Thursday, 4 August 2011

Toyologist Review: Club Penguin Air Hockey

£39.99 from Toys R Us.

Pingu. Mumble. The guys from Madagascar. Mr Flibble - Everyone loves a penguin, which is probably why the creators of the Club named it after them.

Unless, by some remote chance, Club Penguin was actually originally set up as a safe place online for Penguins, which later expanded to include humans.

The marketing tactic appears to have worked, as shown by this conversation with my 4 year old son:
"It's really good!"
"What is?"
"The thing in the box!"
"What is the thing in the box?"
"I don't know. But it's got penguins on it!!!" 
The 'thing' in question is an air hockey playset, adorned with Club Penguin characters. Three of which come in the box.

The red & blue ones are used for knocking the 'puck' about, while the referee...well, he just stands on the sidelines and watches the carnage ensue. A bit like in real ice hockey.

The box is very keen to advertise the fact that you can buy other Mix 'N' Match figures to use with the set. You can sit these on the stand to watch (boring) or attach them to one of the supplied stands and use them instead of the supplied penguins in the game (much more interesting).

The stadium is about 50cm long and 30cm wide, and the puck is moved about by fans blowing air through the holes that litter the rink. This works well and the air strength is fairly even across the whole rink. It uses 2 'C' batteries, which is slightly annoying as we never have any of those in the house.

Complaints, for what they're worth, are that the fan noise gets a bit annoying after a while (no idea what could be done about that, other than not having any fans. But then the game gets a bit more boring when the puck doesn't move). In addition, there's a chance there'll be some gouging of the rink with the penguins as children play.

There's a soft bit that slides smoothly across the surface, but the plastic rim is very close in level to this. Unless the penguins are held perfectly flat, the rim is going to start scratching the rink. It's okay if you're an adult (and have likely learnt to be careful with things that cost 40 quid) but children, even when they're being really careful, generally aren't.

Also, you only appear to get one puck. Since children are very good at losing small (and essential) objects like this, it'd have been nice to get a spare one.

Unless there was a spare one and we've lost a piece already.

It was hard to get an opinion from the children that wasn't biased by the presence of penguins, but both 2 and 4 year olds managed to play for ages, with only a little of the violence erupting that one normally associates with ice hockey ('Stop cheating!' 'I'm not cheating!' 'I want the red one!' 'No, it's mine!' etc etc)

Maybe they should issue protective gear with the set like in real hockey...

Other Toyology reviews can by found in the Toys R Us Toy Box on Facebook.

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