“ Brand: Asda / Type: Bubble Machine „
This summer gone by was the first summer where my son was old enough to play in the garden. As a toddler, there were only limited toy options for him - a few balls, a paddling pool and a water table was what we thought we'd opt for as he was just over a year and we didn't want to spend a fortune on things he would either grow out of quickly or would gain limited use from at this age. The one thing that I did think he would gain a lot of enjoyment from, however, was a bubble machine. We had blown bubbles with him in the past and he loved to watch these so a bubble machine would at least save our arms and puff!!
I had bought a machine in the past for our nephew from Tesco (see review) and this had been fantastic so I really wanted to get one of these. However, they only had pink ones in stock and, although not one to rigidly stick to gender stereotypes, I did really want to but a blue one. When looking around for alternatives, I came across this one in Asda which was actually a lot cheaper at £5 (they were also on the two for £8 promotion at Asda). Later on in the summer, you could pick these up for £2.50!
The machines are a lot smaller than other bubble machine, being rectangular in shape. They are available in a variety of colours - pink, orange, yellow, purple and blue. I picked up a blue one with yellow detailing. This is battery operated and requires 2 x AA batteries - these are not included. The packaging says the toy is suitable for children from 3 years of age (presumably due to small parts, bubble solution etc) but, as my son would not be using this himself or touching it I thought this would be fine for us.
You pour the bubble solution into the mouth of the machine - at the front - and push the button on the top. This moves a circle of wands round so that they rotate and dip into the solution. As they rise, they cross the wind jet that blows the bubbles. The packaging states that this creates '100s of bubbles in 60 seconds'. Whilst it does create a lot of bubbles, I think that this is rather an extravagant claim. The bubbles are quite small in size and do float away nicely - much to the amusement of my son. After a short while though, the bubble solution seems to clump up and block the wands, so the bubbles become fewer and further between. I also found that this lead to a pooling of the bubbler solution in front of the machine.
So, we found that we were continually cleaning out this machine for about 10 minutes of usage before it blocked up again. This became very frustrating for us and our son, so we reverted to good old-fashioned bubble blowing. Having said this, I think that this is a common problem with bubble machines in general and is certainly not isolated to the Asda variety. However, I would still have hoped for longer spells of usage than 10 minutes at a time.
The Asda Bubble Machine - with 'Turbo Bubble Technology' - is a compact, battery operated outdoor toy that emits streams and streams of soap bubbles 'automatically'. There are many variations on the theme of bubble machines on the market; as well as being fun in gardens, I've seen them usefully deployed at outdoor festivals and even placed on flat-above-a-shop windowsills, as advertising features to draw kids attention to the toy shop below.
The Asda version is a compact piece of kit: maybe five by six inches across and three inches deep - about the size of a hand-held portable radio (I mean a standard transistor, pre-digital age mini 'wireless'). The radio theme is reinforced by the carrying handle across the top - the entire thing being made of brightly coloured plastic, of course. At the front of the machine is the bubble-generating apparatus; in this case a series of bubble-generating loops arranged in a circle and attached to a motro, which when the bubble machine is switched on, slowly rotates past a (gently blowing) fan, so that the fan blows through the loop holes and produces streams of bubbles.
The bubble machine comes with a smallish bottle of 'Billions of Bubbles' bespoke soap-solution; we've lost the packaging but I estimate there was about 150ml in it. This didn't last long at all as it's so thirsty for soap solution that it uses it up at quite a rate; maybe half a dozen good outings for the bubble machine and that was all of it used up, and, as for most bubble-generating toys like this, 'ordinary' soap solution, that you make up using washing up liquid in water doesn't work nearly as well as the intended-for-purpose stuff. (In fact, I haven't been able to get Fairy liquid water to work in a bubble machine at all).
On the plus side, the bubble machine was very easy to set up and utterly straightforward to use: you push down the big button on the top, which switches the motor/ fan on so it begins to quietly whirr away to itself, and off you go. It did also produce copious streams of smallish bubbles, and gave the kids a lot of fun. Another plus point was that it turned out to be extremely hard-wearing: we were given the toy for my daughter as a gift (I'd say it intended for kids aged five and up) in September and it survived, left outdoors in the garden and neglected all over the unusually severe winter of 2010-2011, in perfect working order. I think that this really says something for the waterproofness, and robustness of the item. Even without bubbles (as we'd run out of the soap solution) it continued to provide some level of appeal for the kids (admittedly in a somewhat limited form): for some reason, they liked to carry it about by the handle when the motor was on so it whirred away quietly, switching it on and off in turn.
Unfortunately, despite it having survived the winter, my partner threw the bubble machine in the bin during a garden tidy up the other day - even though it was still in perfect working order. I was quite impressed with it in the end, mainly because of the waterproofing that allowed it to survive effectively undamaged in the garden for so long, and before I knew it was gone, was even considering buying a bottle of bubble solution to refill it with for use this summer (you can get a litre of stuff designed for use in bubble machines for £8 from e.g. amazon.co.uk - which is certainly steep for some soapy water, but bubble-generating kit has so far provided effectively endless fun for the kids, and buying bubble soap in bulk probably works out cheaper than buying it in tiny bottles one at a time).
We could get another of these bubble machines for £6 from Asda - and the toy is currently on a pick and mix 'buy two for £8' promotion, which is quite a bargain.
The toy is available in bright pink-and-yellow, and blue-and-yellow versions.