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With the sun finally making an appearance it's time to start thinking about toys for the garden, so thank goodness ELC are once more holding a sale. Among the many outdoor toys I picked up was this, the giant odd ball, which cost me a very reasonable £4, rather than the standard retail price of £8.
Supplied deflated and packed into an incredibly small box, the odd ball is basically a giant beach ball, albeit a beach ball with a twist. While the ball can be inflated by lung power alone, from experience this takes a good ten minutes and does leave you gasping for breath, so if you have a foot or electric pump then it would certainly be preferable to use one. Once fully inflated this bright red ball is a very impressive size and covered in "knobs", one of which is filled with sand. Although the ball is still light it's heavier than it looks, which would be something to do with the sand. When the ball is rolled or thrown, rather than going in a straight line as it hits the floor it moves in a random way as the weighted knob finds it's way to the bottom. What this reminds me of is the motorised odd balls that were all the rage, oh about twenty years ago.
Although the box clearly states that this ball is suitable for children over the age of three, it was actually bought for our sixteen month old, ball mad toddler. Personally I can't understand why the ELC only considers this suitable for the over threes. There's nothing about it that would cause a choking hazard, the plastic it's made from is fairly thick and very robust and it's light enough not to hurt should it be thrown at you. There is, perhaps, a danger that it will pop if chewed on, but a small puncture repair patch is supplied and you'd be supervising your under three year old playing with it anyway, wouldn't you?
Even while I was inflating the ball my sixteen month old little man (Freddy) was enthralled by this new plaything and was trying to get hold of it, but once it was inflated he became a little over-awed. This is one HUGE ball and even though Freddy is very tall for his age, it swamped him while sitting and when he stands up it comes up to his shoulders. Not that he lets a little thing like that stop him. The ball is light enough for Freddy to lift and throw and then Freddy thinks the fact that rather than going forwards the ball will often roll back to him is highly amusing, to the point of setting off fits of giggles. As Freddy is quite young, can't throw the ball too far (and the ball is so light), we do allow him to play with this indoors as well as out. One of the stranger uses he's put it too is as a "walker", you see he's at the cruising stage and now tries using anything and everything to help him get across the room.
We also play with the ball in the garden where Mummy and Daddy join in with the fun. Older children and adults will have no problem throwing the ball longer distances and it's quite good fun guessing where it's going to end up. The weighted knob does mean that it's less prone to being blown out of the garden by the wind but also means that it does tend to slightly crush plants if it lands on the border. It's not however a toy that can be left in the garden overnight, as it will possibly disappear should the wind pick up.
As well as playing with the ball in the house and garden we've also taken this with us on trips to the beach and the park. It's perhaps not the most ideal ball for such trips, but does add another dimension to the fun. It takes a good five to ten minutes to deflate ready to take out and it's impossible to get it as compact as it was originally, but it will still fit in a carrier bag. The fact it takes ten minutes to re-inflate means that it's best to keep the child distracted while waiting to play with it, but it does float nicely in water and is a real crowd pleaser attracting the attention of other toddlers on the beach or in the park. There's been a few occasions now where I've had to inform parent's where they can buy their very own odd ball.
We've had this ball about a month now, so I can't really comment on long term durability, but so far it's survived some rather rough toddler play. It's been jumped on, thrown, kicked and even chewed a couple of times and so far we've had no sign of a puncture or leaking seam. Once inflated it holds the air very well, I blew it up a week ago and it's still almost as firm as it was on day one. Of course we are careful not to use it on surfaces where it may get punctured (gravel for instance) but I'm perfectly happy with the durability aspect and it's also easy enough to wipe clean if it gets a bit muddy.
As to whether I would recommend the Giant Odd Ball, well I do feel the standard asking price of £8 is a little high, but for £4 we received an extremely large, well made and unusual ball that I would recommend to the parents of any young child (forget about the recommended minimum age Freddy loves this). Freddy loves this ball, he loves to throw and chase it and so it is helping him develop his physical skills as well as get some extra exercise. Mummy and Daddy also love playing with the ball with Freddy as do any visitors that get roped into playing ball. My only real gripe is that it's a little awkward it deflate and re-inflate when taking out on trips. And so I'm giving the ELC Giant Odd Ball four stars out of five, because it is a toy that we would definitely miss.