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The set I had my eye on this palace for my little girl as I knew it was something I wanted to buy for her. The retail for this palace is £50 and unlike other toys I found it hard to come across it on offer. Just as I was about to give in Amazon dropped it down to £35 so I snapped it up straight away. You do have to build the palace which is made up of lots of pieces. It requires a screwdriver and took me about 30 minutes to get it fully built. It is not too difficult, but it is a little fiddly so I used the instructions which were clear and allowed even myself to build it with minimal fuss. Then once built I realised I had to add the stickers myself. This really disappointed me as I always find that stickers that are placed on after a toy is built tend to come off a lot easier than those that are put on in the factory. It wasn't too hard to get them lined up, and too my surprise they seem to be really durable. There is no curling at the corners or any signs that they are going to come off. In the set you receive the palace itself, two princesses Snow White and Cinderella, a bed, and a table and chairs. While the castle seems to have minimal accessories it already has lots of details inside so it is more than enough. Inside the palace you have the dance floor, a window seat, a kitchen, a bathroom, a dressing room, a bedroom, an attic and a balcony. The stickers in each room all have details relating to Disney princess and it is a very bright and colourful inside. On the outside there is steps leading to the castle and a lift at the side that takes princess up to the balcony. It all looks very grand and the pink and purple theme makes it very girly. In use My little girl was so excited she didn't know where to start. The grand entrance and dance floor is the biggest area of the castle and this is the most used. All of the other rooms are a lot smaller and it can be difficult for young hand to move the pieces around, especially if they are trying to fit two princesses in at once. This does not deter my little girl at all, and if anything it makes her want to carry on using it until she gets the figurines in the rooms that she wants. There are stands for the figurines in a number of rooms which is where my daughter tends to store them when she is not using the palace. The small details like the whistling kettle and Cinderella's shoe on the steps are all fantastic. She also loves that the table needs to be used outside of the palace. While the bed can be placed in the bedroom, we found the table is too big to be put anywhere inside, so it brings play outside rather than containing all the fun to inside the toy. This leads me to the layout of the palace. While the front of the toy is closed off with pink walls, windows and two large front doors, at the back of the castle it is all open, so little one can access all of the rooms with ease. This makes it perfect for smaller hands that might find it difficult to use small entrances, but still gives it that wow factor at the front. The clock especially on the front of the palace has movable arms which my little girl and all my other children think is great. It is a perfect tool for the upper end of the age range and teaches them about time. This palace has interactive features so it does require AAA batteries. These are not supplied so you need to buy them separately. When the batteries are in place it has a number of sounds effects, such as a kettle that whistles and as you open the doors to the palace a grand fanfare plays. The thing my little girl loves most about the interactive features is the dance floor. There are two spaces for the characters to spit and then a handle that moves the dance floor in a circle motion making them dance. While the dance floor moves a song plays for the princess to dance to, and my little girl thinks this is magical. This is probably the most used part of the set. Also in the middle of the dance floor is an interactive stand that can recognise the different princesses. So when you place Snow White or Cinderella on this space they will say there name, if you push them down again they say their own unique phrases, and then with a final push they will start singing. There are extras you can buy for this set separately, including the other Disney princesses and Ariel's coach. We at the moment only have the pieces from the original set, but we are planning on buying more of the accessories for my little girl's birthday. I don't think she will become bored with this toy quickly, but extra princesses are sure to prolong the interest a little longer. This palace is perfect for building a base for little ones imagination. As it is Disney princess it provides well know characters, and that mixed with the fantastic toys from the little people range is the perfect combination. The age range is 18 months to 5 years. I think this is perfect as my youngest little girl is at the bottom end of the age range and she adores this toy. She uses it all the times and spends a lot of time playing with this without becoming bored. At her age there is not many toys that can keep her interested, but because of all the different features it provides a new way to play each time. My eldest little girl has just turned five and she really enjoys this castle too. She does get bored very quickly and only plays for ten minutes at a time but it still provides her some play. I knew the quality would be fantastic as we own a number of little people sets, and we have never had a problem with any of them. Some of the sets we purchased 6 years ago are still in perfect condition and this castle is no different. Once assembled the whole thing is sturdy and even with the doors constantly being opened, the dance floor being used over and over again and the Princesses often using the lift at the side it is all in perfect working order. Summary If you cannot tell from my review we would highly recommend this toy. I still think the £50 retail is a little high but I can see why they have priced at that. The toy is a fantastic size and has lots of great interactive features. It is well made so it can last the rough and tumbles of play from a toddler, and has a number of features to keep them occupied for long periods at a time. You can buy extras for the set, but as a standalone toy it provides enough fun to make it a worthwhile purchase.
When we went to Disneyland Paris one of the things that kept coming up while planning was the idea to take any costumes with us, as they cost considerably more at the parks. My eldest son loved Disney Cars at the time so I went in search of something related to his favourite character. I came across this deluxe cars outfit on Amazon and decided this was the set I would buy for him. This outfit comes in sizes 3-4, 5-6 and 7-8. We tend to find that dress up outfits come in a little small so we always buy a size up. For that reason we purchased a size 7-8 for my 6 year old little boy. As we thought this sizing fitted him perfectly and if we had gone for the 5-6 years it would have been too small. In fact the sleeves on the top were almost too small and they sat right on my son's wrist line with hardly any room for growth. You can definitely tell that this set is designed on Disney cars as it features the character on the top half of the set. There are also some of Lightning McQueen's stickers printed over the top half of the set. There are racing stripes down the arms and also along the hood. Finally the trousers are red in colour the same as the Lightning McQueen himself. It also has yellow stripes to relate to the character even more and my children all recognised it instantly as being Disney car branded. The set is very easy to put on it is just a case of stepping into the trousers and then putting the top on like a waist coat. It has Velcro fastenings at the bottom to hold it in place and also where the top meets in the middle. The Velcro works well at fastening the top and my son can get dressed independently without any help from me. The waist of the trousers are elasticised so there is room for growth and the trousers were slightly too long. The set comes in three pieces pair of trouser, a top and a hood that fastens under the chin. The way this costume is laid out is a little different from other dress up sets we own. Rather than having a top and bottom half of equal proportions the trousers are very large and the top is tiny. The trousers come up far past the waist line and actually sit half way up my son's belly. Then the top is tiny and it only just comes down to meet the trousers. This means my son found it a little strange to wear at first, not uncomfortable but it did take some getting used to. The first disappointment came when we came to add the hood to the outfit. It was just too small to fit on my sons head and it was impossible to fasten underneath his chin. Considering we went up almost two sizes and my son is not overly large for his age it was disappointing. It can still be worn without the hood and it does look like a full outfit even without it. Secondly as time went on we found the stitching was really poor on the outfit. It did not complexly unfasten, but after just a few hours of wearing the costume it was beginning to fray and look really untidy. Then the racing stripes down the side of the arms look as though they are ready to fall off. We have put it through the wash a number of times, but the label states it is safe to do on a low degree wash. It is not suitable for the tumble dryer, but even washing as suggested has caused the seams to start to undo and fray. We paid £15 for this outfit and while this is not overly expensive it is poor quality. There are a number of flaws that make this set anything but deluxe. The general design is great and my son loved that it was Disney cars, but from then on we just found problem after problem. I would suggest steering clear of this outfit and going for one of the other versions available. This has only been worn a handful of times but it is completely unusable now and will be heading for the bin.
