Proud to be part of the John Adams Games Group

We’re really proud to have been asked to be a part of the new John Adams Games Group.

Every week for the next couple of months were going to be holding a weekly John Adams games night, and blogging about all the new games we’ve been playing.

Monday night at Toybuzz is always traditionally games night, so it’ll be great to have a new selection of games to enjoy.

Apparently the first batch of games will be some more kid focused action games like their brilliant Doggy Doo, So that’s something nice for the boys to look forward too.

I’m hoping that there may be a bit of a clue from the badge, and we might get one of Ideal’s Rubik’s based games like the classic Rubik’s cube or Rubik’s race.

We’ll just have to wait and see what the first parcel brings us, but the excitement is getting to me already

Don’t Rock the Boat – Review and Competition

When our latest product for review arrived this week, it got us thinking about pirate themed board games. At first we all thought there were loads, but after racking our brains we could only come up with Pop Up Pirate. Well now there’s another to join the ranks – Don’t Rock the Boat from University Games.

Don’t worry though these pirates seem pretty harmless, more cute in fact. As these pesky pirates are penguins.

The game is really simple to set up and play which is wonderful as it means since we got it we’ve played it everyday. It’s the perfect 15 minute fun filler if your short on time, or you can just go on and on when the time is right.

The game board is a boat resplendent with 3 Masts, which sits upon a wave. The object of the game is to balance your pirate penguins on the boat without making it tip and sending them overboard.

It’s a really fun little game for all ages, and is great for younger players as there are no rules to follow, just keep your penguin on the boat.

A neat little trick is that you can hang the penguins over the side of the boat, and over the rails of the crows nests by their little bandana ties. We all loved trying to perfect that move.

It’s not as easy as it looks to get your penguins to balance, but that’s all part of the fun. No one is guaranteed to be the winner, and everyone will eventually get the chance to be the winner. It’s brilliant family fun.


Thanks to University Games we have a copy of ‘Don’t Rock the Boat’ to give away to Toybuzz readers.

Entry is simple, just leave a comment with your best Pirate related pun!

You can also tweet and follow on Facebook and Twitter for extra Entries.

Competition starts August 30th at 12:00am and ends September 6th 12:00am

Uk entries only.


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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Connect 4 – Review

The Games Company Winning Moves UK have some great official licensed versions of popular games out now and coming soon. Like Skylanders Monopoly, One Direction Top Trumps and Monopoly Junior Planes.

This past fortnight we’ve been testing out some of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themed games – Top Trumps and Connect 4

Today is all about the Connect Four.

Being Turtle-fied the grid is now green, which I really like. The counters are now not just Blue vs Yellow – but Leonardo vs Shredder.

The initial setup did take about 20 minutes as the counters come plain and you need to add the Shredder and Leonardo stickers yourself. This didn’t bother us as we all joined in and had some sticker fun before we even got to Connect Four, but just to let you know that first game will take longer than expected.

Aside from the colour and the counters the game is mostly the same game we all know and love, and probably played for hours growing up.

The game has a curved stand rather than the two-pronged legs version I used to play with. This makes the game board much more stable, and also holds the game counter so you can keep track of the score.

The one major difference is the addition of the Sewer Lid Blocker used for playing Sewer Style.

To play Sewer Style each player gets one Sewer Lid Blocker. You use your blocker by pushing it into one of the holes, therefore obstructing your fellow player from placing their counters in that space. However if your fellow player can manage to continue the game and get the counters to the top of the row then they can then remove the Sewer Lid Blocker, thus setting the counters free to fall and possibly winning the game.

Using the Sewer Lid Blockers are totally optional, it’s a nice extra but for younger players you don’t have to bother if you’d rather not.  In fact as a family we choose not to play with the blockers every time, it just jazz’s things up when you fancy it.

I think that Winning Moves have done a good job at giving Connect Four a Turtles makeover, and to be honest there’s not much more they could have done without messing around with the simplicity of Connect Four too much.

Although I think all children love Connect Four as it is, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans will get a real kick out of playing as one of their heroes and giving Shredder what for. A fun twist on a classic game, and still great fun!

Christmas in July #1

The last few weeks have been a very busy bunch in the toy world.

This is the time of year when all the toy companies and PR agencies hold little get togethers under the title of ‘Christmas In July’. A time for gathering all their latest and greatest products that they are hoping will be the big draws on Santas list for the upcoming holiday season.

Last Week I attended two such events, and made it back alive to tell you all about it.

