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Su (England)
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Scalextric 1:32 Scale GT Lightning Slot Car (Purple)
Scalextric 1:32 Scale GT Lightning Slot Car (Purple)
Price: 19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars excellent racing car, 30 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a nice 00 gauge purple and black Scalextric car.

In the box you get the car, sticker sheet (so you can “decorate” your car with competition number 21 and a variety of sponsor stickers). You also get 2 track connectors.

The car runs smoothly and competes nicely with the others on the track.

Overall an excellent addition to the Scalextric family Team.


My First Crayola Doodle Magic Mat
My First Crayola Doodle Magic Mat
Price: 19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars good idea, 30 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The “Doodle Mat” is currently being used to design the little ones perfect house … er, mansion … er, palace. I wonder if I should remind her that you need a corridor so that you can get from room to room, oh and that you need some doors to get in the rooms and maybe a couple of windows in the rooms might be nice – she’ll probably work it out for herself, I did when I was little.

The box contains the mat which can be placed on the floor or hung on the wall (or in our case it is on an easel with a backboard) – we don’t want to encourage drawing on the walls. It contains a small towelling type cloth and a little sponge stick which you fill with water and 2 drops of washing up liquid to clean the mat when it needs it.

Finally there are 4 doodle mat pens – yellow, green, orange and purple. These pens don’t write on paper (they leave oily lines) and they are not as bright as the pictures would suggest. You can only use these pens on the mat because they can be erased other pens and crayons will not be so easy to get rid of.

Of course limiting the pens that can be used is a canny move as it means that you have to buy extra magic mat pens and they are quite expensive.

It is a question as to whether it would be cheaper to buy the paper and ordinary pens/crayons or to use a mat that can be recycled and just buy the pens separately when needed. Of course if the little darlings produce a child masterpiece there is no way that you can keep it unless you photograph it and it isn’t the same.

Of course what I have thought is that when the little one is bored of this (or gets too old for this) then I could use it as a teaching aid.

Overall a nice idea which may last longer than most.


Rapesco Stapler, Heavy Duty Stapler Zero-02
Rapesco Stapler, Heavy Duty Stapler Zero-02
Price: 16.10

5.0 out of 5 stars a good stapler with 15 year guarantee, 28 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As a teacher, because of all the handouts that I have to produce (forced by OFSTED under Gove to produce extensive handouts which must be both hole punched and stapled for each student for each class taught) I burn through a lot of staplers and hole punches.

The shortest handout produced for my classes would be about 15 pages in length so this stapler should be able to slam though those pages with ease as it can take from "2 to 20 sheets".

I was pleased to see that all the parts are metal as one of the biggest problems has been when companies have cut corners in manufacturing by adding little plastic connectors which are prone to snapping.

The stapler comes with a 15 year guarantee and is described as heavy duty so I might well be taking them up on this guarantee should it not stand up to the small handout size.

My initial problem with it is remembering that the staple is dispensed at approximately halfway down the handle rather than near the tip, but this is my problem.

The stapler is quite smooth to use and refilling is easy too.

Overall a good stapler to use and I hold out a degree of hope that it will not fail too quickly.


Disney Planes Fire and Rescue Blastin Dusty Toy
Disney Planes Fire and Rescue Blastin Dusty Toy
Price: 49.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Dusty the hero rescue plane, 28 Aug 2014
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Dusty the aeroplane is a stunner.

Dusty is part of the Fire and Rescue team and the water landing and take-off plane is always a great help putting out any fire. He fires 6 blue balls of water at the 3 raging fires in order to put them out.

This is a magnificent plane (the only possible issue is the slightly wobbly wing joints).

He has a face which depicts great concentration as he takes aim against the encroaching flames.

Dusty was an immediate hit with the entire family and though the ball firing at the flame targets stopped quite quickly the plane has been flying through the air (with child added sound effects) for most of the day.

Even after the initial delight wears off and he is less played with Dusty will look great on the shelf in the children's bedroom.

This is an absolutely lovely little plane, except that he isn't that little. He is quite a large plane, a real handful to play with.

Great fun has been had with Dusty since his arrival and I believe that his playability is greater than most.


Crayola Marker Maker
Crayola Marker Maker
Price: 17.19

4.0 out of 5 stars good item but may not get much repeat usage, 28 Aug 2014
= Durability:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Crayola Marker Maker (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am quite pleased with this marker maker with a couple of caveats.

