Monday, 1 November 2010

Toyologist Review – 3 boxes of toys + a toddler group = lots of happy children

One of the best things about being a Toyologist for Toys R Us is not getting all the new toys for BG (don’t get me wrong its nice), its being able to give toys to other people. When I told them I want to donate toys to the toddler group we go to as the toys are getting tired they sent me 3 huge boxes to take.

The toddler group runs on and Wednesday and Friday, me and BG go on a Wednesday so we took them along with us. It took over an hour to unpack all the toys and put they all together, there was 4 of us!!

You should have seen the look on the children’s and the parents face when the saw all the new toys it was priceless. The kids got stuck in and had a great session and the mums loved testing the toys getting ideas for Christmas and Birthdays.

I took some pictures, some parents didn’t want their children’s pictures taken which is understandable, but here are some of them...

There were some firm favourites and also some that didn’t go down well.

As the group runs two days a week, the group leader got feedback from the days I wasn’t there, she also took a few home so they could get a good testing from her boys.

Karen the toddler group leader hasn’t written some of the reviews for me (yay!)

This is what we tested....

Playskool Push N Stack Critter, Suitable from 9 months, £14.99
By Karen

Summary: Plastic push along toy with removable chunky cogs.

BB loves it – simple but ingenious.  Lovely, chunky and brightly coloured.  Can see it would be great to get the attention of a little one who is just sitting up with the wobbly eyes and spinning cogs as it’s pushed along, but still entertained 17mo with hand/eye co-ordination taking it apart and putting it together again

Would I buy it?  Definitely for a baby under 12 months as can see they would get a lot of use out of it.

How much would I pay?  Up to £15.00

Leapfrog Leaptop, Suitable from 2 years, £19.97
By Karen  

Summary: Laptop designed for pre-school children based around the Scout Leap Frog character.

Another hit for BB.  Even though under the 2 year age recommendation, he loved the music facility, listening to the pre-programmed rhythms and adding in different notes and drums.  He also enjoyed the animal sounds.

As a parent, I can see the learning potential of the Leaptop, with numbers and the alphabet further down the parenting road.  Unlike other children’s laptops that my older boys have received, it is aimed at younger children and can certainly see BB being able to get full use out of it in the very near future.  It’s also great that it ties in with the Scout character which BB recognised from his favourite cuddly toy.

Would I buy it?  Definitely, probably for this Christmas as BB did get use out of even though younger than the recommended age.

How much would I pay?  Up to £30.00

The kids at the group really like this toy and they all had a go.

Ben 10 Alien Swarm Action Cycle, Suitable from 4 years, £12.97
By Karen

Summary: Ben 10 character with push along motorbike and water squirting feature, tested with my 7yo.

Easy to get out of the packaging – a major bonus with an impatient child tugging at your sleeve!

7yo loved the water squirting out of the exhaust (I enjoyed testing it out on him before he knew what it did ;-)!)  Quite a powerful squirt!

He loved playing with it and certainly encourages imaginative play.  The ability to personalise the motorbike with the glow in the dark stickers was an added bonus.

From a picky parent’s point of view, the character was difficult to get to sit on the motorbike and I don’t know how practical a toy which squirts water is in the autumn / winter as it’s not designed to be a bath toy.  Also, functionality is limited – I was surprised it didn’t have a friction motor.

Would I buy it? No – mainly due to impracticality of use indoors

How much do I think its worth?  Up to £13.00 (mainly because it’s a branded, character toy)

Tonka Chuck's Garage Deluxe Stunt Playset, Suitable from 3 years, £39.99
By Karen

Summary:  Motorised “Chuck” character truck, a track and bridge stunt track with lights and sounds, plus story book.

Tested with 7yo and 9yo

Difficult to find a screwdriver to remove the battery cover on the truck due to the depth of the screws which need to be removed (maybe a tool with the set would be an idea?)
Both the boys absolutely loved this set!  It encouraged imaginative play and kept them amused for hours.  Both were amazed with the truck’s acrobatics, the free placement of the track pieces allowed more stunt possibilities, and the bonus story book made the character come to life for them.  Unlike some of the boys’ other “car” toys (Hot Wheels in particular), the track pieces are chunky and so less likely to be lost.

As dad and mum, we love it too!

Would I buy it?  Absolutely – I was concerned when I first saw it that the play potential would be quite limited, but having tried it out, I was completely mistaken!  Going to be looking out for other characters/sets

How much do I think its worth? Up to £35.00

This is a big hit at toddler group as well; both the boys and girls love it.

