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Home Sweet Home Art and Colouring Book
Home Sweet Home Art and Colouring Book
Offered by Hooray for Toys!
Price: 6.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow for the price!, 1 April 2013
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this for my five year old daughter, half expecting it to be too old for her but was delighted to find out that it isn't. You get approximately 20 houses to decorate, all different and all beautifully designed, from city mansions to terraces to suburban homes with gardens. There are 4 almost-A3 pages full of furniture and people stickers with accents of glitter on them (And even at her age there have been no ripped ones yet, which is fabulous.) You also get a pink plastic almost-A3 stencil with furniture, pets, toys and even generic shapes to use creatively in the house. The stencil could be kept for reuse even after the book is complete.

The thing I like best about this book is how long it takes her to do each house. We're talking 20 - 30 minutes each. This works out to be great value for money in my opinion, especially when I compare this to other sticker books that she's had recently and enjoyed (For example Melissa & Doug Jewellery and Nails Sticker Pad which was only about a pound cheaper but had about 25% less pages, and each page only took about 5 minutes to complete.)

The book is made by Depesche, which is a German company. This is the first product of theirs I've bought but it won't be the last. Depesche also make similar products in other themes such as Depesche - Create Your Crazy City Book , Depesche - Create Your Funny Farm , and Depesche - Trixibelles Create Your Sweet Palace Colouring Book and I believe the city and farm versions are unisex so it might solve arguments if you have boys as well as girls to buy for.

In terms of where this product stands on the quality spectrum, I would say that is more luxurious than the Usborne and Melissa and Doug ranges (Although the target market of those brands is a little younger, the Depesche stickers are less fragile than either of them.) I would say the Depesche product was almost as nice quality as the Djeco brand, who make similar arty girly creativity products that are much more expensive. (You might like to take a look at Djeco products if your daughter likes this though.)

In conclusion, this is a lovely product that is well worth the money and suitable for careful and arty girls aged 5- 11 ish. You will need some decent quality pencil crayons though as we tried it with cheap supermarket own brand ones and the results were not very impressive. I think this book and a pack of crayons would be a great gift for a birthday party or as school holiday entertainment. If you are buying it for a younger child it is also a good opportunity to teach them how to use stencils accurately, colour more neatly and ration the stickers so they have enough for each page.

Playmobil Princess 5142 Princess Fantasy Castle
Playmobil Princess 5142 Princess Fantasy Castle
Price: 94.99

76 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delighted daughter, exhausted parent!, 31 Oct 2012
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:4.0 out of 5 stars 
When our Princess Fantasy castle arrived I was actually quite shocked at the size and weight of the box. I think for these reasons, it's a good idea to buy it online as I really would not have fancied lugging it back from the high street. I bought the castle when it was on offer in October, intending to keep it for Christmas in the bottom of my wardrobe. Unfortunately the huge box didn't fit, so it was decided my daughter would have the castle as an early Christmas present. Cue shrieks of joy and happy-dancing for about 8 hours solid. It is by far the most expensive present she has ever had, and I cannot emphasize enough how delighted she is with it.

I confess I probably enjoy playmobil as much as my daughter does, and love assembling the sets when we first get them, and setting up scenes for her to play with, so I was looking forward to assembling the castle. The box advised 120 minutes assembly time, but I thought being something of an enthusiast and a veteran of playmobil assembly, I'd probably be done in about 90 minutes. However it actually took me over 4 hours, and I was fed up by the end. I would recommend if you buy this castle, set aside plenty of time and have as many people as possible on hand to find you the specific bits you need. Also be aware that there is lots of putting stickers in tight gaps and also a horribly fiddly curtain tied with beads and hung by individual little bow clips that had me annoyed. You might be able to construct the castle more quickly if you pay less attention to getting it exactly like the picture on the box.

