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There are some toys, that the children love, but the parents hate. This is one of those. I absolutely despise Phlat, and the other 3 we have owned. The children love them though so we end up buying more.
WHAT IS IT?
The idea sounds pretty good. The Phlat ball is ball that you can push down to make into a flying disc, like Frisbee. This sounds like a grand idea, because flattened, it fits easily enough into a bag and can be carried about anywhere, so you always have a ball with you, should the children want a game of football. This is one of the larger models and it measure about 6" in height when popped up and 9"across when flattened. Our two previous Phlat balls were the standard ones, and the balls would never stayed flattened more than a few seconds. the company advertises "Throw a disc, catch a ball". Well you better throw it fast, as most often it will have popped back into a ball before it can leave your hands.
This particular model has a new time release knob though. Theoretically this allows you to have more control over how long the Phlat stays flat. When first purchased, this did allow the ball to stay flat for up to 20 seconds. At three months old though, this toy is well past it's prime, even considering the fact that it sat untouched with for 3 weeks of that time while we were at the caravan. The maximum time I have been able to get it to stay flat , with the knob on full now is 2 seconds. On low it will not flatten at all.
For some reason this popping mechanism is fascinating to children. My son first saw this when a neighbour boy had one. True the boy spent most of his time with it screaming hysterically as he was always getting fingers caught, but still it looked great fun. Eventually, I ave in and bought him one, and although my son often had his fingers nipped, he was able to figure out how to open it when it closed on a bit of skin, and it really wasn't that painful, so at least no screaming on his part. My youngest did cry a couple of times when his fingers were nipped though, and at only 1 year of age at the time, he could not always get it open again, but would run in with the ball attached to his fingers. The new time release ball is a bit softer and not at all painful when it catches your fingers at least.
It soon became obvious this ball was not up to rough play, like kicking. The surface of the first ball began to tear quite quickly, especially the softer foam band in the middle ( which is basically what the whole ball is made of now. It was never played with on a hard surface, and as it began to tear the children never even threw it, but would sit and collapse it and watch it pop up again. It lasted less than a year before splitting in the middle. My boys always wanted another one though and eventually I gave in. Ball number two was never taken outside. It was never kicked or thrown, but my youngest would carry it about indoors and watch it pop up. after a few months though, the suction cups fell out, making it useless. My husband and I both felt sorry for him sitting on the couch cradling his broken toy with silent tears streaming down his face.
For some reason, we thought this time release one might have a better mechanism for making the ball flatten. In fact my husband bought two, one for each boy. These balls likewise have never been kicked or roughly thrown about. They have gently played catch a couple of times outdoors and rolled the balls on the floor. They are both still holding together, but the flattening mechanism is starting to fail on both. Still if the children are very, very careful with them, hopefully they may get a full year before they literally fall apart. I'm sorry though, in my opinion a ball is meant to be thrown about, not sat on shelf.
I believe these were £12.99 each at Tesco, which is actually quite a lot for us at the moment. you can buy them at amazon for £13.99 including postage. I do feel I should have been able to expect a toy to last at least a full summer for this price. My sons really do love these toys, but that only makes it worse in my opinion as it leaves the children heartbroken when they keep breaking and we can not afford to keep replacing them.
Needless to say - I will not be recommending these, although the boys most certainly would. I have given this 2 stars instead of one as the children do seem to love the things and the basic idea is quite good. When they worked at all, teh children loved flattening these out and watching them pop up. The quality of these toys really lets them down though.