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My son really likes transformers. His favourite character is Optimus prime who is one of the lead characters in the series, so when I came across this light and sounds helmet on sale for £8 I decided to pick it up for his birthday. There are different versions of masks available, but the one I will be talking about is the Optimus prime mission helmet. We purchased ours from Amazon but I have come across them in large toy stores such as Toys r Us and Smiths.
The helmet resembles Optimus prime in his robot form well and my son instantly knew who it was. It requires three AA batteries, but they are already included, and as yet we have not needed to change them after a few months of use. The mask was surprisingly larger than I thought it would be. It is made of really thick plastic and actually fits my head, so it is a good size. On the side of the helmet is a small little red buttoning which at first my son was completely unaware of. He began to put the mask on and I showed him the interactive feature which apparently is cool. It is very easy to press, and even with the helmet on the button is easy to locate and activate.
The noise from the toy is not overly loud. It is loud enough to please my children and it has the effect it is supposed to, but at the same time it does not drive me mad like other electronic toys do. There is a button inside the mask that can be switched to three different settings. It can be completely turned off, and I had expected the other two options to be volume control, but it doesn't actually appear to do anything in the middle setting. Maybe it is just to stop the mask flicking between settings in use. We found durability to be really good. This mask has been dropped hundreds of times because of the weight of it, and it still works perfectly. There are no scratches or marks anywhere on it and it has lasted well with three children playing with it.
When you press the button the helmet you hear a sound effect or a phrase that relates to Optimus prime. Sometime you will simply hear Optimus prime stating his name, other times it makes a sound effect of the vehicle transforming, other times you will hear him running. They are random rather than on a loop, but they are very limited with just a few different sound features. There are all of the important sound effects that my son uses in role play, and I suppose they are limited in phrases. Also, when you press the red button the front of the mask lights up, and the eyes glow blue. My son thought this was fantastic. He could see the eye area light up from inside the mask, but it is not distracting nor does it block little ones view. It also looks pretty good on the front of the mask. The whole eye area lights up, and when it reflects of the blue paint it looks good. My other children love running away from Optimus prime and the sound and noise effects really help set the scene.
My children love me to get involved in fancy dress, and this mask is the simple option for me as it actually fits me. There is no way I would fit into any of their costumes, so usually mummy has to be Optimus Prime. While it is not really uncomfortable to wear it feels a little chunky even on my head. The plastic is rather thick and feels a little heavy on my head. There is a tiny bit of softer plastic located where the forehead sits, and also an area for the nose to sit, but other than that your face is greeted with cold hard plastic. Obviously it is designed for children, but we find my son does not like to wear it for long periods, as he becomes uncomfortable. It is just a little bulky and at 6 years old I think my son just might find it a little big.
Our main downside is the way you fasten the helmet. It proves impossible for my son to do, and I just find it too fiddly for its recommended age range of five plus. Rather than a Velcro there are three plastic straps with holes in. You have to thread one strap through the other, and then click another that pulls down from the top of the mask to secure it in place. It all works on a push and click system that is simple enough, but near impossible to do correctly while wearing the mask. To take off thankfully it is easier so he can take it off whenever he wants. Simply loosen the straps to remove the helmet which is so much easier than getting it done up. This means my son has to ask for help, and as he is 6 he is at a stage where he is trying to be a little more independent.
I'm not sure if I would recommend this toy. While my son did initially love it, he found it to be too heavy, difficult to put on and just generally a little large. He still plays with it now and again, but it receives much less play than any of his other toys. He prefers trying to get his sister to wear it, so he can see the mask working without actually having to wear it. The recommended age range is five years old, and my son received this while he was six I still think he is a little small for it. The mask is too large for his head. At £8 I do think it is good value for money, especially if your child is a huge fan, but there is no way I would but it at full retail price of £25. It is currently on sale on Amazon for around £10 with free delivery.