“ Brand: Playmobil „
For the last couple of summers, our daughter (now four) has been very into the idea of the mini disco. Two years ago, in Menorca, we spent many evenings watching her trying to join in with all the dances and the first question she'd ask in the mornings was 'is it time for mini disco yet?'. Last summer, in Turkey, the children's entertainment seemed to be one of her big highlights and she trotted off happily to the Kid's Club disco in her sequin dress... She has a disco light in her room, an album of Mini Disco classics and a collection of sparkly 'dancing dresses'. So, when we spotted this Playmobil Children's Club with Disco on sale for £15.00 on Amazon, we decided it would be the perfect extra birthday present for her.
* What do you get for your money? *
Like all Playmobil products, this comes in a box and requires assembly. Usually, it is my husband that is given responsibility for assembling these things, but my daughter asked me to build this one and I was happy to oblige. The instruction manual was very simple to follow and, leaving aside the predictable hunt for batteries, the mini disco itself was quick and easy to build. I think it took me about 10 minutes to put it all together - no tools required, just a bit of slightly fiddly slotting pieces into place, all the time watched over by a very impatient birthday girl.
The main feature of the set is the Children's Club itself. This features a hexagonal stage type floor, walls with stickers depicting disco lights, bright green benches to the rear backing on to a colourful starry wall with two speakers, a bright red roof and a disco ball suspended from the ceiling by a green support arm. There is a removable hexagonal piece in the centre of the floor - this can be flipped over with ease to reveal a shimmering dance-floor on one side, and a simple board game on the other. The set comes with three Playmobil figures - one adult (a Kids Club 'games instructor' / holiday rep) and two children. There are also various accessories - a big palm tree on a green base with flowers (to make it all look that bit more tropical), a board showing timings for all the activities and various 'activity' accessories for the children - hula hoops, a dice and game pieces so you can actually play the board game, a ball and dressing up costumes (cloaks, tails and a pirate hat). There are various buttons on the top - one makes the disco ball flash, which looks amazing over the shimmering, holographic dancefloor and really gives the impression of a disco, one plays music (there are two different dance-style tunes built into the toy) and one controls the volume level. An added bonus is the presence of a cable to connect to the headphone socket of an MP3 player so that children can play their own music through the disco.
* The Playability Question *
My daughter absolutely loves this set. For the price we paid, I feel that it is a real bargain for the hours of fun that she has already got out of it. To be fair, for her it is definitely ALL about the disco element of the Children's Club. She does dress the children up in their outfits and occasionally make them hula-hoop / kick the ball around, but it is mostly about turning on the disco ball, plugging my iPod in, selecting 'her' music and making them all dance around. Or, turning her music on, playing it through the speakers and dancing around the living room herself... Sound quality isn't amazing but, to be fair, this is a toy, not a proper speaker dock and the fact that it does connect to the MP3 player is just an added bonus.
This set is part of the wider Hotel range and, ideally, should be paired with the Playmobil Summer Fun Hotel. However, in my opinion, it does work really well as a standalone set - we have a lot of Playmobil as my son has been into for a few years now and we also have other sets which kind of 'go with this one, such as the swimming pool. This, of course, means that we have plenty of other Playmobil children to go to the disco. Both my children have played with this a lot during the last few weeks - my seven year son likes it because he gets to play DJ (which means the Playmobil children spend a lot of time doing Gangnam Style) and my little girl loves it because it is a disco. They have actually now set it up as a school disco next to the Playmobil school that they got for Christmas, and I think that is a lovely idea.
I can't really think of any downsides in terms of playability. Yes, I have to listen to some slightly dubious music through the tinny speakers while they play with it, but there are plenty of toys / apps which make more irritating noises than this one does. It encourages imaginative small world play which is very important for social development. I love listening to my little girl chattering away as she plays, making up her own stories and conversations between her Playmobil people. Of course, like all her toys, it isn't just restricted to the figures who are supposed to be in it... I've spotted a few Sylvanians strutting their stuff on the dance-floor from time to time (according to my daughter, they are the 'Big Characters' on the stage - on holiday there were appearances from Alex the Lion and Shrek, so I think that is what she means).
* Price *
We paid £15.00 for this, but the RRP is actually £29.99. If your child is into the whole disco / music / dancing thing, or has the hotel already, then I'd say that this was still relatively good value for money. For what we paid, it feels like an absolute bargain.
* So, would I recommend it? *
Absolutely! When we ordered it, I wasn't quite sure what to expect - it looked like a lot of fun, but you never quite know what will capture your child's imagination and make them 'want' to play with it, however perfect something looks on an iPad screen. The quality, like all Playmobil, is excellent and I am now anticipating this being something that she will want to play with for a good few years. I feel that being able to play your own music through the speakers is a fabulous addition to what would already have been a good toy - and this, potentially, makes it appeal to children for longer as playing DJ adds an extra dimension to their play. This is my little girl's favourite birthday present and that, for me, is as good an endorsement as any.