Firstly I’ll start with Tuesday at Evolution Pr’s Christmas in July event. This is one of the big press preview events for toys, and with nearly 30 different exhibiting companies there was plenty on offer to catch my eye.

There was honestly so much that I had the privilege of seeing, but it would take me all day to go into absolutely everything. So this is just my taster of all my favourite bits.

The first stand I visited was Goldfish & Bison, who are a british company which distribute a range of classic brands like Spirograph and Simon, and totally new products such as Laser Pegs and Trendiy Art.

They had an amazing stand full of some really interesting and innovative products.

Laser Pegs are a new type of construction brick, and I can see them being a massive draw this Christmas time.

These brilliant bricks light up in vivid rainbow colours when you connect them up to their battery pack or a battery base plate.

Another product which I think could do very well is the new Spirograph Studio set.

The set contains all the Spirograph stencils that we all remember, but the new addition is the ability to now view your spirally creations in 3D thanks to the special 3D Ink pens and optical viewing glasses. I had a little go myself and it really did work, and at RRP £24.99 for the set its excellent value for money.

I also had great fun trying out their brand new board game Creepy Hand. It’s a kiddie version of truth or dare, but with a creepy disembodied hand wandering around the table. Whoever the hand stops and points its bony finger at is the unfortunate player who has to answer the question.

Next up I moved on over to Bladez Toyz to check out their huge range of Radio Controlled toys.

Unfortunately those incredible inflatable Minions you can see aren’t actually in production as yet, but I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on one of those soon.

The R2D2 is available though, and he’s very cool too. The toys have to be pumped up first before you can play, but you get the foot pump in the pack. The controls are very simple to use, and being inflatable it wont hurt your toy if you keep on bumping them into the furniture!

I also loved Bladez Toyz range of Gyro Helicopters, which had some extra special skills. Available in 3 different versions, one of the helicopters will shoot bubbles, another water, and the last will shoot tiny projectile darts.


I could have spent all day over at The Trash Pack table taking in the vast array of Trashie products they had on show.

The new Trash Pack Playset for this Christmas will be the Sewer Dump. It’s like a dirty and filthy Trashie theme park, with rides and slides, and lots to keep fans happy








The highlight of the whole show for me was the Schleich stand. I was totally blown away by their new Dragon Knights range.

The attention to detail in these Dragon and Knight figures was incredible, and I loved the whole concept of the two groups of warrior knights battling it out.

I really hope that the Dragon Knights from Schleich do well, and I urge you all to check that range out.











Over at Flair, I saw lots of Doc McStuffins toys, Turtles and even more Trash Pack. However there was one new property from them that really stood out, a range of dolls called Pinkie Cooper and the Jet Set Pets.

Pinkie Cooper and her friends are high fashion pets which love jet setting around the world come with their own Passports.

Strangely even though they are all dogs themselves, they also travel with their own miniature pet pooches.

I loved the styling of Pinkie, and if you have a little budding fashionista in the making I’m sure Pinkie and her Pals would go down tremendously well.



With that I set off back home for the day, only to be back a few days later with the kids in tow for the Mi-Christmas Open House. I’ll give you all the low down about that tomorrow :0



Uno Roboto – Review

This is the penultimate game review from our Mattel Fun Times Board Games box – Uno Roboto

I feel a bit silly to be honest, as the kids have been wanting to play this from day one, but I’ve been putting it off until the end. I’ve always had in my head that Uno was a really complicated game to play, and envisaged that we would be endlessly picking up and putting down cards.

I should have remembered that all the Fun Times games are designed to be played in around 20 minutes. If I’d have thought about that we would have been playing this for ages, it’s such a great great game. So much fun!

Firstly for those who haven’t played Uno before I’ll quickly explain the rules. Everyone starts with being dealt 7 cards. The cards have coloured numbers on them, or there are a few other special cards which change the game as you play.

To play you need to match either the colour or number of the last card played with one from your pack. If you can’t do that you need to pick up another card from the pile. The winner is the first player to use up all of their cards.

Along the way some of your special cards will come into play, such as switching the game play direction, next player misses a turn, or next player picks up cards.

This however is just how to play regular old Uno, Uno Roboto is a whole new game!

Roboto is a very cool robot, and the kids loved that he was speaking to them, and that he looks like he is really talking, as a red light flashes as he speaks.

At the start of the game Uno Roboto asks you to record your names. All the names come out as squeaky and high-pitched, so there’s no worrying about hearing your own voice as it doesn’t really sound like you anyway.

