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Seren Ade (UK)
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Melissa & Doug Chalk and Eraser Bundle (White)
Melissa & Doug Chalk and Eraser Bundle (White)
Price: £6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good starter bundle to accompany an easel, 26 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I received this free through the Amazon Vine reviewer programme.

Bundled together here (separately packed, then shrink-wrapped together) are a chalkboard/dry wipe board eraser, a packet of white chalk and a packet of coloured chalks. All are decent as such items go - the chalk makes good, strong marks, the coloured chalks are reasonably bright, the eraser is nicely made with a solid, natural-coloured and well-finished wooden handle. The three components are all good quality basics, but there are no enhanced features.

Would I buy this set? Possibly, but I'd only do so once: so that there was a separate eraser for chalk and pens. Afterwards, erasers tend to significantly outlast the chalk. Also I note that at the time of writing the three components are on sale separately and can be bought for slightly less than the bundled pack (though only as add-on items)


Melissa & Doug Butterfly Tunnel
Melissa & Doug Butterfly Tunnel
Price: £24.28

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good quality, easy to store play tunnel, 26 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I received this free through the Amazon Vine programme.

The Melissa and Doug Bella butterfly play tunnel is a nicely made thing, which arrives neatly packed in a resealable plastic packet. As a word of warning, this pops open really easily, so a bit of caution might be needed when it comes to unpacking: the 4 year old, 3 year old and 18 month old tester managed to open the packet indoors - much to the indignation of the cat! The fabric is pretty, lightweight, but strong and the tunnel folds away to virtually nothing for storage.

The butterfly design in yellows, pinks and greens is clearly aimed at girls, but my trio of preschool-age male testers are all completely unphased by the feminine slant to the colour scheme and instead just find having a tunnel to hide in in the garden to be absolutely ripping good fun. At a guess, by the time they're big enough to be concerned there'll be sufficient grass and mud stains that the original colours were only a distant memory.

The Velcro-on butterflies attached to the ends of the tunnel were slightly more varied in success. The younger two found these hysterical, but the 4-year old got a bit distressed. He was, however, quite happy running round the garden with a big butterfly 'kite'!


Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Bundle Vehicle and Habitat
Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Bundle Vehicle and Habitat
Price: £9.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Large, generous reuseable sticker books. Ideal for imaginative play, 26 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I received these free through the Amazon Vine reviewer programme.

The two reuseable sticker books in this bundled set are good quality things, with subject matter - vehicles and animals - that's dear to the hearts of most youngsters. I've used these with my 4-year old nephew and my friend's 3-year old, and both have been entertained for hours imagining different scenarios whilst applying and reapplying the stickers. The two books are generous, with large pages and huge quantities of stickers - so many that the background pages are really quite overcrowded if all of those the fit with a particular theme are used at once!

The stickers themselves are generally very nice things. In addition to the fact that there are loads for each theme, they're generous in terms of providing a wide range of (amongst others) trains, diggers, dinosaurs, jungle animals and sea creatures and provide a goodly array of differently sized pieces, including accompanying detail such as construction workers eating their lunch, road signs, and feed items. The stickers are a little thin and prone to ripping at the point of initially being detached from their backing sheets - particularly if child users want to do this, as there are one or two places where these aren't quite cut out properly. I was fortunate enough to spot another review in which the reviewer noted that they had removed the white backing themselves before giving this to their child: this was a really helpful idea, both preventing damage and allowing the kids the independence of removing and applying the stickers for the first time themselves. The sticker pieces remain firmly in place, allowing these to be transported easily.


Melissa & Doug Rubbish Truck
Melissa & Doug Rubbish Truck
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good, old-fashioned vehicle, 26 Sep 2014
This review is from: Melissa & Doug Rubbish Truck (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I received this free through the Amazon Vine review programme.

This is a lovely toy, which arrives in nicely understated packaging (shrink wrap over a shallow cardboard section). It's rather bigger than I had expected from the product photo: a chunky, beautifully solid and well-finished vehicle, in a combination of natural wood-coloured and painted pieces. There are few frills to this truck, though nephews (4 and 18 months) have been very excited by the fact that the bin lifter raises the bin and tips it into the back of the lorry. There's nice detail in the paint job done on the cab and the little brick of rubbish.

A beautiful, simple toy. Well made, and at a price point that seems entirely justified by the quality and size.


Ultrasport Racer 800A home trainer with hand pulse sensors, incl. drinking bottle
Ultrasport Racer 800A home trainer with hand pulse sensors, incl. drinking bottle
Price: £213.28

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to build, quiet to use, feature-packed home exercise bike., 23 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I received this free through the Amazon Vine reviewer programme.

The first step, assembly, proved to be a fairly straightforward matter. The bulk of the components arrive pre-built. There's no confusingly enormous bag of component parts to sift through, either, as the majority of fixings arrive pre-attached to the parts of the bike they're going to ultimately end up holding in place. This did lend itself to a little head-scratching initially, as there is a small bag of fixings (attachments for the stabiliser bars and handlebars) which seems radically lacking when compared to the components list in the manual... it doesn't take long to spot that the manufacturers have pre-positioned these, though. And what a good idea that is, much easier than scrabbling about struggling to identify small parts! The bike comes supplied with the tools needed for assembly: a spanner and a double-ended Allen key-cum- cross-head screwdriver.

Build quality seems pretty reasonable, though there's quite a lot of plastic and the Ultrasport decal on the front of the bike I received had been badly applied and was peeling off at arrival. The saddle is one of the most comfortable I've experienced on an exercise bike. The bike is quite tall and even though I'm 5'5" I'm best off on the lowest seat height setting.

