“ Brand: Theo Klein / Type: Toy Hoover upright with simulation noise „
These days when it comes to imitation toys fit for child development purposes, so many brands are tarting up toys in bright colours, it is no surprise that the young little people amongst us are attracted by such contrasts. So, for my birthday I thought I'd buy a toy vacuum, not just to sit on the shelf when little Miss Niece isn't visiting but also something to complement the old fashioned toy Hoover vacuums I've managed to collect from EBAY and from kind people who haven't put them up for auction. German company Theo Klein are a bit like British company Casdon, where products that mirror real life objects such as small household appliances are made in miniature fit for children's development and play. These range from kitchen table mixers that actually work, to play dummy drills for boys that also work, but not on real life screws to cause damage, to washing machines, whole fitted kitchen appliances and even a couple of irons that make realistic noises - all supplied by battery power of which you have to buy and fit yourself. My niece was already impressed with her dolls house "Miele" cylinder vacuum, by Theo Klein (a toy that comes with batteries supplied) earlier in the year, so I was more than chuffed to be able to find a rare push along toy in the form of a miniature Hoover Purepower upright made by Klein decked out in silver. She doesn't like pink you see - but other colour such as yellows, greens and bright shiny silver painted objects - and has already turned her nose up at the pink toy Dyson uprights and cylinder toy vacuums made by Casdon.
The "Silver Hoover" upright by Klein mirrors the real life version of Hoover's venerable Purepower bagged upright - a vacuum that in today's market is slowly dying out and only available in red or blue colours - against the striking bitty glittery all silver paint that adorns this toy model and black decals with a black plastic floor plate in which the dummy sole plate sits and two double tone wheels at the back to move the vacuum along. The Silver Hoover is also very small and easy to lift up thanks to its sizing, with a height of approximately 65cm, a working width of 19cm, 1.405kg weight with batteries fitted and a 19cm sized floor head. Unlike the real Hoover model, there are only two wheels on the back of the toy vacuum to push it along and although it comes with no small parts that could pose a choking hazard, this toy vacuum is suitable for ages of 3 years old and over. It also has a retail price of around £15 to £20 which is about the same price as a toy Dyson or Henry and I was lucky to find one online at the first price including postage and packing charges.
Sadly there is no additional hose, smaller cleaning tools or even a fake plug on the back - smooth and curvy at the top - until you get to the bottom rear and see a tiny single crosshead screw flushly fitting into a vented cartridge that needs to be undone to get into the battery compartment that just about mimics Hoover's real life HEPA/rear exhaust filter holder. At least Theo Klein have got it right with the design around the front - from fake buttons to dummy recesses, fake vents and a similar design model name swirl with an original round Hoover emblem badge complete with gold painted writing on the smooth to hold handle - looking very much like a smaller version of Hoover's famous model. Klein have even retained the original HM Queen Elizabeth's trademark stamp*, which means for the most interested that at least Hoover have given permission to Theo Klein for producing this design. Further down the front you'll find a dummy hole where the original Purepower's bag fill indicator used to be and a single button that slides down for powering up the motor, a bit like a dust buster. On the floor head you're greeted with similar black writing promising "Power Cleaning" as the real life model and Klein have even been kind enough to incorporate a dummy height adjustment slider with four "options" of height adjustment that are precise and easy to move - even if they are there just for show. To the left hand side, Klein have also supplied a similar black release pedal for getting the handle down = and like the real Hoover Purepower/Dustmanager, the handle will pull down if you manually pull it and make a similar cracking sound with the difference that the handle always locks up regardless of whether you forget to push the foot pedal or not.
Sadly, the bad news for the TK Silver Hoover is that it can't move very easily on thick carpeting and it isn't particularly well made behind the curvy soft silver outer shell. How ironic when the real life version is just as bad! This is down to the flat and flush sole plate that makes the wheels struggle at the back. On hard floors, pushing and pulling should be easier, but again due to the flat edge on the sole plate, this toy vacuum will scratch floors badly and you'll know about it as it makes a loud noise being rolled across the floor. It is unbelievable that Theo Klein has not designed this toy properly to combat damage or pushing in thicker pile carpets whilst rugs pose a problem as the underside tray pushes the rugs aside unless the rug is permanently bonded to the floor.
