* Prices may differ from that shown
***Background*** Bob the Builder needs no introduction to anyone these days, between the television series, featuring the voice of Neil Morrisey and all the videos and DVDs that have been on the go for years, not to mention books to accompany the series. There are quite a few new characters in the latest versions of the show and Tumbler is one of them. Whilst Bob has Dizzy was the small cementing jobs, he needs a bigger machine to help him at times and that's where this large cement mixer comes in. Now I'm no expert on watching Bob although it is often on Cbeebies in the background, as my son loves it and rarely misses an episode, but as far as I can remember, Dizzy wasn't too happy to see this newcomer at first. Not to worry though, as they soon become friends. ***The Toy*** Tumbler is a yellow cement mixer with green stripes on the bit that rotates. It is made from sturdy plastic and has a fixed smile and eyes. This is unlike some of the other earlier toys in the series that have googly eyes that move around. Being a friction toy, this one, like the others, just needs to be given push to get it to go rolling along various surfaces. More about that later with my friction test. This one has 6 wheels and the front 2 are the friction ones that are attached to a separate cab that pivots with a clicking noise so that this character can turn left or right. No cement mixer would be complete without a chute at the back of it and this one doesn't disappoint. It also comes with 14 small grey balls that can be put into the top of the mixer and left in there to turn and mix around until needed later on. To get them out all you have to do is turn the mixer section anti-clockwise and they will come flying down the chute. As this vehicle is being pushed along the mixer turns clockwise as it goes forward but it does go into anti-clockwise mode when it's reversed so the balls can come out at the wrong time. This mechanism is worked by the 4 back wheels on Tumbler. To stop this happening there is a lever at the front end and when this is pushed down the mixer stops turning when moving. Clever or what? ***The Friction Test*** I've written about a couple of other Bob toys in the past and done 2 separate friction tests using laminate in my kitchen/dining room and carpet in the living room. I decided to keep using this to get a fair idea of how well this vehicle moves via the friction method. First it was the turn on the laminate surface and I have to say I was a little bit disappointed by this one, as it was a lot slower than some of the other toys I've tested. Saying that it is a lot bigger at about 10 inches long. It only went around 10 feet on this smooth surface. The carpet was quite difficult to judge because with the cab section being pivoted, it tends to move as you give it a good push and it kept going off to the left or right instead of in a straight line. I figure it still went around 10 feet though, despite finishing off by bumping gently into the sofa. ***My Thoughts*** My son didn't really ask for a lot at Christmas time this year (thank goodness), but this along with a couple of other Bob toys was on his list to Santa. Luckily Santa thought he had been good enough, even though we weren't as sure. I do actually really like this brand of toy. A lot of the merchandising for television characters is very expensive and not really up to much, but these toys actually get a child's imagination working. My son loves to make all the different vehicles talk to one another and thinks up projects for them to do. He also got some Lego for Christmas this year and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before the blocks get used to construct some sort of building with Bob and his friends helping out. At five years old, my son has been adding to his collection of Bob toys for quite some time now and I have a feeling that they will get quite a few more years use yet. They are big enough to be used by slightly older children and not feel like a baby toy. The one thing I would warn about is the small balls that go in the mixer. Obviously they are a choking hazard so be careful if you have smaller children at home, as they can be easily left unnoticed on the floor and it would be easy for a younger child to pick one up and think it was something to eat. There is also the warning that these are quite small and when they come out of the mixer they tend to fly out so I've encouraged my son to put a container under it as he is emptying it out so they don't scoot under chairs or tables when he is playing with it. This is a great addition to the characters though and I'm sure it will keep my son playing for many happy hours with the added bonus that no batteries are required. Who says that flashy lights and noisy toys are all kids want these days? ***Other Friction Bob Toys*** Scoop Lofty Benny Sumsy Scrambler Travis Roley Trix Muck Zoomer Skip Packer Dodger Flex If you're looking and thinking that good old Dizzy isn't here, it's because he is a pull back toy and doesn't have a friction version despite some toy stores advertising that he is. ***Price & Availability*** Santa sent this toy so I've had to have a look around the shops to see what the best deal is at the moment. It seems to vary a little bit in price depending where you look but the cheapest I've been able to find it is actually from Tesco in store where you will pay £8.97 for it.