Product Type: VTech toys
Newest Review: ... 4 x c batteries It is simple to set the game up, the Elephant body forms the base which contains a fan at the bottom with a grid covering ... more
How to Turn a Hairdryer into a Game
Member Name: noodlesandwich
Advantages: can be fun
Disadvantages: weak motor, short gameplay
The Elefun game seemed to be everywhere in the run-up to Christmas 2010, I noticed it on offer for a fiver in a few supermarkets but had no idea whether it was any good, then my daughter received one from a friend. The price seems to vary wildly depending where and when you buy it, at the time of writing it's priced around the £12 mark on Argos and Amazon websites, and under a tenner from Tesco. It's made by Hasbro, designed for 2-4 players, takes 4 X 1.5v batteries and the age on the box is 3+, with the word pre-school highlighted.
*In the Box
In the box is the base elephant or 'elefun', it's trunk, 4 butterfly nets, 30 'butterflies' and an instruction sheet. The nets need to be assembled which is very simple. The handles are either red, yellow, blue or green. The butterflies lack artistry, they remind me of pasta bows, but are made of paper thin plastic a bit like thin carrier bag plastic but tougher, they're coloured red, green and yellow.
The plastic base looks like a blue elephant with it's head looking up, the bottom half houses a motor, the rest is a holder for the butterflies. I'm sure the inspiration for this game must have come from a hairdryer because the whole thing is hairdryeresque. The trunk detaches, a bit like a hairdryer attachment, one end is hard plastic but most of it is a tube of some kind of thin polythene like material. This is so that it can be blown upwards. In play it looks a bit like a drainpipe.
First you put all the butterflies into the base then attach the trunk and switch it on, you'll probably need to hold the trunk up at the beginning until it gets going, as the motor isn't powerful enough to lift it up. The on/off switch is under the elephant's tail, there's also a safety button on the base which ensures that the motor will not work unless the base is upstanding. The butterflies are blown up the trunk and out of the end, (it's about 4ft high). The idea is that players catch the butterflies as they fall and the person with most butterflies in their net at the end of the game is the winner.
It's not as easy as it sounds to catch the butterflies as they tend to fall to the ground quickly, rather than flutter down, the motor doesn't lift them very far out of the trunk. My 4 year old gets around this by scrabbling to pick them up off the floor rather than bothering to try and catch them as they come out. Butterflies often get trapped inside the base and it needs to be given a light shake to free them. The motor is quite feeble, there's the odd flurry of butterflies then a wait for others to struggle up the tube one or two at a time and find their way out. Usually a couple get stuck in the bottom and won't be dislodged so get left there. A game usually takes no more than five minutes, (despite the box saying it takes 15mins).
The pictures on the box are a huge exaggeration of the games capacity, showing butterflies being chased and jumped for, when in reality they just pootle out of the top and slide down the side of the trunk to the floor.
The first time my daughter played this she absolutely loved it, although her parents were less impressed. The motor seemed to change tempo after a few minutes from okay to really quite weak, I assumed it would eat up the battery power, but I don't think we've actually changed the batteries, not that it's been played with a great deal, but maybe it doesn't eat up energy as much as you would think.
I think it's best when played with solely by children. Adults need to adapt the game to be able to play fairly, either on their knees or restricting the nets to child height. My daughter has played this other 3-4 year olds and they get very excited and giggly. It is actually quite fun to play, despite it's shortcomings. It's also over very quickly and needs to be set-up again, usually by an adult. At four, my daughter can almost set this up on her own, but needs help to fully straighten out the trunk.
I don't really think this is worth the money. It has spent most of the past year in it's box under my daughter's bed. To be fair she has asked to play with it a few times and I may have persuaded her to do something else instead, as I don't think much of it. It looks good, and it's a good enough idea but not that well executed. My daughter and her friends who have played it do get very excited when it works, but it usually involves much faffing about - straightening it up, rescuing trapped butterflies etc and it's over very quickly. The motor is feeble, (it would take a long time to dry my hair), but even if it wasn't it would use up too much battery power. I wouldn't recommend it, but I can't say it's all that bad either, because I'm pretty sure my four year old would say otherwise.
Summary: can be fun but may seem like more faff than it's worth
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