The nightlight My little girl was never afraid of the dark, but a few weeks after she started school she begged me to leave the hall light on for her. Apparently she had heard some scary stories at school so now she was scared of having the light off. I decided to search Amazon for nightlights to stop her from worrying. When I came across this Disney Princess version reduced to just £12 I decided to pick it up for her and we have been pleased with our purchase. The night light is a two in one so it acts as a nightlight when it is used as a whole unit, but you can also lift the top of the light out to reveal a torch. The nightlight is fairly small, but it is an adequate size to provide a comforting light. On the front of the light is a picture of Belle, Cinderella and Rapunzel with a picture of the Disney castle in the back ground. It is bright and colourful and looks lovely. Then over the torch part of the night light are hearts and flowers that are slightly raised so there is some grip when the torch part is taken away from the base. The bottom is a stand just like you would get with a portable house phone or similar. It has an adapter space at the back of the unit to plug a charger in. It has a flat bottom so it sits steady on the floor, and the whole design is simple but very pretty. Our thoughts To turn the light on and off you simply press the torch part of the night light down into the base. This either makes the light glow or switches it off with a simple push of the button. When the whole unit is placed together and you turn it on the front panel that details the princesses is the area which lets out light. There are also a few small love hearts that are cut out of the plastic at the back of the torch to provide a little extra light. As the front panel is tinted pink even when the light is switched on it is not bright but just a soft glow. My little girls share a room so it is important that it was not so bright that it would keep my youngest daughter awake, but provide enough light that my little girl felt safe. This works perfectly as the way it is designed releases the perfect amount of light for this situation. As a torch you simply have to lift the top part of the light away from the base. As there is a small sensor button at the bottom that sits on the base, as soon as it is lifted up it converts into the torch mode. There is a led bulb at the bottom which has a mirrored protection shield of some sort. This provides a much brighter light than that of the nightlight when it is on the base, and my little girl loves have it to use to take herself to the bathroom in the middle of the night. She used to shout for us to turn the light on, but now she just picks up her torch and makes her own way as it more than bright enough to lead the way. As soon as it is placed back on to the night light it switches back to nightlight mode, so little one does not have to fiddle about in the dark to sort it out. Of course my little girl loves this and she thinks it is an amazing addition to her room. She is happy that she has a comforting light, but she loves the torch part more. It means she feels a little more independent and while she does use it to get up to mischief by playing with her toys a little longer after bed time, generally it has worked well. She also likes using the torch in the day when it still gives of some light to make up stories. She would give it a full five out of five stars I'm sure. One of the reasons this particular nightlight appealed to use is there is no need for betters. You receive a charger with the night light, so you simply plug it in through the day to charge and then it is ready for night time. When taken off charge the nightlight lasts throughout the night which I like as it mean my little girl does not have access to the charger at any time. I can charge it and then place it back in her room ready for the evening. The durability has been fantastic. My little girl is very clumsy like her mummy and I cannot count the amount of times that my little girl has dropped it, knocked it over and generally been rough with it. It has survived without any problems at all and I am sure it will last a lot longer. I would recommend this night light as it is perfect for its job and it also converts into a torch too for extra fun. It does not swallow batteries, is not too bright and just allows a nice glow of light into the room. It has helped my little girl with her sudden fear of the dark and £20 full retail I still think it is good value for money. We paid £12 for ours which I think is a fantastic price and I would highly recommend it. It is small so it does not take up a huge amount of space, looks pretty sitting in her room and is more than fit for purpose.
I have been toying with buying a train table for my children for a few years now, as my oldest son absolutely adored trains and this trait passed down to my other children. I have seen many different versions from a number of stores, but when I came across this particular ELC version in store my children fell in love. I then decided that this would be the one for us, but at £100 price tag it wasn't cheap. I began saving up for Christmas as I knew ELC generally release codes during the festive season and I would be able to get it a little cheaper. As I thought in November they sent me a 20% off code making this table slightly cheaper at £80. The thing that made me decide on this table is it is not just a train table. If you turn over the middle panels it also has a road layout for cars too. This means depending on what mood my children were in they could use it for different things. This multipurpose idea was the final push towards me choosing this particular table. ***Building a town in a day*** ELC state that this train table will take 60 minutes to build, but from experience their recommended time for building toys need to be doubled on almost every large toy we have purchased from them. To my surprise my husband did actually manage to build this table in around 50 minutes, so for once it was under the recommended time. You do need a screw driver but other than that everything you need is there including an alan key. It comes in lots of different bits, but the instructions are detailed and easy to follow. It is all fairly simple and we had no problems at all following the step by step directions. I would suggest having two people to help build as there are a few pieces that need to be held steady while they are screwed in place. I would also suggest building it while little people are sleeping as there are that many pieces they could easily be lost if little hands tried to help. Once built we were impressed with the finished table. You do need a large amount of space for this as it is 40cms high, 119cm wide and 83cm deep, and if you want your child to walk all the way around the table to make play easier you need to account for where it is going to sit. It looks great with all the accessories provided and with the train track built it looked like a busy, fun and engaging toy. The set boasts to have1 00 pieces but this includes track, scenery such as trees and people, bridges, a station and lots of other details to keep little one entertained. To swap to the road version you simply push underneath the slats the sit in the table and turn them around to change the scenery. Again this has lots of detail with everything from a fire station to a hospital and a race track. It is easy to swap between once all the accessories are taken off the table. ***Our thoughts*** My main disappointment with this table in train mode is the track provided. A lot of the pieces are short rather than long, and when you try to fit them together it almost looks like they are not meant to be in the places specified. Unlike other train tracks the pieces do not fit tightly together and there are small gaps between the connecting pieces. Now this would be fine, but because of this whenever you try to roll a train across the track it just falls off. At corners especially the train either falls off or the train track falls apart. It is impossible to get the train track to stay in one piece, so my children spent most of the time putting it back together. Our second disappointment came with the storage draw that sits on the front of the table. The description stated the train track could be packed away while the road was being used which is true for the actual track itself. The thing is that for all the other accessories like station etc they are too large to fit in the draw so you need to find somewhere else to store them. This is not too bad as we just place them under the table itself, but it is not fully storable as we had first thought. There is just one layout for the train track and as well as it being detailed on the instructions, the train table side also has it drawn on to the bottom panel, so if you do lose the instructions it is still easy to put together. It's almost like a shadow of how the track pieces fit together so it is easy to follow. We have found that just about any wooden train fits on the tracks so there is no need to stick to the ones provided. From Thomas to brio they are all compatible which means little one can play with their favourite characters on this track. The amount of track with the stations, a mountain and lots of other areas for little to play is great for imagination. There is plenty to do and explore if you can get the track to stay together. The problem is the train side of the track just does not get as much use as I hoped as my children become frustrated. Every time they get into the swing of things the track falls apart or wobbles so the train falls off. In the end they gave up on this side and 90 % of the use now is now on the road side. The road side is much more appreciated by my children. The large layout of roads, parking bays and a number of every day sites to visit mean they can play for hours without becoming bored. The colours are bright and engaging. There is no parts falling apart to contend with which means they can play as much as they like without anything getting in the way. Diecast cars, fisher price cars and hot wheel cars all work perfectly on the table, so while you are only provided with a couple when purchasing the table it is easy to find compatible parts. There is a small break in the middle of the table due to the panel that details both the road and train side being split in two parts to make it easier to change round. This is only small and the cars can pass over it without any trouble at all. There are plenty of roads winding backwards and fourth and taking little one to the many sites along the way. There are well known sites such as a fire station, a roundabout and a hospital so that little one can use the whole layout as a base for their imagination. Even though the table is very large my children can all reach all of the detailed scenery no problem. They can lean over the side and reach the middle of the table, and by walking around it to the areas they want they find it easily accessible. The table is stable for the weight of my children leaning across it, but as the slats in the middle are removable they are thinner than the main table and for this reason we have to be careful. My little girl at 19 months keeps climbing on top of the table and it shakes and wobbles a little so it is not fully stable for full weight. The great thing about this table is the multi use. Yes it can be used as a train table and as a road for cars, but my children also use it for crafty activities. They love using it for play doh as kneeling down makes it a perfect base for playing. The play doh comes off the slats in the middle with ease, and because of the size it makes it perfect for them to all play together. They use it to draw as the raised sides holds their pens on the table without the rolling off, and it is all wipe able so any mess comes straight off. ***Recommendation*** I am still very torn about if I would recommend this table or not. As a train table and the main reason we purchased this toy it really is very poor. The design is poorly thought out with the trains derailing ever two seconds, a tight squeeze through the tunnel and the general feel of the track being poor quality and almost as if it shouldn't fit together. It's a shame as it looks as though it would be the perfect base for imagination IF it had worked correctly. On the other hand as a road table it has received hours of use. The simple yet detailed layout makes it perfect for my children building stories and having fun. I think the £100 price tag is expensive considering the train side is so poorly thought out, but at the same time the amount of play it has received on the road side is fantastic.
