* Prices may differ from that shown
I struggle what to buy my 18 month old niece, it's enough to make you PAWS for thought. She literally has everything - tea-sets, jumparoos, walkers, even a set of knee-high leather boots. I decided after some thought you can't really go wrong with a soft toy - I loved them when I was younger. I had dozens, all set out on my bed just so, and I hardly had any room for myself - so I decided to mould my niece in my graven image.
I originally considered getting her a posh toy that might start a collection when she was a bit older - like those Steiff bears that are always on Flog It or Antiques Roadshow. However... it seems a bit mean to give a child a present and then tell them they can't play with it (kind of like being told you can earn money but you have to pay tax on it) so I opted for a Keel bear instead.
I hadn't heard of the Keel Toy Company before, however they are all over ebay and Amazon marketplace listings so I suspected they were a prominent foreign company. After a bit of research, I discovered Keel are actually a UK company, and their website statement proclaims that their toys are both designed and manufactured in GB.
There are many, many toys in the Keel range - the distributor website I browsed divided soft toys into wild animals and pets, a pretty broad swathe either way. As she has a real life dog to terrorise at home I decided to go on the wild side, and opted for a polar bear cub. This is purely my bias - polar bears are adorable, if deadly, and love cola; they remind me of myself.
The polar bear is comes in heights of 20, 25 and 30 centimeters, all three sizes have the bear in a sitting position, a bit like he's listening to someone telling a story (or watching TV). I opted to get the 25 cm one purely on price - when I bought him he was £7.99 from worldofbears.com, while the 30 cm one is £12.99, and the 20cm version was sold out. I have just perused Amazon and ebay, which list the same bear at a considerably higher price, so it is worth shopping around.
The dooyoo picture above makes the bear seem very jaundiced. In fact the thing is pure white, startlingly so, like Nicole Kidman. He comes in a big, BEARy nice looking box that unfortunately was systematically dismantled and disposed of right away.
The worldofbears website states: "This delightful, cuddly soft toy bear is made from a wonderfully soft, dense cream plush that has a sheen to it, and which your fingers just melt into." Indeed, I can confirm this bear is extremely soft and his fur almost glistens. He has stitch detailing on the paws, a black felt nose and black shiny eyes rimmed with brown. The lower half of the polar bear is filled with beans (like a microwavable animal toy) that you can hear moving around slightly and give a "squidgy" feel.
I am pleased with how the bear looks and feels - he's perfect for a toddler, with no hard parts or edges to hurl themselves against or hit themselves in the head with (any mum can vouch for me that this is what they immediately do when given a new toy).
He came with tags but they were easily removed with a pair of scissors. The worldofbears website strongly suggests removing these before giving them to a child - but that's just common sense really.
My niece likes to throw him around, roll around with him on the floor, bite on his ears, bury her face in his fur, and carry him around (dropping him several times on the way) but so far he has kept up with her. The toy gets dirty sometimes - naturally - but it wipes clean with a dishcloth. The website says nothing about washing him, so I'd suggest steering clear of throwing him in the washing machine.
According to the manufacturer's website this toy was made in-line with European safety standards, which is very comforting to know. It also suggests not giving this to a child under 1 years old, but I would go so far to say it could be suitable for a younger child - I would never leave my niece alone with a toy anyway, but it's probably to keep an eye on your child with the toy just in case the worst happens and the seams come undone and his beans spill out, or your child bites out his eye or something equally unBEARable.
I think I chose the right size, as the toy isn't too large for her to carry around or to store away afterwards. It also isn't too small and doesn't get lost among her other toys, as I suspect the 20 cm version would be. My niece doesn't sleep at our house, but if she did, I wouldn't necessarily consider putting it in her crib because it is awkward to hold outside the sitting position, as it lacks flexibility (the top and bottom legs are sewn together in pairs to give it an upright position).
This was polar bear cub was a good buy: durable, attractive, at a decent price, and most importantly, very cuddly. I would consider buying from the Keel brand again, and this toy comes with my recommendation, for what it's worth. Thanks for reading; I hope this review wasn't too hard to BEAR.
Quality soft toy from Keel Toys Height 20cm Surface washable Conforms to EU safety standard EN71 Not suitable for children under 36 months