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Honestly, as often as I tell people "don't buy him any more cars!" another gets added to my sons collection, it's my mothers fault, she takes delight in giving him all the things that mummy wont and on this occasion I didn't really mind. You see Christopher hates having his hair cut, he gets hysterical, crying screaming, hyper-ventilating.......it's awful to watch. We try and keep his hair trimmed and tidy but it's not always easy and when the time came for him to have a proper cut ready to start school in September I knew we could have trouble on our hands, to my delight though he handled it really well, starting off upset but then becoming "a brave boy" and sitting nicely while we shaved and trimmed his hair. Because he'd been so good my mum treated him to a talking Tin Top car from the "Roary the racing car" series.
Tin Top is one of the older cars in the series, an American stock car he enjoys nothing more then crashing on the track during practice for a race. Like the other characters his features are made up from parts of his chassis and he talks, just like all racing cars should. He's painted in traditional American colours of red, white and blue with a star pattern running along his body and his number 88 features on both sides as well as on his roof.
The talking Tin Top toy is much larger then the Roary push along cars and is approximately 18cm long, you can't really use him alongside the smaller cars unless you're playing "Giant Tin Tops attacks Silver hatch!" he features a small button just under his front windscreen, on the bonnet, which when pressed makes him say one of his famous phrases including "here comes Tin Top" among 4 others and a series of different car noises. His voice comes from a speaker in the underside of his body and is very clear, it's taken from the show so there's no worry of having a different voice then the little ones are used to, it is also quite loud and with no volume control you may find yourself confiscating the toy when you're in need of a little peace and quiet. The phrases come in a random which I think is better then being a set pattern as it doesn't become to repetitive.
One of the problems I've found with the Roary toys is that the plastic they are made of is quite thin, it's not quite as bad with Tin Top, I presume as he's larger they've used a slightly thicker material but it's still not the strongest or most durable of plastics and I would recommend encouraging gentle play with they toy in order to avoid any cracks or breakages. All his body is moulded from on piece of plastic, except of course the wheels, so there is no risk of loosing small parts like with the push a long Maxi. Unfortunately there's not much more to do with it then push it along and make it talk though as none of the doors open and there are few other features to the car.
Despite its basic design Christopher loves the car, he tends to play with it separately from his other cars as it's just too large to blend in with them, he's clever enough to realise that other talking Roary cars would match nicely though and keeps reminding me to ask Santa for one. While Christopher would happily play with the car for hours I don't think it's quite challenging enough for him, yes it encourages imaginative play and is also great for younger children to develop sound recognition skills and hand eye co-ordination but Christopher is a little too old to benefit from those aspects. There is only so long a grown up can listen to the phrases and unless you happen to be a die hard 30 year old Roary fan you'll find yourself restricting your child's use of the toy or at least banning them from pressing the button over and over again.
The batteries are fixed in a screw down compartment and can be replaced easily, however they seem to last a long time and you get a lot of use from the voice, granted it's November and we bought the toy at the end of August but Christopher is a typical 4 year old and has pushed the button so often the phrases are ingrained onto my brain, the batteries are still going strong and the voice is as clear as ever, with no fading or slowing down. Of course when the batteries do eventually go you don't have to replace them as the car still works perfectly as a basic toy car without the voice.
While I wouldn't say this is a car designed for very young children I find that it would be a good toy for a year old child to use, the lack of small parts means it is safe for them and it is chunky enough for them to be able to push around without a struggle, young hands aren't as co-ordinated as they would need to be for smaller cars but Tin Top is a great size for a youngster to manage, the bright colours and friendly face will be very attractive and stimulating for them and they will learn the joy of the reward when they manage to press the button and out comes a phrase or sound, their desire to hear the sounds again will encourage them to work out how to press the button again and you never know may even encourage their speech as they attempt to copy the sounds.
Tin Top cost us £9.99 from Woolworths but is also available in Toys R Us and on Amazon, other talking cars include Roary, Drifter, Maxi, Plugger and CeeCee, a talking Big Chris is also available. I wouldn't go as far as to say the toy is worth the money, yes it is large, it talks and is from a popular T.V show but you are restricted as to what you can do with it and it's entertainment value is limited. I see talking Tin Top much like the Tellytubby toys and Buzz Lightyears from all those years ago, a must have toy of the day that actually has limited play ability and is likely to be forgotten about as soon as the next big thing comes along, my son however enjoys playing with it and I suppose that is what really counts.
Tape me up, hammer me in and send me out! Tin Top is a Stock car saloon, blue with red and white, featuring the number 88! His favourite thing is when Biog Chris fixes his bodywork! Push Tin Top along and imagine him speediong around the race track drifting around corners! Roary the Racing Car push along vehicles are a wonderful way to encourage roleplay.