“ Manufacturer: Worlds Apart / Type: Reading/Writing Bench „
This time last year I was thinking about what to buy my son for his 3rd birthday, I took a look on Amazon and noticed they had a good deal on this Swap Top WorkBench so I decided to buy it.
Our parcel came and straight away when I opened the box I knew there was going to be a problem. All the pieces of wood were placed inside the box with no padding or anything and so we had 3 pieces of broken wood. We contacted Amazon who sent us out a replacement (check out my Amazon review).
Second time around although again there was no padding we checked all the pieces and everything was fine.
**Putting the Workbench Together**
It took us 5 hours to put the workbench together, one of the problems we had was there were not enough screws so my husband had to go searching for some in his toolbox. At times it was quite difficult to align the pieces together but eventually after a lot of hassle we managed to put it together.
**The Desk & WorkBench**
Is mostly red in colour and is made out of wood which is very very sturdy, the edges of the desk are grey and are made out of plastic. There is a handy drawer and cupboard which are yellow and black in colour.
The desk comes with a chair which again is made out of wood and is very sturdy, the chair sits under the desk and has a very nice toolbox design on the back of the chair which looks very realistic!
My son finds it very easy to pull the chair out and to push it back under the desk, he does complain now and again that the seat is hard and asks for a cushion.
To turn the desk into a workbench you have to lift the lid, once you have lifted it make sure it clicks otherwise the lid could fall down.
On the left hand side of the workbench is a bright yellow drill that is made out of plastic when you turn the handle it makes a horrible clicky noise that really is annoying, when the desk lid is lowered there is a big gap where the drill drops into, it then sits inside the desk.
There are three wooden tools a spanner, hammer and saw which are nice to look at but do not actually do anything. When my son first used this workbench he looked at the tools and put them straight into the toy bucket and has never played with them, on the odd occasion that he does use the workbench he uses his other toy tools.
The workbench has some nice background pictures such as a clock, warning symbols, there is a picture of a ruler and a protractor. My son really likes the clock even though it is just a decoration and you cannot move the hands he has fun pointing out the different numbers.
I have to say the details of the pictures are very good and helps to make it look like a real workbench.
-What do I think?-
We were lucky enough to only pay £25 for this workbench and I am so glad that we did not pay more than that for it. Used as a desk this is quite a handy piece of furniture that my son uses a lot for painting, colouring and crafting, but as a workbench my son has not lifted the lid for weeks and even when he was using it he got very bored with the workbench very quickly.
You would think that for an item that is usually priced at £90 that it would have a fantastic standard but this workbench has a lot of faults. Like I have already mentioned putting this item together was a bit of a nightmare because parts would not align properly and holes were missing on the wood or they were in the wrong place, plus of course there was not enough screws.
One of the other problems with the desk is the drop down drawer can get jammed into the desk and it is very hard to pull it back open.
Also with the cupboard there is no back or bottom which is a pity as it could be a very useful space inside to store things, there is also a problem with the door which has fallen off so many times that my husband has stopped trying to fix it.
There was a bracket for the plastic edging so that the pieces that join in the middle stayed in place, the bracket broke and so now my son is able to lift the plastic away from the desk.
Some of the finish of the desk is quite poor and what I have noticed is if I give the desk a wipe over with a damp cloth the paint will start to come off the desk, there are also patches on the desk where the paint work was quite poor to begin with.
So if you are looking for a workbench for your child to have lots of play out of I would avoid this one!
**Please note** - When the lid is lifted it is quite tall, it nearly reaches my tv which is on the wall so on the odd occasion my son wants to play with the workbench I move it away from the wall.
Measures 51 x 73 x 41 cm (H x W x D)
Amazon £90 but look around as you can get it a lot cheaper.
There is a story behind me owning this product, as most of you know I have three rather girly granddaughters so you may be wondering why I have this extremely 'boyish' toy. Well, the fact is that I have one surviving Uncle who is 97 years old. He buys the most wonderful presents for all the children in our family and this year was no different, only he thought my youngest granddaughter was actually a grandson and therefore bought this!
I feel rather churlish complaining about it, and indeed feel slightly silly as I am a great advocate of boys playing with prams and dolls, yet I would have greatly preferred the gorgeous pink girls version of this Swap Top.
The idea of it is that this is basically a desk, only the lid flips up to turn it into a work bench complete with drill and basic wooden tools. Once erected it's exactly the same as in the photograph above, although is a little more bulky than it appears. It's a solid wood piece of furniture so exceedingly heavy, for this reason I recommend you put the work bench together in the area when you want it to be placed instead of in a completely different room which was what I did.
