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TP are a well known company who make a whole range of childrens wooden and metal outdoor activity toys. All parts seem well designed to withstand robust play and the weather conditions in a typical British garden.
We have the TP rapide slide as part of our challenger climbing frame set. We had a choice between a wavy slide or the rapide version, and i picked the rapide as i thought it would have better longevity of use, whereas the wavy slide would be better suited to smaller kids.
Because ours is attached to the climbing frame, we do not have the ladders shown in the photograph above. Instead, children climb up the frame and across a platform to reach the slide. It has to be positioned quite high on the climbing frame in order to get the angle of the slide right. At first we put ours level with the platform, and this meant that the slide tilted up at a bit of an angle at the bottom, and then when it rained there was a huge puddle to dry up before it could be used. Now we have it at the correct height and angle, water does not collect as badly at the bottom. We still get a bit, but it dries off very quickly with an old towel.
The top of the slide is level with my head. I am 5 foot 6, so this is quite high for a little one to be, but the handles at the side make me feel more secure that the kids will not fall off the top. The seat bit at the top is quite big giving them ample room to get into the position that they want before sliding down by pushing themselves off the seat.
One thing that shocks me every time is how fast my kids manage to get down this slide. They both weigh just over 3 stone, and are between 3 and 3.5 feet tall, and they are so fast that they shoot off the end of this slide when they are just sat up using it normally. We tried it first without the slide extender, and found that they kept falling off the end with a little bump onto the grass. My littlest boy particularly didn't like that as he has just lost the soft cushioning when he stopped wearing nappies.
My boys are both daredevils, and go down on their tummies and lying down, and i am really grateful that we got the extender to go with it. The slide is big enough and steep enough to give them a great thrill, and i am happy that they are safe as the sides are high enough to keep them from falling over the side, and heading down. It is quite a large slide, and well made, so i am expecting many years of use out of this slide and the attached frame.
Toys these days may have become increasingly high tech, but when it comes to kitting out the garden, the old traditional toys have as much appeal as they ever did I find, all kids seem to love swings and slides, and this TP slide allows you to have a whole 3 metres of sloping fun in your own back garden. TP make a range of slides including a wavy slide and a slightly shorter one than this particular straight slide which we have owned for a couple of years now. It's supplied without the steps,and I believe also comes in blue, we have the green one. This slide can also be fitted to many of the climbing sets that TP sell (details on the TP site, link at the bottom of the review), we have it fitted to a Sherwood deck which we assembled ourselves -( all the TP outdoor toys are intended for domestic use and are designed to be fairly easily assembled), on assembly of this slide we found everything fairly straightforward with clear instructions.
The slide is made of a fairly thin looking plastic - which is surprisingly strong as it is reinforced underneath with strong hollow metal poles of a couple of centimetres diameter and the plastic itself has been well moulded. It is 47 cm wide, which should be plenty of width for most bottoms, and the plastic is fade resistant, in the time it is been in our garden we have found there has been very little weathering, though we do have to clean it fairly regularly as the birds seem to favour it for target practice for some reason! The metal bits are guaranteed rust-free for life by TP, ours show no wear thus far, and there is no cracking or damage to the plastic whatsover despite extensive use. It always cleans up really well when it does get dirty; I tend to favour a hosepipe and a brush to get it really clean.
So what is it like to use?
I have to admit to having slid down the slide on a few occasions, particularly when my youngest child was smaller with her on my lap - as the height this is at is 144cm it's really for age 3+ though my youngest has been using it with supervision from before that age and always found it great fun. In my experience this item is called the "rapide" for a reason, you do build up quite a speed on it and my kids love sliding down it in all sorts of ways, and of course trying to climb back up it the wrong way. The grips at the top and the fairly deep sides to the slide itself make it safe in my opinion, obviously you may want to supervise younger children. What you can't see on the photo is that the flat bit at the top between the two metal handles is slightly dimpled, this means a child is able to perch safely on that bit and then push themselves off, either with the handles or by holding the sides, and go quite quickly - it's at least as good as the local park, and with a lot less queuing!
One slight issue that I do have with the slide is that when not in use rainwater tends to "pool" at the bottom bit of it, but this may depend on how the ground is angled, this is a bit of a pain as sometimes you have to dry it off before the kids can play. Design wise the slide does taper off slightly at the end so children come to a safe stop, but you may find you wish to purchase the separate slide extension (which we did) which is totally flat and stops the child ending up on the grass as they normally come to a safe stop at the end of it, this does mean more expense.
That said this is, without a doubt a quality item, that is designed for years of use - I'm sure we will get a fair few more years from it yet, until the children decide they don't want to slide or swing any more. The slide does come with a fairly hefty price tag attached - we bought ours as part of a set, but you could expect to pay around £150 for the slide itself, and then will need to buy either the steps or a frame in addition to that, plus any accessories. TP items, including this one, can be seen in stores such as John Lewis, or at any of the stockists that the TP site recommend - we visited a local supplier recommended by TP and were able to see and test the slide in situ, which is probably a good idea with an expensive item like this. You can also order this on line from a number of retailers, including ELC and Tesco - clearly this being 3 metres long it will need to be delivered as it's not going to fit in the back of a hatchback!
We have already had a great deal of use from the slide which, as I have said, as a quality item is solid and resistant to the elements and, most importantly, great fun to slide down! With that in mind if you are in a position to be able to buy this item and have the space for it, it's a great addition to any garden. Recommended, it's just a great outdoor toy!
more info: Tptoys.com