Product Type: Chad Valley Outdoor Toy
Newest Review: ... easy to set up, as once unwrapped, the tent pops up and immediately takes on the correct shape. Well, it went down a storm, not only with ... more
Pop Goes the Play Tent!
Chad Valley Pop Up Play Tent
Member Name: jo1976
Chad Valley Pop Up Play Tent
Date: 25/04/11, updated on 10/10/13 (115 review reads)
Advantages: Simple, fun outdoor toy. Very robust and versatile. Appeals to wide age group.
Disadvantages: Current Argos version has been redesigned. Lightweight and can be toppled over or blown away easily.
I've bought a number of Chad Valley toys over the years. For the most part, they've proved to be just as good quality as their branded counterparts but costing a fraction of the price. For years, Chad Valley products were exclusive to Woolworths stores but, fortunately, many items are now available in Argos, including this pop up play tent which is currently available for £10.79 (April 2011.) I have, however, been informed that the current version has been 'redesigned' and is now made from a different material and doesn't sound as well-built as the original design that I own.
Our tent was originally purchased from Woolies several years ago, alongside the co-ordinating pop up (or out) play tunnel and another style of roofless play tent which was part of the Chad Valley range at the time. All three components are still intact and still regularly played with, which is in itself testament to the resilience and good quality of the toys, particularly as my kids can be pretty rough and heavy handed with items of this nature.
Our play tent is made from brightly coloured polypropylene and polyester, with each of the four sides having their edges reinforced with flexible wiring. It is the combination of the thin sides and the wiring that enables this tent to be folded up between uses and gives it the springiness which means that the tent literally does 'pop out' into position once released from its flattened state. Once pinged open, the tent just needs a little shake to get it into the correct tent-like position and to fully open out the sides and the base and within seconds it is ready to play with - making this a toy that is appreciated by time-starved parents and bored kids alike! After use, the tent simply folds into itself incredibly easily and needs minimal storage space to be tidied away safely.
The main attraction to the tent, apart from being a fun place to shelter and play, is the various holes and openings which the kids love playing in and crawling or climbing in and out of. The tent functions best as a fun toy when used alongside the matching tunnel as this fits perfectly in the circular hole on one side of the tent, allowing children to crawl out of the tent unnoticed- perfect for hide and seek!
This Easter holiday, thanks to the unseasonably warm weather, has seen our tent having some considerable use for its numerous purposes. Once opened out, the tent is a decent size for children of all ages. My three year old (who is just under a metre in height) can stand up inside the tent - although he does have to stoop a little to climb in through the flap that comprises the entrance. Older children, like my eight year old son, can comfortably sit or kneel inside and this has even been used as a makeshift sun shelter for our eight month old baby. It is large enough for three children to sit in comfortably at the same time, however my boys rarely sit still inside for very long!
The only thing to bear in mind if buying this for a specific purpose or for a particular age group, is that the tent is extremely lightweight and can be pushed over, leant against or even blown away, very easily. In its basic form, it isn't a suitable place to leave a very young child unattended, given its flimsy nature. The tent does have loops at the base of each corner, however, so could be tethered more securely into a safe position with the use of some tent pegs, or something similar, although none are actually supplied with the tent. The tent is also not completely waterproof, although the exterior is pretty water resistant and will withstand a mild British shower without issues.
Our tent (along with its matching accessories) lives in the shed and tends to be rediscovered and enjoyed by the boys whenever we mow the lawn. It has been thrown around, squished, sat on, blown away and used in all sorts of imaginative (and often potentially destructive) ways by my boys, but still shows no signs of any damage whatsoever. The fabric is pretty thin but has proven to be incredibly robust over the years. Even when the wiring has been bent out of position and misshapen, its flexible nature means that it is possible to bend it back into the correct position quite easily. The only visible sign of our tent's age is some slight mildew that has appeared on the base, but that is entirely due to being used on damp grass and then stored outside in an unheated shed. Otherwise, this fun little tent has proven to be pretty indestructible.
I would highly recommend this as a simple, fun outdoor play item particularly when purchased alongside the play tunnel to maximise the play value. A toddler will have as much fun hiding behind the flaps and crawling out of the holes as an older child will have pretending to be an intrepid explorer inside the tent. The ease of use and storage makes this an ideal gift for children between two and six years old, although much older children will also enjoy playing with it too. This really is a very versatile, and crucially, incredibly robust toy.
Please do bear in mind, as I've stated in the introduction, that the Chad Valley play tent currently available in Argos seems to have been redesigned and, sadly, does not sound as good as I've found the original to be.
Summary: A great toy that appeals to a wide age group
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