After the time spent assembling it, the next problem was where to play with and store it. I stupidly didn't check the dimensions before I bought it. The castle's footprint is huge. Assembled it barely fits on my 75cm square dining table. You really need floor/table space of 1 square metre to have it all set up, and ideally more space around that for children to get all round it to play as there's interesting bits on all sides, and you can't easily turn it without upsetting all the little pieces. If you're short on space, it might grow to be a bit of a pain. The child will most likely want to keep it permanently assembled, and in any case, taking it down and setting it up will be quite a time investment too. Talking of time, be prepared to regularly have to reattach the staircase. It takes less than a minute to do, but it does get tiresome doing it over and over again.

I think you should make sure you know exactly what you are getting for your money before you buy. There are a few things with it such as 2 people, 2 small kittens, 3 chairs, a chaise longue, a side table and some plates and glasses and plants etc, but they don't look like much in situ and the child will probably want to add to the collection ASAP. The rest of the range is sold by the room, ranging from about 10-20, and so to actually fill the castle and have everything on the box you would probably end up spending another 100. I don't think this compares favourably to the similarly sized Playmobil 4324 Furnished School Building which is about 100 fully furnished, or the Playmobil 4404 Hospital which is about 120 fully furnished. The castle is on a par with the Playmobil - 5301 The Grande Mansion though, which is also unfurnished.

However, these things I have moaned about are really just niggles, and may not even bother you. Once the castle is paid for, assembled and homed, it will likely be treasured and played with, and last for years. It has some really charming features which will delight little girls such as a moving dance floor, lockable tower room (dungeon type thing), secret treasure compartment, opening windows, lockable gate, private changing room with curtains to draw, lockable glass cabinet, hiding place under the stairs and so on. One more thing about the castle which my daughter loves is that you get a child sized tiara, bracelet and ring with interchangeable gems to decorate them with.

If you already know your daughter loves playmobil, then I am sure she will adore the castle. However some kids don't really 'get' playmobil so I would recommend getting a smaller, cheaper set first to see if she takes to it. Something like an advent calendar Playmobil 4165 Advent Calendar Princess Wedding or a starter set like this: Playmobil 4008 Super Set Fairy Fountain. Alternatively an ideal less-pink starter playmobil set is this pool: Playmobil 4858 Pool with Water Slide (We own and love these sets - with the exception of the advent calendar, as we have an older, similar version.) If you would love to get the castle but it's too big or expensive, the Playmobil 4249 My Take Along Princess Fantasy Chest might be a good alternative, or for something even cheaper and smaller there's the Playmobil 4777 Unicorn Take Along Castle. I haven't seen either in person, but they're what I would have chosen if we didn't get the princess fantasy castle.

In conclusion, I do think the castle is worth the money if you have the space. It would be ideal if you have more than one daughter, as it's size would make it easy to share, and you will probably find that when it holds its value quite well so that when your children are finished with it, you'll be able to sell it on for a decent amount. In my experience children really do have to be brutes to break playmobil, so you probably won't need to be wary of breakages.

I am torn whether to give the castle 4 or 5 stars, as I really think it's worth 4 and a half. I know my daughter would say 5, and she's really the consumer, so I'll go with it. But I think the castle could have been designed to include as many features but take up less floor space and therefore fit better into smaller modern homes.

One final thought, you can buy a room extension for the castle direct from Playmobil separately.It costs about 17 and pleasingly expands the castle upwards rather than outwards.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 11, 2014 9:02 PM GMT

Stone Soup (Usborne First Reading)
Stone Soup (Usborne First Reading)
by Lesley Sims
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 5.35

4.0 out of 5 stars Story is good, CD is not., 23 Aug 2012
I checked this out for my 4 year old from the library as Stone Soup was one of my favourite stories as a child. The story and illustrations are good, the length ideal for a quick bedtime story, and it is pitched just right as a learning-to-read book. I was happy with the book itself and would recommend it.

However don't buy this book thinking the CD will be of much use. It only lasts a couple of minutes and is for English as a foreign language learners, not children. (Which it does say on the cover to be fair.) It is a quick read through of the book (with page turns indicated by a simple noise) followed by key phrases such as "go away"

I will probably buy/borrow more from the range but I won't be paying extra for the CD editions!

