Product Type: ELC Novelty Toy
Newest Review: ... up to the age of eight or so, but would imagine that they would find this a little more babyish. ===Final Words=== After reading some of... more
POP........Cue lots of giggles
ELC Puff the Pop Up Dragon Game
Member Name: sandemp
ELC Puff the Pop Up Dragon Game
Advantages: Cheap game, fun, my little man loves it
Disadvantages: Needs an older child/adult to prime the tower
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.
Summary: A fun game currently on offer at a great price