You can also record a house rule at this point if you wish. A house rule is a fun silly challenge that all the players must participate in, with the slowest player to finish having to draw 2 cards as punishment. You get 4 cards with some example house rules you can use if you need some inspiration with challenges like ‘Snort like a Pig’ or ‘Balance a card on your head’, but we decided as it’s the thing to do at the moment we’d have ‘Do the Gangnam Style dance’ as our house rule.

You don’t have to choose a house rule, but don’t think you’ll get out of doing silly things as Roboto will randomly pick players throughout the game to do a duel challenge, which is the same idea as the House Rule only it’s just between 2 players.

Roboto will also interrupt the game as you play just to shake things up a bit. For some reason he kept picking on Thomas, telling him to “Pick up cards until you find a Green One”. He eventually found one about 7 cards later, but at least he was still laughing. He often chips in telling someone to pick up some cards, or deciding it’s someone elses turn. You never know what Roboto is going to say, and he really does mix things up, and it definitely makes for a unique game every play.

I would undoubtedly recommend Uno Roboto as perhaps the perfect child friendly party game for Christmas time. My advice is if you have time to nip out and get one, go and do it. You won’t regret it!

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Chameleon Crunch – Review

The next review from our Mattel Fun Times board game box is Chameleon Crunch.

As with all the games featured in the Fun Times campaign, It’s fun, simple to set up and play, and takes under 20 minutes to play.

Again as this game is so easy to set up and play, I left the boys to this one whilst I made the tea after school. From all the giggles and laughter I could hear from the Kitchen, it went down well.

The main attraction of the game is the walking, talking blue Chameleon. The aim being to throw in the colourful bugs when he stops walking and opens his mouth.

He doesn’t actually leave his mouth open for long, so you’ve got to be quick. Also if it doesn’t quite go in properly, next time he opens up your bug will fall out.

The game is suitable for 2-4 players, so there are 4 different types and colours of bug. For younger players it’s easier to all choose a colour to feed the Chameleon. Older children can all choose a different bug type to feed him.

As it was only my boys playing, they both had 2 different colours to collect. Ensuring that all the bugs would get picked up.

To begin the game the instructions say to lay all the bugs out in a 5ft diameter circle, and the Chameleon is supposed to travel around the circle and you throw the bugs in as he passes. However we found that the Chameleon deviated from his circular path quite often, and even when he does stop you’ve got to be so quick to get the bugs inside his mouth. So for us we divided the bugs onto piles, rather than place them in a circle around the floor. It may not be exactly as the instructions suggest, but we found it made for a better game for our family.

The only very slight negative I have is that the Chameleon comes without a tail, and you have to attach that before you start. The only problem is that once attached  it does not come back off. And once on the Chameleon will not fit back into the box properly again. Only a niggle, nothing too serious I know. But annoying when you want to store the game. Parts can easily go missing as the box is not closed securely.

The box recommends it’s for players aged 4 upwards, but I think a bit younger would be fine too. Little ones will love running after Mr Chameleon.

The game needs 3 AA batteries which are not included, so be sure to have some ready for Christmas Day!

Lego Family Blogger Reviews December

As a family we are all big Lego fanatics, running this blog has already given us so many amazing opportunities to review various new Lego sets.

However I was still stunned and overwhelmed with excitement last month when we were asked to become a member of the Lego Blogger partnership 2102!

I didn’t tell the boys initially, as I wanted to see their faces when the first Lego parcel arrived. It certainly was a picture when the dived into their first Lego hamper of goodies. They didn’t know what to open first.

In all we received:

2 Packs of Lego Minifigures Series 8 – We got the Downhill Skier and Business Man

Lego Dino Set 5882 – Coelophysis Ambush Attack

Lego City Set 4200 – Mining 4×4

Lego Lord of the Rings Set 9471 – Uruk-Hai Army

Lego City Alarm Board Game

Cool but very mysterious poster for Lego’s newest range coming out 2013 – Legends of Chima

Ok let’s get down to the reviewing.

Firstly we set up the Lego Dino Set. This was a really lovely set, very easy to build, and completed in around 15 minutes. The Dino theme is great, so many fun ideas to be had with this set. The Dinosaur figure is all one piece, and stands up well without any wobbles even on the carpet. Jacob particularly liked the jungle bush, as he loved hiding the dinosaur behind and jumping out on me driving the jeep.