You have to put together the entire thing, right down to the mechanism which allows you to open and close the storage drawers. This was a bind actually and although I had my son in law there to erect the work bench we were working on it for around four hours - and then some of it had to come apart again as the instruction sheet had told us to place the top on too early and it was then impossible for either of us to get our hands down the opening to put the side supports in place.
After all that time we ended up with a robust and very sturdy piece of furniture, the workbench stands roughly 20 inches high but you will need to allow room for the top to open fully. It's perfect for standing against a wall, although please be aware that you will need room for the top to open and once you have opened the top the overall height is round about 40 inches.
The work bench is designed in such a way that the drill is located on the underside of the desk so that it's upright once the desk has been opened, there is a gap in the work bench for the drill to fold into so that the top closes flat. This is a fairly smooth action and the drill does fold into the desk quite easily - although this is when an adult closes the lid, my granddaughter at two years old struggles with the concealment of the drill somewhat.
There are three tools that come with the work bench; a saw, spanner and hammer. These are simply painted pieces of wood cut to resemble the tools and personally I think they could have been a little more imaginative with the design of them. Since receiving the work bench I have actually bought my granddaughter a set of colourful rubbery tools and she seems to have a lot more fun with those even though they don't look as lifelike as the ones that came with the bench.
I must admit, my granddaughter has played with the work bench section of the desk far more than I thought she would. There are stickers provided to make it look like a real work bench; these stickers look rather realistic and are generally hazard awareness stickers, although there are also some which act as rulers, protractors and so on. These decorations do serve to make it look more like a real work bench to a point, but personally I would have rather they had included a 3D clock rather than the sticker which means the times is continually stuck on 2pm.
One very clever aspect of the work bench is that the small chair is designed so that when it's pushed under the work bench it actually looks like a set of drawers, this confused my granddaughter to begin with but she soon got used to the idea of a chair which doesn't particularly look like a chair! The chair looks to be surprisingly comfortable considering it's simply wood with no softness or padding, my granddaughter uses the work bench as a table for her meals now and can sit in the chair for a while without it becoming uncomfortable. Well, as long as the average two year old can possibly sit in one place for!
Once the lid is folded down it gives a perfectly flat surface on which your child can draw, play or eat. My granddaughter often uses it for painting and luckily the surface is completely wipe clean so it makes more sense for her to paint on here rather than using my unvarnished wooden table which is harder to remove marks from.
I'm not completely convinced of the play value of the work bench if I'm honest, once my granddaughter had used the drill a few times and then played with the tools she lost interest in it. She enjoys opening and closing the lid of the work bench to magically reveal the stickers and tools, but when it comes to actually playing any kind of game with it she's not particularly interested. Perhaps as time goes on she'll start devising her own games using the work bench but at the moment it merely holds novelty value, as well as the obvious useful function of becoming a desk once the lid is closed.
There is one rather silly design flaw, and that is with the small yellow door you can see above. There are two, one is a flip down door which then becomes a shelf with a small hidey hole behind it - this one is fine, there are no issues with the storage space behind this door and my granddaughter keeps her colouring pencils and books in there. It's the larger door underneath which is pointless actually as there is no base to the small cupboard behind it, this means that valuable storage space is missed as even placing toys into this cupboard means they will drop onto the floor and invariably roll to the back of the work bench. This results in a toddler who refuses to pick them up because of the tightness of the space and a grandmother (me) who simply cannot bend down far enough to fish out the toys. This problem could have easily been solved by Worlds Apart providing an extra piece of wood to fit at the base of the cupboard.
Other than this I am rather impressed with the work bench. I cannot help hankering after the beautiful pink fairy design of the girls version, but prejudices aside this is an excellent piece of furniture. The main thing is that it has given my granddaughter a little independence as she is now able to sit on the chair and eat her meals, as well as play with the work bench in any way she chooses. It looks fantastic and is extremely sturdy so I have no worries about it collapsing under her weight, very important as my granddaughter is somewhat of a climber and the first time she clambered onto the work bench (with the top down, I hasten to add!) my heart was in my mouth until I realised it was certainly strong enough to hold her.
This Worlds Apart Swap Top Work Bench cost a little shy of £90, at first I was ready to castigate my Uncle for spending that sort of money on a Christmas present when he has so many children to buy for. However, I'm glad he did buy this as it has come to be so very useful when my granddaughter visits.
And you never know, one day I just might get that grandson I have been hoping for!