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Chris Hall "DLS Reviews" (Cardiff, Wales)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   

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Barbie Secret Door Alexa Doll
Barbie Secret Door Alexa Doll
Offered by Midco Toys Ltd
Price: £27.59

4.0 out of 5 stars A nice looking Barbie doll which plays two different 10 second long song excerpts..., 20 Sep 2014
= Durability:3.0 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?)
Length:: 1:21 Mins

The Barbie and the Secret Door Princess Alexa Doll is a Barbie Doll that's based on the Princess Alexa character form the animated Barbie movie 'Barbie and the Secret Door' (2014).

The Barbie Doll is approximately 30cm tall, which I believe is about normal for a Barbie Doll. The doll has all the usual moveable joints - with a head that can swivel around, shoulder joints, and leg joints at the waistline (but not at the knee).

The main feature to the doll is with the lights and music that start up whenever the doll's left arm is rotated downwards. As soon at the arm is pushed down, the Barbie Doll's chest lights up with a series of colourful lights, whilst a quick 10 second long excerpt from two of the pop songs from the aforementioned Barbie movie are played.

To be honest the lights and music are great, and our daughter absolutely loves them. She sings along with the words and the colourful lights really do look very good. However, it should be noted that the music only lasts for around ten seconds, and there's only two different song excerpts - so the entertainment life of this feature is reasonably limited.

Other than the lights and music, the Barbie is pretty much what you'd expect. The colours on the dress are bright and vivid and the doll's hair is thick and lush. The only real downside (other than the shortness to the songs) is how the tiara is fixed to the doll's head using those small plastic tags which are often used to fix price tags to clothing. Although reasonably unnoticeable, on slightly closer inspection it does look quite cheap. But this really is just a small point.

All in all we'd have to say that the doll is still an excellent toy, as our four-year-old-daughter absolutely loves it - and after all, she is the one who should be able to judge the ultimate success of the doll best!


Melissa & Doug Girls Activity Bundle
Melissa & Doug Girls Activity Bundle
Price: £14.49

5.0 out of 5 stars 100 pictures to colour and 700 fun stickers to decorate things with..., 19 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Length:: 2:48 Mins

The Melissa & Doug Girls Activity Bundle comprises of a set of two A3 sized colouring pads together with an A3 set of stickers.

Basically, what you get is a set of pads that provides fun colouring-in which will keep young kids entertained for days on end. The two colouring pads contain fifty pages each of outlined pictures for colouring-in (i.e. a total of 100 different A3 sized pictures).

The two colouring pads have been designed with young girls in mind - with one focussed purely on princesses and fairies (very popular 'characters' with young girls). The other jumbo colouring set contains the usual collection of pictures and designs that are likely to appeal to most young girls (unicorns, castles, stars, horses, kittens etc).

The black & white designs are all bold and of varying degrees of complexity (but none overly complex) - meaning that the colouring pads will appeal to girls from around 3 years - 7 years old. Furthermore, what's particularly nice about the sets is that each individual picture has a "created by" box where the young colourer can write their name to 'sign' their masterpiece.

Also included in the bundle is a sticker collection set which consists of ten pages of full-colour stickers on a variety of `girlie' themes. The themes included are:

Princess, Magical Garden, Ballet, Horse Show, Fashion, On The Farm, Tea Party, Fairy and Zoo Animals.

And to be fair - each one of these A3 pages is absolutely crammed full of the stickers - containing a total of 700 stickers in the pad.

Our four-year-old daughter absolutely loves the bundle. The two colouring pads have kept her entertained for hours on end. Indeed, with such a wide choice of different pictures and themes, she's wanted to return to the pads time and again. We've also taken out the pictures showing her best colouring and popped them up on the front of our refrigerator for all to see.

The sticker collection pad has also proven to be an equally big hit with our daughter. The stickers have appeared here, there and everywhere since she was given the book (so be warned) - allowing her to personalise and decorate many of the things she has in her bedroom.

Our overall opinion - an excellent set which will keep young girls entertained for days on end.