Noses And Glasses Net Bag [6]
Noses And Glasses Net Bag [6]
Offered by The Party Place
Price: 3.20

4.0 out of 5 stars Party bag perfection, 2 Aug 2012
= Durability:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For a carnival themed party for 30 guests, I put these disguises in party bags and they were hugely popular with the kids and affordable. They're not terribly durable, but fine for party bags and my daughter's is still in tact a month later.

They are really sized for children's heads but the adults at my gathering were able to fit in them passably well too.

I would definitely rate them above most of the rubbish sold for the price for party bag filling.

Educational Wooden Toys : Number flat puzzle 24 months +
Educational Wooden Toys : Number flat puzzle 24 months +
Offered by Claris
Price: 4.10

5.0 out of 5 stars On a budget? Buy it!, 2 Aug 2012
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
I picked this up for a pound from a discount store when my daughter was 2, intending it to tide us over until I could afford a better quality one. As it was, I never felt the need to upgrade it as it met her needs perfectly and was slightly smaller than the mothercare/ELC version so fit in our small flat and compact cupboards well. It is not something I would keep out to impress guests, but as a learning tool/toy it worked well and was well finished enough that no injuries ever occurred, although I must admit it wasn't the finest piece of craftmanship my eyes had ever beheld. The child is now nearly five and still does the puzzle from time to time as she is fond of it, even though now it's far too easy for her.

This puzzle doesn't have pegs but in my opinion that's an advantage as A. It stores flat and can be stacked more easily, will fit under sideboards and on top of books etc. and B., After a short period of time, the pegs get outgrown. In my experience, puzzles which require more finger dexterity like this one remain challenging for longer, whereas the peg-based puzzles are more quickly dismissed as baby toys.

In conclusion, if you can afford the lovely expensive versions of this toy, you might be disappointed with this item. If you're on a budget and want something acceptable that will do the job, this is a good choice. Mine has lasted nearly 3 years with one child and I'm saving it for child number 2.

We also have Educational Toys : Wooden Alphabet ABC Puzzle Board which, although it doesn't have amazing reviews on Amazon, we also found to be good value and fine for our needs. I actually credit that toy with my daughter knowing her alphabet before she went to nursery because she wanted to do it every day at least once for about a year.

Paper Party Bags 10"X5.25" 10/Pkg-Popcorn
Paper Party Bags 10"X5.25" 10/Pkg-Popcorn
Offered by Concept4U (UK)
Price: 1.40

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for party bags, 13 Jun 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought these bags to use as party bags at a carnival themed party and they are ideal for that purpose. You could just as easily decant popcorn into them too. I did mine up with a sticker but you could also tie with a bit or string or staple or leave open. As the other reviewer mentioned, you can't 'cook' popcorn in them but I don't think they are really intended for that purpose anyway. As decorative popcorn holders or as party bags though, they're great.

Amscan International Favour Cats, Pack of 12
Amscan International Favour Cats, Pack of 12
Offered by Party Bags 2 Go
Price: 4.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some are duplicates, 2 April 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These cats are quite sweet and good value for money. They're slightly smaller than the schleich kittens but would combine well with those to bulk up your toy cat collection. Unfortunately of the 12, 3 were duplicates, which is a shame as I just wanted them for one child, but as they're sold as party bag fillers, I can't really complain.

As party bag fillers they'd be excellent as they will have lasting play value when combined with other toys, and for the same price as you'd pay for a kazoo or something. They're too small for anyone under 3 though.

Easter Stencil Cards (Usborne Activity Cards)
Easter Stencil Cards (Usborne Activity Cards)
by Catherine Mackinnon
Edition: Cards
Price: 6.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not perfect, 29 Mar 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've just used these stencils to make some easter cards with my 4 year old. They were good quality and easy to use. The pictures are of eggs, rabbits, chicks, flowers and a butterfly. There's no religious imagery. They're made of thick card so it seems like they'll have some staying power.

