Initial Reaction: We received the “caveman” and “knights” carddies. Not knowing a great deal of information about the product it was great to be able to see from the box clearly what it was i.e. a colouring in game that could be played anywhere.
- Handy sized sturdy box – would fit in a bag easily to take with you anywhere
- Good choice of designs – cavemen, knights, princesses, football etc
- Comprises of 12 characters and plastic holders, a scene and 12 pencil crayons that fit neatly in the box.
- Excellent quality think card and coloured pencils
- Designs drawn and made in the UK
- Child can name each of the 12 characters and mount them on their own stand, making it double as a game once the colouring has finished!
- Keeps children amused for ages!
- Can’t think of any!
Overall Reaction: This product was very well received by my 4 year old boy who had chicken pox at the time. He sat for ages colouring in each character and the scene and was very pleased with the final result. This would make an excellent treat to get out on a rainy afternoon, if you were confined indoors for any reason or when out and about at a restaurant etc .
Price: Around £6 for a set of 12
Available from : all good stationary shops, supermarkets and department stores.
Suitable from: 6+
Initial Reaction: They look quite different to your usual felt pens.
- Caps are threaded onto a ring, so hard to lose the cap.
- Specially shaped so that they don’t roll away.
- Grip zone to help children hold the pen properly.
- If the cap is accidentally left off , the pen won’t dry out for 24 hrs
- Nice Colours & a wide variety to choose from.
- Because all the pens are joined together, when you grab hold of one to fetch out of a pencil case it pulls all the other pens in the case with it.
- It’s strange having the “grip” if you’re an adult using the pen.
Overall Reaction: Clever idea and there are lots of nice bright colours.
Crayola Colour Mix-a-roo Game.Price: £9.99
Available from: Amazon, Smyths, Play, Tesco Direct
Suitable from: 4 years upwards
Initial Reaction: Initially I thought that this game involved actual paint. I was thrilled when I received it and discovered it doesn't. My children love games and were interested in this one as it is a unique game about colour.
Pro's: Teaches children about colour mixes, with no mess. Fairly short game so a good one for younger children.
Con's: This game doesn't have any negatives.
Value for money: The game is reasonably priced.
Overall Reaction: I played this game with my eldest son who is 4. He loved it. The basic idea is to mix the colours on the spinning wheel to match the colour on your game card. You dial the colours into the wheel and then the colour they make is revealed beneath a lift up door. My son was fascinated by how this was working, as it does appear 'like magic'. It was a fun game and completely different to anything else on the Market. A hit in this house.
Available from: Orchard Toys
Suitable from: 3-9
Initial Reaction: Having already played other Orchard Toy's games in the past we were excited to try a new one. My children nagged me to play from when the parcel arrived till we played a few hours later.
Pro's: It's a simple game that young and older children can enjoy together.
Con's: I can't find any negatives for this game.
Value for money: I think it's a very reasonably priced game.
Overall Reaction: I played this game with my children and their friend. The rules are simple and everyone understood how to play pretty quickly. Basically its a card game in which you have to match colours or shapes. The first to get rid of all their cards wins. It's quick and fun and can be enjoyed again and again. I'm sure this is a game we will play over and over for years to come.
Chicco Billy Rattle and Chick RattlePrice: £4.99
Available from: www.amazon.co.uk; http://www.trendybaby.co.uk
Suitable from: 3 m+
Initial Reaction: Two lovely looking rattles for my 5 month old son to chew and play with. Two very simple rattles which will be very appealing to a child.
- A funky fun hedgehog rattle
- Helps develop manual co-ordination
- Helps develop visual abilities
- Mirror feature
- Light and Easy to grasp
- Soft plastic parts ideal for teething
- A cool bright yellow chick rattle
- Helps develop manual co-ordination
- Helps develop visual abilities
- Tummy turns producing a rattling noise
- Light & Easy to grasp
- Soft Plastic Parts ideal for teething
- For a rattle it doesn’t really rattle - apart from 2 small coloured balls. This doesn’t bother me as my son uses it as more of a teether then a rattle.
