Product Type: ELC Outdoor Toy
Newest Review: ... starts to ache. So when I came across the Bubble Trouble Bubble Machine and although it was recommended for older children over 36 months,... more
Utterly, Bubbly Fun
ELC Bubble Trouble Bubble Machine - Blue
Member Name: sandemp
ELC Bubble Trouble Bubble Machine - Blue
Advantages: Lots and lots and lots of bubbles.
Disadvantages: Uses a lot of bubble mix, bubble reservoir not enclosed
==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.
Summary: A lovely bubble machine (especially at half price), just don't forget the batteries and bubble mix