As soon as my boys started crawling they started to develop a fascination with crawling under pieces of furniture and hiding. In order to minimise bumped heads and them using my dining and side tables as play areas I decided to buy them a specially designed "play area" which was the Worlds Apart Pop Up Concertina Combo Tent.
***Worlds Apart Pop Up Concertina Combo Tent***
The Worlds Apart Pop Up Concertina Combo Tent is described as "Combines pop up play tent, fun cylinder and connecting crawl through concertina tunnel. The items can be used together or separately". The three parts are a cylinder with tunnel attached. The cylinder is around 70cm wide and 80cm high with a cut out section to enter into the cylinder shaped tent. This is connected to a concertina play tunnel which is around 2m long. There is then a traditional shaped tent with peaked roof which the concertina can be slotted into the side of. On this "camper" tent there is an opening with drawback curtains for entry and exiting. The play area is made from a lightweight material and brightly coloured with a mixture of blue, green and orange sections. I personally thought it would be more of a shiny material like a tent is but it is more of a soft fabric.
The play area is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. It is also described as "pop up" so it is easily assembled and "folds away in seconds for compact portable storage".
The toy is described as suitable from aged 2 years.
The Worlds Apart Pop Up Concertina Combo Tent is available from a number of retailers including Argos and Tesco. You can also purchase online from Amazon and Play.com. The RRP for the tent combo is £24.99. We purchased the tent combo from Argos for £19.99 (with a £5.00 discount). I think this is reasonable value for money and a comparable price to similar play areas and pop up tent combo type toys.
My previous experience of children's toys meant I was sceptical that the tent combo would be simple to set up and in fact "pop up". However I was pleasantly surprised that on the first assembly with following the instructions the complete combo was set up within 10 minutes. The instructions for assembly are very clear and the tent does actually just "pop up". You simply unfold the "camper tent" from the packaging. With the circular tent this pops up but you do need to insert 4 plastic poles within it to keep it supported. The concertina tunnel simply pops out and slots into the side section of the camper tent.
My boys started playing with the tent combo at 12 months obviously a lot younger than the 2 years recommended age however as they are constantly supervised I did not see a problem with this and they really enjoy climbing in and out of the tent combo and crawling through. For use with two small toddlers inside there is plenty of room. This toy often is assembled for when my friends children who are 20 months and 3 years old. Playing alongside my two boys (who are now 18 months) there is plenty of room for all the children to sit inside and play together however if a fifth child was playing it might be a bit of a squash. Toddlers can stand up inside the cylinder tent and camper section but the camper section is too low for my friends 3 year old to stand up in. I have successfully managed to fit in the tent and can fit through the tunnel section. The toy is suitable for indoor and outdoor use however if using indoor you do need to ensure you have a space around 4m long (by around 2m) in order to have adequate play space.
From a practical perspective there are many aspects of the tent combo that require improving. Firstly the material the tents are made from is quite thin and flimsy. This is less of a waterproof material and more of a soft cloth type material. We have used the tent combo on around 10 occasions (with half of these being indoor use) and there are some small tears on the base of the cylinder tent. The cloth type material also means that the product stains easily and although you can wipe spillages off the tent it is very difficult to remove all evidence of them (we have a blackcurrant stain splashed up the side of the tunnel section). The material is also lightweight and there are no features which allow you to fasten the tent down therefore if it is windy the tent will blow away/over.
Another issue I have is the concertina tent does not remain fixed inside of the camper tent section. This just slots into the tent and would benefit from being tied or fixed with Velcro because when children crawl in and out of the tunnel it moves away from the camper section of the tent combo.
Although during playtime I have some gripes with the design of the tent combo these are excused as my children and my friend's children love playing with the tent and get a lot of enjoyment from climbing in and out of it.
My main complaints come with trying to dissemble the tent combo. The instructions states "folds away in seconds for compact portable storage" and I would say this is a complete lie. The instructions show how you bend and twist the sections of the tents in order for them to store away in a portable fashion. The instructions are very unclear and instead of the tent combo fitting into a box of a size around 1m wide by 1m long and about 20cm deep it has been shoved into our garage folded at around double this size. I can't fold the tent and neither can at least 4 other people I have asked for assistance. Therefore if you are very limited on storage space this would not be a wise purchase.