**Dee the Dragon** When I came across the Dee Dee Dragon I decided to pick it up for my little boy. While it was mainly pink in colour we have loved every Lamaze toy we own, and so I decide to purchase it for him. We have not been disappointed and my son instantly fell in love with the dragon. The first thing you notice about the dragon is the appearance. There are lots of bright colours to keep little one entertained and stimulate their senses. It looks lovely and really is attention grabbing. My little boy could not take his eyes of this toy when he first received it and he still loves it now. It is mainly pink which means that most people seem to purchase for girls, but to be honest my son had no problems with it being pink and loved the bright colours. As there are a range of different textures wherever little one lays their hands on the dragon there is something new for them to explore. There are also a number of activities for little one to play with. The main body of the dragon is made up of a soft body, but on the tummy and one side of the tail it has a layered texture to provide lumps and bumps for little one to rub their hands over. The mouth has small ribbons coming out as if it is blowing fire, which both looks good and it is great for when little one is learning to move their hands as they can pull and tug at the ribbons. In each hand Dee is holding something to entertain little one. In one hand is a large rattle ball on a ribbon which can either be hit directly to create a great rattle sound, but also whenever the dragon is moved in the slightest it also makes the rattling sound. It is transparent with lots of colourful balls inside for little one to look at. In the other hand is a flower made up of different layers of materials in different colours. It is nice and soft and bends in little ones hand, but when they come to the middle of the flower they are greeted with a hard knot of material which provides a different texture and it can be pulled on. When they reach the back of the dragon they are greeted with two large wings. These wings bend when little one touches them as they are made of soft material, but they also crinkle and make a nice loud noise for your baby to enjoy. Last but not least on the bottom of the tail is a small triangular mirror. This is great for little ones to play with as it is a slightly harder material that can be chewed on when teeth are coming through, and of course the soft mirror bounces light and their reflection back at them. **Our thoughts** As you can tell from above there is a lot to keep a young baby entertained. While at birth the colours are great to look at, as they start to explore there is more than enough to keep them entertained. My son keeps re finding each of the activities and each time it is like he has never seen it before. Another thing my son loves is that no matter where he grabs there is something to hold on to. The arms, head, tail and legs are all perfect for small hands to grip on. Even the wings provide a good base for grip, so when it does sip away from his hands he can recover it no matter how it is sitting. This toy is suitable from birth, but it also grows with little one as they get older. When my son first received this toy he was just 5 months old and he mainly just threw the dragon around a little and stared at the colours. He would his hands across all of the activities and enjoys the sounds they made. Now he is nine months old he pays more attention to the details. He pays with the rattle and crinkles the wings. He uses the toy to sooth his teething pain by biting on the tail. He plays with it a lot but for short periods. He seems to move on the next activity fairly quickly, but it still gets used a few times a day. There is a clip so it can be attached to a pushchair, but we tend to just use it while we are in the house. It can be clipped on to the bar of the Lamaze play mat we own, and when taken off the bar it is nice and light so now he is rolling around he can wrestle with it on the floor. The durability of the toy is fantastic just like any other Lamaze toy that we own. The whole toy is made with small babies in mind and the quality is fantastic. There is nothing that can hurt little one and it lives up to the pulling and tugging that it receives from small hands well. Everywhere they lay their hands there is something to interest them and the bright colours and patterns make it just as interesting as the activities do. It is perfect for stimulating the senses in every way and it is great for baby's development. I would recommend this dragon as my son loves it. While he only plays for short periods he does pay with it often enough to be good value for money. It is made so every part of it stimulates the senses in some way and is great for development. We paid around £6 for this toy which I think is great value for money, and even at £10 full retail I think it is still a fantastic price. This toy is a prime example of why we Love Lamaze toys as it is perfect for small babies.
Nikon L27 I had been looking at buying a new camera for a while, when my husband decided to surprise me. When a parcel turned up I found this Nikon L27 camera inside, and I was very happy. I am no good with technical things so he decided to get me a simple point and shoot camera. That is why my husband chose this for me as it is a camera that will adjust to the correct setting depending on the picture you are taking. Everything that you need comes in the box including the camera itself, an instruction leaflet, a disc for the computer and an usb cable to connect and load your photos and videos. It is simple to connect to the computer. By inserting 2 AA batteries it is pretty much ready to go. I would suggest buying a SD card to make the memory bigger as it only holds a small amount of pictures without one, and recording a video is nearly impossible. It has grips placed in areas around the camera where it is held when taking a picture, and is easy to keep a hold of. There is also a strap that you can attach to your arm to keep it safe while not in use. There is a settings menu so you can go in and change it to meet your needs, but after the initial set up and getting the camera working how I liked it there was no need to mess around with it. It is a 16 mega pixel camera which provide a really good picture quality, and it is perfect for capturing family moments. The menu is simple to navigate with a simple circle of buttons to move up down and buttons around the outside to move across the options. There is a round ok button in the middle to select them, a button to view the gallery and another for video recordings. There is nothing that a techno phobe like me finds too difficult, but you are provided with a user manual just in case. My thoughts One of the promises of this camera is a range of automatic features to make for better pictures. It has a smile countdown so it takes the picture when the person smiles, another blink option so it takes two photos if someone blinks to try and catch their eyes open. Personally I don't think much of these features as there have been many times that they have delayed the actual time taken to capture the shot. The blink features especially always pops up asking if someone blinked, and rather than taking the picture you have to start over again. This happens rather a lot and half of the time there is nothing wrong with the picture that was taken. Other than that when it works first time it takes fairly good pictures. It swaps between portrait to landscape when needed and the 16mp camera proves it can deliver a satisfactory picture. It is simple to use and easy to take out with me because of how small it is. The pictures taken are not amazing quality, but for the 16mp it has they are decent enough. For every day photos it is absolutely perfect, but for more professional photos it would not be enough. It also has a 5 x optical zoom which is fairly good, but I do find if I zoom as far as the camera allows the pictures become grainy and it looks more like a 4 MP camera. It still zooms in a fair distance while providing a good picture, and it is certainly suitable to meet my needs. The video camera mode is very easy to switch too and you simply have to push a button on the back of the camera. It begins recording straight away, and the results are fantastic. I have used this to record a number of plays and activities my children have taken part in and the end videos are fantastic. The audio is very easy to hear and I was surprised with how good the quality is even with my shaky hands. We hadn't purchased this for the video camera but it really is one of my favourite parts of the camera. It is easy to quickly switch between the two modes, and the end video is brilliant. My only downside is how long it actually takes to get the camera to take the picture. When pressing the button it takes a good few seconds for it to actually work. Sometimes I have to press it three or four times for it to take the shot, and by that point the moment has gone. Other times the dreaded has someone blinked caption comes up so it really is hit and miss as to if it will actually take the picture when I need it too. This is fine for when objects are staying still, but with five children running around it can be frustrating at times. This does not happen with every time I use the camera, maybe three out of ten times, but when you are trying to catch something quickly it can be a pain. Durability has been great. One of the reasons we went of this is the affordability. My children often get hold of ours cameras to being little artists in the making, and this has been dropped a number of times. It still works perfectly and while I wouldn't recommend being rough with it, we have found it has handled daily wear and tear well. The retail price for this camera is £69.99, but my husband picked this up for just over £40. I think for that price it is a real bargain as it works how it is supposed to. It isn't perfect, but for a simple point and shoot camera it produces great pictures. It comes in a range of colours but we choose the black one to keep it simple. I would suggest Duracell batteries as with most electrical items anything less seems to run out quickly. They last well and we have only had to change them twice since we purchased this a few months ago. I would recommend this camera for a simple point and shoot choice as it works well for me. Some of the settings seem to stop it from taking a picture quickly, but when it does finally take a picture it is good quality. It is simple to use, and allows me to take pictures of my children while we are out and about. At £40 we are really pleased with our purchase as it has proved to be portable, and useful camera.
