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In anticipation of some nice weather, we have been collecting a few bits for garden play for my son so we can get out and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. At 14 months, he is still a little young for some toys so we needed to make sure we got things that he could use but, at the same time, we didn't want to spend a fortune on toys that he would grow out of quickly. We were lucky enough to receive this Little Tikes Castle Climb n Slide from friend of ours whose children had grown out of it. THE SLIDE The slide is suitable for children from 12 months to 4 years and retails at around £50. It is flat packed when new but relatively easy to assemble (about 10 minutes for us but as this was second hand, not sure how much had been left when disassembled!). The main body of the slide is a turret of the castle and made of a cream plastic with a brick pattern. This features a brown plastic platform where the child can stand and look out through the castle. This also has a red plastic steering wheel on the side that can be spun - I assume to pull the drawbridge up and down with. To climb up the ladder there is a 'rock climb' which is essentially a green plastic ramp with small boulders for hand and foot grips. The slide is red plastic. There is a crawling tunnel in the turret, under the platform that children can climb into and hide or crawl through. PLAYTIME At 14 months and just mastering the art of walking and climbing, my son is, as yet, unable to climb the slide himself. He will give it a good go but then become very frustrated, so will always need adult assistance to actually get on slide at the moment. The foot grips do provide some assistance and he does seem to get the idea of these at least. He enjoys standing at the top and spinning the wheel. Again, this needs close supervision as it is a relatively small platform and quite high up for a one year old so any potential falls need to be averted. He does enjoy being placed on the slide and sliding down although, as he is quite tall for his age, it doesn't seem that the ride lasts long at all - it is quite a short slide. He is also yet to really explore the tunnel in the bottom of the turret but his older friends very much enjoy using this as a hiding place. MY OPINION The slide itself is well made and feels very stable on the ground - as a parent I am reassured by this as there is no danger of this being pulled on top of a child. It is sturdy and can support up to three children at a time. I don't really see this lasting my son up to 4 years of age as the slide is so small that I think he will want to move onto bigger, more exciting things by that age. Like I said earlier, our slide is second hand and had been much used (and loved) by the previous owners. Despite this, it is still in great condition with no pieces missing or cracks etc. It also cleans up really well so it looks almost new. I like the fact that this, whilst acting primarily as a slide, this also aids imaginative play as children can act as king (or princess) of the castle and stand at the top of the turret to watch out over their grounds. The crawling tunnel is also a nice addition and something else for the children to do, although I do not feel that it adds much to the slide as a toy. Overall, this is a nice garden slide that doesn't take up too much room. I probably wouldn't have bought this myself as I think that it is quite pricey for what it is and how much use my son will get from it. However, if you can pick it up cheaply I would recommend it as it is well made and seems to weather well. My son also seems to enjoy it too, which is the main thing!
At the end of last year my parents decided that they would get my son a garden toy as his Christmas present in preparation for the summer. They went to Toys R Us to pick up a different product, but saw that the Climb & Slide Castle was on special offer and decided to get that instead as it looked like a good buy as it had lots of features as well as being a slide. -The Product Described as a castle, but really more of a turret, this toy has a small climbing wall for your toddler to get to the top of the tower when they can then choose whether to play with the steering wheel (a bit of a bizarre feature I feel!), or then go down the slide the other side. There are also large holes on the side of the toy which are there for children to crawl through. The toy is made from a sturdy plastic and comes in 5 large pieces and it is very easy to assemble. When assembled it stands at 104cm tall, 127cm long and 60cm wide. It's compact size means that it's suitable for even small gardens and the slide is easily removed and re-attached if you want to move it out of the way. Currently the Climb & Slide Castle hasn't actually made it into our garden as it's been winter, but we plan on putting it out there over the next few weeks. As it's only been kept inside I cannot comment on how well it withstands the elements over time, but there is nothing on the toy that could rust and I suspect that the most damage it would suffer would be some bleaching of the colours from the sun. As it's made of plastic then I would think that it's easy to clean, which is good if it's being kept outside all the time. Little Tikes state that it's suitable from the age of 12 months, although I think that this is slightly on the young side. My son was 13 months at Christmas and enjoyed going down the slide, although he couldn't climb the climbing wall to get up to it so we had to lift him onto it. He's now 17 months and can easily climb the climbing wall and send himself head-first down the slide. As it's not very high and the slide isn't very steep then I let him do this, although obviously I make sure that he's always supervised while playing on it. - What I like about the Climb & Slide Castle My son really likes playing on this toy and I think that the climbing wall is better for him than a ladder would be at his age. He also likes "steering" his castle and so I think that the wheel is a good feature of the toy, but I still think it's a little strange for a castle to have a steering wheel! It looks really good. I like the fact that it doesn't take up very much space. This is very good while it's in our house and we don't have a very big garden, so it won't dominate the whole space once it's been put outside. - What I don't like about the Climb & Slide Castle My main concern with this product is that it doesn't seem very sturdy. My son weighs around 12kg and can easily make the whole castle shake when he stands up on top and decides to rock back and forward while holding onto the top of the toy. We stop him from doing this and he's constantly supervised while using it, but I think that he would be to tip the whole toy over if he carried on and it also makes me wonder how much longer it will be suitable for him. As well as the instability, this product is very small and I think that my son will get bored of it quite quickly as it really is very low and therefore is very easy to climb and the slide isn't very long. He's also never used the crawling tunnel underneath, so for us hasn't been a great feature. In fact, if it would make the toy more stable then I would remove this aspect of it. - Would I recommend the Climb & Slide Castle? No. This is due to the problem with the stability and my concern that it wouldn't take much to tip it over. While my son enjoys playing with it, I think that he will outgrow it quite quickly and I think that my parents wish that they had gone with their original choice of a slide for his Christmas present.