Tomy Aquadoodle – Animal Magic Sounds, Suitable 18months+, £26.99
By Karen

Summary: Floor drawing mat with a refillable “unique” water pen which activates farm animal sounds

Tested with 17mo and 7yo

The Aquadoodle has got to be one of the best developments in children’s art play!

The freedom of stretching out on the floor and drawing big pictures is something that I think all children love, and from a parent’s point of view, the lack of paint and other messy art products makes the Aquadraw an essential for every household with children!
The 17mo loved the animal sounds and the farm theme.

Would I buy it?  Difficult question – my 17mo loves animals, but also loves trains, and so Santa is bringing the Thomas the Tank Engine Aquadraw as I feel it has even more functionality.

How much do I think its worth? Up to £25.00

This is a popular toy at the toddler group there is always someone using it , and the parents think it’s great at there is no mess.

Playskool – Explore ‘N Grow, Step Start Walk ‘n Ride, Suitable from 9 Months+, £29.99
By Karen

Summary: Push along toy to aide first steps, which converts into a ride on toy.

Tested at Playgroup

Lovely toy to help balancing before walking unaided. Brightly coloured and attractive design, plus easy to convert into a ride on toy.

Although relatively few pieces to assemble, the wheels were difficult to snap on and the “Dial” would have been easier to fit before the handle.

Would I buy it?  The plastic is slightly more light weight than I would choose in a toy to help balance and so would probably not buy it, although the idea of 2 toys in 1, therefore a longer lifespan, is attractive.

How much do I think its worth? No more than £20.00

Moon Dough – Big Barn, Age 3+, £14.89
By Karen

Summary: Moulding Dough with a Barn design moulding system

Tested at Playgroup


How on earth did this product ever get into the shops?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?

Horrible, horrible, horrible!

I was so excited to try Moon Dough as I had always wanted to get my boys Moon Sand but never got round to it.  The concept of turning a handle and a barn producing different parts for a farm was something that I felt was really different.  It’s a lovely and colourful set but the main idea of it lets it down – the Moon Dough!  Horrible, crumbly stuff that completely covered the table and floor by the end of the play session.  Unless each animal mould was stuffed really firmly at the top, the out coming animal was nothing but a crumbly, 
unrecognisable blob, plus the amount of Dough that was lost inside the Barn was about twice the amount that came out the bottom.  And, to top it off, there were no pots included to store the open Moon Dough.

Would I buy it? No way!  Certainly a product I would warn other parents about – stick to genuine Play Doh!

How much do I think its worth? I would have to be paid to have this in my house!

None of the parents liked it and the children were disappointed when the animals didn’t come out properly.

 Animal Planet 9 inch – Wide Eye Dinosaur, Suitable from 3 years, £19.97
 By Karen

Summary: Soft T-Rex style animated dinosaur with light-up eyes and sounds.

Maybe I’m a cynical mum, but I don’t think I get the idea of this one at all, and neither did any of the boys.

It does what it says, and the initial movement is pretty lifelike, but I can’t see any educational element, and the scoop for imaginative play is limited.

Both my elder boys quite like dinosaurs, but this didn’t seem to grasp them, as it didn’t the children at playgroup.

Would I buy it?  No – unless the child is completely obsessed with dinosaurs

How much do I think its worth? About £15 to £20

Chou Chou Learn To Walk Doll, Suitable from 3 Years, £39.99
By Karen

Summary: Baby doll which crawls, throws a tantrum and walks when you hold its hands

Tested at Playgroup

As a mum of 3 boys, maybe I’m not up to scratch with dolls, but although the idea of this doll was very exciting, it didn’t really live up to expectations.

The box was extremely impressive.  I certainly believed it came with a set of drawers and other accessories, so I’m not sure how the packaging looks if ordered off the internet, but after closer inspection, these were all made of cardboard and part of the box.  The packaging was pretty extensive, much more than was necessary, and the doll was not easy to get to.
The doll itself was also a bit disappointing.  The children found positioning the doll to get it to crawl very difficult without parental help.  They were quite fascinated helping it to walk, but the crying when it was sat was quite annoying – I think we all have enough of temper tantrums with our own children, without adding another one.  The only benefit to this would be as a mirror of a child’s own behaviour, so they could see how annoying it is!  I also found the motors within the doll to be quite noisy

Would I buy it?  No – I still hold very to dear to me my own baby doll – maybe quite basic but prettier and much more like a real baby!  I also bought one of my sons a baby doll when he was younger which was very cheap, but he still has it now!

How much do I think its worth? About £25 - £35, although at these prices I would expect the motor to be quieter.