The main problem is the longevity of the kit.

You receive enough equipment to make 16 coloured markers, and you can buy more inks and pen parts but they do work out to be incredibly expensive - much more expensive than multiple packs of markers.

The caddy has been well thought out - everything fits in, but it can be a tight fit. If you buy extras (pen parts or ink) then you are going to have to find a safe place to keep them until they can be fitted into the caddy.

Rather than letting the little ones "play" with the inks and pen maker I decided that (mainly to keep the mess to a minimum) I would use the kit as a science lesson - to teach them about colours and to impart some gentle warnings about chemical mixtures.

I like the way that they have thought about being able to put the measuring tubes on the mixing plate and with the slightest twist locking them into place so they are difficult to knock over.

I would have liked them to include a dropper/pipette as controlling the output from the squeezy ink bottles was a problem for me and the little ones (I have problems with my grip and the bottles were too think for the little ones to squeeze with any control) and possibly a jug/spout as we found pouring the small amount of liquid into the pen tube a little difficult.

When you use this kit I would recommend using it on a large plastic sheet as it can get a little messy.

As a short term item it might be all right but you can get markers and drawing paper or colouring books much cheaper and in the longer term they will probably get more use than this machine.


Oral-B Trizone 2000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Oral-B Trizone 2000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Price: 44.00

4.0 out of 5 stars basic braun TZ2000 model, 27 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I usually use Philips electric toothbrushes but I decided to have a change and though I am not sorry I tried this I am still a little disappointed.

This is one of the most basic model of toothbrush that Braun make - it comes with charging base (and the usual 2-pin plug), the brush handle and a single brush head.

Apparently "it removes up to 100% more plaque than a regular manual toothbrush". I'm still trying to work this one out as to me it sounds like advertising double-speak to me.

It has a pressure sensor in case you are pressing too hard when brushing - this Tri-Zone 2000 version has a light on the handle that also warns you of the pressure you are applying.

This brush would be perfect for holidays, days away for work or personal reasons and stays in hospital (which is what I would be using a brush like this for).

The problem is that there isn't even a cheap plastic carry bag included, but there is a large hole in the polystyrene where the single brush head has been dropped in which could have held a thin plastic drawstring bag or another couple of toothbrush heads.

I have discovered that you can buy a cheap plastic pencil case which will hold the brush handle and the brush head so travel shouldn't be a problem - however, since that only cost me 99p it might have been a nice move if Braun had included something similar in the box.

If you are looking for a basic model then this one might be worth your consideration.


Hot Wheels Track Builder System Playset
Hot Wheels Track Builder System Playset
Price: 26.79

4.0 out of 5 stars limited track can be added to a base set for better play, 25 Aug 2014
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:2.0 out of 5 stars 
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I used to have a little racing track when I was a child (not that I was allowed to play with it that much ... if at all). I used to love watching the cars going round and, of course, the excitement when the tracks crossed over wondering if they would miss or splat each other.

I had heard of Hot Wheels, but the advertisements had never really taken hold of me. I (eventually) decided that it might be fun .

When we opened the box we were a little disappointed to find that there was only one car. The other thing that occurred to us was that this is an add-on set more than a start-up set. So, since I was going to the pharmacy and it is right next door to Smyths I popped in and bought a base set.

If we hadn't bought these extra pieces the playability of the track would have been extremely limited as in this set you get only a small number of curved track (bend) pieces meaning that when we first tried to put it together we could achieve an elongated circle and at a push an "S" shaped track.

With the addition of the base set we have been able to create a more intricate circuit with the loops and curves repeatedly used and this has meant a longer playing time. Without the base set it would be a case of starting the car off at one end and waiting for it to hit the floor at the other just to collect it and put it back on at the start again. Sort of like a dog chasing a stick - eventually even the dog will get tired and stop bringing the stick back.

As add-on track and stunts to a base track it is a good addition but as a solo track it is a little on the disappointing side due to the short nature and repetitiveness of the run.


Nixies Swimming Mermaid
Nixies Swimming Mermaid
Offered by K Direct
Price: 12.49

5.0 out of 5 stars fun in the water, 24 Aug 2014
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Nixies Swimming Mermaid (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Nixies mermaids faces are Fairy/Elf like making them very attractive.

