* Prices may differ from that shown
Subconsciously I probably put this toy on Baby CrazyEgg's birthday wish list because of my loathing of our own Curry's Essentials oven, which is still terrible. This toy model by Casdon is far superior. I came across it when looking for a set of play saucepans which all seemed exorbitantly priced: the Casdon Hotpoint Electronic Cooker which is a mini-replica of the real thing, comes with its own set of four hob pans, (wok, frying, sauce and hob-to-oven), baking tray and grill pan, and some play food so it seemed like a good deal at £25. Happily the cooker was purchased by Granny and Grandpa CrazyEgg and sent direct to our home, so I had the chance to inspect it before the big day. We thought this would be the best plan as the oven is designed for 3-8 year olds and Baby CrazyEgg was about to turn two. The oven comes securely packaged in a strong cardboard box that features photos of the oven with lots of callouts highlighting the products's features: "Oven and grill lights! Grilling and cooking sounds! Realistic glowing hob! [if only my oven had a glowing hob!] Just like the real thing! [Pah!]. There are photos of children at play with the oven, and the age range is clearly stated and explained: "Unsuitable for children under 3 years of age due to the presence of components which could be either small enough to swallow whole and/or bitten off, chewed and swallowed." The box also states that the cooker requires 3 x 'C' batteries. Thankfully these have not been 'eaten up' by the cooker and are still going strong after three months of regular use. This cooker does switch itself off - or enter 'sleep mode'- when not in use which helps here. Since Baby CrazyEgg was below the stated age for the cooker I had a good prod of all the components. There was a loose screw that fell out of the back of the oven and had no obvious purpose. When fitted the batteries were sealed in by screwing down a plate at the back of the oven and that was very secure. The pans all came with lids that had round handles which could I suppose be bitten off if you were in Ozzy Osbourne mode, but it was some of the pieces of play food that posed a choking risk to Baby CrazyEgg and so we put these to one side. The food items deemed unsuitable were the very thin and snappable bacon rasher, the chips and the sausages, all too small. This left us with one very tiny roast chicken*, burger, peas, and a single lonely lettuce leaf. The next thing I did was open and shut the doors of the double oven [DOUBLE oven! How I long to able to grill and bake at the same time!] and I found these to feel rather flimsy. I noticed also that they, especially the top oven, did get stuck if you did not get the angle right. This is something that has caused Baby CrazyEgg frustration on occasion, but I have managed to sort it out and get the door working again. She does not play too boisterously with this toy (though she has a troubling tendency to bake her Happyland people, especially the doctor), however, if the door was forced more than 90 degrees the instructions state that it has been designed to detach and you simply have to clip it back on. I cannot comment on whether this is true or easy, and I am not going to try even in the name of research). On to the most important bit of all: is it a good toy for playing with? Well, there is a whole list on the box of skills that can be developed with this cooker and the most important and obvious one is that it is a role-playing and pretending toy that can aid the imagination. In my view one of the joys of this toy is not just that it helps Baby CrazyEgg pretend and imagine, but that I can see what it is she is thinking and doing, and I can see that she is taking in all the various aspects of her world. Now, Baby CrazyEgg has apparently got delayed expressive speech, but there are no problems with her understanding or communication as far as I can see and we have been using Makaton (thanks Mr Tumble!) for some now. So when I say she 'says' something, she is in fact making a sign to tell me or Mr CrazyEgg something. With the oven and her extensive collection of play food garnered from many discount stores, and Hamley's during a weak moment, she has concocted many a meal for us both. "Hot hot!" she says, "Mmmmmm". She puts the food on the tray, into the oven, closes the door and switches it on: "Wait, wait. Now it's ready! Not for you. For Elmo." She bakes in batches and shares out the food amongst her toys. She stands at the oven to use the hob, kneels for the ovens, showing pleasure and sometimes disgust: "EWWW yuKa! yuKa!" at her results. Don't know where she gets that from, I am of course a fabulous cook. It is really fun watching Baby CrazyEgg with this cooker making the various hobs and compartments light up...though it is not always fun listening to the oven. It makes various sounds, but one in particular is just unpleasant to listen too. It is a loud, harsh crackle. The unitiated yelp when it bursts forth and have been known to try and switch it off. Although there is a button that does this, the sound does stop after about ten seconds and the cooker goes "Bong! Bong! Bong!" to signal that the food is ready. This is a most pleasing sound. In total there are seven buttons to press and four sounds. The only feature of this toy that Baby CrazyEgg dislikes is the movable oven shelves. I've put them in a few times but she is not having it, as it limits which pieces of play food she can bake. As I have said, the packaging states a number of skills this toy develops, but I think they could perhaps use the space on the box better. I would skip this bit if I were you, but in this interests of completeness I will tell you that Casdon regard the following as sales points: "lights for visual stimulation, buttons to push to activate for understanding cause and effect, ...opening doors develop problem solving and motor skills [oh, the jamming door is deliberate, I Seee], imitation cooking sounds for ...aural stimulation." In summary this is a great toy if a little flimsy, even I suspect for many three year olds. It loses a star for this, the loose screw and the terrible sound effect. But it is still worth four stars in my view. *scale is irrelevant in all play food collections as far as I can see. Here the roast chicken is dwarfed by the comparatively enormous burger patty which in turn has the same diameter as the fried egg.
