“ Brand: ELC / Type: Outdoor Play Equipment „
I was shopping around the Early Learning Centre the other day for presents for my nephew, he lives at home with me and my sister and as toys shops are few and far between on the high streets these days. If I pass an early learning Centre I like to pop in as I can look and play with the toys and see what they do, it beats shopping online and gives you ideas of toys that he may like.
My nephew loves to play out in the garden and chase bubbles around popping them as he goes, we have had many pot of bubbles, but after a while you can get a little bored of blowing bubbles and then your arm starts to ache. So when I came across the Bubble Trouble Bubble Machine and although it was recommended for older children over 36 months, but I opted to purchase it for him, it's a machine that would need to be put on a table or ledge that he couldn't reach anyway so I didn't see the age difference being an issue.
The Bubble Trouble Bubble Machine sends a lot of bubbles into the air and all you have to do is turn the machine on. The machine is a little blue and green box and it has a handle on and a hole at the front of it. The hole is where the bubble mixture is placed and there are lots of applicators to make lots of bubbles as they turn round and round. The machine takes 4 x C batteries and can run for about an hour if needed and will release thousands of bubbles. The machine retails at £12, but I looked online and at the moment it is part of a three for two offers so well worth buying.
In order to use the machine you pour 450ml of bubble mixture into the bubble machine, any brand of bubble mixture will do. You then press the start/stop button to turn the machine on and off. When
finished with the machine you turn it off and empty and rinse the machine. Make sure that you do not put the machine into water otherwise it will never work again.
My nephew absolutely loves this machine it has him running around chasing the bubbles for ages and the great thing in that we can join in and chase them with him, instead of having to blow the bubbles for a change. We recently used this at his party and all the children enjoyed playing with it. It is unbelievable how long bubbles can preoccupy children in play.
There is only one disadvantage to this machine and this is that it needs to be kept on a flat surface if it isn't the machine does not always work as it cannot pick up the bubble liquid and release the bubbles. It can be a bit slow but I was not expecting an all singing and dancing machine for under £15. If this is for your daughter there is also a machine that comes in pink as well as the blue.
A couple of years ago when my son was still a baby I wanted to get him something that he could use both indoors and outdoors and that would last him from his very young age and still be fun as he grew up. I came across the blue bubble machine when the local Early Learning Centre Store was having a sale of their outdoor items. I paid just £10 but at the time they were around the £18 mark so I got a good deal, now-a-days however they are only around the £13 mark so significantly cheaper than the price it should have been when I bought it.
The machine stands alone and does not come packaged in a box, there is just a label attached to the handle detailing the product, safety information and how to use the item. To use is very simple, you add 4 size C batteries in the battery compartment which is easy to access using a star shaped screwdriver. We have had the machine for a good 2/3 years now and it has had a lot of use and the batteries are still going strong so it's not an item that will eat the energy and cost you a fortune in batteries! The instructions state not to use any bubble solution other than pre-made bottles made by ELC and being a young, naive mother I went ahead and paid the £5 for the bubble solution to be greeted with a very basic bubble mix that I could have bought or even made much cheaper but my lesson was learned as once the more expensive solution ran out, after 2 and a bit machine fills the cheaper solution worked just as well.
The machine itself doesn't look cheap, it is very chunky, bright and fairly sturdy looking. Very representative of ELC's child friendly products and this machine is no exception. It is very compact, very bright and very safe looking. I initially stored this in my sons cupboard and it was very easily sat on the shelf without being in the way or taking up too much room. I have since however relocated to the shed as the cupboard is so small as it is and to take up shelf space with an item that cannot have items stacked on top was something I couldn't do, so it now sits comfortably on the shed shelf where I have no need for additional space.
After the batteries are inserted and the bubbles are added it is as simple as pushing the very large, very obvious, bright red button on the top of the machine which activates the motor, fan and bubble round. It is a little noisy as a machine, especially while sat on a hard surface. It's not a problem and you do tend to block it out after a while but when the sun is shining and the whole place is peaceful a noisy bubble machine motor ruins the scene somewhat. The machine produces a lot of bubbles, of course there are occasions when bubbles are not produced from every single wand however with the amount that is produced this is not a problem. It means there are plenty of bubbles for not only one child to pop there are plenty for a good handful of children to be able to pop and be entertained by. The machine does seem to produce more bubbles when the batteries are relatively new and the bubble solution is newly added to the machine. That's not to say that the speed or the amount of bubbles produced are dire or inadequate it's just a small observation I have made over the time of use.
My son is a huge fan of this bubble machine and has been since I first purchased it. He has always loved bubbles and even now he is 3 and a half he still has plenty of fun chasing them about and trying to pop them. He does have the small bubble solution bottles with a single wand for him to blow but this is perfect when he wants to just pop the bubbles rather than trying to blow them which he hasn't fully mastered yet and I have things to be doing this keeps him occupied and entertained. In my opinion I love seeing him play with this machine. There is something about the innocence of him chasing the bubbles and being so absorbed and happy by them that melts my heart a little. It's such a cheap and entertaining thing for him to do and is much better for him than being sat in front of the TV or playing a games console as so many children seem to do now-a-days. Perhaps I'm old fashioned but I much prefer him to be doing this.