Disney Frozen Magical Lights Palace Playset
Disney Frozen Magical Lights Palace Playset
Price: £35.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Badly designed, shoddily made, over-priced junk..., 15 Sep 2014
= Durability:1.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:1.0 out of 5 stars 
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Length:: 1:50 Mins

The Disney Frozen Magical Lights Palace is a toy playset that is supposed to re-create Elsa's majestic ice palace from the Disney film 'Frozen' (2013).

Upon arriving, the first thing you notice is the small size of the playset. For the money, you'd more than likely be expecting a reasonably substantial 'ice palace'. When constructed (which takes about 2-3 mins), the palace measures approximately 20.5cm (W) x 11cm (D) x 29cm (H) (when closed-up) and 42cm (W) x 11cm (D) x 29cm (H) (when opened-out).

When putting the palace together, I was actually quite astonished at how badly made the toy is. The two opening panels at the front of the toy are clunky and liable to fall off when your child plays with them. Furthermore, the left panel doesn't fully close (on ours at least), leaving a slight gap at the bottom where the panel doesn't 'click' into place.

With the palace opened out, you're able to raise and lower the side panels so that Elsa's bedroom area is at a higher level (with fold-down stairs for her to access it) and on the other side an elevator leads up to the other raised area where Olaf (the snowman character) can look out from the palace's balcony. Unfortunately, the elevator is probably the most flimsy and badly designed aspect of a toy that I've ever encountered. Indeed, it's so fragile and prone to collapse that it's pretty much useless.

We were also surprised to find that you can't close the palace up again when the bed, chair and mirror units have been positioned in their correct spots inside the palace. Quite an oversight, the design hasn't allowed enough room for these items to remain inside and so you have to remove them from the palace to allow for it to be closed up.

Also, when trying to close the two front panels, we repeatedly found the hinges get stuck, causing much frustration for our four year old daughter.

Our final gripe with the palace is with the design of the stands for the Elsa model. Basically, you have two raised holes (one located behind the ice curtain and one on the elevator) which it appears the character's foot is supposed to be placed inside so that it can stand up unassisted. However, due to the size of the holes, this is much harder than it sounds, and has caused even further annoyance and frustration for our daughter, and then for us as we've tried to position the Elsa model correctly.

The playset's only saving grace is with the 'magical' lights which do look good and work well with the opaque ice palace walls. The coloured lights illuminate the palace in a particularly enchanting way which our daughter is particularly happy with (especially at night when it looks the best).

The playset requires 3x AAA batteries (not included) for the lights to work.

All in all I would say that the playset has proven to be one of the biggest disappointments for our daughter. The pictures of the palace make it look like it could be a great toy - and our daughter loved the film so she was very excited about the palace arriving. However, what you actually get is a badly-designed, shoddy made and downright over-priced piece of junk.

Because of the frustration our daughter has experienced with playing with the ice palace along with the overall flimsy nature of its design, she's now relegated it to the top of her chest-of-drawers as a 'visual-only' model, which she no longer plays with. Such a shame.

Our advice is to avoid this 'playset' at all costs.


Heli [DVD]
Heli [DVD]
Dvd ~ Armando Espitia
Price: £9.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Gritty and brutal. A film that shows an all-too-real vision of life in the poorer regions of Mexico..., 13 Sep 2014
This review is from: Heli [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Spanish director Amat Escalante’s film ‘Heli’ (2014) is about as bleak and effortlessly depressing as they come. Indeed, what the film offers up is a grime-covered window into the dirt-encrusted backstreets of the poorer regions of Mexico.

Plot-wise the film is purposefully lacking and pretty-darn directionless other than witnessing the unfortunate mistake of a young impressionable girl who makes one bad move which culminates into a hellish nightmare for the principal character of Heli and his family. It’s plot is simplistic and bleak, and certainly not overly dominate within the context of the film’s greater scope.

Alongside the general dirt and grit of a poverty-set backdrop, the film delivers some punishing and truly hard-hitting sequences of violence and drug-gang torture. There’s also mild scenes of sex which, although there’s actually very little nudity, instantly lose their mildness because of the oppressive bitterness that is constantly in the air.

The cinematography throughout the length of the film is superb. The spiralling sorrow that we’re given front seats to is framed in a vision of heat and harsh angles. Indeed, if you just sit back and take note to the way in which ‘Heli’ is filmed you’ll witness a whole host of clever and well-executed shots that capture the stark brutality of the film perfectly.

