Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Review: Gormiti 3D Puzzle

I don't know a lot about Gormiti. I know that the shops used to be full of the stuff and now they're not, but that's about it. Wikipedia, the source of all knowledge, tells me that it's a toy property based primarily around non-articulated 2 inch tall figures with a trading card game aspect (doesn't everything these days?).

My children know even less than I do about the line, it really having died before they became aware of such things. That didn't stop my 4yo from wanting these things while we were in Poundland the other week.

Quite what the attraction was, I'm not sure. He didn't know what was inside the heads before I told him, so it must have been simply the 'head' box design.

It being Poundland, I allowed him to add a couple of these to the basket - not realising until I was at the checkout that I'd also allowed him to add some Hot Wheels cars, several packets of sweets, books, and numerous other things. Things quickly add up in Poundland.

We got them home, he handed one to his 6yo brother and we opened them up. The box contains a number of man parts. No, not those kind of man parts, but a man-monster thing broken up into ten or so pieces. The idea being that you then get to put your action figure together 3D jigsaw-like.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Guest Post: Making Learning Fun

Guest post from Steph Lee Stevenson on behalf of Galt Toys. Steph is a mother, a part time nurse, a social media lover, and loves writing content on child development.

What Do You Do at Home to Make Learning Fun for Your Children?

Many children hate going to school. When they are little, it is the anxiety of being separated from mum and dad. When they get a little older, it is because they have a date with their games console. As a teen, it is simply because they don’t want to do exams, want to hang around doing nothing, and generally make a nuisance of themselves.

Some of this is down to the general content of lessons. Often, children do not understand why they are learning certain things, only understanding that they ‘have to’. Sometimes, the child will not enjoy learning because it has not been introduced to them in an enjoyable way in their early years.

However, if a child has a pleasant introduction to learning, they are more likely to enjoy their education. The way we as parents communicate early learning is key to their future associations with education and how our child will feel about the learning environment.

As a parent, there are a number of things we can do to encourage positive associations with learning:

  • Vary how your child learns – there is a vast range of educational toys and materials out there designed to target a child’s interests at each key stage.
  1. Books featuring your little one’s favourite TV star, teaching them things such as the alphabet or numbers are great for pre-schoolers to get them a head start.

  1. Role playing toys help our children to develop their speech and language while inspiring their creativity.
  2. Musical toys can teach children songs or get them playing instruments, again helping them to get creative.
  1. Building toys encourage a child to recreate something they have seen or to make a new toy. Marble runs and building blocks are great for children who do not as yet have strong fine motor skills, where older children might enjoy building toys that utilise smaller pieces.
  • Don’t be too pushy with learning toys. Incorporate it into daily play slowly to begin with and allow your child to take or leave it and gradually increase the time you spend doing educational activities.
  • Reward achievements like your child’s teacher (or future teacher would). Using stickers on a chart works well. If they recognise a word, build something amazing, or play you a lovely song, stick a shiny gold star on their chart and if they get, say, 5 stars in a week, they can get a toy or some treats at the weekend. Ideally, their new treat or toy could be something discreetly educational, but it is up to you.

Children who find learning a chore may do so for a number of reasons. They may not have spent much time learning with mum or dad at home, or they might not have had good experiences with their achievement. If the activity is not fun at the same time as being educational, your child will probably switch off and begin to associate learning with ‘boring time’, thus making it a chore.

Back to the question, is learning as a child fun or a chore? I think much of the way a child feels about learning is down to what we as parents instil from a young age. With toys, technology and life being what it is today, there is no reason why children should see learning as a chore. If they do, a few small changes could turn their opinion on its head.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Review: Beast Wars Ravage (Jaguar)

Today (as of starting writing this, though probably at least a week ago by the time anyone reads this) in the post I received my final Transformers: Beast Wars figure. Not to imply that I have all the Beast Wars figures released, but it's the final one that appeared in the cartoon (minus a proper toon-accurate Blackarachnia, which despite several attempts, neither Hasbo nor Takara have yet made).

Ravage turned up in the 3 part episode The Agenda. Taking full advantage of Beast Wars now definite sequel-ness to the original 80s Transformers series, Ravage is the exact same character as seen in that show, now rebuilt as a Predacon (aka 'Beast Wars baddie').

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Review: MOTUC Ram Man

There has been one figure, far beyond all others, that has been awaited with baited breath from Masters of the Universe Classics fans. A well-known, popular and high profile figure. One of the core initial releases in the original 80s line, but who was placed on the back-burner for Classics due to his '100% unique sculpt'.

It is, of course, Ram Man.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Review: LEGO TMNT Turtle Lair Attack (79103)

It was a long time coming.

Way back in January Pixel Dan posted a review of the TMNT Lego lair set. As chance would have it, as I hit 'play', my 4yo son appeared. 'I want that,' he declared. 'Um, okay,' I replied, 'but it won't be in the shops for a while yet.' TMNT Lego wasn't due to hit until mid-February, which meant a long few weeks of 'Is it summer yet?' on repeat, for 4yo had somehow got it into his head that it wasn't released until then. Which was fine because once it had been released he would have to wait until the price dropped a bit, Lego being a tad expensive.

Eventually, after threatening to send 4yo to live at Pixel Dan's house so I wouldn't have to listen to him go on and on about it, I found a site which was offering the Lair with £10 off. Deciding this was enough of a discount if it'd quiet my son, I placed an order.

2 weeks later and the Lego still hadn't been dispatched. Despite being available when I ordered, it was now 'out of stock' and showed no sign of being in stock any time soon.

Would the 'is it summer yet?' never end?

With order cancelled, the search began anew. Coincidentally at this time I came across Flubit.com, a website  which claimed to beat the best price for an item you could find online.

Worth a try, right?

By this time Amazon was now offering the Lair with a tenner off the RRP, equaling the price I'd been prepared to pay earlier. Would Flubit be able to beat it? My guess was that they'd come up with an offer a few pence below Amazon.

I typed the URL into the Flubit homepage and waited...

A little over 24 hours later I'd received my offer. Flubit had managed to knock a fiver(!) off the Amazon price. Impressed, I definitely was and will, without a doubt, be using them again in the future.

I paid my pennies (which was the only downside to the whole Flubit experience - the site wouldn't load properly on my Playbook so I had to kick the children off my laptop to pay) and a few days later I had a Turtle Lair Attack to give to 4yo. Now to find out if it had been worth the wait...

While 4yo will happily put smaller Lego sets together, he wanted to play with his Lair now, which meant poor old me had to put the main part together while he sat and did the mini-figures. I wanted to do a little video of building it however 4yo wasn't prepared to wait while I set up the camera.

There isn't a huge amount of pieces with the set. The licensed sets tend to be smaller compared to the completely Lego-owned stuff at the same price point (presumably the license cost is factored in). For the RRP it's a little expensive, however it's a bargain considering what I actually paid.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Review: LEGO Hobbit An Unexpected Gathering (79003)

It's rare that I review Lego. The main reason for this is because that seconds after a model has been constructed the children decide to 'explode' whatever's been carefully made, making pictures a little problematic to take.

As I begin writing this review Bilbo's house, Bag End, is in one piece. It will be a minor miracle if it's in this state by the end. Indeed, even as it was being built many sections had to be rebuilt due to a marauding 2 year old.