- The handle is too small to hold onto properly
- The rattle is too wide to hold with one hand
My son absolutely loves the Billy Rattle. It is easy for him to hold and he can pretty much chew ever area of it, which is exactly what he needs right now whilst his is teething. He loves the coloured plastic balls on the rattle which reflects on the mirrored surfaces. It keeps him occupied for ages. This rattle is now a permanent feature in my changing bag when we go out and on the activity mat when we are at home.
My son struggles to hold the chick rattle. He only has little hands so likes to be able to hold onto a handle. The chick Rattle has a tiny handle that he can’t hold properly and the rest of the rattle is too wide for him to hold properly. He tries to chew on this when he does manage to hold it but he can’t manage to get to the area that you would chew on. It’s a slight disappointment as it is a lovely looking rattle which is bright coloured and very appealing to a child.
Tiny Tatty Teddy My First Christmas Book and TeddyPrice: £7.99
Available from:High street shops and supermarkets.
Suitable from: Birth
Initial Reaction: Everybody loves a cute and squishy-soft tatty teddy, and this one is the perfect size for some tiny new hands. The accompanying book contains simple phrases and baby will learn that the teddy on the pages is the same as the teddy he or she is cuddling.
Pros: It's a perfect low cost gift for a new or nearly-new baby.
Cons: I think I'd get a bit bored reading random phrases such as 'letter to Santa' and 'fun in the snow'. But then, a newborn doesn’t demand that you read the book a zillion times so you can probably get away with just looking at the pictures.
Value for money? yes
Overall Reaction: If you want a little something for a baby that will be used but doesn’t cost the earth, this could be your man.
Fifty Amazing Magic Tricks set
Available from: Aldi on sale from 20th November while stocks lastSuitable from: Age 8 – adult
Initial Reaction: When I received the Amazing Magic Tricks set to review, I decided to test the product out with someone who I thought it would really appeal to – my father-in-law, Tom. The set is aimed at age 8 to adult, and it would be a good stocking filler for a tricky-to-buy-for adult as well as a child. He tried out the set and we went through the review questions together. Tom thought that the packaging of the box was appealing, that the colours were appropriate and that the overall look of the set aroused his interest. I hadn’t told him where the set was from, and he likened it to the stocking fillers you’d buy in BhS, Marks and Spencer and other high street stores.
The set contains a small but detailed instruction book, a pack of marked cards, other ‘trick’ cards, dice and a range of equipment for the different tricks. Some of the items can be used for more than one trick, and the majority of the tricks in the book are card based (so although there are 50 tricks, you don’t get 50 different items).
Pros: It was easy to get stuck in and start doing tricks straight away. There are several magic tricks that don’t require any slight of hand and are really more like puzzles, so even a child could do them straight away without needing to spend a lot of time practising. Tom felt that this would help lead kids into the more difficult tricks.
The instructions were often illustrated, making them easy to follow. You don’t need any extra equipment – everything you need to do the tricks is provided in the set (apart from a few coins, which I think I can excuse!). The set comes in a good quality tin and packs away neatly: much more appealing than the huge plastic toys my toddlers play with! This also means that it would be ideal for travelling, perhaps to keep a child occupied on a long train journey.
Cons: Tom struggled to think of any cons. I thought it would have been nice for a younger audience if the kit included a wand – not essential for the magic tricks, but it would help to add a bit of performance – especially as the kit is illustrated with magic wands throughout. Perhaps the lack of wand is a nod to modern street ‘magicians’ like David Blaine and Derren Brown?
We also thought that it wouldn't be the ideal present for everyone – for a child who’s very physical, doesn’t have a great concentration span, or gets frustrated easily, the kit might become too challenging to hold their attention. But for the right person, it could be great.
Value for money? Yes. Given current prices, £8 is relatively cheap stocking filler, but nothing in this set looks ‘cheap’ – it’s all good quality.
Overall Reaction: There are quite a few tricks here that can be picked up straight away, so the Amazing Magic Tricks set could be great entertainment for Christmas day. It could even make a more entertaining (and cheaper) alternative to crackers and give some entertainment after Christmas dinner. This probably isn’t the right gift for everyone – with the temptations of games consoles and TV, not every child will be enthusiastic about taking the time to practice and perfect the skills required to perform magic well.