The "power" of suction power is also disappointing - despite this toy being fitted with three medium cylindrical 1.5V batteries - and that's with the compulsory three batteries fitted and as my niece found out, fitting the batteries is a right bug*er! This is because Theo Klein has equipped the Hoover with a very tight fitting battery compartment with a poorly made battery cover. The floor/sole plate is all in black, there are no bumpers to withstand scrapes and at the front just below the silver hood, there's a very tiny single hole on the bottom of the upright and a scoop channel that is supposed to suck up the tiny polystyrene beads that you get in a pack when the vacuum is taken out the box. Compromised by thick carpeting, the balls don't get a chance of being sucked up, whilst the suction channel isn't large enough to allow the full power to come through and normal dust doesn't even have a look in! Unbelievably for all that it is mocked, the best battery powered vacuum that got the balls up from thick carpeting was my Paladone Henry desktop vacuum - and that uses a quarter of the power than this rather expensive vacuum toy! Sadly, for Theo Klein and Hoover, there are other design flaws too.
Klein also produces a red version of this toy upright Hoover and it has a much more helpful clear dustbin whereupon when switched on, the balls spin about in the dust canister. Children would therefore have more fun to watch the "make believe" dust spin about as the machine is switched on. Thanks to the all silver painted version though, the dustbin isn't clear and you won't get a chance to see the balls spinning. Another design flaw also happens with the actual pop out dustbin itself. It has the same dust bin cover as the original real life Hoover with a central "unique design" black plastic silver button, when pushed releases the bin and whilst there are no sharp edges, it can be tricky to push the bin back in until it locks if you happen to miss the permanently bonded tooth at the bottom. Turn the bin around and you'll find a little view hole, which acts as the suction channel. Underneath this a wonky piece of vented plastic to release the balls can be slid out - but if you lose it - the bin is inoperable, making the toy inoperable - unless you have a child who is contented enough just to use the battery power to produce the slight whirr of a fan noise to emulate their parents full sized Hoover and join in with clean up.
Another downside however isn't just the cheaply designed dustbin - or the Hoover itself - if the toy has the slightest bump, the polystyrene balls have a tendency to fall out of the vacuum, making a horrible mess and encourages the child to Hoover up the dust - only for said child to become disappointed as the Hoover fails to suck up the dust the first time and constant sweeps have to be made in order for any hope of the balls to be sucked up into the vacuum. Polystyrene balls that you get in a clear plastic bag are just as pesky as the packaging types you get with lots of appliances these days - if you spill them onto the carpet - they immediately become statically charged and after emptying the dustbin from the Hoover, some of the balls find themselves sticking to the inner part of the vacuum which becomes frustratingly annoying when a child tries to show off the actual function of this toy vacuum.
Ironically enough, this silver Hoover upright by Theo Klein is nearly as bad as the ill-fated Hoover Dustmanager or Purepower range in real life. Even if the optional red toy model has a clear bin - both painted models are particularly badly designed and have a useless dust channel that is too small to pick up the polystyrene make believe dust it is supplied with. Add to this the battery cover which needs a frustratingly small crosshead screwdriver to undo and a trying time to push the batteries in, and you have a toy vacuum which serves little other purpose than just aid in a child's development and takes the fun out of vacuuming when the motor just isn't up to the job. Whilst the lack of batteries can give a child some fun vacuuming, the fact that it scratches floors and remains difficult to move along thick carpeting means a child may well find a trying time of it - just like the adult who has had to put up with the similarly designed real life model! At least it has a good look which just about saves it - only just! Thanks for reading! ©Nar2 2011.
* Thanks to David for pointing out Royal inaccuracies of title!