You receive one mermaid a random (though if you want a particular one it is possible to buy the named mermaid from Amazon on individual pages, though this does work out more expensive at time of writing).

The mermaid operates on one AAA battery and it will admit that I have a worry over the seal on the battery compartment; I wonder how long it will last as it does seem a little iffy.

The tail which is the part that makes it a spin and dive and move from side to side is jointed in three places. It is your positioning of these joints which determines how the mermaid behaves in water. The loops and turns can be big or small depending on how you have set the joints.

Watching the little mermaid swim can be quite hypnotic and she has raised a number of amazed sounds and a lot of giggling. Of course she is new at the moment so everything she does is a surprise but I can't see her wearing out a welcome too quickly.

She has been a source of great fun while twirling in the bath and she looks good while splashing around in a paddling pool, but if you want something more in store I would suggest she would suit a medium to large fish tank were she can swim about and dive to our hearts content (or at least until her batteries run out).

She is slightly smaller than a Barbie doll but she's just as pretty and she looks great on the shelf with a Barbie dolls, she's even been to tea a Barbie's house.

All in all the Nexies mermaid has proved a great hit both on land and water - and it might encourage little ones to want to learn to swim (like the mermaid).


Riviera Line (PC DVD)
Riviera Line (PC DVD)
Price: 9.81

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars limited scenarios and limited game play, 24 Aug 2014
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Riviera Line (PC DVD) (CD-ROM)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Some of my favourite holidays have been on the South West of England - Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset. We would stay in the old Singer (sewing machine) family house which had been made into an old fashioned hotel - the sort of place where you got dressed up for dinner and ladies would drink coffee and After Eights while the men went into the games room, with imported Brandy and played billiards.

From Paignton we would travel out to Torquay, Teignmouth and as far as Lyme Regis, Weymouth (where we have also stayed), Dorchester, Seaton (where my Uncle's regiment was stationed before it was sent to the hell of Dunkirk), Swanage, Christchurch, Poole and Bournemouth (again we have stayed there) and round the other way to Plymouth and on into Cornwall

Sadly the "game" doesn't take you that far, it is only the short journey from Paignton to Exeter and it is only the modern railway not covering the history of the railway. Yes the description of the game gave the impression that there might have been the opportunity to play from a historical basis, but, sadly (for me), this is not the case.

The scenery is beautiful (especially on a sunny summer day) and is depicted with good accuracy, but then it is still only a short run from Paignton to Exeter.

I will say that I find modern trains, even the High Speed ones, boring. It would have been nice if the player could have chosen the era that they wanted to play or even the type of train that they wanted to run on their railway.

You can take the real life steam train from Paignton to Dartmouth ... well strictly speaking the Round Robin takes you on the steam train from Paignton to Kingswear; then across to Dartmouth town on the ferry; up the river to Totnes on a tour boat and then back to Paignton on the bus (or vice versa). I've done it several times and it is a wonderful experience though I found it better to go by bus and come back by train. If you just want the train experience then you can book a ticket both ways, spend some time in Dartmouth town and return on one of the scheduled steam trains.

I really wish that the train to the Dart had been included, again it was not.

The game play (for me) is extremely limited, but it will do to take with me when I have to go to hospital and I want a distraction - it is just a shame that the makers have limited the content so much.


PaperPro 2 Hole Punch - Black/Silver
PaperPro 2 Hole Punch - Black/Silver
Price: 7.84

4.0 out of 5 stars ok for light use, 23 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As teachers I (at my own cost) have to (forced by OFSTED while under Gove's rule) produce extensive hand-outs for each class session taught. Due to the quantity of paper that I have to (again by order of OFSTED under Gove) staple and hole punch I burn through a lot of staplers and punches.

This punch has a maximum of 20 sheets of paper so that would equate to a small sized hand-out.

The mechanism appears to be metal so it should last longer than some I have had previously.

I had a Rexel on a couple of years past which failed due to the plastic connector in the mechanism snapping mid punch. I am expected this to last longer than the Rexel one.

It has the expected "ruler" to help you get every piece of paper lying in the same place in the ring-binder.

After using it on a number of hand-outs I would advise no more than 10-15 sheets of paper.

If you are only using it for yourself for the odd item like bank statements and bills then it should last you a while.


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