Both of my children love imaginary play, especially when they are mimicking something that I or their dad do. We have a large plastic kitchen but due to its size it lives outside in the playhouse, which means its inaccessible during the winter behind bikes and slides and balls. My 2 year old son in particular loves to pretend to cook so for last Christmas I suggested that my brother buy him this little cooker - which firmly cemented him as BEST UNCLE EVER. It retails at £25 but it is currently £14.99 on Amazon and is part of a range from Casdon that includes a sink unit and a washing machine of the same size and a similar price. The first thing I noticed about it was its size. At 30 centimetres high and 25 centimetres wide and deep it is not very big at all and I had visions of my children getting fed up of crouching on the floor to use it. In design it does look very similar to our current cooker, with buttons instead of knobs and halogen hobs rather than gas but generally very realistic rather than an obvious toy. There is a small amount of assembly to do before playing can commence- the cooker requires three C batteries (the big round cylinders) in the compartment in the back, which of course needs a screwdriver to undo. Stickers come with the toy too, but of course the children took charge of these so they are on the side of the toy rather than in their correct places on the front. At 2.5 kg the toy is quite light, my two year old manages to carry it around easily, but the quality feels good at first. However the two doors are flimsy, not just the plastic doors themselves but also the way they are fixed onto the oven. We have already had to slot the doors back on four or five times since Christmas, luckily they go in fairly easily. The instructions say that they are designed to come off easily so they don't get broken irretrievably, but the plastic is so flimsy that every time I have to put them on I am terrified that I will snap off a crucial piece. The seven buttons on the top are better quality and I have just taken the opportunity to have a play and work out their function (review writing is a hard old job). Four buttons on the left work the hobs on top, each button corresponding to a hob. When you press a button the hob lights up for about ten seconds and a static noise is heard, which I assume is supposed to sound like cooking. You can only have one hob lit at a time which is a shame, although you don't have to wait for one hob to finish before pressing another, you can just press another button. The middle button is a mystery button. I pressed it and it made a tiny static noise and stopped. I assume it is either broken.......mystery solved, whilst I was typing the cooker went ding ding ding randomly, so I'm guessing it's a pretend food timer. The final two buttons make LED lights in either the top or bottom oven light up with more of the static scary cooking noise. Also the cooker comes with two oven shelves (when there are three spaces for shelves inside), pans with lids (four pans, three lids), a grill pan, a baking tray and a selection of plastic play food . All of these are mediocre quality, they wouldn't stand up for regularly being stood on and dropped but they aren't flimsy enough to fall apart instantly. When my son opened this on Christmas day he wouldn't open any more of his presents until he had played with this for at least an hour. The thrill of having a cooker like the grown-ups has faded slightly but this is still a toy that he will play with every day for at least twenty minutes. It is also a lovely toy for him to play with his older sister with, she is much more willing to play cooking than do puzzles or read him stories. They play very nicely with this together. I can't see why this is a toy recommended for 3+ as my two year old gets so much pleasure out of it and there is nothing to hurt him or to be swallowed. I can see his interest in it growing even bigger as he gets older and into even more imaginative games. I like this cooker as it is not particularly loud, the noises do not last very long and it is very easy to store, so it is a toy that can live in my son's small bedroom or be brought down to the lounge very easily. If you only have a small house then this is an ideal toy as it allows a child to play imaginative games without taking up huge amounts of space. The size doesn't seem to faze either of my children either, the six year old crouches and the two year old kneels and sometimes they put it on a chair or table to allow them more access. The only negative with this oven is the flimsy plastic doors but it wouldn't prevent me from buying it again, especially at its current £14.99 price on Amazon which makes it a bargain.
