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My son is animal mad and one of his favourite TV shows is the Deadly 60 with Steve Backshall, so when he had earned a treat recently he picked this toy as he and I thought it would be great for animals and his building skills. My son is 4 and a half and this set is designed for children above 5 so he is a little below the age range.
The set is designed very similar in a lot of ways to Lego sets in that you have to build the underwater ocean up with small bricks and bits of fern. The instructions I have to say not only bamboozled my son but me too and it did take a lot of building to get it right. The instructions are all in pictorial form so in theory children don't need good reading skills to build it. However you do need to do a lot of counting to make sure that the pieces are assembled correctly. My son and I built this together and whilst he was fine to connect the bits and manipulate the pieces into place he certainly couldn't follow the instructions and I think unless you child is a bit older say 6-7 and used to following complex instructions they will need help to do it as I know I did!
The pieces themselves I think actually vary hugely in their quality. The small tile and block pieces are all well-made and fit together well. The variety of the colours from clear to blue and brown for the bottom of the ocean are all great for giving a good ocean effect when constructed. However the rock pieces are just not as well made and do look more plastic than rock with very little by way texture or colouring to make them look like anything other than grey plastic. Also some of these pieces are not as easy to join seamlessly as the smaller pieces and often come unstuck which my son finds disappointing. Another disappointment is the seaweed some of the bits are great and when they hang upside down look really affective and my son loves trying to swim the shark through them. However some of the other pieces that sit inside one another are just very flimsy and again are easy unstuck when knocked by the shark or my son. Finally the bit that disappointed my son the most was the shark itself this is very small and as it is the only creature with the set I think it is just simply not worth the price tag. The shark is able to open its jaw but as it falls of easily you have to build it again repeatedly. You also have to connect the head and the fins on it which means that parts can be easily lost and these disappointingly don't fit together that well. The detailing on the shark is very poor and I would expect this to have more realistic detailing on it than it does given that the Deadly 60 programme focuses so much on telling you about the animals and creatures on the show. The shark just lacks anything which lifts it from an animal you may find in a Kinder egg.
Play wise my son does play with the toy and uses the shark to pretend to swim around the ocean but as it has no prey to capture the imaginative use of it is limited and we have had to supplement it with items from other toy sets. I do think an inclusion of a few fish or similar would add hugely to the play value for my son especially given the poor quality of the shark.
Education wise there really is limited use to the set it is good for their fine motor skills with the building of the toy and developing patience as it takes so long to build following the instructions. But from a learning about the ocean and sharks there is nothing with the set to give you any information about them so you need to use the set as a discussion about the animal and my son was keen to see the animal and learn about it, which with the set just hasn't really happened despite my doing some internet searches on sharks.
Overall I am disappointed with the set the pieces are hugely variable in quality and the lack of prey for the deadly animal to get is a huge let down for my son. The pieces can connect with his Lego bits so we can try to make the set a bit bigger as micro really does sum up how small the set is. The shark itself does not live up to my son's expectations and because of this it isn't played with as frequently as some of his other Lego or animal sets. At between £10-12 I do think this is a toy that is cashing in on the success of the show without the quality of the animals and scenery that I would have associated with the show and Steve Backshall a disappointing 2 stars from both my son and I