Toys

Toys we play with including reviews

Lego Friends photo booth

I am really enjoying the girls at the moment as we move into the Year 3 life and they grow a little further away from being ‘my babies’. One of the new things in their life is music, pop music and learning the words to go with the songs, singing along in the car, watching X Factor on a Saturday night and generally discovering a whole new world.

This new found form of expression has lent to many a rendition of Let It Go! in the garden with lots of acting too, much to the delight of our neighbours. We’ll often be driving along and a song will come on the radio as the girls start to guess who it’s by

1 twin: ‘Taylor Perry!’

Another twin: ‘NO!! Katy Perry.’

Me: ‘Actually girls it’s Taylor Swift.’

They have taken up Performing Arts too which means they get to sing in a group and learn more about using their voices. In fact there is a lot of practising of singing and dancing in the house right now, we have a Tapathon coming up in November, a ballet exam in December and Presentation Night for the singing in December too. I’ve noted they also incorporate all this new found love into role play via their LEGO Friends set.

Heartlake Grand Hotel

A while back we were sent the LEGO Friends limousine and  singer sets. The girls really enjoyed making them together and when they are up in their bedroom I hear them making stories up with their LEGO friends girls and spending hours up there, playing quite happily together.

At the weekend we visited Legoland in Windsor again, it was a glorious day and the rest of the UK turned up too, it was packed. The girls spent ages in Castaway Camp which is the amazing adventure playground, they had a go at Driving School (currently their favourite ride) We went on a Laser raid ride and Mia’s riding school in Heartlake City before heading off to a very special LEGO Friends party in the Legoland hotel.

private jet lego

There was lots of singing and dancing with prizes to be won (fabulous LEGO Friends Popstar sets.) There were glitter tattoos, nail varnish and colourful hair pieces to be fitted in your hair. BUT the best bit was the karaoke booth where the girls went in and performed Let It Go (of course). We had a DVD handed over to us and they love watching themselves, you should hear the giggles!

My favourite booth of the day was the photo booth where the three of us went in and had a photo taken with silly wigs and sunglasses on. A lovely memory of a fantastic day, thank you LEGO Friends Popstars.

Disclosure: We were invited to the Lego Friends party and given tickets to Legoland so we could tell you all about the Lego Friends Popstar sets.

When the twilight moon is in the sky, the Zelfs appear in a secret garden called Zardenia where they share their special powers.

zelf toys

There are 19 to collect and we’ve been sent two for this review, aren’t they cute? The girls were delighted to open the boxes and find the Zelf’s. It’s the perfect kind of small toy for 7 year olds who like collecting small things and like brushing hair and making hairstyles.

The beauty is that each one is different and has it’s own character and story.

I’ve seen the girls play make up stories with them and play for hours as the Zelfs go about their tale.

I have a feeling that this is the kind of collection that can make it through all of childhood, you know the one you look fondly back on and can’t bear to throw out or give away as it’s just too cute? I bet you’ve got something stashed in the loft from back in the day too right?

And so it looks like we shall be starting a collection of Zelfs, do you think you will be?

Take a look at the character profiles below and see if you don’t smile.

Koolah – Koala Zelf

Zelf bio: This Zelf’s a real bed head! Leaf it up to her and she’ll choose to snooze every time. Goodbye stress, it’s time to rest! She’s the Zelf from Down Under who loves a sleep over.

Fabitat: Gum Leaf Garden sling

Zelf power: Nap time. A little rest can be a big releaf!

Birthday: Hug an Australian Day – April 26th

Sneak-A-Boo – Monster Zelf

Zelf bio: This Lil’ Zelf used to scare herself! But now She’s daring to do some real scaring! She makes her friends shake like a quake. And when she teams up with Elfa, watch out! It’s Double Trouble!

Fabitat: The Scary Hairy Boo-tique

Zelf Power: Daring. Go on, get scary! Dare’z ya!

Birthday: Fright Day the 13th

Disclosure: We were sent the two Zelfs you see for the purpose of this review

Dino Tales app review

Dino Tales app has completely taken me by surprise as I wasn’t expecting my twin girls to like it but since we downloaded it they haven’t stopped playing this game.

“Mum! she won’t let me have a go.”