***The toy*** When I came across this toy I knew I wanted to purchase it for my two youngest children. There is only a year age gap between them, so they already share a lot of toys and this looked like something they would both benefit from. The retail from its release was £100, but it was on half price offer for around 6 months. Now Christmas has passed its retail has dropped to £50 and you can pick it up for around £35. We purchased ours from Argos and it is available at most toy retailers. The Cruise & Groove Ballapalooza is basically a large obstacle ramp for balls to move down. As it is recommended from ages 6 months to three years fisher price say it can be used by different age ranges, as there is a gate for crawling babies to play with, an area for children that can sit up to play with and then at the top of the toy is another area for your children to play with when they can stand. This is what attracted me to the toy in the first place as I have a child at 7 months and another at 19 months so they could both make use of it. As it comes in lots of different pieces it does need to be assembled. Other than a Phillips screw driver everything that was needed was included in the box, including step by step instructions on how to build it. The instructions are simple to follow, but as there are so many different bits to fix together it took around 45 minutes from start to finish building. It also requires C batteries to use the lights and sound feature. I have to say once it was built we were impressed. All of my children ran for it and impressively there was somewhere for all of them to play. It is bright, engaging and comes with everything you need to play. There are 8 balls provided along with the main frame of the toy, so it can be used by more than one child easily. ***The different play areas*** Starting from top to bottom there are three different play areas. At the top of the toy is what we find to be the most exciting. There is a small plastic launcher that has a hole in the side of it to place the ball in. When you push it through it shots out the bottom of this part and hits a small drum that then knocks it on to the ramps. Then the ball makes it way down the ramps and it stops at the very bottom of the maze. You can also place it at the top of the ramp yourself, but as you can imagine my children find it much better to use the launcher part as it adds more excitement to the start of the descent. Next halfway down the toy is an area for little ones who are sitting but not yet walking to play. There are a number of different levels that little one can put the ball and it will move down the ramps. The ramps for sitting children are extremely short and a lot smaller than those for standing children, but my children still find it amusing. As it has completely different ramps from those at the top of the toy, even if two children are playing they have a completely separate play area to save confusion, or the younger child being hurt. Finally at the side of the main play area is a gate for little one to crawl through. There is a green door with a smiley face on that we leave to the side for free movement through it. The floor has a textured surface, and there is a small balloon with a rattle at the very top. The idea is to chase balls through the gate, but at the moment it is only used by my little girl who walks through and uses the balloon as a punch bag. ***Our thoughts*** As mentioned before this toy is suitable for young babies but as they grow and develop in stages the toy grows with them. While my youngest is neither crawling nor sitting independently yet with a little help from mummy he can play too. All of the areas can be used by children of all ages, and other than children that cannot reach to certain play levels, each part gets used a lot. The age recommendation is up to three years, but even my five and six year old all play with this toy. It may not hold their attention as much as younger children, but they certainly still find it very entertaining and play with it often. When you drop the balls down the toy there is a long line of flashing lights that reach right up the centre of the toy. As well as this music plays, and rather than the typical nursery rhyme music this is a full on disco beat. It has a real punch to it, and my little girl LOVES dancing so she thinks this is amazing. There is a button to turn the lights and sounds feature off for when it becomes too much, and it is a little loud so can become annoying for parents, but as my children love it so much it rarely gets turned off. My little girl at 19 months can reach the top of the toy and while she has to stretch a little she can place the balls in the launcher very easily. She is probably the best age for this in my opinion as it holds her attention for 30 minutes at a time just watching the balls moving down the maze over and over again. She loves every area of it and just for her enjoyment alone it has proven to be a fantastic purchase. The ball almost always meets the ramp after hitting the drum, but sometimes it does bounce wrong at hit the floor. As it is on the opposite side to where the little ones are sitting or crawling it causes no harm at all. It is a really big toy (95.8 x 83.3 x 86.4 cm) so you need space for it. Once it is built there is no way to make it smaller to store it, and it does take up a lot of floor space. We are lucky to have a play room to put all of our children toys in as you can imagine we own lots of toys. While it takes up a lot of space this makes it perfect for use by more than one child. When my children have friends over this is one of the first toys they run to as it is so eye catching and large. The whole thing is very well made once but together, and perfectly sturdy for the recommended age range. I would say you need to be careful with a child hat is just learning to walk and needs to lean on objects as with some pressure this does move around on our wooden flooring. Other than that I can see no downsides at all with the brilliant toy. The balls falling from the top to the bottom may only takes a few seconds, but part of the fun is starting it all over again. As there are 8 balls in total you can keep pushing them through and watch them all race each other down the course. We absolutely love this toy and even at full price of £50 we think it is worth the price. My little girl who this toy was primarily bought for thinks it is amazing and she does play with it a lot. The different play areas keep it interesting and allow children at different age ranges to play together. As it is so large more than one child can play easily and it really has everything a small child finds engaging. There are moving balls, music, flashing lights, bright colours and lots to do. I would highly recommend this toy to anyone with a small child in the house, especially if you have a toddler and a baby as they can both make use of it.