My favourite part is the fact the Jeep driver has 2 faces, one painted each side of his face. In the above picture he has his’ happy go lucky’ face on, but turn him around and he suddenly gets very frightened like he’s seen a big Dinosaur or something.

The Lego Dino 5882 set is recommended for children 5-12 years, which I think is about right. I’d probably say as the build is so easy it would be ideal for the younger end 5-8 Years, simply because it’s a perfect starter set.

Another set which would make an ideal first build would be the Lego City Set 4200 – Mining 4×4

 I was the one who loved this set the most I think. I’ve been enjoying Gold Rush on Discovery Channel recently, so getting to do a bit of prospecting for myself was really fun.

This set is great value for money in terms of playability. You get the truck and Miner, but also various tools, signs, dynamite, and the boulder full of gold. Theres really so much you can do with all the pieces, it will keep youngsters busy for hours.

Again it was a very simple and easy build, only 15 minutes from opening to playtime. Thomas did this one with no help from me, whilst I made the Dino set.

The boulder which comes apart was the boys highlight with this one. The gold inside looks very cool, and they loved setting up the dynamite and timer and then running off to push down the plunger. Lots of fun to be had with that.

Next up we made the Lord of the Rings set, although this one was harder so I did a bit more of the work.

I’m currently in the process of trying to get the boys into Lord of The rings and The Hobbit. We’ve just started watching Fellowship of the Ring, and although we are taking it in chunks as it’s so long were all enjoying it so far. The boys are massive fans of all the Lego video games, so I’m thinking Santa may add the Lego Lord of The Rings video game to his sack for them, as i’d love to be able to enjoy it with them.

This set however is probably the start of their love affair with Lord of The Rings, as it’s amazing! and since we received it, it’s been one of the most played with things in the house.

Again this set is amazing value for the amount of play you will get out of it. It comes with 6 Mini-Figures all with various weapons,armour and shields. A massive moveable catapult, A castle fortress wall (which also has its own mini-catapult) and lots more little bits and pieces like arrows and things.

Whats great about this set is the fact that it’s a battle, so you get 4 of the baddie Uruk-Hai, and 2 Rohan figures. One being the exclusive to this set Éomer figure. Both sides have some really cool weapons, the Uruk-Hai catapult is so cool, but the good guys have the fortress wall to protect them.

Both of the Catapults actually fire little Lego missiles too, so you can fire back and forth at each other. So much fun!

Being more complex a set, it was a longer build. However it was still a fairly simple one, and only took me around 40 minutes to have it all finished. I did the bulk of the building, but only because Thomas and Jacob were already busy fighting with the Mini-figures as soon as they were made.

The set also combines with The Battle of Helms Deep set number 9474 to create a huge fortress, and an even bigger battle. The Helms Deep set looks so impressive already, but adding this set really makes it something else. The boys are definitely saving up their christmas money to hopefully get the Helms Deep set in the new year.









Last but not least we tried out the new Lego City Alarm Board Game.

If you’ve never played a Lego board game before then it is a little different to the norm. As in firstly before you can start paying you actually have to build the board. So it’s not the simplest of set ups.

It’s not that it’s hard to build, but it’s just not conducive to a quick game as it takes around 25 minutes at least to put everything together that first time. So I was so glad after we’d finished that it would all fit back in the box in one piece.

The game is a good old cops and robbers chase around Lego City. One player being the Robbers, and one being the police hot on their tail. If like us you have more than 2 players then you need to make teams. For us me and Jacob were the good guys, and Thomas was the naughty robber.


The aim of the game for the robbers is to steal 10 stacks of money, and the police win if they catch all four robbers before they can.

Rather than rolling the dice to move around the board, Lego City Alarm has its own twist and for me it’s what makes the game.  For this game you turn over one of the brown dice bricks, and move that number. Or in the case of the Train brick, move to any train station you desire. Firstly all the bricks are turned over so its purely luck how many moves you can take, and once you’ve turned that brick over it stays turned over until all the bricks are used and you mix them around again. Once a few of the bricks have been used, it starts to get into strategy territory more. Second guessing your opponents moves depending on which bricks you know are left.

When a robber lands on a square with a building then they get to roll the special Lego Dice. Which depending on the side which it lands, affects the game in several different ways. They can get away scot-free with 2 bundles of cash, Get one stash of cash and then trip the alarm to send the police helicopter over, or get away with nothing and get the helicopter onto them.