I recently decided to buy a toy washing machine for my son who is in danger of losing his fingers due to his fascination with the real thing, in particular the door. The result of the trawl of the internet to find it was that I decided upon the Casdon toy washing machine and couldn't resist buying this toy cooker at the same (£20 with free delivery from Amazon). It stayed in its box in a cupboard for about two weeks to spread out the excitement but this week I couldn't contain it any longer so got it out. There is no assembly required, just the unwrapping of some plastic bags. All the accessories you see in the picture (shelves, trays, pans, lids and food) are included and are inside the oven. I've never quite managed to get them all back inside but luckily there's normally a couple of items hiding under our sofa so the rest of them fit! The doors open and close easily, and lets face it they are probably the most exciting part to an 18 month old. The top oven door opens down and if it is pressed hard it comes out of its slots, this is a design feature to stop it getting snapped off and after a couple of times of this happening I've got the knack of getting it back in. Unfortunately my son seems desperate to master the skill of getting it back on himself which means we have a lot of pulling it out and then throwing it round the room when he can't do it. There are buttons controlling each of the four hobs and the two ovens and these then light up and a noise is produced. There seem to be two different noises, the most common is the same sound the toy washing machine makes when its filling, and the other is a sort of sizzling / spitting sound. Neither is very realistic but as my son appears to have absolutely no concept of putting the food in the tray or pan then into / onto the oven and simply tries to fit as many things as possible inside before taking them all out again he's not bothered whether it really sounds like an oven. I think this is a bargain for £20. It really keeps my son occupied for ages, at his age he does love putting things in and out and opening doors so this is perfect. You get a good set of accessories with it which really make it worth the money. I was tempted but haven't bought anything extra, there's more than enough to get started although I did give my son a small wooden spoon (a real new one rather than a toy) as I felt he should have some sort of utensil.
As some of you who have read my reviews before I have a little girl of three and she loves role playing toys like many little girls her age. We have recently set her up with a pretend kitchen in her wooden play house, mainly with the Casdon range of role playing toys as I have picked them up at reasonable prices from TK Maxx. I brought the Casdon Hotpoint 477 Cooker for 14.99 from my local TK Maxx about 4 months ago. I brought Isabella this Casdon cooker as it was similar to our own cooker at home and also was a smaller size than any others I had seen at the time which is what I needed as her playhouse was getting limited for space. The size of the oven is approx 24 x 25 x 30cm and is white in colour with a ceramic type hob with four hobs that really light up. **** a slight warning with this feature, explain to your child that although their cooker lights up and is not hot....mummy and daddy's cooker does get very hot when lit up, I say this as my daughter although did not burn herself was a little inquisitive why her cooker did not get hot and ours did****** It has a grill/top oven and then a bottom oven with rack inside for your trays. Also provided within this set is a few tins and saucepans and a few bits of pretend food such as a chicken, sausages etc. which I think is a really extra bonus and normally you have to buy a lot of this seperate. It has realistic cooking sounds too that come from it which my daughter loves. It came already put together so you just have to put in the batteries, so was easy to set up and ready to play with straight away, much to my husbands relief. I do think this cooker is on the smallish side and there are defiantly better ones on the market dependant on how much money you have to spend and also how much room you have in you room, bedroom, playroom etc, but this was perfect for us as we have limited space and is a handy size for toddlers. Its quite sturdy and good for toddlers abuse!! although I would say to be careful with the doors from the grill and the bottom cooker as they are a little flimsy and could be pulled off with a bit of force, luckily our little cooker is still in shape as she has been very carful with it, but she is not always that careful. It's also very easy to wipe down; we have had many experiences with this when Isabella has often made her specialities of roasted cornflakes and wotsits a la king!!! Amazon sells at 19.98
Scaled reproduction of the famous Hotpoint Electric De Luxe Cooker featuring glowing ceramic hobs, illuminated grill and oven, grilling and cooking sounds, selection of chrome effect pans, oven trays and imitation food.