Product Type: ELC Outdoor Toy
Newest Review: ... was of little interest to me due to the fact that as soon as the postie brought them my four year old had snaffled the package and was play... more
Taking the stress out of the Olympics
ELC London 2012 Olympic Games Stress Balls
Member Name: chrisandmark
ELC London 2012 Olympic Games Stress Balls
Advantages: Fab designs featuring the London 2012 mascots, high quality, suitable as toys and collectors items
Disadvantages: Don't bounce, the small size makes them unsuitable for many games
I actually won this set of London 2012 Stress Balls late last year, please note that although they are sold in the larger ELC stores they are not an Early Learning Centre branded product as suggested in the title of the category. Instead they are an official Team GB and London 2012 product and sold in such places as John Lewis, Toys R Us and I even spotted a small pile of them at the till in Argos last week, although they're not featured in the online catalogue.
In my opinion, this would be more of a set for people interested in collecting memorabilia relating to the London 2012 Olympics rather than something to be used as a play thing - the box is well designed to show off the balls and has incorporated all the various elements of the Olympics logos and mascots. The rigid cardboard of the box would withstand light handling, but if you ARE buying it as a collector you may want to think about how you're going to store it as I doubt the box would be the most hard-wearing and you'd (presumably) want to keep it in tip-top condition.
As a mum, rather than a collector, the box was of little interest to me due to the fact that as soon as the postie brought them my four year old had snaffled the package and was playing with the balls themselves. If you purchase them (as opposed to luckily winning them) you can expect to pay around £6, which is reasonable for three high quality stress balls - again, going back to the collectors thing, I imagine this price would be considered a bargain if you were buying these to add to your collection, but as 'play balls' I doubt I would have paid this as you can get larger balls (sans 2012 mascot detail) cheaper and the stress relieving aspect is kinda lost on such a young child!
The three balls are 2.5" in diameter and each features Wenlock or Mandeville (the mascots names, doncha know?) in a suitably fun and sporty pose. These mascots have not been particularly well received in relation to them representing our bash at hosting the Games; I like them though and Hollie certainly does (I've since had to buy her mascot cuddlies and other 'bits'), to my way of thinking I'm glad these mascots have been designed with children in mind as they are the future of the Olympic movement and it's quite right to draw them in - even if it is with a pair of weird space-age men in suits! The balls look fun, they're done in such a way that children and adults alike will appreciate the design - again, going back to collectors, these would look fantastic on display as the colours really stand out and the overall look is so unusual.
I've been surprised at the quality of the balls, ours are played with but are still in fantastic condition. The beauty of them is that they can be played with inside and outside the house, they're made of solid compacted foam so are reasonably 'hard' (no playing in the living room!) but are softer and less noisy than the kids playing with plastic balls on the wooden floor! It's hard to describe a stress ball so I'm going to have to hope that the majority of you know what I'm talking about - the foam has been 'skimmed' (if that's the right word) with a plastic/rubber type coating, which gives stressed fingers something cool to grip and squeeze and also makes the balls completely suitable for using in the garden as it waterproofs the inner foam. This was put to the test when Hollie put a small rip in one of the balls, left outside it became soggy and noticeably heavier than the other two balls - proving the effectiveness of the waterproof coating!
These balls are best used for throwing games; catch, using instead of the larger basket ball to toss through the net and rolling around the garden. They don't bounce, which surprised and irritated Hollie, and just kind of meet the ground with a hollow thwack when thrown. The small size of them makes them unsuitable for a lot of games and I noticed these balls were often passed by in favour of her 5" and 9" balls - eventually they ended up in Hollie's toy box and were used only for incorporating into other games with her Bratz dolls or Barbies.
The recommended age of these London 2012 Stress Balls is three years, and I completely agree with that. Although it hasn't happened with these particular balls, stress balls are notoriously easy for a baby or toddler to bite a chunk out of - I'm neurotic about choking so keep these out of reach of my sixteen month old at all times, and having seen a young child with a piece of stress ball foam stuck at the top of their throat I'd definitely suggest you're vigilant with these and any other foam ball.
Summary: A nice idea for a piece of London 2012 memorabilia, or just a cute (and topical) play thing