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When we had a brief spell of sunny weather at the beginning of the month I decided to buy my two youngest kids a Winnie the Pooh paddling pool I'd had my eye on in the Tesco Express down the road, the problem was everyone else had the same idea so I came back empty handed - and that wouldn't do at all as I'd promised Hollie and David they could have a play the water, Hollie wasn't well with the start of itchy chicken pox and the heat wasn't helping so a paddling pool was definitely the way forward. Their dad saved the day when he went to get some BBQ stuff (and beers!) and came home with this Toy Story pool, which cost £7 in Morrisons. I've been in that particular hellhole a few times myself since and they've got a reasonable range of characters in the same design of paddling pool including a very sweet Hello Kitty one and another one featuring Bob the Builder. I think Mark made the right choice as other than the original Pooh Bear one this Toy Story is really the only gender neutral design available.
It's not a huge paddling pool measuring just 120cm from one side to the other, with a depth of 27cm (slightly over ten and a half inches). The size is perfect for my two, despite a three year age difference there's not much in it between them in height (a combination of Hollie being dinky and David having rugby player proportions) so they had no trouble in divvying up the space available between them. It became a little cramped when Hollie's friend from next door came round and jumped in, but by this point David had decided to get out and do something else instead anyway.
This is a very basic paddling pool of the type you can buy just about anywhere; three inflatable rings make up the side of the pool and a sheet of flat plastic is the base. The rings need to be blown up separately but they're a lot slimmer than they look so this isn't a daunting task at all - I had it all blown up and ready to be filled within five minutes (guesstimate, it's far too chilly today to start inflating paddling pools!), another few short minutes to add the water and the kids are ready to go. For a little while, before the negative aspects mount up to such a degree that they can't wait to get out again and do something else!
The first problem we noticed was that even when fully inflated the rings at the side would collapse too far down whenever one of the kids leaned on it - I'm not talking full-body leaning here either, even just Hollie stretching her very skinny arm out of the pool to pick up a dropped toy would lead to the side collapsing to the point where a load of water spilled out and drastically reduced the level they had to play in. This is a common problem with these ringed pools, but it's even more pronounced with this one thanks to the fact that the rubbery plastic used to create the paddling pool is very thin compared to others we've used in the past so even when filled to bursting point with air it doesn't really provide very much support if your child decides to lean on the sides. This problem could have been coped with, it's not too much of a big deal to replace the lost water every few minutes - BUT.
BUT. The base of the pool is made from this same very thin rubbery plastic which makes it extremely uncomfortable for the kids to sit in (our garden isn't the flattest at the moment due to works in progress) and eventually after no more than five uses a not-very-sharp stone punctured the bottom and rendered the pool completely useless. The stone didn't just puncture it actually, it ripped a jagged hole in the base that drained all the water out within less than a couple of minutes - leaving David high and dry in a waterless paddling pool, tears starting to form in his eyes as he realised the water wouldn't be replenished that time! I returned it to Morrisons and picked up another in exchange - and the same thing happened a week or two later, again after not very heavy use and this time an even less sharp stone was the one to kill the base so I think I can safely say this is a design flaw which is affecting more pools than just our original one.
For this reason I can't recommend this particular paddling pool and can't give it more than a single star. Yes, it look great and yes it's brilliant fun for the kids when the weather is hot - but a paddling pool that develops holes so quickly is as much use as a chocolate teapot.
This is review of the paddling pool which we were actually able use earlier this year! We bought it a couple of years ago and only used it once but I had hopes for it this year when the weather started to improve.
The pool is described as 120cm and I think that means diameter. There are three 'rings' which make up the height and you blow up each one individually. It doesn't take as much puff as you'd think and my mum managed it in five minutes yesterday. There is a plastic base in the pool and it's easy to fill with the hose pipe.
My daughter loves her paddling pool! She just dives straight in and doesn't seem to mind that the water is freezing. We add a couple of kettles' full of hot water to the mix to take the edge off it but it still feels freezing to me. We add bath toys, buckets and anything else that will be OK in water and she will play in it for ages. She likes taking buckets of water around the garden and generally chucking it everywhere.
The base is a little slippy and she has stepped in and fallen over a couple of times but nothing really bad. The directions do advise that it is suitable for children aged 2 and over, a milestone our daughter has not yet reached but when it's hot, you cool off and she is always supervised.
Price and availability
I paid well over the odds for this pool in Toys R Us during a hot spell and then remember going back a few weeks later and it was half the price! I seem to think I paid around £15 for what is a very basic pool. You can buy the same model on Amazon for £6.99 but this doesn't include postage which is steep at £5.13. I suggest you shop around if you are in the paddling pool market and don't go on a hot day!
At the moment this pool is perfectly adequate for what we need. It fits my daughter in and the adults can sit around the edge with their feet in to keep cool and keep an eye on the child. It's wet and splashy fun but an essential garden toy when the sun is beating down. We always do a full coat of factor 50 on my daughter before she is allowed in as she tends to go in wearing her birthday suit.
I do feel I paid too much for this but then I was in a rush and pregnant at the time and was visualising me sat in there chilling out. I knew it would come in handy once the baby was born and on the occasions we have used it (around three or four to date) it has not let us down! Obviously it can be dangerous when slippy (you just watch you've been framed for evidence) and water and children is another factor to be cautious about. On very warm days this pool has been a great source of entertainment for us. When the swimming pool is not an option, opt for the paddling pool!