For an all-too-real-feeling slice of gutter and grime from Mexico’s harsher regions, this is a film that hits all the right notes. It’s not a film that utilises a complex or carefully interwoven series of subplots. Its premise is as stark as its violence is. And the ending (if you can call the almost sudden stop in the film that) is a further testament to what the director was trying to achieve. It’s life. A life that we’re far from familiar with – but one that’s no less real.

Not a film for everyone. But one that’s probably worth a punt at. I’m certainly glad I saw it.


Tacwise Heavy Duty 140 TypeStaples 10mm (2000)
Tacwise Heavy Duty 140 TypeStaples 10mm (2000)
Price: £3.38

4.0 out of 5 stars Good, strong and reliable heavy duty staples for your everyday simple DIY jobs..., 13 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Tacwise Heavy Duty 140/10mm Staple Pack is a pack containing 2,000 hardware-strength staples of a pretty hefty 10mm thickness.

Used in conjunction with a hand staple gun or the like, the staples are handy to have around the house for quickly sorting out super-simple DIY jobs.

The staples have a good and hard-wearing thickness to them, making them ideal for tacking down surfaces that are likely to suffer from constant contact or rubbing. Furthermore, the depth that the staples can penetrate means that it’s very unlikely that they will ever be accidentally yanked out.

So, all in all I’ve been quite happy with the overall quality of the staples. Good, strong and reliable heavy duty staples for your everyday simple DIY jobs.


Tacwise 180/15MM 18G Nails (2000)
Tacwise 180/15MM 18G Nails (2000)
Price: £6.28

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2000 nails offering a consistent high-quality and strength., 13 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Tacwise 180/15mm 18G Nails are a pack of 2,000 galvanised nails for use with Nail Guns and Tackers.

They come in forty strips each strip containing fifty 15mm nails. Loading these nails into a Nail Gun is an absolute doddle, and because of the consistent quality in the nails, I’ve found that you’re highly unlikely to encounter any jamming or other such problems with them.

Although these nails are just 15mm long and therefore really quite slim, they still offer a surprising amount of durability and strength. I used the nails (along with a Tacwise Nail Gun) to secure down a plywood floor before laying linoleum onto it. The nails provided just the right length to do this without any worry of piercing pipework, and when used reasonably plentifully, they offered more than enough strength for the job.

I’ve already gone through a good 500 or so of these nails and I’ve found them strong, dependable and of a consistent high-quality. For securing down 5mm – 8mm boarding in my opinion you can’t go wrong with them.


Animagic Rescue Hospital Ambulance Station
Animagic Rescue Hospital Ambulance Station
Price: £23.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A sturdy and nicely made toy with plenty of intricate details all over it..., 7 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Length:: 4:23 Mins

The Animagic Rescue Hospital Ambulance Station is a toy set that's aimed at young children from around three years old. The toy set includes lots of little intricate details that are likely to please most young girls. I say 'young girls' because the toy has been designed using a large amount of pink, and as such, is definitely targeted more towards girls, which is perhaps a shame given that it could probably be just as enjoyable a toy for a little boy.

The ambulance measures approximately 32cm (L) x 17.5cm (H) x 15.5cm (W) which is certainly a good chunky size for any 3 - 5 year old.

It comes with a handful of figures - a female vet (fully posable), two dogs, a cat, a milk bottle for feeding, a blanket and a little pack of animal plasters. It's these little details that have been particularly pleasing for our four year old daughter, who really enjoys 'playing nurse'. As such, putting tiny plasters onto a poorly dogs legs etc, has proven to be a wonderful thing for her to enjoy doing. In fact, the set has become one of her favourite toys over the last couple of week, mostly due to the sheer amount of intricate details incorporated in it.

One of the main features of the toy is how the ambulance opens out to show the sleeping area inside, along with a shower, television set and sink for the vet. In the back there is a pull-out examination desk for the animals to be treated on, which slides neatly into the back section of the ambulance. The x-ray machine that is part of the examination desk is a particularly nice idea; where you can put one of the animals up on to the desk and then slide a picture of the animal into the x-ray machine whereby an x-ray image of the animal appears.

