* Prices may differ from that shown
As we had been recommended to play turn taking games with three year old Freddy by both his speech and occupational therapist, I couldn't help but add this to my virtual basket when I saw it for sale at only £3 on the Early Learning Website. Although the reviews on the website were not exactly fantastic, I thought that at such a low price it was definitely worth taking the risk and buying this "Pop Up Pirate" clone.
===In The Box===
As soon as Puff The Pop Up Dragon arrived, Freddy couldn't wait to play and I do have to admit that the box it is supplied in does look very attractive. Within this sturdy cardboard box we are supplied with everything we need to play, a plastic castle tower, Puff the Dragon, twenty plastic flags in four colours and an instruction leaflet. What I particularly like about the instructions is that should we lose the leaflet, they are also printed on the side of the box.
The castle tower is the main base of the game and although made of plastic does feel very substantial. Standing approximately 18cm tall, it's a good height to sit on the table and be played with by a three year old. There are twenty holes in the bottom two thirds of the tower, arranged in two rows, with each hole being perfectly sized to house one of the flags. The flags themselves are formed of hard, brittle plastic and being 6cm in length are a good size to be held by little hands without causing a choking hazard. There are five flags in each of four colours with the colours being blue, green, yellow and magenta. I'm not sure why they chose magenta as a colour, personally I think red as is shown on the box would be a better choice and we've resorted to calling them pink.
The final game piece is Puff himself, a very cute green dragon who is formed of a rubber like material. I have to say that Puff is very cute with his big, expressive, googly eyes, but Freddy does not associate him with dragons and instead is convinced that he is a crocodile. At 9cm tall, Puff is again a good size for little hands to hold and being made of a rubber-like material he is unlikely to cause much damage if thrown.
One thing I like about this game is that it is suitable for anywhere between one and four players, meaning that I can set it up for Freddy to play with on his own (not something that happens very often), play the game with him, but Daddy could also join in or even one of his big brothers or sisters. Very little is required in the way of setting up, you simply need to push Puff down into the top of the tower and then turn the turret around three times and then you're ready to go. Well it's simple for an adult or older child and maybe even an average three year wouldn't have much trouble, but with his significant delays, Freddy cannot manage it himself, so it is something that I need to do quite regularly.
Once Puff is in place and the turret primed it's time to play and the instructions suggest that each player chooses a colour flag and then everyone takes turn to put a flag in the tower starting from the youngest player. I have to say that we don't exactly stick to these rules, we don't choose a colour and then stick to just those flags. Instead we simply put the flags in a pile and then pick whichever one we want to place next, naming the colour before putting it in the tower. As an adult I find it easy to put the flags into the tower, but Freddy finds it much more difficult, which is mainly down to his physical problems, but also because he is only three. It's quite sweet watching the look of concentration on his face as he patiently works at lining up the flag and the hole.
At a random point pushing a flag in will cause Puff to pop up out the tower, he doesn't jump up too high, but high enough to land on the table amid lots of giggles. There really doesn't seem to any particular number of flags needed to pop Puff, sometimes it can be as few as four and other times nearly every flag. We don't really care whose flag pops Puff, it's just as much a surprise that causes fits of giggles whether Mummy's flag set it off or Freddy's, but in the official rules the flag that pops Puff is the winner. Each game takes only a few minutes to complete, meaning that we can fit an odd game in when we have a short time between other activities and Freddy doesn't become bored (he's hyperactive and has an even shorter attention span than most three year old children). Once Puff has popped the flags need to be removed from the tower and the game can either be restarted or packed back in the box for another time. I especially like that the game does fit back in the same box it came in, making tidy storage easier.
Although as with any toy your child will pick up new skills while playing with this game, with a little adult intervention the learning potential is greatly increased. Freddy has significant difficulties in all aspects including fine motor, dexterity, speech and social skills. Turn taking games such as this had been recommended to help him learn to understand the concept of taking turns and waiting for his turn as well as the concept of "first" and "then". I'm not going to say that he's mastered these ideas yet, but I'm sure this game along with others we own is helping him develop these all important social skills.
This game is also excellent for developing fine motor, hand eye coordination and dexterity as the child puts the flags into the tower. Yes Freddy does struggle, but I'm sure this will improve with time. You can also use this as an opportunity to work with counting, by counting how many flags are put in the tower before Puff pops. What about colours ask you child to pick out a certain coloured flag, although I must admit this is where the magenta flags do cause problems. You could even help your child's imagination and story-telling skills by making up a story about Puff and how he pops out of the tower.
