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*I have no idea why the picture above is of a lawnmower
Tiring a little whirlwind out during this typically wet British spring has been proving a challenge to say the least. My little whirlwind is two year old Freddy, a in many ways typical two year old who has some special challenges all of his very own. These last couple of weeks his favourite games have either involved balls or being chased (by the Mummy monster), so what better time could there have been to use one of the presents he got for his birthday, and that is the ELC Target Tag. Although this set is available right now for £15, we actually bought during the dog days of last summer for an amazingly cheap £3.75 and put it away until April of this year.
Within the clear plastic bag you will find two target tabards and four soft balls, so this is obviously a game that is best suited to two children. Each of the tabards is formed of two pieces of soft, padded material that are joined together with four adjustable straps. The straps are made of thin material and open, close and are adjusted by way of Velcro, with two of the straps sitting on the child's shoulders and the other two round their waist. It's easy to tell which way round the targets go as the front is slightly taller with a slight cut out. On both halves of the target are a set of concentric circles just like on a real target. Each of the tabards is a different colour, one being green, blue and yellow with a white bullseye and the other red, blue, green and yellow with the white bullseye. The four balls are wonderfully soft and small, I would say they are half the size of a tennis ball at about 6cm in diameter. The colour scheme of these balls matches the targets, with two of them being red, blue and yellow while with the other two the red is replaced with green. Each of the balls has six strips of Velcro on it, which means that it will stick to the target if it hits. Although ideally this is a game that should be played outside by two children, the weather really hasn't been up to playing in the garden and Freddy doesn't have any siblings (that aren't all grown up). So I've been playing this with him in a nice large hall and we've had lots of fun.
Although the recommended minimum age for the target set is three years Freddy is only two, personally I don't understand the three years, there is nothing about this set that I could see causing a problem for a two year old as long as they are a confident walker. Freddy is a fairly large two year old and I do need to adjust the straps quite significantly for the tabard to fit him snugly, in fact we have to tighten it as tight as it goes, but this does mean there's plenty of room for growth and I can see it easily fitting him until he is six or seven. Freddy isn't quite able to put the tabard on himself (he has a developmental delay) but can easily remove it himself. As an female adult I find that while I can place the tabard over my head easily enough, I cannot do up the side straps as certain parts of my anatomy get in the way. The balls are a brilliant size for Freddy to hold, literally small enough to fit in his hand and light enough for him to easily throw. As they are so soft they can be played with inside or out without worrying that they are going to damage anything and even if they hit you in the face they don't hurt. The Velcro on the balls sticks really well to the targets and with the six strips the ball will stick no matter what way round it hits. The only slight problem is that the balls also stick together so it's best to only hold one at a time.
Freddy absolutely adores when we get this set out to play and gets very excited as I strap him into the tabard, as the game combines chase and throwing balls what is there not to love? We have great fun chasing each other round the house throwing the balls, although I must admit that Freddy can't quite aim well enough to hit the target but he loves trying and I've really noticed his aim getting that little bit better. We love to hide round door frames and then jump out to throw balls, as far as Freddy is concerned this is the height of hilarity and a game that can last for at least half an hour. Once Freddy gets a little older and can start managing to hit the target then maybe we'll add some competition to work on getting him to further improve his aim by adding a point system, but at the moment we're really happy to allow practise his throwing and running.
We've not played with this outside yet as I am concerned that as it is almost completely made of fabric it will not handle the rather damp weather we've been experiencing. But the set is so light that as soon as the weather improves we'll be taking them out with us on trips to the park as well as when we go on holiday. There are no washing instruction on the set, but I have stuck it through a cold wash in the washing machine and then let it dry naturally and it's survived without damage. After many hours of play all of the stitching on the tabards and balls has held tight with not a sign of unravelling. With the Velcro catching on the fabric and being pulled off many hundreds of times the surface of the targets obviously isn't quite as perfect as it once was with a little bit of bobbling. Because the Velcro on the balls is of the type that has very small hooks it doesn't pick up bits of fluff and is still as sticky as it was on the day it came out of the package.
The Early Learning Centre Target Tag is a great game for indoors or out, in the garden or at the beach and one that will encourage your little one to be active and improve their throwing skills while they have fun. The set is brightly coloured and combines two of Freddy's favourite activities, chase and throwing balls, light enough not to damage anything indoors or hurt even when thrown at full pelt and perfect to pack in a bag for trips to the park. In fact I would almost say that this is a perfect set for two to five year olds who have energy to burn. But unfortunately the standard asking price is simply to high for what you get, there's no way I could recommend you spending £15 on this, even if it's included in a three for two offer. But at the price I paid, which will most probably be repeated as summer draws to a close, I think it's a wonderful toy. So I am still going to this set four stars out of five (losing one star for that standard price), but recommend that you wait until it is being sold cheap and then put it away for next year.