The set All of my children love playdoh, and so when I came across this set I knew my three year old little boy would love it. At £5 on Amazon I snapped it up quickly as it was a bargain and I was pleased when the set arrived. It is one of the smaller sets available and it comes with five different tools and 3 small tubs of playdoh. Of course as it is Mickey Mouse branded everything has something to do with the popular character, and as all of my children are fans they fell in love instantly. The first thing that struck me is how well made and friendly the set is for smaller hands. Every piece is a great size and large and chunky so even small hands can get a good grip of them. Even if I had paid full price of £13 I would have been more than happy, as although it is a small set it actually does a lot play wise. It comes in bright colours that grab your attention and they all match the popular characters very well. In use The first thing all of my children wanted to play with was the shoes. There are two different shoes, one with a mould of Minnie at the bottom and the other with a mould of Mickey. The way they have designed the shoes makes it very easy to tell them apart, as the Minnie show is a high heel and also has a Minnie mouse head with a bow detailed at the top. The Mickey stamp is more of a boys boot and has a Mickey Mouse head on the top. This makes them perfect for being able to identify instantly. Next are the roller and cutter. The roller has one of Mickey's hands attached to it to use as a handle and it is as simple as it sounds. Roll it over playdoh to produce Mickey themed print on the playdoh effortlessly. It rolls freely with the slightest push and creates great patterns in the playdoh. Then there is another tool shaped like Mickey's head or a mousekatool head which has a small plastic fringe at the bottom which cuts through playdoh leaving a nice frilled effect to it. The final piece is a book style mould that open up to reveal a Mickey Mouse shaped mould inside. You simple put a small piece of playdoh inside, close shut and when you reopen it there will be your cut out waiting for you. We like that is it is equally fun for boys and girls. There are lots of playdoh sets out there aimed at either gender, but this set includes a fair share between the two. All of my children enjoy watching the program so it is nice they made it perfect for boys or girls. While the set is fairly simple and a few of the moulds are fairly similar my children still love it. They like that it are easy to ease their playdoh shapes from the tools and find different scenes and scenarios they can make with the few tools. They use it along with other playdoh sets, and enjoy that it contains one of their favourite characters. My only downside is the mould that you open and close. The hinge is really delicate so every time my children use it the two sides fall apart and I have to connect the hinge to make it work again. As this is one of the favourite parts of the set I find myself constantly putting it back together again. While it still works it would have been better if the hinge was more durable so little one could play continuously without having to ask for help from mummy or daddy. The great thing about this set is how simple it is. Even my 19 month old little girl can use most of the pieces as it is just a case of pushing it down into flattened playdoh. She does find the smaller moulds harder to use, but on the whole she can join in using this set too. While it is simple it still keep my over children occupied too. Age recommendation is three years plus, but I think this is more to do with the fact younger children tend to try and eat the playdoh. There are no small pieces and nothing at all that can harm younger children, so I would say under adult supervision it could easily be used by a younger child. I would highly recommend this set and I think it is fantastic value at under £10. Regular retail is around £13 but as mentioned before I picked ours up for a little over £5. Although it is a small set it can provide hours of fun and the simple easy to use tools are perfect for smaller children. The pieces are well made and easy to use, and other than one small problem we have found them to be fantastic. This is currently on sale for £7 at Amazon which is a great price for a great set.
The set My son loves minecraft but I was trying to take some of that enthusiasm and get him to use it away from a computer screen. I set out to find some toys, and I stumbled across this survival pack on Smiths toys for around £20 I decided I would buy it for him. Minecraft is a world where you can build whatever you like with blocks, and along the way you have to keep hostile characters from killing you or ruining your world. Steve is the main character as he is the default player when you first play minecraft, and while you can change your avatar to whatever you like and buy extra skin packs to choose different people my son is very happy using Steve. The reason why it is called a survival pack is it includes everything a character needs to survive in the game. In the pack you receive a Steve character figure, a bed, a pick axe, a sword, a chest and a workbench. All of the pieces are tiny and Steve is only three inches high and he is the biggest of the accessories so it is not a huge toy; however it has provided a lot of enjoyment for my son. All of the pieces match those in the game perfectly from the pixelated appearance to every other detail, so it was instantly recognised by my minecraft fan and my son let out a squeal of excitement when he seen it. In use Steve as a figurine is impressively useful. I did worry with him being so small my son would be limited in what he could do with him but this is not the case. His head moves from side to side, both arms and legs move which means he can actually walk around, you can move his arms to mine and make things, so it generally builds a really good base for imaginative use. He has little hooks in his hands so that he can hold both the pick axe and sword, and he can even hold both of them at the same time which my son thought was impressive. Any minecraft fan will know that at night time you have to have a bed to rest and skip to dawn and it is also where a character will respawn if they have died. This therefore my son was a crucial piece and after a long day mining Steve is put to bed so he is fresh for the next morning. Every time my son has finished playing Steve must be placed in his bed, as who knows what could happen to the toy if he is not in his safe place. The thing my son was most impressed with is that the chest actually opens. I think like me he thought the set was that tiny it couldn't possibly really do anything entertaining. So when he found he could open the chest up he was amazed. He was even more delighted when he found that both the sword and the axe can be stored inside as of course that is what a chest is supposed to do right? I have to admit mummy was very glad that it opened too as the two tools are so small I was sure they would become lost within a day. We have had a few occasions they have been misplaced and I have to go and play hide and seek with them because of the size, but in general the chest is a really good storage place for the smaller items. It adds to the play value, as a more realistic set means more realistic stories for my little boy. He opens and closes it over and over again, and sometimes he puts the tools down just so he can open the back up again. The small toys can be held in the characters hand as the arms move on Steve they can bang and clank on the workbench that is provided to 'make' things. The tools are very small but they are a very important part of the set. As the whole game is based on mining, building things and being creative they are essential to top the set off. My son was impressed with the likeness of the two tools to that on the game, and it means he can make stories just as he would on the game, but away from the computer screen. He also loves that he has a workbench to build his imaginative items rather than just having to move the hands around in the air it gives him a place to meet his objective. I have to say when the set arrived I thought it would be a five minute wonder that would be broken quicker than I could say minecraft. The durability has been fantastic and even with Steve's arms and legs being moved more times than I can remember, the chest being opened and closed every five minutes and the tools banging on the workbench every five minutes it is still in one piece. It is surprisingly durable compared to the size of it and both my son and I have been impressed. I would say the three year and above recommended age range is there for safety, especially for the tools as they are so small, but I think most children that would want this set could be closer to seven anyway as this is the recommended age range for the game. My three year old son does like to play with them because of his big brothers interest in the game, and he gets on with them just fine. He becomes bored quicker than my eldest son but he still really enjoys playing with them. Summary I would highly recommend this set to any minecraft fan. It includes all of the well known parts of the game, and especially for children it offers an option for them to carry on with their favourite thing while being away from a computer screen. I do think £20 is a little high for what it is considering the size of it, but I think it that is because it is a newly released toy and because minecraft is so popular they are cashing in on the hype. I still think at £20 it has earned its money's worth as my son absolutely loves it and it is very well made. It is a perfect base for the imagination and I love to see my son making up minecraft stories away from the computer. This set is now available at a few online stores including Amazon and it would make a great gift for any fan. You can purchase other packs for the series including a creeper character, but at the moment my son is happy using this as a standalone toy.
