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My little nephew is 14 months old and recently he has obviously outgrown a lot of the toys that used to keep him entertained, with them being replaced with something more suited to his increased need for mental and physical stimulation.
One toy that has remained in the toy box since he was only about six months old however, is a bright yellow-coloured plastic bus, and it is still a firm favourite with the little guy, resulting in him plucking it from the toy box on an almost daily basis, even after months of use. The toy bus is called the "Wow Toys Sidney School Bus" and we bought it for my nephew from a car boot sale for only £1. It seemed to be an almost new toy, with hardly any damage to it, and apart from the absense of the little plastic driver of the Sidney School Bus, all the pieces were intact.
The yellow bus is actually two types of toy rolled into one, and I think this adds to its appeal. The first element of the toy, and the only part of it that my nephew could use properly for the first few months after he got it, is that the bus is a 'friction powered' type of toy vehicle. This means of course that the wheels on the bus can be pulled backwards or forwards along the floor (or carpet as the case may be, which does work, although not as well as a hard floor surface) and when the bus is released, it will scoot across the floor in front of you.
The second 'element' of the bus is the detail along the top of the bus, which has three assorted 'cut out' shapes across it, such as a circular shape and a triangular shape. The bus comes with about half a dozen little plastic shaped pieces, which can be popped through the spaces on top of the bus by the little one. Thus, the bus has a dual purpose and is also a shape-sorter toy.
The shape-sorter element to the toy was not at all suitable for my nephew when he was given the bus as he was only about six months old. Naturally, due to being so young, he could not properly comprehend a toy where shape-sorting techniques were required. Another point to note though, is that the actual 'pieces' which were required to be slotted through the spaces on top of the bus were rather small, well, when compared to similar pieces from similar shape-sorter toys available to buy anyway. We felt that they could present a choking hazard as the little guy was inserting just about anything he could get his hands onto into his mouth, due to teething and soreness in his teeth and gums. To be fair though, according to the two websites where I have seen the toy for sale, it is being aimed at children who are aged 12 months plus, so it is fair to assume that my nephew got given the toy a bit prematurely.
That said, I personally cannot see any reason whatsoever that the other parts to the toy aren't suitable for a child who is younger than this age. The actual bus itself has no loose parts or anything sharp or hazardous, although this is obviously only my opinion. As I've already hinted at, the bus has become a firm favourite of my nephew, particularly after the introduction of the song 'The Wheels on The Bus' at his playgroup!
I must admit that the popularity of the toy bus is unfortunately not shared by my sister. She has become tired of the rather loud 'wailing' noise that the bus wheels make when it is being pulled or dragged backwards across the floor, which my nephew is fond of doing several times, before finally letting it go. It is indeed unfortunate that it seems to be that the more the bus is pulled backwards, the more enthusiastic the noisy bus gets, with the sound effects reaching a rather deafening screeching noise which usually results in all nearby adults reaching for the headache tablets. It is most definitely not a toy that is recommended for a peaceful Sunday morning scenario!
The detailing on the little yellow bus is really very attractive. The front of the bus is Sidney's head of course, and he has very cute facial features. Also, the two sides of the bus have little square stickers on, which are supposed to be the bus windows. Each of these details a picture of a passenger on the bus, and they are all very cute and attractive little schoolkids. The wheels on the bus itself are of course circular in shape and are very sturdy (probably just as well, with all the pulling and dragging across the floor that the bus has to endure!) and in the centre of each wheel is a coloured shape, such as a triangle or square. This detail of course ties in with the toy being of the shape-sorting genre and the shapes and colours used in the wheel detail is very similar to that used in the 'sorter' pieces or shapes.
The second-favourite feature in my nephew's eyes however, has to be the 'boot' of the bus. This is basically a little door at the rear of the bus which can be opened and shut easily - even by little hands and fingers, due to it's sturdy design. The point of this of course is to empty the main 'body' of the bus which would normally contain the shaped pieces after they had been inserted through the spaces on the roof of the bus. My nephew, however, is quite happy to insert small cars and other little objects into the main body of the bus by using this little 'trap door' design.