The recommended age range for this game is three years and above, but personally I don't feel there's anything about it that would be unsuitable for children from about two upwards. There's nothing that would create an immediate choking hazard and developmentally Freddy is at about two years and he is able to play. I wouldn't actually allow he to play without supervision though as he does still put things in his mouth and chewing on the flags will render them useless at the very least. As to an upper age limit, I have played it's equivalent "Pop Up Pirate" with children up to the age of eight or so, but would imagine that they would find this a little more babyish.
After reading some of the reviews on the ELC website I was a little sceptical as to whether this game would be worth even the £3 I paid for it. But I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the game, how easy it is to play and how much fun Freddy has had playing it. One criticism I had read was that it was too difficult to put the flags in (even for adults), but I have found they all fit well while still presenting Freddy with a challenge. Another criticism that I've read is that Puff only ever pops on the last flag, again I haven't found this, it does seem to be random when he pops.
So I'm going to give Puff The Pop Up Dragon five stars out of five as it is a game that Freddy loves to play and will often choose, that is also helping his development while he has fun. At £3 this is an absolute steal and a game that I would recommend for any child aged between about two and six years old.
The Early Learning Centre is somewhere you can rely on for good quality games. This pop up dragon game is a variation on a game that I always wanted as a child but never received - Pop Up Pirate.
The game is really quite simple. You have a tower, and a rubber dragon sits on a plinth inside the tower. There are then slots all around the tower into which you slot little flags before rotating the tower and pushing the dragon down. This activates the game. You then pull out the flags one at a time on your go until you pull the one that flips a switch inside which pops the dragon up out of your tower. I have found that the push up mechanism can be quite forceful making the dragon move fairly quickly, and my kids always seem to think this is absolutely the funniest thing they have ever seen, so they always want to play this several times in a row.
The game is something I could play with my children from the youngest being about two years old. As long as your child gets the concept of taking turns and has good pincer grip to remove the flags, then they are big enough to play the game in my opinion. The recommended age is 3 plus, but I would say just use your own common sense. I regularly let my children play with things younger than they should be playing with it as I feel they can cope with it.
This game is better with 2-4 players, but I have played it with my sons at nursery with a whole group of 6 children, and we just took it in turns to pick any colour flag, and it was still quite fun, just over a whole lot quicker.
It is quite a tough toy, though the mechanism can jam a bit if you are overly rough with it. It is pretty hard to do any damage to it though from normal use, and the set we play with is now years old.
The only negative is the ELC no longer sell this in stores. It is only availlable on sites like ebay though even with postage, you can still get this for between £8-10, and it is worth this price as it is a game that will be enjoyed and played with a lot.
It is very similar to pop up pirate, though this set is probably a lot more sturdy for younger hands to play with. My children would highly recommend it. I personally get a bit bored after a couple of games as it is a bit dull apart from the moment the dragon pops. The game length can vary, but it is only going to fill 5-10 minutes per game, so it is great for keeping young children's attention while you are playing, and good to have in the games cupboard for a rainy day activity. It certainly enhances social skills and you can get a bit of educational input from talking about the different colours in the flags.
Puff the Pop-Up Dragon
With children's toys these days being quite expensive, it is refreshing to come across something which does not cost the earth to purchase. The question then, though, is 'does the price reflect the quality'. With this in mind, I decided to purchase the 'Puff the Pop-Up Dragon' as Early Learning Centre products are usually of high quality.
The cost of this game is a reasonable £8.00 and can be purchased both in store and online at ELC.co.uk.
The first thing in which caught my eye was the resemblance to the well known 'Pop-Up Pirate' game which was manufactured by Tomy many years ago. I used to love playing this game as a child, and although it is still around and sold in many well known stores, I felt that my daughter would enjoy ELC's more modern version of the game as she has recently learnt 'Puff the Magic Dragon' at preschool. Needless to say, as my daughter was with me at the time, she agreed whole heartedly! Anything for a new toy!
The game comes in a relatively decent sized box, without all the added packaging which bumps the cost up needlessly. With its purple and yellow theme, it is quite eye catching to any young child. The age recommendation states between the ages of three to six years, though younger children should not have any problem with this toy either as long as a parent is around to help insert the flags (see below for more details). Set-up of the toy is extremely quick and simple with no assembly required, only inserting the dragon into the top of the main frame and then you are ready to go.