I have had to intervene on plenty of occasions to call time out on one twin’s turn as we only have the 1 iPad and we’re constantly improving our sharing skills. The twins have been engrossed in this app for long periods of time, until I called them off in fact. I should set a playing time but as we share the game I’m not sure how to work out times for both of them.

My little princesses have never shown any interest in dinosaurs, they know about them and have read a couple of books when they came home from school for reading practise but their interest starts to wane pretty immediately with most Dinosaur related games.

Dino Tales is downloadable from the Apple App store for £2.99 and it is a learning game where kids explore a dinosaur island. As they explore they learn amazing facts and turn their own adventures into a storybook. It works on iPhone, iPad and iTouch.

Who is Dino Tales for?

Dino Tales is for children aged 4 – 10. It has a Parent’s Corner which is a pin secure area where adults can set the reading age, length of play sessions and receive emails of their child’s latest tale.

What’s it about?

dino tales app review

The game has been created with education specialists and has been tested with pupils and teachers across 25 primary schools in the UK. Children can customise and control a baby dinosaur and they go on to explore a 3D island full of dinosaurs, plants and fossils. There are 6 characters to try out and lots of games including lava slides, rock bowling and a scary cave.

The twins love the lava slides! I think this has been their favourite part of the island, that and the river.

How to play

First of all you must name your baby Cerasinops and give it a gender then you enter into the land of Dino Tales by turning the pages of a picture book. The island has rivers, lakes, mountains and caves to explore and more imaginative areas like Musical Boneyard and Boulder Alley. You are free to go wherever you like you can take a ride on the River Rapids or visit Scary Cave.

I struggled to move the dinosaur but the twins cottoned on immediately and have swept the island over and over in search of fossils and other treasures.

On your explorations you will discover and hatch 5 other dinosaurs and you can choose which one to play with from the main menu.

Every time you play a new story begins, on entering you find a story title and an activity prompt, Darwin also joins in the start by suggesting a game to start the story.

The Story Book

dino tales app review

This is an excellent way to encourage a child’s reading, writing, listening and speaking skills.

What I particularly liked about the Story book is it encourages children to be creative with language by providing various alternatives for the verbs, adjectives and adverbs as you go along. They are highlighted in orange and easily scrolled through to choose your own word by tapping on it. It’s a fabulous way of increasing a child’s vocabulary for example, ‘Timmy T-Rex was feeling tired and tried to eat the wrong kind of food!” Tapping tired shows alternatives to choose from: confused, drowsy, sluggish or greedy.

Darwin

Darwin is a wise and very knowledgeable dinosaur who guides the game , stimulates curiosity and answers all of their questions about dinosaurs, fossils and other prehistoric topics.

There’s a fun counter kind of game where you choose a word at a time to make up your question to ask Darwin.

We asked Darwin, ‘How fast can you run?’ and he replied that running wasn’t one of his best skills.’

Verdict: I am pleasantly surprised Dino Tales has been an enormous hit with the girls and after a couple of weeks it is still going strong.

I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network, a unique community of parent bloggers from around the UK who have been handpicked by the Netmums team to review products and brands on their behalf. I may have been paid expenses, and have been supplied with a product sample for this review, but retain all editorial control. All my Netmums Reviews will display the Netmums logo within the post.

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kidizoom action cam

Over half term Vtech invited us to the White Grounds Skate park as they wanted the girls to try out the Kidizoom Action Cam. We were very excited as there were to be displays and lessons in scooting, BMX and Skateboards too.

Vtech Kidizoom Action Cam

The Vtech Kidizoom Action Cam, also known as the Fun Cam, is a very neat gadget. It’s pocket size and can be hand held. You can take both photos and videos with it via buttons on the top of the camera. Other settings allow you to playback the footage or see the photos you have taken and watch/see them on the screen on the back of the Action Cam, where you can delete or add stickers and other fun features.

Kidizoom White Grounds Skate park

The Action Cam comes with a waterproof case so it can be used in the swimming pool and the sea and it also has a sturdy mount so it can be attached to bikes, skateboards, scooters and more.

Excitingly on our way home the girls were playing with the controls on the back of the camera to take a look at the footage they had made at the Skatepark and they found a games button with three different games, Super Boarder, Mountain Bike and Crazy Captain. These kept them busy all the way home as they drummed up points and mastered the new games.

kidizoom

I can see this becoming the travel accessory of the summer 2015, with kids having great fun trying new skills on their bikes or scooters and taking videos of their stunts. It’s a means of learning how to improve and mastering the art of video at the same time.