In use, this is lovely. By far the quietest exercise bike I've ever owned. The computer does everything it should, although the fact that it's mains powered can be a little annoying: as others have noted a battery backup to retain information when this is unplugged would be handy! There are 12 programmes to simulate the varying terrains/difficulties of proper road bike journeys, 16 different resistance settings, options to pre-determine a calorie-loss specific (countdown) workout session or to freestyle it, counting upwards.

Overall, a good bike with a couple of niggles.


VIBE Slick Grip for iPad - Red
VIBE Slick Grip for iPad - Red
Offered by IvoryEgg
Price: £14.85

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars From iPad... to Etch-a-Sketch, 17 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I received this free through the Amazon Vine reviewer programme, and I don't like it.

The colour, I will grant, is extremely vibrant. The case is flexible and easy to install. It seems to provide decent coverage for the back and sides of the iPad, but leaves the vulnerable glass screen completely exposed. The design adds a little bit of a tilt to the position the iPad is in when you go to type on the keyboard, but I prefer the adjustable stand to my old Apple cover, or my cheapie Cygnett.

I'm distinctly underwhelmed by the stand feature on the Slick Grip - basically allowing this to be balanced along one of the edges due to the width of the case. This feels quite wobbly. The sound - does seem louder, but not significantly by any means. The RRP is not matched by quality, features or visual appeal.

But what I really, really don't like above all else is the chunky, childish design: why take an expensive, minimalistically-designed iPad that's all brushed metal and glass... and then dress it up as an Etch-a-Sketch???!
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 26, 2014 6:37 AM BST


Kahuna Women's Quartz Watch with Brown Dial Analogue Display and Brown Fabric Strap KLF-0022L
Kahuna Women's Quartz Watch with Brown Dial Analogue Display and Brown Fabric Strap KLF-0022L
Price: £6.32

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible workmanship undermines attractive design, 12 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an attractive looking watch, which arrived in quite nice presentation packaging and was loved by the 10-year old recipient. What a shame that it fell apart during the first wear.

Dire quality.


Thomas & Friends Trackmaster Avalanche Escape Set
Thomas & Friends Trackmaster Avalanche Escape Set
Price: £26.79

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Briefly entertaining, then abandoned., 12 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I received this free through the Amazon Vine reviewer programme. Even so, I'm not a fan.

The playset is large - which looks impressive - and can superficially seem to make a great toy. Unfortunately, however, the build quality is poor: cheap, flimsy plastic surrounding a 'stunt' element which only works on a very level surface. I've seen several comments regarding issues with carpeted floors, and can confirm that this has similar struggles (Thomas doesn't make the jump) if this is set up over uneven, period tiled floors. We eventually got this fully working on the dining table.

After a couple of goes, it's not just the build quality that is disappointing. This is a big and rather dull set, focussed around a couple of trick pieces. Motorised train goes round, jumps when system is set up on the flat. Repeat And repeat. And that's it.

This does connect to other Trackmaster sets and includes a couple of conversion pieces to help deal with manufacturer/ licensing-based changes (Trackmaster trainsets were previously made by Tomy, the current Mattel versions are not built in the same way and can only be connected via conversion pieces).

This to me seems both bulky and repetitively dull. The tester (in this case my four year old nephew) appears to agree... wandering away in seeming disinterest after only a few goes round for Thomas. This might be of more interest to those with Trackmaster collections, but as a stand alone item (which it should be capable of being in view of the size and price), it's rather lacking. And not only in terms of AAA batteries not included!


Melissa & Doug Water Wow Bundle Animals/ Alphabet and Numbers
Melissa & Doug Water Wow Bundle Animals/ Alphabet and Numbers
Price: £9.07

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good fun, but slightly parsimonious, 10 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I actually quite like this set of reuseable Melissa and Doug water-reveal books, but they're not without issues - hence the average 3 star rating. Each of the three books is well made, featuring 4 board pages of water-reveal images accompanied by a page each of educational suggestions. The water pens are actually little tubes which can be filled with water, which then provides a constant slow-flow onto a paintbrush-tipped end. The pen can be emptied and stored in a slightly flimsy plastic storage capsule that's integrated into the front cover of each book. The colours revealed by dampening the pages are nice and bright (compared to e.g. traditional magic painting books). They've gone down a treat with the 3 year-old critic.

Where this set perhaps falls down is in: the speed with which the pages seem to start drying out (it's quite hard to complete a page without sections of it having started to fade), the use of American English spelling, and the price point. I didn't pay for these, having received them as a review item freebie, but would probably have balked at the bundle price. They're well made, reusable, mess-free activity books, in a conveniently portable sized-format but at around fifteen pounds for twelve quite small pages are a little on the stingy side. I did also have an issue that one of the three books in the bundle I received was damaged: and not due to packaging or transit jolting either. The shrink wrap around the outside of the bundle was far too tight, bending the cover of one of the books.


Russell Hobbs 21370 Steamglide Professional Iron, Black
Russell Hobbs 21370 Steamglide Professional Iron, Black
Price: £38.19

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple, straightforward iron, 10 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Despite the marketing of the Russell Hobbs 21370 as a 'professional' iron, this does seem to be a fairly ordinary thing. There are some nice features including a self-cleaning function and a built-in anti-scale agent to help reduce the impact of limescale, although you are recommended to use distilled rather than tap water in this if you live in a hard water area. By registering your item on the Russell Hobbs website within 28 days of purchase, you can extend the guarantee from 1 to 2 years.

The iron itself feels well made, but is nevertheless nice and light, making it easy to use. The bright colours are quite appealing, but the RRP feels on the high side when considering the product as a whole.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 20, 2014 5:41 PM BST


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