But if the idea of being a magician caught a child’s imagination, this set could be a real winner and start off a long-term hobby
Zoobles ChatteroosPrice: from £9.99
Available from: Amazon, Argos , The Toy Shop, Smyths, Tesco Direct
Suitable from: Age 4
Initial Reaction: As soon as BG saw this she was fascinated. The Chatteroos have different moods, you find their moods by placing them on their tree. They roll into a ball and then you place it on the base and they open up and talk.
- Simple to use, BG is not even 3 yet but she worked it out quite easily
- It’s more robust then you think
- Fun to play with
- Compact in size
- Bright colours
- Even though BG plays with everyday she only plays with it for a few minutes at a time before getting bored. It doesn’t do a huge amount of things
Overall Reaction: It’s a lovely little toy, not too annoying. However there isn’t a lot too it so doesn’t keep her attention for long. You would need more than one for it to be more exciting. Nice little stocking filler.
Bizu Deluxe Pack
Price: rrp £9.99
Suitable from: Age 6
Initial Reaction: Looks like a lot of fun. You make animal bracelets from the beads.
- You can make 4 bracelets or link together to make a necklace
- You can make 32 combinations
- Simple to make
- Lots of fun
- You can do it again and again
- Can be a little hard to connect and unconnect the pieces
- Instructions are not great
Value for money? Good value as you can make the bracelets over and over again
Overall Reaction: Great gift idea for Christmas, I had lots of fun putting the bracelets together. Nice stocking filler
Available from: Cotswold Outdoor
Initial Reaction: Feel super soft and look lovely.
- Made from really soft fleece
- Non-slip dots on the bottom
- Velcro tab at the side to keep them on
- Well made
Overall Reaction: These were perfect for BG we use them as slippers. We have wooden floors so the non-slip dots where ideal for us at home. The fit really well and the Velcro tab secure them so they stay on. BG loves wearing them and they keep her feet nice and warm
Available from: Aventquest
Suitable from: Age 2 – 5 years
Initial Reaction: BG was very excited to see a Dora game. I was interested to see how she got on with a PC game
- Installs in 2 minutes
- Good graphics
- 8 mini games
- Easy to do
- Can install the instructions online, easy to follow
- Has print off's for Children to do
- Includes preschool basics such as reading, colours and counting
- Can save your progress
- Levels are quite long, BG lost interest
- Control is not as smooth as it could be
Overall Reaction: Great preschool game, BG enjoyed playing it but did find the levels a bit long. At almost 3 years old she can get impatient. I like that its fun and educational at the same time.
Available from: www.greenboardgames.com
Suitable from: 8 +
Initial Reaction: Comes in a nice compact box. Looking forward to playing
and beating the other half. Players will have 10 seconds to study a fact packed card before being asked a question from the reverse, chosen by the roll of the die. Answer correctly and the card is yours, if not return it to the box and continue play. The player with the most cards after 10 minutes wins the game!
- Great fun
- Quick game
- Compact box
- Tests your memory
- Cards are nice and bright but clear
Overall Reaction: I got really competitive playing this with my other half. Its lots of fun and I like that it’s a relatively short game you can just one round or a few in the evening. A great family game, I am looking forward to playing with the rest of the family at Christmas.
Available from: Major toy retailers
Initial reaction: Large packet which looked like great value.
- Dual purpose game for extended use – one side is a printed puzzle, the other is blank to colour in
- 4 special crayons are included, and they wipe off so the picture can be coloured again and again
- Large, chunky pieces, just right for around aged 3-4.
- 24 pieces so not overly simple
- Comes in its own carry case
- Although it packs away in a carry case, the made up puzzle is quite large (90 x 60 cm) so required a large amount of floor or table space
Overall reaction: We got lots of play out of this puzzle. The magic crayons really did wipe off easily with a dry cloth. We liked the fact that it was two games in one. The printed puzzle shows a fairground scene, with lots of activity and things to talk about.