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I found this Tidlo High Tea Cupcake Stand on offer on the Next website for £10 and with my daughters second birthday coming up I couldn't resist it.
Having two older sons, we do tend to over do the pink girly theme when it comes to Ruby which is probably why I was so attracted to this set. It is certainly eye catching, but I also liked that it is wooden so a nice addition to the wooden kitchen and other food sets that she already has. It is manufactured by John Crane, a british company who I have heard of before, as the playgroup that my eldest son went to had a fair amount of toys (farm sets, train track and an ark if I remember correctly!) by this brand that were very popular with the children. The advised age range is 3+, I assume that is due to some very small parts on the cakes.
The stand needs a bit of assembly before play can begin. The two 'plates' are different sizes and have holes drilled through the centres. The first rod has screw holes pre-drilled at either end. It is fixed to the bottom larger plate by pushing a bolt through the plates centre and then screwing the rod down. The hole is shaped so that the bolt head sits flush with the bottom of the plate. The second rod is shorter and thiner and has a round ball already stuck to the top an a screw coming out of the other end. This is then pushed through the smaller plate and screwed into the first rod. I'm pleased to say I managed this all by myself!
The plates have scalloped edges and measure 20cm and 25cm diameter and 1cm thick, the whole structure is nice and strong when made up and stands 27cm tall. The stand is coated perfectly in pink paint which is quite a nice mid pink shade. In the centre of the plates is a printed white doily which is a pretty detail and around the edges a variety of shapes have been cut out providing a home for each cake. These holes each have a coloured number printed in the center, 1-5 at the top and 6-15 on the bottom. The fifteen cakes are all different, shaped either circular, circular with a fluted edge, heart shaped, square, triangular or oval. The colours they are painted in are lovely and bright and each one is individually decorated, mostly with little wooden beads, flowers or tubes to look like the kind of fancy little cake you would have for afternoon tea in a posh restaurant (I've watched Masterchef - the closest I will probably ever get!) Each one has a number on the base to match their relevant hole in the plates.
It looks like Ruby loves this toy as much as I do and so does her brother. They love dishing the cakes onto little plates and having picnics with me and some dolls. I was a little worried about the small bits on the cakes, some are the size of peas, but at age 2 and 3 my two little ones are under constant supervision and after much pretend eating, all cakes are still intact. They also seem to enjoy putting the cakes back on to the stand. Ruby isn't really into her numbers but finds it easy enough to get the different shaped cakes into the correct shaped holes. This is fairly easy as the hole on the plate is bigger than the cake, not so much as that any shape fits any hole, but enough not to make it too difficult for little hands and cause frustration. My son is nearly three and a half and at pre-school and this set is a great way of aiding his learning and getting him to count, repeat and recognise numbers and encouraging him with his shapes and colours. Although we call the fluted cake a flower shape, maybe a rectangle or semi circle may have been a bit more useful?
The only downsides I can see are: 1) the weight of the toy. The rounded top makes it quite easy to pick up but as it's a wooden toy it is heavy if dropped onto little toes, 2) being painted it will chip if knocked about. We have a number of wooden toys in our house, most of which seem to be favourites. We take care of them by not putting them in toy boxes and teaching the fine art of 'gentleness' (not easy with my lot) but still, when they are much loved toys they do get chipped and scratched and can end up looking quite tatty. This isn't really an issue at the bargain price of £10 but it's usual retail price is between £20 - £30. Ouch. (£20.79 on Amazon, £28 on Great Little Trading Co).