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I would say that Great Britain is one of the best countries in the world for making music and writing songs, would you agree?

We have been at the forefront of excellent song writers and musicians for over 50 years, think of what The Beatles and The Rolling Stones – still going just as strong today – started back in the 60’s. Some of my favourites include David Bowie, Oasis, Coldplay and more recently Emeli Sande.

So wouldn’t it be wonderful to encourage our own little ones to play a musical instrument, or learn to sing like a star?

HAPE guitar red

The introduction of music in a child’s playtime has been well documented as being an excellent educational boost reaching out to all other areas too like reading, writing and even mathematics. It is known that music enhances a child’s learning and Marbel are all about wooden toys and education.

As announced earlier this week Marbel and Mari’s World are teaming up to allow you the opportunity of winning one of four toys in the run up to Christmas and today is the first prize a wooden guitar for kids.

Made with quality linden wood and finished in durable, water-based paints the HAPE guitar is available in red and blue. This lovely scaled down guitar has 4 tuneable strings so you can get the sound just right and encourages kids to pick it up and rock!

Suggested for children 3+ the RRP is £24.99

Do you know someone who’d be delighted to receive this as a gift this Christmas? Enter the Rafflecopter below and a winner will be chosen at random and announced next week here, on Mari’s World Facebook page and on Twitter.

I will use the email address you submit to comment below (not visible to the public) to contact the winner, if there is no response I will select another entrant at random.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pintoy hospital john craneThe last toy to bring to your attention just in time for Christmas is the Pintoy General Hospital from the John Crane collection.

It comes half flat packed in a box with just the second, smaller building which needs constructing and takes 5 minutes maximum.

Painted in vibrant, bright colours with a moving lift operated by a turn handle this toy gives the perfect setting for all sorts of emergencies.

Accessories include a reception, rehabilitation bars, an operating theater, beds with covers and pillows, portable tables, drips, toys for the children’s ward and a ramp.

The toy itself doesn’t come with any staff so it might be a good idea to remember this as once the box is open children will want to get hands on with doctors and patients, we used our families from the Marlborough Doll’s house.

We also had a huge fire last week and had to call in the fire engine to help us evacuate the hospital. The girls had their first fire drill at school a few weeks ago so we’ve been able to act out all sorts of emergencies.

pintoy hospital - john crane

A brilliant toy for any child who has a family member in hospital as it helps them understand what is happening. Also a great toy for schools and preschools as the children learn about the emergency services.

Fabulous for role play and expanding conversation, also learning about different jobs in our society. It also will come in very handy when we have our next dentist appointment on the 3rd January as it will allow me to explain what is going to happen and therefore avoid any fear.

Have a look on the John Crane website for your nearest retailer

wooden toy fire engine - Pintoy - John CraneOne of John Crane’s most popular toys is their fire engine and I have been sent one to review for Mari’s World.

I can say straight off I love it and it has been made to the usual very high standards that John Crane demands. No rough edges and very interactive, this fire engine will have children amused for hours. There is a ladder that swivels round and extends to reach high buildings, there is an attachment either side to fix your water hose onto and the steering wheel can be fixed on either side, quite ingenious and opens the toy up to international play!

The roof of the cabin is removable and the fire fighters (sold separately but a must for proper play) can sit inside as they whizz off to their next incident.

The fire fighters are dressed in uniform with hard hats and come with accessories too, an oxygen tank for entering smoke filled rooms, two walky-talky radios, a megaphone and two axes plus a portable fire extinguisher amplifying the game enormously.

I am keeping this toy aside for Evan my grandson as although he is not one yet I know this is the kind of toy that will look gorgeous in his bedroom until such a time as he can enjoy playing with it.

The toy is indicated from 3 years up but there’s nothing to stop a younger child playing with it under supervision (small removable parts) It’s sturdy and easy to push along, I am sure the colour alone would attract most children’s attention. There are a couple of excellent customer reviews on the John Crane website already.

wooden fire engine - Pintoy - John Crane

A quick search has confirmed that prices are from £30 upwards for the Fire Engine and around £18 for the group of 4 Fire Fighters with accessories.

An investment piece that thanks to the excellent standard of design can be passed down to future generations too.

Bananas in Pyjamas

Bananas in Pyjamas - Talking BananasBananas in Pyjamas have proven to be a roaring success with children as they appeal to the ‘making mistakes’ crew where it’s seen that all turns out well in the end.  The soft and cuddly B1 and B2 talking soft toy. Squeeze the characters’ tummy to hear one of five fun phrases. One supplied. Suitable for children aged 10 months and over’ Evan, my grandson bagged this one and didn’t let it go all the way back to Italy RRP £9.99

Star rating 5/5 – I love BiP and all they stand for :D

HABA Bobbing Bunny

HABA Bobbing Bunny and Quaking Frog

Cute HABA Bobbing Bunny and Quaking Frog made from beech wood and painted in bright colours, they wobble on their circular bottoms and rattle when picked up. A perfect example of the Slow Toys Movement getting back to basics and encouraging children to play with toys that require imagination rather than batteries to function, and these fun animals are a great example. RRP 12.99

star rating : 5/5 – Hats off for toys fueling imagination

The Trash Pack

Street sweeper

The Trash Pack launched in December 2011 and already over 3 million individual Trashies have been collected. Boys are eagerly awaiting the release of Series 3, which will be available before Christmas, and includes loads more gross characters to discover.
Kids can have loads of fun taking out the trash with the Garbage Truck. Use the Tip ‘n Flip action or Wheelie Bin Launcher to catapult the Trashies into the truck and clean up Trash Town! Each Garbage Truck includes two exclusive Trashies. SRP £19.99

