for me. My daughter - the most important "consumer" of this toy - loves it to bits.
The Peppa vocalisations can get a little wearing after a while, but for kids, it adds to the charm of the game. The game details are very well thought through, with the Peppa character embedded throughout - this is no lazy "port" of an un-original idea - it has been built from the ground up and it shows.
At the current sale price of £6.99 (or even at its RRP of £10) this game stands out amongst the competition as excellent value for money. It is robust, well-designed and a great example of successful and well executed character merchandising. Highly recommended, but especially for pre-school girls.
© Hishyeness 2010
Summary: A great example of a well thought-through character tie-in.
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