There would appear to be nothing about the bus that puts my nephew off from playing with it, and I can certainly think of no negatives, although I suppose this is easy for me to say when I do not need to listen on an almost daily basis to the loud screeching, wailing noise that the wheels make! I am not going to be deducting any marks or points for the noise though, as it is a key feature of the toy.
The toy's full name is the WOW Toys Sidney School Bus Friction-Powered Shape Sorter Bus, and it can be purchased from www.amazon.co.uk, where prices are around £10 - £12. It is worth shopping around on websites such as eBay however, as I have seen the toy bus for sale on there for only a few pounds.
I can only award the School Bus Shape Sorter full Dooyoo marks, for its durability and of course it's popularity! I think my nephew will continue to play with the bus until he is a bit older, and I also think the toy would make a lovely gift... The little bus is educational and great fun!
As my son approached his second birthday he became completely obsessed with buses, so I began to look around for a decent-sized toy bus to give to him as a present. At the time I thought I'd looked everywhere, without success - I could only find small model buses - but clearly I hadn't as my brother managed to come up trumps with this great little toy.
It is for ages 12 months and up, but my two-year-old loves it. It is a great example of a toy that will provide a new stage of play as your child grows.
The bus is yellow and is about 22cm long by 11cm high, so it's quite chunky. There are pictures of children on the side which are supposed to be passengers. On the top are three cut outs with coloured edging which are a red square, a green circle and a blue triangle, which correspond to six shape pieces - two of each - which are white with a coloured panel on each end. These shapes also appear on the wheels. The back of the bus flips down so that you can get the pieces out, and the windscreen flips up so that you can get the driver in and out. The front has eyes on it to make it look like a face. Six months on, we still have all the shaped pieces but the driver appears to have gone on strike; there's a Duplo figure in there now - I have no idea where he came from but he fits in OK, which is handy.
For a one-year-old, the bus would be mainly used as a shape sorter. There is a button which releases the back of the bus so that the shapes can be retrieved, but the flap also has a lip on it so that less nimble fingers can just pull it open. It's quite a simple sorter as it only has three shapes, but it would make a good 'first shape sorter' toy for just this reason. My son did play with the shape sorter to begin with, but he got bored with it quite quickly, so I've put the shapes away so that they don't get lost before the baby is old enough to play with it.
Once your child is a little older, the bus can be used as a vehicle toy. It is friction powered, so when you push it along, it winds up the mechanism and the bus will then move under its own power. Unusually (in my experience) for a friction powered toy, this one works backwards as well as forwards. The further you push it, the further it will go on its own: I just did a rough-and-ready road test, and it went 60cm after being pushed 50cm, but a whopping two metres after being pushed one metre. I think that's pretty impressive. There is nothing inside the bus, so my son also likes jamming it full of cars, which seems to amuse him at least. No so much the poor mug who has to unjam them all (that'll be me, then).
There is only one downside to this toy: it is really loud. The sound is supposed to mimic an engine noise, but actually it just sounds like a very loud friction powered toy. The noise is best described as 'nnneeeeeeooooowwwww' (spell check: no suggestions) in the manner of Hugo Weaving in The Matrix (Mmissterrr Anndderrsssonn).
Irritating sound effect aside, this has been a big hit and gets an outing every day. It is clearly very hard-wearing as it is showing hardly any signs of use at all; the windscreen is a little scratched and the picture stickers on one side are a bit scuffed, but otherwise there's not a mark on it.
It is £10.99 from Amazon with free delivery, so it would make a perfect present. Given that it's very well made and has been played with a lot - and I'm in quite a generous mood - I'll only knock one star off for the noise problem. Four stars, then, well deserved.