All the images and footage can be downloaded on to a computer and kept for future reference.

White Grounds Skate Park – London Bridge

We were invited along by Vtech to a very cool skate park minutes from London Bridge Station and under the arches of the train tracks above. With graffited walls and special slides, arches and steps put in for stunts we watched some members perform tricks and stunts to get the kids into the spirit. Then each child could choose to use a skateboard, a scooter or a BMX bike.

kidizoom Alice BMX

Surprisingly, for me, Alice went for the BMX and after an hour of riding around she has mastered standing up and riding gently up a slope. I think she has potential and would like to give her the opportunity to discover more as I could see she was really enjoying it. Her Kidizoom Action Cam is attached to the centre of the handlebars taking in all her stunts and cycling.

kidizoom action can bessie scooter

Bessie went with the scooter, the difference being from the scooters we have at home that this was a stunt scooter meaning the board you stand on could turn 360 degrees on itself. She too managed to scoot slopes and in and out of the kids successfully. See Bessie’s Kidizoom Action Cam mounted on the handlebars in this image.

Disclosure: We were invited to the event in London and the girls were given a Kidizoom Action Cam to take home. All words and opinions and images are my own and may not be copied without my permission.

littlest pet shop

It’s been a while now that one of the twins latest crazes is pets, dogs to be precise, they would, ‘…really, really, please mummy, please daddy, like a real pup,’ and we are taking that into serious consideration but whilst we are thinking Hasbro’s Littlest Pet Shop will do just perfectly.

littlest pet shop

The range includes the individual animals and also a host of shops and rooms to go with them to enhance the play even further.

We were sent three rooms and two boxes of pets to play with and I have to say I’m very impressed.

Packaging

There is quite a bit, the animals and pieces of the rooms come in a cardboard box and then held in plastic to stop the bits moving around.

Construction

There are instructions which are simple to follow and the construction of each room takes about 20 minutes to complete. There is a base which the two ends slot into with a click. The back of the room, which is card, slides into the back and the sides are constructed with coloured plastic see through panels that slide into place. The panels have lots of pin holes in them which are used later for decorating. Another piece clicks into place on the top and has a door in it which opens up. All three rooms of varying sizes were constructed in the same way.

Decoration

Then there are lots of stickers and tiny little pieces called Deco Bits including love hearts, flowers and cute things to decorate your room with. There are no instructions for this as it is intended for players to do as they please and personalise their shops and rooms.

Littlest Pet Shop Blythes Bedroom Style Set

littlest pet shop

The first one we opened was Blythes bedroom set. It was the biggest of the three boxes and includes a figurine of Blythe and her pet Penny Ling. It has a balcony on the front and comes with a bed, table, chair and other room accessories. Blythes bedroom is one of the largest rooms. It is priced anywhere between £20 – 30 right now

Littlest Pet Shop Spa Style Set

This is where the pets can be washed dried and pampered, there is a sink with a shower attachment, a bath, a stool and plenty of hair accessories to play with. Zoe Trent pet comes with this set. Costs around £14 – 15

littlest pet shop

Littlest pet shop Playroom Style pet

This is where the pets come to play, the set includes a slide a tunnel and an exercise ball. Hamilton Rumble and Chomper McConnell are the pets included with this set. Costs around £14 – 15

Play value

The beauty of these rooms is that they can all be placed alongside each other or stacked in any formation and played as a larger ‘hotel’ which is how the twins played.

They liked that the Deco Bits could be used as earrings on the pets too.

I felt the toy was a little fragile and had to come to the rescue a couple of times to reclip walls into place after they had got a bit heavy handed. I also found all the Deco bits to be a bit of a nightmare as they are tiny and there is no place to keep them all. I kept finding them all over the floor.

littlest pet shop

The twins however were thrilled and played all evening with their new toy. I have now found a place for it on the sideboard in their bedroom where it is at perfect playing height for them and I am able to group all the bits in one place ready for play next time.

Disclosure: This review has been written in collaboration with TOTS100 and Hasbro and I have been compensated for my time. All opinions are my own.