The Doll My little girl loves Princess Sofia a character from the programme Sofia the first on Disney Junior. There are many toys and variations of dolls but my little girl had her heart set on a singing Sofia. After searching the internet I found that the Disney store had a doll priced at £20 and so decided this had to be the one. When it was delivered I was fairly impressed. I wouldn't say that the doll is an exact copy of the character from the show, but you can instantly tell who it is. The eyes are just huge which I thought at first made her look really weird and takes the rest of the resemblance away, but my daughter didn't care in the slightest; she just started jumping around because she had her very own Sofia. The face looks more like the toddler dolls you can buy from the Disney store rather than a direct copy of the animated character. Sofia comes in her purple dress including shoes and a tiara. She has long flowing hair and a tiara sit on top of her head. She has her emerald necklace on which any parent with a fan will know is very important, and while it does not light up my little girl checked straight away that it was there so it is an important detail. On Sofia's belly there is a small button that can be easily pressed which activates her singing mode. She is a good size, a little bigger than a Barbie and she has a rather large head. As the head is so big it means Sofia cannot stand up independently as it is too top heavy. Our thoughts For days I wondered if the doll was broken as it kept singing the same two lines of the song, and I know that other Disney store dolls sing a full verse and chorus as we have a few. Normally there is a little bit of plastic to pull out or a switch on the back but I couldn't find anything. After two days I completely stripped the doll and I found that just under her arm was a small button which was on the try me mode. Since I moved that the doll has received a lot more play and my little girl loved it even more. When in the correct mode Sofia sings the song Anything. In one of the episodes Sofia wants to take part in a flying horse derby, but everyone laughs at her and tells her the sport is only for princes. Sofia isn't going to take that so she signs herself up and goes on to win the race. In the program she sings the same song that this doll sings and it starts, I'm taking off into something new, there's so much I've gotta do, But I'm the only one, who thinks I'll make it through, But the only way to win, Is to try and try again They want to count me out but I'll make them count me in, I can be anything, I can see anything, You can teach anything I can reach anything, I can do anything, So can you, anything if you try. This is a whole verse and chorus of the song, and if your child watches the programme there is no doubt they will already know the song. The singing lasts for a full minute after the button is pressed, and sounds exactly the same as it does in the programme. There is no way to stop it once it begins, and the slightest knock of the tummy will set it off. It is just the one songs that is played over and over again. Sofia is not just a singing doll and she has many other ways to be used. Firstly everything she wears is removable so my daughter loves getting her undressed and dressing her. Everything from her dress to her tiara comes off which means when she is bored with the singing she can play another way. Secondly, her hands, head and legs both move. The legs can only be moved backwards and forwards, but her hands and arms have joints at the wrists, elbow and shoulder which mean they can be freely moved around to dance to the music. Again my little girl thinks this is amazing that not only is she a singing doll, but she can also dance too. The song is very catchy and all of my children run around singing it. As it is a very motivational song this is definitely a good thing, but it does mean that long after the children go to bed I find myself singing the song. It is fairly loud and can be annoying for parents when it is pressed over and over but generally it is not too bad. Age recommendation is three years plus which I think is fair. The small shoes and tiara could pose a choking hazard, and also the hair could easily be eaten by a child of a younger age. My little girl is soon to be five and I think she is the perfect age for this doll. The only downside I can think of is the hair. They have tried to net the hair so it stays in place a little longer but this makes it look stranger as the front is still perfect, but the rest of the hair is just wild. I think the £20 for this toy is a great investment. My daughter absolutely adores the doll and she keeps pressing the button over and over again. She likes she can undress the doll, it can move so she can make Sofia dance while she is singing and it offers great play value. Considering the talking Sofia with animals is closer to £40 I would say this is a fantastic alternative that offers just as much fun. It is exclusive to the Disney store, so it can only be found in one of their stores or online.
My little boy has an obsession with the video game minecraft. As he had asked for the game and an Xbox for Christmas to play it I thought I would set out to find some minecraft accessories for him to play with away from the computer. Other than clothes I found it really difficult to come by anything as it was all out of stock, until I checked Smith's toys and found a few different toy sets. They had the hostile plushes in the Enderman or creeper version for around £8. I thought I would purchase the creeper one as it was something he had written on his letter for Santa. A creeper is a character in the game that can cause damage to your player or your buildings, as if it gets to close it blows up next to you. Unlike the other hostile characters this one is present in both Survival and creative mode and it can also move around in daylight. Now you would think that my son would like to stay as far away from this character as possible, but he actually has a soft spot for the Creeper character. Apparently the creeper is the most recognized image and character from the game, so this would explain why my son talks about them so much. The teddy stands at 7" and is bright green in colour. It has details such as feet and a pixilated face so it resembles the character from minecraft well. It has a very soft finish to it and four legs at the bottom. The stitching in the detailing is perfect, and while a lot of the mine craft merchandise seems rushed this is really good quality. There is no doubt that a minecraft fan would know straight away that this is a creeper and it is very well made. As it has a soft finish it is perfect for cuddling, the stitching is really durable and it is definitely built to last the use of a young child. Like the game the plush has an age recommendation of seven years plus, but there is no real reason a younger child could not play with it, other than not knowing what it actually is. My son's reaction when he opened his present was priceless. He started jumping around and cuddling the toy over and over again and then looking at it again. It honestly made him giddy with excitement and to see him get excited over a cuddly toy again was fantastic. Despite the creeper being a destructive character in the game my son has never used it for that purpose. He just loves the fact he has his very own creeper and uses it in the same way he would any other teddy. He cuddles it, takes it to bed with him and sits it next to him wherever he goes. As it can sit upright easily on its legs he can sit it anywhere that he wants to without it being a problem. It is small enough that it can be taken out with him without any problems, so perfect for keeping him entertained on the go. Creepers are scared of cats my son loves pretending there is a cat near and that he has to protect it. It is great for pushing the imagination and allowing your child to make minecraft related stories away from the computer. I would highly recommend this plush Creeper to anyone with a minecraft fan in their house. This was one of my son's favourite presents and he still keeps telling me he can't believe Santa brought him a creeper. The smile on his face from receiving this teddy is infectious, and even with the destructive ways of the character in the game, all my son really wants to do is look after it. I was only able to find this on the Smith toys website for just under £8, and I think it is easily worth that for the enjoyment it has already given him.