The ambulance itself seems pretty sturdy and solid and should therefore withstand the knocks and bumps that are more than likely to happen when given to a young child. The wheels turn reasonably well on the usual stainless steel axles that you find used within most toy vehicles of this nature.

The ambulance comes with two A4 sheets crammed full of stickers which are to be stuck all over the toy (a double-sided instruction manual detailing exactly where they go is provided). However, the stickers don't all stay that well stuck, especially those that have been stuck upon curved edges etc. For the stickers that have started to become a little unstuck, we've added a very small drop of superglue to the underside, which has done the trick perfectly.

One final point to make is in regards to the slide-out 'ramp' or whatever it is that pulls out from the ambulance's rear doors. Firstly, what's it for? Is it a ramp, or a stretcher, or what? If a ramp, how does it work? It can only be pulled out when the doors are closed! The whole thing seems a tad bizarre to me. And without any proper instructions coming with the set (other than those showing you where to stick all the stickers) it's hard to figure out the purpose of this particular part.

All in all it's nevertheless a really nice toy which our four-year-old daughter absolutely loves.


Corelle 1.9 Litre Vitrelle Glass Lightweight Bake/ Serve/ Store Rectangular Baker with Plastic Cover, White
Corelle 1.9 Litre Vitrelle Glass Lightweight Bake/ Serve/ Store Rectangular Baker with Plastic Cover, White
Price: £29.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Lightweight and handy for storage, and looks pretty smart too..., 7 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Length:: 1:51 Mins

The Corelle 2qt Bake, Serve & Store Roaster, is a 2 qt (i.e. 1.89 litre) rectangular baking / roasting dish that comes with a handy storage lid.

The roaster is made from a strong but incredibly lightweight material known as 'vitrelle' which is made from a clever treble-layering of glass which makes this durable break and chip resistant material. Furthermore, the roasting dish is dishwasher, oven and microwave proof - making it a very handy and versatile dish to have in your kitchen.

Although the dish has a capacity of close to two litres, it's a lot smaller than I expected. It's probably not large enough to bake a dish for a medium to large family (i.e. for a family of four you're probably pushing it a bit for something like a lasagne).

However, it's big enough to easily accommodate a side dish, such as roast potatoes etc, for a family of four or five. You could comfortably fit a whole chicken in there - but there would be little room for anything else around it.

The lid that comes with the dish is made from a transparent slightly-flexible plastic. It provides very good storage for freezing one-pot style meals. However, it should be noted that the lid is not oven or microwave proof - so can only be used for storage. This means that when cooking a casserole or any dish that entails a sauce, the top is likely to burn without a cover (easiest thing to do is put a layer of tinfoil over the top).

The baking dish has a smart and modern style of design to it which certainly looks good when brought straight from the oven to the table, and therefore doubles as a serving dish.

All in all, it's quite a nice baking dish to have in the kitchen, which can double-up as both a serving dish and a handy storage container.


Vax Air Silence Eco Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner
Vax Air Silence Eco Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner
Price: £249.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad compact vacuum cleaner. Offers good suction and easy maintenance. Shame it doesn't turn corners so well!, 6 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Length:: 5:57 Mins

The Vax C86-AW-Be Air Silence Eco Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner is a small, compact vacuum cleaner that's easy to lug around your house, up and down the stairs and outside when giving the inside of your car a good cleaning.

First impressions of the vacuum cleaner when taking it out of the box for the first time are that it's certainly compact and reasonably lightweight. It's not necessarily the lightest compact vacuum cleaner that you're likely to come across, but it's definitely lighter than average.

The vacuum cleaner certainly looks the part, with its stylish Dyson-esque design and complementing greys with deep yellows. Indeed it does look like something that James Dyson might design.

In use the compact Vax seems to do everything a larger vacuum cleaner would. The Vax exhibits a good strong suction which you can see is picking up ingrained dirt, dust and larger pieces of unwanted debris (for want of a better word). The floor head is not as wide or deep as the surface area of most vertical-standing vacuum cleaners. However, it does appear to glide across carpeted areas particularly easily whilst maintaining a good continuous suction.

The vacuum cleaner, as you would guess from the name ('Air Silence') is noticeably quieter than most - but not necessarily silent! This is a good consideration if you live in a flat (or similar) with thin walls.

