Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Toyologist Review: Step 2 WaterWheel Play Table

By Step 2. £34.99 from Toys R Us (online & instore).

My next door neighbour is of the opinion that children only require 2 things to make them really happy: water and a cardboard box. He's in his 80s and has seen plenty of children and grandchildren grown up, so he ought to know.

He's also a bit handy with tree-pruning equipment.  But that's not something I want to go into right now. Needless to say, when he tells you something you pay attention.

Moving swiftly on, the great thing about this WaterWheel table is that you get both water and a giant box! The box contains the following bits - 

Note absence of Kevin Costner figure in box.

Construction time is about a minute, possibly two minutes if you stopped to read the instructions first. I didn't, so had to squeeze the wheel in its little yellow stand after I'd clipped the two halves together. It was a little fiddly, but I stand by my claim that my way is faster.

Testing it out we have Spider-Man (aged 2) and Mr Bump (aged 4). The age on the box is '1+', but its perfectly suitable for any child that can stand upright, up to an age where they no longer enjoy getting soaking wet (though they may have to kneel at the table beyond 5 or 6 years). The table is very sturdy and a small (i.e. just about walking 1 year old) child would easily be able to support himself by gripping onto the side.

I wanted to try sitting a baby in it, but was informed by my wife that I definitely would not be. I don't understand her sometimes.

To save some garden space, I originally planned to sneak this round to the boy next door, but my boys found the box before I could put my plan into action and there's no way they're letting it go now.

They LOVE it.

Making it completely different to the critical opinion of Waterworld.

The main feature is the waterwheel (you can tell it's important because it's spelt WaterWheel on the packaging).  I had  The children had lots of fun filling up the blue container at the top of the tower, the water flowing down and setting the wheel spinning, then filling up the upper tank of water until it overflowed and sent the boats sliding down to the bottom level.

I did have to explain to Spider-Man that there was a hole in the bottom of the blue container as he wondered why the water kept vanishing when he filled it up. He was slightly sad when he found out it wasn't a magic blue container.

The waterwheel. Not to be confused with Costner's urine-recycling contraption from Waterworld.

The wheel splashes a little as the water flows down onto it, and it doesn't take long for small boys to discover that if they give the wheel a little assistance spinning round with their hand, they can send water flying everywhere

You too can create what Costner did but for a tiny fraction of the cost!

Mr Bump decides the supplied cup is only a tool for filling a much larger one...

You may think that a WaterWheel play table would be a sunny day toy. You may also assume it would be a daytime clothes activity. I thought this too. My boys had a different idea.

I was commanded to stand there in the pouring rain, holding umbrellas as best I could over the boys as they played, declaring that they couldn't possibly go to bed because they were 'busy'.

There are a few drawbacks to the play table. First is the lack of a lid. Despite only have had the table for a couple of weeks it's becoming a little grubby due to the weather attacking it at every opportunity (it is 'summer' after all). The spout on the yellow cup is awful. It's so badly shaped the designers might as well have not bothered including it on the cup at all - the pouring effect would have been exactly the same. Finally, there's no plug to the table to let the water out, so you have to tip it up to empty it out.

Also, as already mentioned, there's no Kevin Costner figure included :'(

Finally we come to the all-important opinion of a baby (on the playtable, not Waterworld. It'd be cruel to sit her through Waterworld considering she can't crawl and would have to sit there though the entire thing).

Thank you, Baby!

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