There are three main parts to the toy. The first is the main base which is designed to look like a castle turret with its grey colouring and wall decoration to the sides and top. It stands approximately 17cm tall which is a perfect height for little hands with two rows of small rectangular holes around the outside for the flags. On the top of the turret is a large hole in which the dragon is inserted. This hole is quite deep and it becomes tricky when trying to push the dragon all the way down so it may click into position. This is also hindered by the fact that the button to which needs to be pushed down is quite stiff to begin with and if this is not pushed down properly, the game is void from the start. The best way is to push it down with your own hands first and then let the child drop the dragon into the hole. At first we missed this, though later on with closer inspection, we noticed that the top half twists around to change the active slot. This is important if your child is like my daughter and has a photographic memory! The top half can be twisted either way and is easy enough for any young child to do, and no amount of pulling or rough twisting will break it apart safe to say! This whole main part is extremely sturdy and it would take a lot to break it (perhaps a hammer or saw!), though at the same time, it is also very lightweight so easy for young hands to carry it around.
The second part to this game is Puff the Dragon himself. Like the turret, he is very sturdy and practically unbreakable. He complements the dull grey of the main frame with a bright green colour with a red smiley mouth and orange stomach (red on some models it seems). When inserted into the hole, only his head is visible at the top which is something my daughter seems to find amusing!
Lastly is the game flags. These are made of a hard plastic, though if force is pressed upon them, they could break in half. There are approximately twenty flags in four different colours (I say approximately as my daughter has already mislaid a few!) and each have the ELC logo upon them in the same colour. It took us a little while to work out exactly how to insert the flags into the holes on the turret as they just did not seem to fit! Some flags slope to the left when inserting them in and some to the right, causing difficulties for adults, let alone young children! The flag tips face downwards and you really need to push hard to get the flags in properly. If they are not in properly then they will not activate the trigger if the right hole is chosen which defies the object of the game. My three year old finds this very difficult and often needs a little help pushing them in (as do I at times!). The other aspect to watch out for is the twist in the turret itself. Between games when you twist the top three times, you have to make sure that it clicks into place properly otherwise you will find yourself with even more difficulties with the flags than you already have!
So what about the game play as a whole?
The problem with this game is that the whole game play depends on the flags being inserted into the holes. As this is such a problem, it ruins the whole game for everyone. A game which should last a few minutes can take a long time and result in a young child becoming so frustrated and prematurely ending the game in temper!
IF you are able to slot the flags in without a problem, which is doubtful, the game play is simple. It is recommended that two to four players take part, though you could have more people play by splitting the coloured flags up, though with young children I would recommend the less the better! The flags are split between the players and Puff the dragon is clicked into place. Each person then simply takes it in turns to insert their flags into the side holes, trying not to pop the dragon up! Simple!
So why is such a simple game made so complicated by the terrible construction of the holes and flags!
My daughter occasionally plays this still, though more often than not, she takes the dragon over to meet her Peppa Pig character toys and plays imaginative games alongside her Peppa Pig and Fifi houses! A lot of money spent for a little dragon toy alone!
So, we are back to the question at the beginning of this review; Does the price reflect the quality? In this case, I would have to say yes!
The whole toy is a sturdy one and the concept of the game is fun but the mechanism and construction of the toy is full of faults which makes game play extremely difficult and annoying to say the least. £8.00 was a reasonable price, though for what it has turned out to be like, I would say that I paid well over the price it is worth. I am disappointed that the Early Learning Centre has such a terribly constructed toy on their shelves as their toys are usually so good.
I am sorry, Puff Dragon, but the Pirate beats you hands down!
The majority of my daughter's friends appear to have the Pop up Dragon game from Early Learning Centre, so it was no surprise when she received this as a birthday present from one of her friends for her third birthday.
The basic idea of the game is not to be the player who makes the dragon pop up. A very simple concept which is nice for young children.
Included in the box is a sturdy plastic castle turret, a plastic dragon which looks much like a bath toy, and 20 plastic flags in four different colours. To set the game up you need to place the dragon into the top of the castle and press down and twist either clock wise or anti clockwise. This is to set the trigger section for the dragon to pop up again when the correct flag is inserted.
The game can be played with up to four players, but we haven't noticed any difference in playability whether you have two, three or four players. Each player has five flags in the same colour and the youngest usually goes first by placing a flag into the slots in the castle wall.
We noticed straight away that the flags don't seem to sit comfortably in the holes. We all wanted to push them further into the holes but there was nowhere for the flags to actually go. Both myself and my partner started to wonder which one had the trigger to pop up the dragon.
The first time we played this no one managed to find the correct slot to activate the dragon. I went round each slot until I found the correct one and then realised that we hadn't set the castle up correctly, so the future games were a lot easier.
The concept of the game being you lose the game if the dragon pops up really confused my three year old. She thought she was the winner and trying to explain to her that she had lost didn't help at all. I think the beauty of games is that with young children, if you have to the rules can be adapted.
Pop up Dragon costs £8 and is an Early Learning Centre branded game. I would be a bit disappointed in paying this price for the game and would prefer to see it slightly lower to get value for money from the game.