Rating 3/5

Scatter Brainz


Perfect stocking filler for age 5+, Scatter Brainz are darts with seriously sticky heads and are collectables, apparently they stick to anything which is bound to delight some little people out there RRP from £4.99 – £14.99

Star rating 3/5

Dinosaur – Jurassic Classic collection Schleich

dinosaur scheich

Every dinosaur fan out there will be happy to get one of these guys in their Christmas stocking, with the news Jurassic Park is being released in 3D, Scheich have created the perfect dinosaur collection with amazing detail almost too good to play with and excellent qualtiy  RRP £6.50

Star rating 5/5

Go Mini range

crewzers group shotHere’s a great new range from Golden Bear Toys ideal for age 3 + with varied prices from £4.99 – £14.99 there are five super cool styles each with their own name. Then there are 6 Go Mini stunt racers which can be raced in Race or stunt mode, plus there’s a fab Stunt Launcher to add to your collection should you wish. Or choose from the top of the range Freestylers. These cars will keep the boys amused with their sound boxes and cool design.

Star rating 4/5


gelarti - hello kitty

A great toy to keep the girls occupied, Gelarti by Flair is a cool craft kit where children can create colourful and reusable gel stickers. Using the gel to create their own designs the stickers can then be used to decorate walls, bags, windows, notebooks and cards too. Also available in Hello Kitty and Moshi Monster kits RRP £9.99

Star rating 5/5

Deluxe Charm

Deluxe Charm

Another great idea for girls is the Deluxe Charm Bracelets encouraging children to get creative and create their own jewellery only this time it looks like the real one mummy is wearing. A kit providing all the necessities to make your own quality accessory RRP £19.99

Star rating 5/5

Ben 10 – Kevin’s Car

Ben 10 Kevin's CarCharacter Building have a fabulous Ben 10 range of building blocks available and this here is Kevin’s car, one of the eight collectable construction micro figures. Kevin’s car contains 216 bricks and is advised age 5+ and above RRP £9.99

Star rating 5/5

Green Rocket

Green rocket

Interestingly made from trash and powered by green energy, this blasting rocket is made by recycling two drink bottles and a few old magazine pages. Stamp on the empty bottle and watch your rocket fly up to 25 metres. Learn all about the underlying physics involved too which makes this an excellent science project as well as gift. Great Gizmos have a range of products on the market including a weather station and glove doll making kits which will keep children Age 8+ amused and teach them science at the same time. Green Rocket RRP £9.99

Star rating 5/5

Giant Hornet by Technokit

Rivits hornetBoys who love to build will love the Technokit Rivetz collection where they quickly learn how to snap and fix the pre-cut decorated card together and create giant sculptures. Choose from a dragon, a giant hornet or a racing car. Each kit contains glossy card, the Rivetz gun and the rivetz to hold the sculpture together. The Rivetz gun can also be used to remove the Rivetz. Once created the model can be displayed or taken apart to construct all over again RRP 12.99

Star rating 5/5

Doctor Who Clerical Wars App and QLA device

Dr Who clerical wars app game and QLA device

If you are looking to really impress a 9+ this Christmas then this could be the gift you’re looking for. Introducing the ultimate Doctor Who gaming experience, download the free Clerical Games App available from the app store) and get ready to lock and load as the launch of the Doctor Who QLA (Quantum Lokk Accelerator) Anti Time Devise is upon us. The Clerical Wars App and QLA device is an immersive, Augmented Reality first person mobile application for iPhone and Android phones. The immersive controls use a pan and tilt function, to defeat an enemy aim the QLA and fire until a vortex opens up and pulls it in. This device enables players to fight battle enemies Daleks, Cybermen and Angles in your own room. RRP £19.99

Star rating 5/5

Ravensburger 3D puzzles

Big ben - ravensburger 3D puzzleThe Ravensburger new 3D collection of puzzles takes jigsaw concept to a completely new level. Using new technology with interlocking pieces puzzlers can build landmarks. Big Ben is a 216 piece puzzle (bound to keep someone quiet for a while) and the proudly finished piece can be displayed for all to see and remark on. Other buildings in the range are the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building and a red and white lighthouse RRP £14.99

Star rating 5/5

Nativity wooden toy setI’ve been working with John Crane now for over a year and know just how good their toys are. I’ve met some members of staff and know how much they all care about their products. A lot of time and thought goes into making sure their products are of top quality and desirable for the age groups they are aimed at. With Christmas approaching fast it seemed the perfect excuse to give a list of all the toys we’ve reviewed so far in the hope they will sort out your Christmas lists.

Remember for the full catalogue to visit their website John Crane Toys, Like their Facebook page to be in the know of all the giveaways they hold and follow them on Twitter for the latest news.

My favourite John Crane toys

Toy kitchen john craneToy kitchen

Toy dolls houseToy doll’s house

Nativity set

Balance Bike

Meowsic keyboard playMeowsic keyboard

Sevi villageSevi toy village

For smaller children

John Crane rainbow cubesWooden stacking cubes

animags wild animalsAnimags wild animals

Sevi breakfast tray wooden toySevi breakfast tray

Sevi Hamburger TraySevi hamburger tray

Learning toys

wooden recorders

John Crane high tea shape sorterHigh tea shape sorter

John Crane Wooden AbacusWooden abacus

memory game john craneMemory game

Happy Birds game john craneHappy birds game

John Crane Teddy FlipperTeddy letter and number flipper

sorting and teaching clockSorting and teaching clock

safari floor dominoes - john crane toysSafari floor dominoes

Skipping ropes

Role play toys

oldfield farm and tractorFarm set – Oldfield Farm

Tractor and trailer

Dolls high chair and bunk beds

children’s baking kit and cookware

Dolls pushchair

Bedroom ideas

sevi lettersSevi wooden letters

Wooden toy boxes for storage solutions

Mini pull along cart