Fisher- Price Trio, Crazy Creature Set, £9.97 and Building Set With Storage, £24.97, suitable from 3 years.
By Karen

Summary: Plastic building block set with interlinking pieces

Tested at Playgroup and with 7yo and 9yo.

Good toy for imaginative play.  Pieces nice and chunky and relatively easy to join together.  The storage box is excellent, especially with the building base lid, and there were enough pieces to make a number of projects out of the instruction book.  Unfortunately, getting the pieces back off again isn’t so easy!

Kept the boys happy for quite a while!

Would I buy it?  No, I feel I would rather buy Duplo or Mega Bloks which do similar things, unless Trio is a lot cheaper than them!

How much do I think its worth? £35.00

The children at the toddler group really like this, but I think the parents like it better! It’s a set for the older children; it is far too fiddly for the younger hence why it’s suitable from 3 years.  We put the two sets together at the toddler group; the Crazy Creatures set is a nice starter set and makes a nice addiction to an existing set.

Animagic Newborn Hoppers – Patch, Suitable from 3 years, £16.97

This is a very cute guinea pig that you care for. It comes with a bottle and lettuce leaf so your child can feed and give it a drink. It makes drinking, eating noises and tinkling noise and moves. I personally think these are really lovely but the children didn’t seem that bothered about, they had a stroke then found something more interesting the play with. The parents like it more than the kids!

Baby Annabel Tween, Suitable from 3 years, £17.97

Baby Annabel has grown into a tween! The girls no matter what aged really liked this doll and there is often a rush to be the first to grab her (or any doll to be honest). She doesn’t do anything, you can take her accessories so you can dress her how you want and that’s all. The girls didn’t seem that bothered about that and like playing with her.

Convertible Fireman Sam, Suitable from 3 years, £9.97

Fireman Sam has become a transformer, he turns into a fire engine. I thought this would be a popular toy with the boys but they didn’t give it a second look, it was a bit of a flop. I think it would be ideal for a Fireman Sam fan.

We Did It Dancing Dora Doll, Suitable from 3 years, £34.99

I could think of nothing worse than a singing and dancing Dora Doll, but the kids and parents loved it. You press the flower on her shoe and she sings and dances the We Did It Dance. There are 4 modes of interactive play, Teach Me - learn dance moves, We Did It - Dora sings and dances, Say It Two Ways - bilingual dance game and Freeze Dance - play freeze dance with Dora. The Dora Doll also comes with a brush and the kids loved brushing her hair. A surprise hit.

Fur Real Snuggimals,  Puppy, Suitable from 4 years, £7.97

A cute little puppy that moves its head and wags it tail when you stroke it. The children liked stroking the puppy buy got bored with it quickly and it was soon discarded.

Play-Doh Mega Fun Factory, Suitable from 3 years, £24.99

This has to be without a doubt the most popular toy that they received. I think it has been out every session since it arrived and the kids really enjoy playing with it. It’s been a big hit with parents as well, they think it’s really good value for money and so do I.  Load your Play-Doh in one end and turn on the conveyor belt. As the dough moves along, stamp out pretend food or toys using the two gear moulds. Keep the conveyor running and you can stamp out loads of fun creations. It comes with Over 15 Fun Moulds, Playmat and 4 x Three-Ounce pots of Play-Doh.

Pop Goes Froggio Game, Suitable from 3 years, £14.97

This is really fun game to play, especially the pumping bit! You spin the spinner and then you have to pump the lily pad to make the frog jump and land on the match the picture the spinner landed on. To be honest the kids were exciting about make the frog jump then where it landed but it kept them amused.

The big hits were the Play Doh Fun Factory, The Leapfrog Leaptop, Annabel Tween , We Did It Dora, The Tonka set and the Aquadoodle.

Thumbs down to the Moon Dough, the Dinosaur and the Ben 10 Alien Swarm Action Cycle.
Thank you Toys R Us for donating all the toys and a big thanks to Phillips for donating batteries for the toys.



  1. Great post!

    If I can add my 2 cents worth - my son is nearly 4 and he absolutely LOVES the trio building toys. He was given a set for his 3rd birthday and they've been a firm favourite for nearly a year now. (And it was a lifesaver on a 23 hour flight!)

  2. Great that they are getting full use at your toddler group. I'm going to donate a load of our stuff that doesn't get used to my sister and my old toddler group.

  3. Gosh what an awful lot of toys in this review.....completely awesome though!!! Some fab toys in there too!!! xx

  4. trio sounds pretty great. i reckon my son would love them too. i have just bought him and my daughter really cute wheely bugs, eco friendly wooden toys, ride alongs one each, of course a mouse and lady bird. they are not noisy or bulky like some ride alongs.


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