Each game doesn't last long which is good for impatient toddlers, but I think it is a game that children will tire of at a very early age which is a shame as the Early Learning Centre brand usually produce popular toys.
Overall I thought the game was well made, but perhaps the concept isn't quite right and too close to other games from different brands on the market. We play this game occasionally, but I am glad we didn't spend money on it ourselves.
Puff the Pop Up dragon Game comes with a cute soft rubbery dragon, which my youngest loved playing with from no age, a plastic turret which rotates changing the location of the trigger switch each time, and several brightly coloured flags.
To play the game you just push the dragon down, take turns putting in your own coloured flags, and see who can wake the dragon and make him pop up. My oldest was 2 1/2 when he got this and quite enjoyed it. He still likes it now and then, but is primarily just played at game night because it is one of the few games the 2 year old can play. That said he often prefers to carry it off by himself and just poke one flag into all the holes until he can make it pop up, which never ceases to delight him.
I would agree with ELC's assessment that this game improves motor skills and social skills. I think any game that includes taking turns teaches valuable social skills to the very young, and certainly it does encourage some manual dexterity by fitting the flags into the slots.
ELC lists this game from 3 years, but I would say a child would be able to play this as a game from about 2, or just enjoy playing with it from about 16 months, with supervision. My son certainly enjoyed it as a jack in the box toy from 16 months, although I would not have left him alone with it at that age in case he managed to break off and swallow a bit of the flags. Because he was so young he did play with roughly with this at times and over time one flag was broken. The base is still as good as new though, and the dragon appears virtually indestructible.
This sells for £8 now with ELC which I find reasonable, but was a better deal on special at 2 for £10 when I bought it with another elc game.
The Early Learning Centre makes many good toys and the Puff the Pop Up Dragon is no exception as it is a really fun game.
Puff the Pop Up Dragon comes with is a turret or tower with a dragon inside it and lots of little flags which comes in four different colours. It's a very simple game to play you start by pushing the dragon down into the turret, each player than takes a flag and pushes it into one of the slots in the turret. One of the slots, it's different every time, will make the dragon pop up once a flag is pushed into it. The person who pops the dragon loses the game and the game is ended and, if you live in our house, a new one begins and again and again and again. I think it is intended for up to four players as there are four different colours of flags but it tend to just split the flags between me and how ever many children there are normally about six as the colour is irrelevant during the course of the game.
This is a brilliant game that young toddlers can join in with, they may need a little help inserting the flags but it encourages fine motor skills and turn taking skills, there aren't many games that are easier to play.
At £7.00, I think, Puff the Pop Up Dragon is very good value for money, it is enjoyable, easy to play and suitable for all ages. The plastic that it's made of is very durable and will last for years, long enough to hand on to another family or play group etc. Another positive thing about this game is that I can play it with my children and my husband's nephews and nieces, who don't speak very good English, as it's so simple you don't need to talk just have a laugh together when the Dragon pops up and makes you jump.
I bought my son an ELC pop up dragon from a charity shop for £1 as I thought my son was ready for starting to play games.
The Game itself involves a large grey castle with a black push down button in the centre which then hides a friendly looking plastic soft feel dragon. The Game has four coloured flags: Green, blue, yellow and blue and these fit in the slots in the castle wall.
The aim of the game is to split the flags and each player takes it in turns to push a flag in the slot until you hit the one slot that pop the dragon up in the air. This game is recommended for children aged three to six years.
I gave this to my son just before he turned three years old and he was very excited to receive a game but he also does love receiving new things. We initially split the flags between the two of us, two colours each. This can help with learning colours but makes it a little more difficult if there are three players. We took it in turns inserting the flags and he does at times get the flag upside down and also doesn't always fit them in deep enough to get the dragon to pop so if we get to the end and I have to check he actually gets a little annoys. In fact he doesn't particularly like me getting to pop the dragon out at all.
He also will play this game on his own which he does seem to prefer but this is fine and it does still give the introduction to game playing. The problem with him playing on his own is that it does require you to turn the dragon three times to reset the game which alternates the hole which activates the dragon popping up.
I think this game can be useful in developing fine motor skills, understanding of which direction the flags go and a great beginning to learning to share and rules of playing games and taking turns.
This game is the same as a childhood game that I owned called pop up pirate which is still available and he has since played this at a friend's house. I personally found that the pop up pirate game had more secure slots that are easier to activate the pop up action and would recommend that if wanting to purchase a game like this to stick to the original.
If you do want to purchase this game it is available at ELC for £7. I am happy with the toy that I paid £1 but do think this game could be improved.