Product Type: Chad Valley Outdoor Toy
Newest Review: ... looks very pretty. It is made up of a number of different shades of pink and purple. There are also little peep holes down the side of t... more
Chad Valley Children's Play Tunnel
Member Name: sandemp
Chad Valley Children's Play Tunnel
Advantages: Fun, much tougher than it looks, easy to store, easy to carry for trips to the beach
Disadvantages: No bag, the material
==Hidey-bo - A Parent's View==
The Chad Valley Children's Play Tunnel (henceforth known as simply the tunnel) comes supplied in a reasonably small cardboard box. On opening the box I was a little disappointed, for some reason I had expected the tunnel to come in a bag, ah that would be because when I last bought one (15+ years ago), the tunnel did come in a zip up bag. Oh well a bag would have been a nice feature, but isn't essential so I won't be taking a star off for that.
This is a pop-up tunnel, meaning that absolutely no construction is necessary. To prepare the tunnel for play you simply need to undo the two pieces of Velcro that are holding it closed and it pops open in a quite dramatic manner. I will say that I wouldn't allow a young child to open this out as it does pop open in a pretty violent manner that could cause injury to the child or damage to ornaments. Closing the tunnel is also easy, simply being a case of holding one end and then pulling the other end towards you and closing the Velcro. So far, with about three months of daily opening and closing the Velcro is still holding firm and as sticky as it was on day one. Once closed the tunnel takes up a remarkably small amount of space, being about 42cm in diameter and only a couple of centimetres in depth, making storage simple.
Once opened up the tunnel does take up a fair amount of space, which means it's a good size for play. The Argos website tells me it's a metre in length and while I've not got out the tape measure, I'd say that this is about right, even though it does look a lot longer. I'm 5'1" (or 154cm) and if I stand it on end the tunnel comes up to my chest, so if anything it's a little more than a metre in length. (The Argos website does state that designs and specifications may vary). When I've previously bought tunnels they've been made of brightly coloured, silky material, much like parachute silk, that while not exactly waterproof is shower proof. But this tunnel is made of a much rougher material that is relatively open weave. What this material reminds me of is the fabric budget duvets are covered in. Not only that but the colours are quite muted, with it being formed of stripes of dull orange, blue and green. It just doesn't look anywhere nearly as attractive as it's predecessors and I certainly wouldn't rate it's chances in a seasonal summer shower. I did think that perhaps the material had changed as the original type was so flammable, but there is still a large warning to keep this away from flames (which I would have though was pretty much a given really). That same label also states that this tunnel should not be put in a washing machine or tumble drier and is wipe clean only. Now that's what I call obvious.
Other than my very obvious gripe with the material the tunnel does appear to be fairly well made and durable. All the stitching is still in place, there are no holes and the spiral of bendy wire that holds the tunnel rigid is still in the right shape. And that's with over three months of use, both indoors and out and being played with not only by the now 16 month old Freddy but also his older toddler friends. So as an adult I'm going to give the tunnel four stars out of five, with it losing that star simply because of the material it's made from. But as with any toy, it's not just my opinion that counts...
==Boo - A Toddler's View==
Although this tunnel is marketed as suitable for children over the age of two, I can see nothing about it that would cause a hazard to younger children, as long as they are adequately supervised. In fact I would really suggest that any child is supervised when playing with the tunnel as it is light enough for them to lift and could damage to ornaments or other people if waved around. This tunnel was bought for Freddy just after his first birthday, when he was just starting to crawl, partly as a way of encouraging him to improve this newly acquired skill and partly because I was sure he would simply have fun.
To start with Freddy wasn't quite sure what to do with the tunnel and was even a little nervous, but he soon found that Mummy playing peek-a-boo at one end while he sat at the other was hilarious. After a few days getting used to this strange new toy, Freddy discovered the delights of crawling through the tunnel. Although he is only 16 months old, Freddy is very tall for his age (wearing 18-24month clothes for the last couple of months) and pretty chunky. Even so there's plenty of room in the tunnel for him to crawl through on his hands and knees, although it's not high enough for him to sit up in the tunnel or wide enough for him to turn round. The tunnel is also big enough for much older children to crawl through, although older/larger children will need to crawl commando style. The oldest child who's played with this tunnel is only two, but I would say depending on their size children up to six, seven or above would still be able to get through. From experience these older children get just as much fun out of tunnels as younger toddlers, especially if it's combined with other toys as part of an obstacle course.
Apparently the tunnel can be connected to the matching tent to add extra play value and indeed there is a circular door in the tent. But the tunnel is actually quite a bit smaller than this hole and there is no way of securing it in place, which is a bit of a disappointment. Even so Freddy absolutely loves his tunnel, whether it's set up indoors or out and will spend ages crawling through it, laughing as he gets to each end before turning round and starting again. It does seem that at this precise moment this is the most fun thing to do in the world. If he could express himself in words I'm pretty sure that Freddy would give this tunnel five out of five, especially see as he gets very upset when it's time to put it away in the evening and excited when I open it up in the morning.
==The Light At The End Of The Tunnel - Final Words==
Although I was slightly disappointed that this tunnel didn't come in a bag and very disappointed with the material it is made from, I have to admit that at £7.50 (as part of the special offer) it was a remarkably good purchase. It's far more durable than it looks and has survived the pretty rough treatment that Freddy has meted out. It's also very lightweight, which means that it will easily blow away if left unattended in the garden, but also means that it's easy to transport to the beach, park or even a relatives. I've also watched Freddy's confidence playing with the tunnel increase, especially as he's got better and faster at crawling. And of course all exercise is good for our children and as Freddy gets older I'll be able to incorporate the tunnel into a mini assault course for him. So, Freddy and I are giving the tunnel four stars out of five (I just can't get over the lower quality material) and recommending it for children from toddlers who are able to crawl right up until they really can't fit through anymore (maybe up to 10).
Summary: A fun way of getting little ones to exercise