Although this isn't the best toy out there and it does have it flaws such as the noise I could never imagine a better more inclusive toy for children that is fun and stimulating without being detrimental to them. My son loves this so much he's always asking if we can get it out, I do tend to leave it for outside though as my living room is so small it gets crowded and soapy far too quickly for my liking but outside he can have it on as long as he likes while chasing those soapy suds around. Definitely a worthwhile purchase and for the tenner I paid I would pay it again in a heartbeat because the joy it has given my son in the last couple of years has been priceless.
As summer drew to a close, The Early Learning Centre held a sale where they reduced many of the prices of their outdoor toys to a ridiculously low level. Being someone who likes to help Santa out by buying presents throughout the year (yes I have already started on next Christmas), I took full advantage of this sale and one of the items I bought was this Bubble Machine for which I paid a very reasonable £6. With a standard retail price of £12 this bubble machine is available in two colour schemes, a very girly pink or far more subdued blue and can be purchased from ELC (online or in-store), Mothercare and selected Boots stores, depending on the season.
==I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles - A Parent's View==
The bubble machine is supplied in a cardboard and although it requires no actual assembly, it is not usable straight out of the box. A set of four size C batteries need to be installed behind the securely closed flap (that is located on top of the machine) and you will also require a rather large amount of bubble mixture. As this machine has a motor, I would recommend buying a decent set of batteries (we bought Duracell), but contrary to some reviews I've read, cheap bubble fluid has worked perfectly well for us. To give you an idea of how much bubble fluid you require, we filled the machine with three 70ml bottles of bubbles (at 40p a bottle) and this gave about half an hours worth of bubbles. But after that we just topped up with one bottle at a time as the other two bottle's worth was still sitting untouched in the bottom of the machine.
On first glance the bubble machine looks reasonably smart, with it's curved profile and relatively compact size. The main body of the machine is a pastel blue, while the handle is red and the battery compartment is green. I'm a little confused as to why the ELC would think it was a good idea to highlight the battery compartment, surely this would be the one component that you wouldn't want to draw attention to. Measuring approximately 22cm by 14cm and standing approximately 19cm tall, it's not the smallest bubble machine I've ever seen, but still in no way bulky. I find it sits very nicely on a shelf in my utility cupboard when not in use.
Once the batteries have been installed and the bubble fluid poured into the front, starting the bubble machine is as simple as pressing the large, clearly marked, red power button. As soon as it is switched on a double wheel of bubble wands is rotated and a fan blows through these wands to start the bubbles flowing. These wands look exactly like the wands you find in small bottles of bubble mixture, and work in almost exactly the same way. That is the pick up the bubble mixture that is then blown into bubbles by the fan. Only this machine can produce far more bubbles than you can manage by lung power alone. As this works by rotating the wheel of bubble wands and a fan, it is obviously not a silent toy, but personally I don't think it's that noisy. Yes it is loud enough to be heard in a quiet room, but it's still quiet enough to be drowned out by relatively low music.
When the batteries are fresh and the bubble mixture topped up the bubbles fair flow from the machine and quickly fill the air with hundreds of thousands of glistening orbs waiting to be popped. (Ok I'm probably exaggerating, but it does quickly fill the air). As the bubble fluid starts to run out the bubbles slow down considerably until they finally stop. What really gets to me is the way the machine is designed means that you need to put far more bubble mixture in the reservoir than can actually be used, meaning you need far more mixture than you would have thought. Another problem I have with the design is that there is nothing between the fan intake vents and bubble mixture, meaning that if the machine is tipped the wrong way the mixture doesn't just leak by pours out of the back.
The handle is a nice addition for carrying the machine around, but the way the solution can leak out of the back means that I really wouldn't recommend carrying this around when full. As far as battery-life goes, well I have read plenty of reviews claiming that this eats batteries and I imagine it would with cheaper ones. By using Duracell batteries we have so far had several hours use out of the machine and it shows no sign of slowing down. But I must admit that we only switch it on for a couple of minutes at a time, which is perfect for filling a medium sized room with bubbles. With this only having been used for the last two weeks I cannot fully comment on long term durability, but it has survived the relatively frequent short bursts of use over this time admirably.
Personally, from an adult's perspective, while this is in no way perfect, it's quite a decent little machine for the price I paid. I'm not saying that it's worth the full asking price, but is definitely worth the £6 I paid. But as with any toy, it's not just my opinion that counts....