The basic concept and design of the tent combo makes it a toy that my boys love but I do feel as a parent slightly let down by the design of the play area looking at it from a practical perspective and feel it does not live up to many claims that it makes. My minor gripes are the material the tent is made from is flimsy, stains and is not durable in the way a typical tent is. Secondly I feel the concept of this being a 3 in 1 play area is incorrect because the concertina tunnel is connected and cannot be used on its own making this in fact a 2 in 1 play area. The main criticism I have is that this tent does not simply pop up and down. The tent popped up very easily and even on the first assembly we managed to assemble in under 10 minutes.
For £19.99 this is not a bad purchase as my boys have had hours of play with the tent, but I would probably not have purchased if I knew it didn't live up to the claims of "pop up AND down".
We bought this product last year for my daughter's birthday party as we thought it would be fun for the kids to play with in the warm summer sun and might provide somewhere for them to hide out away from the parents if they wanted to have their own little space. It comes in three parts: a tall, collapsible cylinder, a short tunnel and a triangular tent and these fit together though there is nothing to keep them attached and they often come apart during extensive play!
The circular cylindrical tent is held together by three poles that hold it rigid but one thing I will point out is that these are not that strong and one was broken swiftly after only a few uses. Also these are all very lightweight and flimsy and if there is much wind, there is no way of securing any of these tents to the ground so you often have to watch to make sure they don't blow away!
Ours came in a pink, girly colour rather than those shown above and this looks much more tasteful than the picture here which comes across as quite garish! The triangular tent takes two fair-sized toddlers though the cylindrical upright with two entrances at front and back only takes one at a time and is about tall enough for your toddler to stand up in with some space to spare. The tubular corridor that conects both these is large enough for an adult to fit in but not with much room to spare! It is however useful for reminding you that you are not as young as you once were and can play havoc on the knees!
If I had any criticism it would be that there is no way to keep any of these components attached together firmly without a bit of home-improvement DIY that may detract from the asthetic appearance! Also, once out of the box, these are a pain in the rear end to put away! The triangular tent folds together in a most complicated and bizarre manner that I found completely arse-about-face and refuses to stay together outside of the box. The tube twists and folds together again in a kind of an odd manner that ends with you twisting one end inside of another. Don't ask me how! The simpliest one is the cylindrical tent but I found that getting the rigid poles in and out of the tent can be a bit tricky!
Overall this is a not bad product but I am sure there are better ones out there that are more versatile and robust! We paid around £25 for this and, to my mind, this was a bit too much for the product as is. I think if I could get the same product cheaper I would have been happier! My best advice ~ shop around and where possible try before you buy. This is okay but not very hard-wearing and certainly not as high a quality product as you might expect for the price!
Have you ever set up a 'camp' under or around your dining table using clothes airers and old sheets? Well this is the current day alternative and it can be used anywhere without having to move your dining table!
My son received this set as a present on his fourth birthday. The first time we used it was near the end of the summer holidays. As you would expect in England it was a miserable wet day and my son, (and me) were ready for him to go back to school, as a last resort I took this out of its box and set it up in the living room it was an absolute life saver!
It comes in a relatively small box but do not under any circumstances expect to get it back into the box, I spent some time trying to following the instructions but while my husband found it hilarious I just ended up frustrated. It does fold pretty flat so when not in use it now lives behind our sofa.
In the combo set you receive a cylindrical tent which is attached to the ridged tunnel this then links into a hole in the dome type tent. The cylindrical tent is held upright by four plastic tubes, each made of two parts. According to the label it is made from polyester and can be wiped clean with a damp cloth. My four year old and one year old love it and spend loads of time chasing each other from one tent, through the tunnel and into the other tent. My son also likes to each his lunch while sitting in one of the tents.
One flaw in the design is that when the children are crawling through the tunnel it can come apart from the dome tent and if they are as boisterous as my two the whole set can gradually 'travel' across the floor.
Having said all this it is still a brilliant rainy day toy which can also be used outdoors if needed. The dome tent could also be used for shade on the beach or in the garden.
So far the quality of this product and material it is made from seem to have held up against the 'energetic' playing style of my four year old which makes this great value for money.