Monday, 10 October 2011

Toyologist Review: 'Poppin Park' Elefun Busy Ball Popper

Whenever I see something that requires D batteries, I begin to get scared. Most toys that need D batteries have some kind of motorised component which lead them to be very, very noisy.

You can imagine my reaction when I saw that Elefun needed four D batteries.

After hyperventilating for a while, I my wife tried to reassure me.  Maybe it wouldn't be too bad. With technology these days there was a good chance someone had developed a quiet motor. I wasn't entirely convinced by her argument, but decided to risk putting the batteries and find out for sure.

Needless to say, I was right.

Much like its butterfly-blowing bigger brother, Elefun has in his innards a large fan which blows balls up in the air. A large, noisy fan, which does a good job of drowning out the music that's also played. The balls emerge from Elefun's nose and then either fall down into his right ear and down into his stomach for collection by Baby, or into his left ear where they're supposed to go back into his head for blowing back into the air again.

(You can also turn the tip of the trunk to get them to fall onto the floor for Baby to run/crawl after to collect. However, they tend to just drop to the ground right by Elefun so little child-movement is required).

A lying promo pic - it is completely impossible for the ball to be blown
this high by Elefun without the assistance of a hurricane.

Elefun is very sturdy. Baby can pull herself into a standing position using the elephant without (too much) fear of it toppling over while she deposits the ball.

The ear-into-head delivery system isn't perfect. You can't just plop the ball onto the ear and watch it disappear into his head and be blown up again a moment later.  Okay, so sometimes this happens, but the delivery angle on the ear doesn't appear to be quite right and more often than not you have to give the balls a push to go inside. Fine for bigger kids, a little difficult for smaller ones.

There's an additional problem in that the ball isn't always blow off the end of the trunk (there's about a 50% success rate). It just sort of sits there on the end, needing just a bit more puff from the fan to make it to freedom. Baby then has to try and grab the ball off the end, without pushing it back down the trunk.

This is amusing to watch as a cruel parent, but a little frustrating for Baby.

I like the toy in principle. From the description on the box & the promotional image, I imagined my daughter scurrying after the balls as they were blown across the room. It doesn't work like that. If it did then it'd be fantastic! (despite the noise). But as it is I was a little disappointed. As for Baby, she definitely likes playing with it. She likes pressing the button and seeing the balls pop up. Would she like it more if the balls were blown further? Almost definitely.

Saying all this, Elefun is currently down to £19.97 at Toys R Us which is pretty darn cheap, despite the flaws.

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

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