Product Type: VTech Child Development
Newest Review: ... the toy. The tree requires 3 AA batteries. My child has had a lot of enjoyment from this Discovery Tree, well worth the £20 or so I paid... more
***** Getting [More] Out Of Your Tree *****
VTech Discovery Tree
Member Name: malibu_jenny
VTech Discovery Tree
Advantages: Brilliant gift for a special someone, built to last and lots of play value.
Disadvantages: Expensive and you need the right kind of balls.
It was a car boot Sunday and I walked between stalls, with the grass tickling through my flip flops. M&M was in the sling on my front playing with my jewellery and approximately six pounds in change was burning a hole in my pocket. Antique coins? A collection of postcards? Second hand underwear? No. Amongst all the tat, a large and colourful toy caught my eye.
It was a tree, with dense plastic foliage and a sturdy plastic trunk, and a yellow and blue helter skelter swirling around the outside. A squirrel nestled in the trunk and chunky piano keys ran along the bottom, next to a yellow flipper designed to catapult balls. This was something a bit special and I negotiated a price of £3. Higher than my usual 50p limit, but it was made by Vtech and the deceitful old cow on the stall swore blind that it would take standard balls from any other toy of this make.
Getting home, I cleaned the tree up and switched it on. There are three volume settings; off, low (Mummy is watching Corrie) and loud (Daddy is watching cricket). All of these were redundant until I found the two AA batteries required. To begin with, we put in a ball from the Vtech Pop & Play Elephant into the top of the tree with disappointing results. The tree simply shouted 'I'm a frog!' and the ball failed to make it past the first set of swinging foliage at the top of the slide. It just wasn't heavy enough.
Looking online I discovered that a special set of balls was needed. They were a set of five, different colours, with the plastic indented into animal faces and cute little black and white eyes painted onto them. The green one was a frog, the blue one a bird and so on. These were weighted in order to shoot down the slide and each one caused the tree to do something different. Priced at £5.99, they were more than a pound a ball, but I wanted my purchase to reach its full potential, so I huffily phoned Vtech and ordered them.
With the balls, the tree is just amazing. They really rocket down the chute, round the tree and out through a door shaped like a leaf. They then tumble over the keyboard at the bottom. At this point the ball can clonk satisfyingly into place on the flipper, ready to be flipped back up to the slide. Or if there's already another ball on the flipper, it carries on round the tree, coming to a stop on some plastic grass at the back. The weight of the balls and the strength of the flipper result in the ball nearly always landing correctly on the slide; even M&M at 11 months could do it in a couple of goes, which is so satisfying to watch,
Now that she's standing, the tree is stable enough that she can pull herself up on it and put the balls in the hole at the top. She initially found it a little stiff to push them in and start the process, but now has no trouble doing this. Generally she ended up using one ball to push another in, so we got there in the end. She's fascinated by being able to stop the balls in their track, both with her hand and the squirrel, which can be pulled out to block the slide, making a cute noise as it does so.
After almost six months, she is still not bored of playing with the tree and it's nearly always the first gem out of our toy box when curious visitors arrive. My (adult) friends have practically fought over whose turn it is to play with this. It retails at over £40 new, but I can honestly say it's worth the money; even if I personally can't afford to spend that on it.
Summary: Great both for playing alone and sharing.
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