Over thick carpet the vacuum cleaner is noticeably harder to push around, which in itself is probably testament to the suction. With vertical standing vacuum cleaners this isn't such a problem as you have the momentum of the whole appliance behind you. However, with compact cleaners like this one, thick carpets do require an extra effort. This is something to consider if your house contains lots of thick carpeted areas.

As with most modern vacuum cleaners, there is a function to swap between carpets and hard floor areas. This is done via the usual 'quite clunky' push of a rocker switch on the floor head which raises or lowers the brushes.

The vacuum cleaner comes with an additional 3-in-1 tool which you can swap with the standard floor head quickly and easily. Furthermore, the telescopic pipe can be removed from the main body of the cleaner just as easily, making it easier to store the vacuum cleaner (when the pipe is attached to the cleaner it tends to be a cumbersome shape and size to store).

One relatively large drawback with the cleaner (given that its principal design is to be a compact pull-along type cleaner) is that it's not necessarily the easiest appliance to 'pull-along'. Rather than having four independently moving casters on the bottom that can change direction relatively easily, the Vax instead utilises two large wheels, which although make it easy to pull-along in a straight line, make turning corners a tad harder than they really should. Furthermore, if like me, you tend to vacuum in quite random directions, you may find yourself accidentally tipping it on its back, and ending up needing to physically lift the main unit and then reposition it quite frequently.

Another small downside with it is that the 'dirt container' obviously doesn't hold as much as larger vacuum cleaners. So if (like us) you have kids and pets, and therefore when you hoover a fair amount comes up, you are likely to have to empty the container relatively frequently.

Like with a Dyson, there are two filters in the cleaner (a pre-motor filter and a post-motor filter). The pre-motor filter can be easily removed and cleaned, using water and 24 hrs of sun on it to dry it out again (same as with a Dyson). The post-motor filter only requires checking and no other maintenance.

The vacuum cleaner has a handy retractable plug cord which firstly has a good length on it and secondly retracts back into the body of the cleaner by a push-button. The cleaner also sports a good solid carrying handle which is perfectly positioned for ease of carrying around the house etc.

All in all we've been pleasantly surprised with the Vax vacuum cleaner. We already have a 'Dyson Animal' in the house, however this far more compact cleaner is handy for quickly blitzing the house in a hurry, doing the stairs with, or taking outside to clean out the car. In our opinion it would also be ideal for small flats, caravans or holiday homes - due to its compact design which doesn't compromise its overall sturdiness or suction.


BT Mini Wi-Fi 500 Home Hotspot Powerline Multi-Adapter Kit - ( Pack of 3)
BT Mini Wi-Fi 500 Home Hotspot Powerline Multi-Adapter Kit - ( Pack of 3)
Price: £79.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gives you a further 2 wi-fi hotspots in your home - maintaining a strong signal across them all..., 31 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Length:: 2:31 Mins

The BT Wifi 500 Home Hotspot Multi Kit is a clever little kit that extends the wi-fi coverage within your home. In a nutshell, the kit takes your wireless broadband signal and extends it out to two further areas of your house via the kit's wi-fi hotspot plug-ins.

Set-up is simplicity itself. The kit comes with a one sheet instruction manual, which guides you through the handful of stages you need to go through in order to get your additional wi-fi hotspots in place.

Once set-up, you can simply connect to the two additional hotpots by linking up to them with your device and inputting the unique wireless key (it's printed on a small plastic card that can be slipped-off the reverse of the hotpots at any time).

I'm no internet / computer wizard, however I managed to get the whole thing up and our iPad connected to one of the additional hotspots inside of 5 minutes from unpacking the box for the first time.

We've had the kit in place now for a good couple of weeks and I have to say that we're over the moon with their performance. This wireless signal that they extend outwards is strong and constant (even for the basic package we get from our cheapo ISP), without any noticeable fluctuation of signal. We can now stream films etc in all of the rooms in our house as well as within a good portion of our garden. Furthermore, the extenders don't seem to have weakened or diluted the signal at all; just pushed it out to two additional areas of our home.

So all in all, we'd say that the kit is a cracking piece of simple equipment that does a handy job perfectly.


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