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Several months ago, it was decided that my young nephew's 'changing' bag was needing updated as it was starting to fall apart and it looked a bit scruffy. My sister said she would have a look online to see what was available, but in the meantime I felt rather smug as I had already seen the perfect solution online... The Sesame Street School Backpack.
I had pondered buying this backpack for my nephew as he loves Sesame Street, with his favourite character being Elmo. He is familiar with the other characters too however, and I thought the Sesame Street Backpack looked like a very attractive item when I had first seen it online, mainly thanks to the bright red colour and the attractive image of Cookie Monster on the front. I initially wasn't sure if the item would get much use, but when my sister mentioned about his existing bag falling apart, I knew I would end up ordering the previously considered backpack for my precious nephew.
I ordered my Sesame Street Backpack from eBay (www.eBay.co.uk) and paid around £9 at the time, which included postage and packaging costs. I thought this price was fairly good value, although I did wonder what the quality of the bag would be like. As @ the time of writing (June 2012) the backpack is available from www.amazon.co.uk for the sum of £23.99 plus postage costs (which seems excessive!) or from eBay for £7.95 which includes postage costs.
When it arrived, I was immediately impressed by the quality of the item and this initial impression has proven to be correct as the backpack has been robust enough to withstand my nephew's requirements and playtimes for several months now.
Firstly, the straps looked to be extremely sturdy, and nothing like the flimsy straps of his other backpack, which is what I had been expecting. Instead, the straps on the Sesame Street bag are padded which goes some way to making the bag easier - and more comfortable - to wear and carry.
It is worth noting too that the straps can be adjusted to suit the age and height of the youngster intended to use it. In our case however, us adults need to carry the bag for the most part, so the straps are fully extended to allow as much room as possible for our fully-sized arms! I have to admit that the straps ARE a little neat when the bag is being worn by an adult and my dad can't even get his arms into it. This is something I have found with most other kiddies' backpacks however, so it isn't a fault of this particular product.
The straps are a bright yellow colour, which provides an attractive contrast to the bright red material of the bag itself, alongside the yellow trim that is similar to 'piping' around the edge of the bag. There is a small handle on top of the bag to allow it to be carried easily, although this is not padded like the shoulder straps are.
The bag's material is fairly robust, and it has withstood several months use by my nephew and the rest of my family, without any real signs of wear and tear being evident. The material is the same sturdy 'canvas' like material that most backpacks are made of and it has never ripped or burst during the time we have used it. I'm not convinced of how waterproof the material would be, and thankfully we have never had to test out this theory. The bag has been with us when we have been caught in the odd drizzly downpour and it has performed well enough at keeping the contents within dry. For heavier downpours however, I'm not sure how well the bag would fare, I have to be honest.
The bag accompanies my nephew wherever he goes as it contains his wet wipes and nappies and things. On the days when he is going to his family childminders (who are either his aunty - (me!), or his grandparents), his bag will also hold his lunch and snacks, such as yogurts and fruit. There is usually a change of underwear and trousers in the bag too, as he is going through toilet training at the moment. All of these items fit neatly into the bag so it is a reasonable enough size in my opinion. Granted, the bag is somewhat full after it has been packed up, but the bag IS intended for youngsters so it is never going to have the largest capacity in the world.
The approximate measurements of the bag are: Height 31cm x Width 25cm, so the bag may well be suitable for taking on holiday as it would meet the hand-luggage limitations of many airlines.
The bag feels relatively lightweight, and it doesn't feel cumbersome when carrying it. My nephew can lift and carry his backpack by himself, although he doesn't 'wear' it as he is so young. I'm not sure if the bag could be washed in the machine, but I have given it a wipe over with a damp cloth once or twice when there have been some sticky marks evident on the surface and this has worked well enough for our needs.
The main 'body' of the backpack has one zip which can be found running down the sides of the main compartment. This zip has never stuck or become damaged. The circular pocket on the front of the bag also has a zip, but the pocket is quite neat and flat, so bulkier items can't really be stored in here. For little items like spoons or boxes of raisins, the pocket serves its purpose well, but anything bulkier than this can tend to make the zipper 'stick' as the pocket struggles to stretch to accommodate the items contained within.
This little point can be forgiven however, as the pocket provides the rucksack's main attractive detail. Made of a slightly 'plastic' type material, the glossy surface of the circular shaped pocket has a fantastic picture of Cookie Monster who is merrily chomping on his beloved cookies. The words "Me Want Cookie!" are printed around the outside of the circular-shaped pocket. Above the pocket to the left, printed on the main 'body' of the rucksack is a brightly-coloured image of a yellow cartoon cookie jar, which adds a little contrast to the main red colour of the rest of the rucksack. There are small red cookies printed over the main body of the front of the bag, some of which have 'bite marks' in them, which ties in with the overall image and design of the bag, giving it an attractive 'animated' feel.
I think the look and design of the Sesame Street Backpack is its most redeeming feature, and this in itself justifies the price I paid in my opinion. The fact that the bag is robust enough to withstand everyday wear and tear is of course another huge plus point, and I think it has coped well with my nephew's needs, particularly as he does travel from place to place whilst his parents are at work. I can't think of anything negative to report about this rucksack, and think it deserves full marks as a result.
When the grandson needed a seperate bag to take to school with his swimming kit in, I looked on Amazon for a cheap little standard plastic swim bag. Unfortunately, I saw this while I searching and just new I had to get it instead!! The grandson is a bit old for Sesame Street really, the TV show which the Cookie Monster comes from, but I felt this bag wasn't too immature for him because it focuses on Cookie Monster and not the whole gang with some pre-schooler ABC theme or the like. I think the Cookie Monster has a bit of a cult following with kids and young adults, despite his babyish origins.
Price-wise this is very reasonable with a current selling price on Amazon of £5.45. I think that's about the standard price to pay for a rucksack these days. With it coming from Amazon, it came with free delivery which helped to keep the price down despite this being the only item in my order when I bought it.
We've been pleased with this bag and I'd definitely recommend it to other Cookie Monster fans. It's a good sized rucksack, not a mini toddler one but a standard child-sized one. The panel on the front is a good quality circular pocket, with a sturdy zip and a laminated front cover which is easy to clean. The adjustable straps for carrying the bag with are sturdy and appear to be comfortable when worn, and the thick material means this bag doesn't need any internal lining.
This bag's been chucked around loads, as kids bags often are, and it's still in great shape after six months use. The material hasn't worn at all, and any marks or scuffs have been easily removed in the washing machine. The colours haven't run or faded, which can happen with strong red colours sometimes, and the zips still function the same as they did when the bag was first bought. Definitely worth the price tag for a Cookie Monster fan.