When my husband dragged me along to watch this film I have to admit I let out a sigh. A film about stock brokers, sex and drugs just really didn't appeal to me, but after making him sit through a 101 romantic comedy's I couldn't really moan. Then when I found out the running time was nearly three hours I was ready to throttle him, but in the end I came out surprised. This is a film based on a true story of Jordan Belfort showing his rise from a penny stock broker, to the making of his own company, where he goes on to abuse rules to make himself and everyone that works for them very wealthy. We follow his lifestyle through the rise, and then finally the fall of his success and corruption. It is directed by Martin Scorsese who has teamed up with Leonardo DiCaprio a number of times previously, and as I quite liked the films I did think this may be watchable. Acting There is an all star cast, but there a few others that I didn't expect to steal the limelight that did. Leonardo DiCaprio is an actor I like in others films, but in this it just feels as though he really throws himself into it. He plays Jordan Belfort and while the character is someone I would hate in real life somehow Dicaprio makes it impossible not to want to watch what happens to him. His smug, arrogant character constantly narrating the film, staring down the camera telling us just how much he is making from un expecting people, how many women he has and how many drugs he takes should make us hate the character, but his portrayal of this character is perfect. In every single scene he grabs the attention of the audience. Jonah Hill's performance as Donnie Azoff is brilliant. I've only really ever seen him play really daft characters full of comedy, but in this film he gets both the comedy side and the more serious notes down to a tee. With him being the co founder of company he has a lot of screen time and with each scene he just grabs the attention. Margot Robbie plays Naomi, Jordan's second wife. She is a newcomer, and I have only ever screen her act in neighbours before, but her performance in this film is sure to secure her many more roles in Hollywood films. She manages to capture the audience's attention playing the money daft second wife of this arrogant man. There are lots of supporting actors that do their job well, but most of the screen time is taking by the main characters. Matthew McConaughey playing Mark Hanna, Jordan's first adviser on Wall Street showing him the ropes, and Joanna Lumley as Aunt Emma may only have small roles, but their scenes add something to the film. My thoughts I didn't realise it was going to be a comedy. I thought it was all going to be very serious, but through half of the film I found myself laughing until my sides hurt. There are so many scenes were I just started laughing from start to end. The thing is most of it is stuff we really shouldn't be laughing about. As 90 % of the film includes sex, drugs and money there are not subjects I would normally find funny, but the actors manage to make it a comedy anyway. Some of the scenes are so shocking and crude you can't help but laugh as well as having my draw dropped at the same time. There is A LOT of nudity and sexual references. From start to finish there are references to sex in every other scene, literally 100s of different hookers, wife's and more hookers. While it is mostly just boobs there are a few scenes that include full nudity and even if there are not naked women or men on scene the characters are usually talk about sex. There is lots of eye candy for men and some of the scenes leave you wondering if they are just putting more sex in for the fun of it. Another reoccurring theme in the film is drugs. The characters are high from pretty much 10 minutes into the film right up to the end. In every other scene they are either taking it, or acting under the influence. For this reason if any of the above would bother you then I wouldn't suggest watching it, as there is no way to escape from it. On paper this is the type of film that just wouldn't interest me, but it actually wasn't as bad as I had thought it would be after reading reviews and newspaper articles about the film. For this reason I would say the 18 rating really should be kept to, as I can't remember a film that has had so much delinquent behavior. As for the three hour running time, well I barely even noticed. In fact when we got to the end of the film it left me thinking is that the end already. As with every scene comes more drama or something new to the story I found myself just wondering what was going to happen next. This left no time for staring at my watch wondering if the film was ever going to end, so the long run time really was not noticeable. This may have been because I was constantly waiting for the sex and drugs parts to be over to get back to the story, but either way it had me on the edge of my seat. My only downside is there really is no character development. We go straight into the world of Wall Street, the dark side of how bankers and stockbrokers supposedly act, and while we hear a little about the lives for each character that really is it a few lines about family at home. This leaves all of the characters coming across as arrogant men (although there are women brokers acting the same I might add) without a care in the world, other than money, drugs and sex. It does glamorize the lifestyle throughout the start of the film, but towards the end they try to portray him as having a change of character. It shows the bad side to all of the themes in the film when he is caught and we watch it spiral out of control quickly. I think this is a good film despite their being a lot of controversy over the themes and story. There is a lot of nudity, drugs and other controversial scenes in the film it manages to be entertaining to watch. The actors all play their characters perfectly, and I think it is the best bit of acting I have seen from Leonardo DiCaprio in years. I'm not sure I would watch it again, but for as one of watch it is a good film.
My little girl was extremely lucky as last Christmas as we purchased a large ELC doll's house for her main present. Then when it came to opening her birthday present from her aunty 2 weeks later, she found she had received another ELC dolls house almost identical, but this time it was the Lights and sounds Glamour mansion version. Obviously great minds think alike, and when my sister in law noticed the same deal we had on the ELC website she decided to buy it for our little girl. First Impressions On the instructions ELC state this will take about 60 minutes to assemble. I have yet to find a large item from them that takes the actual time they suggest and this is no different. As we had already built one dolls house Christmas Eve when it came to building this one we thought it would be a lot quicker, as we had more of an idea of what we were doing. We were wrong, and this actually took a full two hours to build, so you do need to leave plenty of time for building. You will also need to think about where it will sit. My little girl has had to move hers from the play room into her bedroom as it is just huge and takes up a lot of play space. (Height 119.5cm, Width 93cm, Depth 32.5cm) You will need a screwdriver but other than that everything you need to build the house is provided. The instructions are easy to follow and it is fairly simple to build just time consuming. I would also say you do need two people to build this as it makes it a lot easier to have someone hold the pieces as they are being screwed in etc. I think it would be very difficult for someone to try and build this independently. Once built the house is very impressive. It stands bigger than my little girl who is soon to be five. She can reach the top floor, but getting on the balcony's etc can prove a little difficult to her. The bright colours and chunky furniture are fantastic at giving the wow factor and holding little ones attention. As you receive 12 pieces of furniture there is no need to purchase any more and the furniture that comes with it fills the house up nicely. It makes it looks homely but still leaves enough room for the doll to move around without bumping into things. Because of the size I would say it is best to use Barbie dolls or those of a similar size. Smaller dolls just looked lost with the large furniture and huge surroundings, but my little girl's loves that she can use her larger dolls in here and it adds to the appeal. Our Thoughts The difference between this and the doll's house that we purchased is the decor. This dolls house offers a modern alternative and this is shown in the funky and bright decorations. Everything from the furniture to the dressings of the house has a more modern feel and it is very much in the 21st century. The funky stairs, shutters that open and close and even the lift that transports the doll onto the second floor all give it that glamour feel. The furniture and wall decorations are all very glossy and new and would attract any little girl's attention. There is a flat slanted roof, shutters that open and close and modern furniture printed on the backboards. My little girl was amazed that she now had two dolls houses, but also that her new one played lights and sounds. While it is described as a lights and sounds dolls house, what it really means is that you receive three out of twelve pieces of furniture that include this feature. These are a flushing toilet, a large lamp that turns on and a piano that plays music. The house itself has no interactive features it is just the furniture. I have to say that the piano is possibly the most annoying toy I have ever come across. When you press down on the keys it plays a tune which is really loud and almost screechy. The slightest knock sets it off meaning it plays over and over again. By the second day the piano had nearly driven me loopy, and my little girl seemed to think the same too as she quickly became bored of it. The next sound is the flushing toilet which my little girl thought was brilliant. Once the doll was in the bathroom she would often go to the toilet just to flush it. It is very realistic and definitely adds to building my daughters imagination. Finally the lamp in the living room has a small button that can be pressed and this turns the light on and off. That is all of the lights and sounds features, so not overly brilliant but as it is furniture my little girl likes that she can transfer them between houses. The batteries were all included when we purchased the set and they have lasted for 12 months without them needing changed. This dolls house is perfect for imaginative play. The decorations provide simple home comforts like a kitchen printed in one area, a sink in the bathroom and even cupboards printed in the bedroom. Then you receive the furniture which makes it more interactive with a table and chairs for the kitchen, a bath and toilet, and bunk beds for the bedroom, a mirror and sofas. All of the furniture fits the large Barbie/Disney Princess type dolls and there is a fair amount of room for the dolls to move around. It has everything to lay the base for your child's imagination to take over and play house. My little girl used to play for hours with it, but now as time has gone on she is using it less and less. It still receives a fair amount of use, but nowhere near as much as the first few months she received it. The doll's house is very sturdy although I do think if you were to pay full price of £160 you would be disappointed. While it has survived my children's hands for over a year now it just doesn't feel like the usually quality of ELC. The back boards of the house feel a little loose and we find ourselves having to tighten them up often. The lift that takes the dolls up to the second floor keeps coming off the rails. It has got to the point that my daughter just leaves it off now, and the dolls jump to the second floor because it seems to be coming off more and more. Also the sofa has lost one of its legs. While the furniture is well made from thick wood my little girl dropped it and one of the legs snapped off. That only happened recently, but still if you are paying £160 for something you would expect the furniture to survive a few drops. Recommended? I would recommend this house but only if you are not fussed on the lights and sounds features. I do think it is a bit of a con being advertised as lights and sounds and then only providing three items that actually do anything. By removing these pieces you would be left with just a dolls house, a good dolls house at that but I wouldn't pay a premium for this variation. This dolls house was purchased when it was on a half price offer and with a discount code, so it ended up costing closer to £60 than the massive £160 price tag. I would recommend purchasing at this price as it is a really good dolls house, but I still think the lights and sounds part is a little disappointing.
