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My two year old son loves 'Raa Raa the Noisy Lion' - a new CBeebies TV programme- so it seemed like a good idea to buy him this 'Roaring Raa Raa' for Christmas. This cute toy costs £29.99 but is currently available from Amazon for £24.49.
Although listed on Dooyoo as a 'soft' toy, this toy is not particularly soft nor cuddly, despite being an impressive likeness of the popular TV lion character. There is a hard internal battery box housed in Raa Raa's tummy, which provides the sound effects when his rather over-sized head is pressed down. The head is also formed from hard plastic, with the thin fabric coating all over the figure doing little to disguise the hard inner workings, making this unsuitable for bedtime. The plastic teeth give Raa Raa a slightly alarming facial expression which scared my son initially and the whole thing is pretty bulky and quite heavy for a toddler toy.
Operating the roaring motion is pretty difficult and certainly beyond the strength and co-ordination of an eighteen month old toddler, which is the lowest recommended age for this toy. Even my five year old son struggles to push the head firmly enough to generate the wobbling motion and the sound effects. He has to use both hands and, even then, will often end up with Raa Raa sliding away from him. This has not been designed to be used and enjoyed independently by young children which is disappointing, particularly as the appeal of the TV show is limited to pre-schoolers so the child is likely to have outgrown the character by the time they are able to operate this.
The sound effects that accompany Raa Raa's endearing wobbling head motion are fairly authentic representations of the noises used by the character in the show, although the range of phrases included is quite limited, making it fairly repetitive and of little educational value. The child (or more accurately, the parent) is encouraged to press harder each time, with Raa Raa boasting 'I can roar louder than that' when his head is not quite fully depressed. Fortunately the sounds are only activated by pushing the head and there is an off button which will allow the shaking motion to continue minus the noises.
In all honesty, my son has shown little interest in this toy once he got over his initial apprehension. It is not cuddly enough to be used as a bedtime toy, too difficult for my son to operate independently and has limited long term appeal once the initial novelty is overcome. To add insult to injury, despite very limited play and gentle treatment, the sound mechanism has now stopped working, even after replacing the two AAA batteries required. This means that I'm not even able to sell it and recoup some of my costs! I would certainly not recommend this toy to other parents due to its poor design, poor quality and limited appeal.