==Pretty Bubbles Everywhere - A Child's View==
Twenty-one month old Freddy loves bubbles and has done for as long as I can remember. We've used bubbles as a fun way of stimulating him and encouraging him to move almost since the day he was born. So when I saw this bubble machine in the ELC I knew that it would be something that he would enjoy. In fact I had an even better idea of how Freddy would feel as during one of our frequent visits to the ELC they had this very machine running and Freddy was entranced by all the bubbles. I will say that Freddy wasn't overly impressed when he opened this on Christmas day, but he hadn't a clue what it was.
As soon as I'd inserted the batteries, added the bubble mixture and switched it on, Freddy was entranced. There were more bubbles than he knew what to do with and he had a fantastic time watching them before trying to pop them. As I've said before we only run the machine for a few minutes at a time, just long enough to fill the room with bubbles that then take a few minutes to pop. We do this for a few reasons, firstly so as to economise a bit with both batteries and bobble mixture and also because the hundreds of bubbles leave the floor quite wet. So far we've only used the bubble machine indoors (the weather hasn't been particularly fantastic) and I haven't noticed any leakage from the machine itself (other than when my partner accidentally tipped it), but it does make the floor very wet and I really wouldn't recommend using it on hard floors as it would make them very slippery and dangerous.
Freddy's eyes now light up every time he sees me put the bubble machine on the table and he will ask for bubbles several times a day. He absolutely loves watching them float around the room and enjoys trying to catch them. We do find that we need to top up the bubble fluid at least once a day (with approximately 30 minutes total use), but we haven't yet had to change the batteries in the two weeks he's had this. When it does come to changing the batteries I am seriously considering buying several sets of rechargeable as these will work out cheaper in the long run, especially when the weather improves and we take the machine into the garden.
I really don't need to ask Freddy what he thinks of this machine, his face when he sees me put it onto the table says it all, he thinks the bubbles are fantastic.
==They Fly So High - Suitability And Developmental Benefits==
Before I go any further I'm going to make it perfectly clear that although this bubble machine is being suitable for children over the age of three there is no way I would recommend allowing any child to use this unsupervised. This is because the way it is designed means that it is just too easy for the bubble mixture to spill, which would obviously form a slipping hazard.
However, taking my previous statement into account, I will say that children below this age and even very young babies love bubbles and will love the hundreds of bubbles this produces. So while I wouldn't recommend allowing any child play with this independently, I would say that it is a wonderful way of stimulating the senses of any baby or child.
Even a small bottle of bubbles that you blow yourself makes a wonderful developmental tool and this machine takes that to a new level. For the non-mobile baby or child the hundreds of bubbles, twinkling and reflecting the light are brilliant for stimulating their vision and tracking as they follow the bubbles as they fall to the ground. As they begin to reach out the bubbles encourage them to try and catch the bubbles, which will help them improve their balance. And then when they are mobile the bubbles encourage children to crawl, run and chase them.
While in no way perfect this bubble machine has proved to be a big hit and fantastic for the price paid. Should the ELC remedy the problem with bubble fluid leaking then I would probably give it five stars out of five simply because of the amount of pleasure it has given Freddy in the last couple of weeks. But as things stand I can really only give it the four stars, recommend that you wait until it is on offer at half price before buying it and recommend it for all age groups with adequate supervision. After all the same bubbles that enthral a baby will entrance a toddler and add a new dimension to any family party or barbeque.
Pink Bubble Machine and bubble solution available separately. Create thousands of bubbles at the touch of a button with this blue bubble machine.This blue Bubble Machine is sure to get your child running around with glee, delighting in the bubbles cascading up into the air. It?s great for creating spontaneous games like chasing each other through the bubbles, and it adds a magical atmosphere to bath time or a children?s party. The easy to carry handle means you can take the bubble maker wherever you like. Pink bubble machine and bubble solution available separately.Quick facts:•Blue bubble machine with carry handle•Creates loads of bubbles•Great for bath time or a party•Bubble mixture sold separatelyGreat for your child?s development:Chasing the bubbles around gets your child exercising and is a great way for them to enjoy the fresh air if you take the Bubble Machine outdoors. Trying to pop the bubbles or hold them without them popping is fun and exciting, and helps develop your child?s fine motor skills and hand to eye coordination. ELC star quality:We love this Bubble Machine because it?s all about magic, fun and laughter. Create stories with your child about what the bubbles are – perhaps each bubble is its own tiny world. The bubble blower is also a great toy for your child and their friends to enjoy playing with together.What you need to know:Bubble machine runs for approximately 1 hour when used with 12 fl oz of our bubble solution (available separately).Requires 4 x C batteries.Not suitable for children under 36 months due to small parts.Playing tips:Squeal and chaseLet?s chase the cascading bubbles as they fill the garden. We can pop as many as we can or simply squeal and run around.Bubble adventuresLet?s create bubble stories – perhaps each bubble is a dream, a wish, or a tiny fairy setting off on an adventure...Great for:Getting everyone running aroundMaking the garden magicalKeeping the bubbles flowingMaking a party even more funSaving Mum and Dad lots of puff / Age range: From 3 years. depth: 26.5 cm width: 16.5 cm height: 17.5 cm