The CD Player My little girl loves dancing and even when a small clip of music begins playing she gets up and starts to dance. She has been like this before she could even walk so when it comes to toys I tend to try and find those with music as they are always a hit. When I came across this CD player from the Chad Valley range I did not hesitate to purchase it as my son had it when he was little, so we knew the quality was fantastic. You can purchase the CD player in pink or green, and they are both exactly the same other than colour. There is a handle on the top which is perfect for carrying the CD player around, and as it is nice and light even the smallest of children could carry it with ease. With the CD player you receive three discs which each have 7 nursery rhymes on each disc. It is designed just like a real music system just on a much smaller size, which is perfect for younger hands to control. It has everything from buttons to play, rewind fast forward, to a volume control to change the sound level to what you wish. Everything is simply laid out so even my 19 month old daughter can use it without any problems. There is a small storage area on the side for the CD's to be held when they are not in use so they do not become lost, although if tipped the wrong way which my little girl tends to do a lot they just fall out of it. Our thoughts As we expected my little girl loves this CD player. She plays with it all the time and often she just puts it on to play while she is playing with her toys. She loves all the interactive features and as it is just like a real CD player she loves it. Each song lasts 30 seconds or so before it moves on to the next song, so not a huge amount of time but perfect for small attention spans.. While there is no power off button, if the CD player is left without any interaction after the seven songs on one CD is played it goes into auto shutdown to save batteries. The discs are of course not like real CD's as otherwise they would become scratched with use by young toddlers, but instead they are made of plastic. No matter how much they are thrown around or mistreated they are still read by the CD player which is perfect for the target age range. As you change the CD's the different songs on each disk are played, and while my daughter is too young to read my eldest son tends to tell her what is on each disc as there is a list on the front. She does not mind which disc is playing as she loves them all equally. The other thing we love is the buttons actually work. If you press top the music will stop, by pressing play again the nursery rhymes continue, and if you press forward or backwards the CD will either skip to the next song or return to the previous song. The volume control also works so you can turn it up or down, but either setting still stays a comfortable level for both little one to hear and parents to stay sane.There are 21 nursery rhymes in all and they include all off the favourites. There is everything from London bridge is falling down to Twinkle Twinkle little star, and while they have a modern feel they are still very recognisable so children can sing along. They have more of an upbeat tempo and the more modern music makes them more exciting, but you can still tell what the tune is. Age recommendation is 18 months and older which are about right and little one needs to have the basic skills to remove the CD's, press the buttons etc. Everything is made perfectly for this age recommendation everything from the slow closing disc tray not to catch little ones fingers, to the buttons being easy to press with one touch. It is the perfect size for small hands, and the carry handle is perfect for making it portable. There are also three buttons on the front that activate the sound of musical instruments. This means little ones can add a sound of a piano or a violin into the songs and become a real DJ. That along with simple other details like lights flashing on the front to give a disco feel, or the nursery rhymes being more up tempo and having a real pop music feel to them really hold my little girls attention. It feels just like a real CD player to her, and the fact that she can actually change the CDS is a bonus. We would highly recommend this CD play to anyone with a small person in their house with a love of music. My little girl thinks this is brilliant and it gets used often, even if she just leaves it playing in the background while she plays with other toys. It is durable, well made for small hands and as it acts just like a real CD player it really appeals to my little girl. There are 21 songs in total and all of the buttons actually work. We purchased it as part of the two toys for £15 offer on Argos, but it can be purchased at Argos and online at other stores for around £10. It requires 3 AA batteries that are not included so they need to be purchased separately for the CD player to actually work.
The Dress My little girl loves Disney princess and her interest has only increased since we dined with them at Disneyland Paris. Dressing up has always been a favourite in our house, so while I was shopping in Sainsbury's in their 25% off clothing sale I decided to stock up on a few sets. I came across this Rapunzel dress us and thought it would be perfect for my little girl. The usual retail was £14 and in the set you receive the dress itself, and a headband with a long braid bit of blonde hair just like Rapunzel's. The dress is made up of deep purple and pink trimmings and looks just like Rapunzel's dress in the film tangled. There are purple swirls of glitter detailed all over the dress and it is very sparkly. On the front of the dress is a small bow at the neckline with a plastic button with a picture of Rapunzel on it. There is also sheer fabric running across the middle of the dress with a rose in the middle to create a belt. At the beginning of the skirt there is a small plastic underskirt area underneath the dress to make it flair out a little. Unlike other dressing up sets we own it only sits at the midriff rather than continuing all the way down the skirt. It still works well as it gives the dress the puffy looking skirt, but it means there is only soft fabric in the skirt so they can move around freely. The whole dress has the Disney princess feel and has the wow factor for small children. Our thoughts I always tend to go a size up for dressing up sets as I normally find the sizing to be quite small, and as they are so expensive to purchase anything to prolong the life a little is good. As my little girl was four and a half I was a little worried about getting the next size up as it was 5-7. After searching through the dresses this was the only size available, so I risked it hoping it would fit and even if it did not she would grow into it. We found just like other costumes this is small made. The five to seven years was the perfect size for my little girl. The full skirt just touches the floor, the arms and neck fitted her perfectly with help from the elasticised trims. For this reason I do not think it would last anywhere up to 7 years old. I would say my little girl could maybe last it out until she is six (she is five now) but she is not overly big for her age and it already fits her perfectly. The headband however we found to be too big. While the dress fits her perfectly the headband constantly slides around on her head. We can fasten it on with a bobby clip if she is going to a party to hold it in place, but for wear around the house we find it falls down her head and in front of her eyes. Now I did purchase a bigger size so we cannot complain about that, but as it fits my head but still slides forward as it feels front heavy I still have a feeling it would be too big for a 7 year old. When we get it to stay in place it is a great addition for role play. Of course one of the most important features about Rapunzel is her long flowing locks, so this is an important accessory for my little girl. The braid falls past her shoulders so she can let down her hair whenever she likes waiting for that prince to climb up it. The dress is very comfortable for her to wear. It is elasticised on the arms and waist to give it a better fit and the lack of underskirt makes it very easy for her to get around in. The material is a fair thickness, not too thick that she will become hot wearing it with clothes underneath, but not too thin that I am worried about it ripping or tearing while she is playing. She is able to get the dress son and off herself, and she has attended parties in this dress where she has run around nonstop without the dress restricting her in any way at all. The material is very soft so even if it is touching skin directly rather than clothing underneath it causes no irritation. I have washed it many times a low heat cycle and it comes out as good as new. There is no deterioration at all and even the sparkles remain intact which I was pleased about as I always find dressing up costumes a little hit and miss. It cannot be put in the dryer, but because of the material it dries very quickly on an airier or on the line so there is no need anyway. My only downside is that it needs to be hung rather than going in the dressing up box, as the skirt can become really creased if it is not left to drop freely. My little girl loves this dress, and it is one of the better value ranges of dressing up pieces we own. It is a lot more durable and pretty than the Princess dresses available from Ruby dress ups, and washes well over and over again. The material is perfect for being both practical and pretty and when my little girl has this on she feels like a real princess. There are lots of details, glitter and a nice full skirt to make it perfect for any little girl. There is no way to miss it is Rapunzel dress and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a Princess dress up for their little girl.