The only negative point I have for them is that some of the pictures require quite a lot of drawing in of detail afterwards as the outline is not obviously what it's meant to be. For example if you just draw round the basket of eggs stencil, it looks like a random blob shape until you draw on it the border of the basket and eggs. This is not a huge problem obviously, but if you're buying stencils because you can't draw, you may be annoyed to find that there's still some drawing involved.

Still though, a good product that I'm glad I own and would recommend. If you like these you can also get Animal Stencil Cards made by the same people for use all year round.

Tomy Pinypon Case with 4 Figures and 2 Pets
Tomy Pinypon Case with 4 Figures and 2 Pets

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun for girls and their mums, 28 Mar 2012
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Since I purchased this about two weeks ago, I have bought 6 other dolls in the range. I tell myself it was because they were on offer and I'm saving them for birthdays but the truth is I like this toy as much as my four year old does, possibly even more.

If you've never experienced Pinypon before they're dolls approx 8cm high with a medium-slightly stocky body shape. (This pleases me in terms of girls developing reasonable expectations regarding their bodies) The great thing about them is their body parts are fully interchangeable. You can take off their hair, head, torso and lower body and swap them around. They also have tiny holes in strategic places for you to stick in accessories like bows, butterflies, gems etc. With each set you get 30 of the little accessories, which I think is actually quite a generous amount. Also the pets (of which there are 2 in this set) can swap heads so you can create a dog-cat or whatever.

The dolls are doubly useful, as you have the time spent assembling the dolls and then the playing, so they do occupy my daughter for quite a long time. The range is good value compared to other toys in the same price band. However, in my opinion, you need at least four characters to start with as obviously the more options you have in assembling them, the more fun it is.

The negatives are quite minor but I will list them anyway. The dolls can't sit as they don't have moveable waists. There is a specific combination (of hair in pigtails and high heeled shoes) that can't stand up, although all other combinations can so you could just avoid this combination if it bothers you.

This particular set doesn't contain either scented ones or mermaid ones, which seem to be the most popular with children. Amazon also sell a larger set which does contain both Tomy Pinypon 10 Figure Pack. Another thing that is slightly annoying is that the leaflet contained within the box and the packaging of some sets advertise varieties that aren't available in the UK, so you might want to retrieve that before your daughter decides that she will never be happy until she has the pink glittery mermaid that is only available in one toyshop in Spain for one morning a week. If you decide you want to collect them, it will be a pain as lots of them aren't easy to get hold of and most of the sellers want about 4 postage for each one.

In summary this is a great toy and I'm glad I purchased it. It is good value for money and something older sisters and mums will enjoy doing with the younger kids. Some of the accessories are tiny so you'll need to be careful around babies, and I think 4 is the earliest I would want to give it to a child.

Mini Lalaloopsy Doll - Spot Paints Purple
Mini Lalaloopsy Doll - Spot Paints Purple

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pricey for what you get, 28 Mar 2012
= Durability:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:3.0 out of 5 stars 
If you've never seen one of these toys in the flesh, you'll probably be surprised to learn how small she is - less than 8cm. Her arms and legs are literally the size of (short) toothpicks. Her legs and arms move but don't bend. The accessories supplied (a paintbrush, paint can, paint palette and toy donkey) are quite nice and would fit in with a lot of other toys eg Sylvanian families. However, I really think this toy is overpriced for what you get. I paid 4.50 on sale in a high street shop and still thought it was a bit steep. The quality is just not what I would have hoped for - for example she can't even stand up as she has downward sloping feet, and due to the wobbly state of her head, you have to get the angle right to have her sit down.

If your daughter is already into Lalaloopsy then you'll probably be satisfied with this toy. (Although if you shop around, you might find that the Lalaloopsy playsets with characters in are much better value for money than the characters alone).

If your daughter isn't pestering you for this particular toy, then I think there are better toys out there for similar amounts of money, and I suggest if possible you have a look at this before you decide to buy it. I got this at the same time as some Pinypon dolls and those are the ones we will be getting more of.

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