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With a Toys R Us gift card burning a hole in his pocket after Christmas, my ten year old son went shopping and returned with this unusual soft toy - an Angry Birds Star Wars Darth Vader!
As the name suggests, this soft toy is part of a range of merchandise based on a relatively new app that combines the popularity of the Angry Birds game with Star Wars characters. I must admit that the whole Angry Birds phenomenon has largely passed me by but my older children seem to like the themed products more than they like the actual games.
This particular toy is a pretty good likeness to the original Star Wars Darth Vader character, whilst having been morphed into an Angry Bird, making the object essentially a glorified soft ball, complete with a firmly attached cape and shaped, gridded 'snout.' Like most soft toys, this has limited play value although the rounded shape and relatively light weight size make this 'ball' suitable for a fun offline version of the popular app. My boys like to 'slingshot' this Darth Vader, essentially just throwing it at each other. Fortunately, despite being a generous five inch toy, Darth Vader is soft and can cause little damage even when used indoors. The large eyes, although at first glance may appear hard, are actually squishy and covered with a leathery coating so this doesn't cause injury even when targeted directly at younger siblings. (We have still had a few tears when my two year old son has found himself in the line of fire.)
Quality-wise, this appears to be a pretty robust toy. It is a legitimately endorsed product which is represented by the quality of the fabric and all of the seams and stitching have remained intact despite considerable rough play. The (fairly conspicuous) label recommends that this toy is hand washed separately with warm soapy water and then rinsed thoroughly and reshaped after drying. It advises against twisting or wringing and, although it is not explicity stated, I would imagine that machine washing would not be recommended. I have found that the black polyester coating can show marks and dirt easily, particularly when mauled about by a grubby toddler, but I have managed to remove the worst with just a moist baby wipe.
This toy is recommended for children over the age of three although I can't personally see that it represents any obvious choking hazards or other dangers for youngsters. It is not likely to be considered cute enough as a toddler toy, however, and is more likely to be enjoyed by an older child who is familiar with the app anyway.
This isn't a toy that I would have chosen personally but it is a fun little gift for kids (or even adults) who are fans of the whole Angry Birds Star Wars theme. I think my son paid around £10 although this can currently be picked up for under £7 from Amazon.