It’s an interesting game, but I felt that the robber got to have more fun than the Police, Me and Jacob were just running around after Thomas rather than having a game of our own I felt. So if I was playing with younger children I would probably suggest they be the robbers as they get to roll the special dice.

Thanks so much to Lego for picking us to become a member of the Lego Blogger partnership 2102. We can’t wait to see what else you have in store for us :)

Junior Scrabble – Review

Another game from our Fun Times Board Game Hamper from Mattel – This time we choose to play Junior Scrabble.

Suitable for children from around aged 5 and up, this is the perfect way to introduce your younger children to the wonderful world of Scrabble.

It’s actually 2 games in one, One easier picture based version to get children used to using the board and tiles. Then a more simplified version of the more familiar Scrabble board, with some helpful hint words dotted around the outside.

Firstly Thomas(7), Jacob(5) and I (?) sat down to play the beginner picture side of the board, before me and Thomas were going to turn over and progress onto the real thing.

Words and Pictures

The words and pictures game is a lovely board, scattered with colourful pictures of simple words, and part of those words letters printed onto the board. To play the game each player gets 5 tiles, and firstly you simply match the tiles with the printed letters on the board.

This is such a simple way to get even the youngest of players used using the board, and seeing how when words are placed they can run into other words.

It also negates the pressure of thinking of the words, and the embarrassment of spelling a word wrongly.

Once all the printed letters have started to be filled up, looking at the pictures and letters already down your youngster should by now feel confident enough to start putting down some of the missing letters to complete the word. Of course it’s all dependant on age, Jacob was quite happy to simply tile up the printed letters at first, but once he’d added the N for ant, he was really enthused and suddenly got very interested.

Jacob did need a bit help at the end once all of the printed letters had been filled, and it was left to complete some of the longer words, but Thomas did it all on his own and ended up winning.

This game was brilliant for us, both the boys enjoyed playing, and it was obviously great for helping them both with their spelling and reading skills. A big thumbs up from all of us.

Colours and Counters

This game is played on the other side of the game board, which is more like a normal scrabble board, just slightly simplified.

I’m not sure why this game is called Colours and Counters, as the counters are not used for this game. Unless its counters as in counting points, which you earn for placing down your words. Anyway, no matter, it’s still fun.

This game is essentially a normal Scrabble game. You place the tiles down in the same way, however the scoring is different. There are no number values on the letter tiles in this game, each tile is worth 1. That is unless you place your tile on one of the coloured squares – for each blue square used you add 2 points to the word, and 3 points if your word is placed over a red square.

The only other difference is that each player only has 5 letter tiles to work with, rather than the usual 7.

Me and Thomas played this together straight after the easier version, and even though he said he preferred the other game, I think that was only because this one required him to use his brain a bit more. Once he gets a bit more practice, and as he gets a bit older I can see this becoming one of our favourite games.

It wasn’t the making of words so much that he had a problem with, as he is very good at spelling. It was the general scrabble placement of words that he had a bit of trouble getting his head around. The fact that even though you can put a word down, you have to watch for the nearby tiles making up nonsense words. I’m sure after a few games he will get it, but initially I suppose it’s a hard concept to understand.

Scrabble Junior is a fun inviting way to introduce younger children to the simple joys of Scrabble, and as there are two games to play it will grow with your child and give you years of play.


Whac-A-Mole Molehill Mania Game – Review

We were amazingly lucky last week to receive a bumper box of wonderful family board games from Mattel for review.

It’s all part of their Fun Times initiative, which aims to get families together to play games more often. All the games we received for review can be played in a maximum of 20 minutes, so there really is no excuse not to be able to find the time to play.

The first game we played out of the box was Molehill Mania, mainly because they boys opened the box after school and I still had the tea to cook. So they needed to find a simple game they could play together before eating, whilst the food was cooking.

Whac-A-Mole Molehill Mania is the perfect game for such a scenario.

It’s game for 2 players, for players aged 4 and up. Absolutely perfect for my two 5 and 7-year-old boys.

The game is based around the idea of the Whack A Mole machines that you get in arcades. Although this game is quite different to those, the feel is much the same.

Inside the box you get 2 mallets, 11 Moles (5 green,5 blue, 1 red) and a molehill for the moles to jump out of. The best part is the realisation that no batteries are required. Hurrah!

You can play the games in 3 different ways, each needing a bit more skill. Good for as your children get older.

Each game starts the same. Firstly you place all the moles in the molehill. Next both players grab a mallet. When your both ready you simply shout “Go” and start whacking the planks down on the side of the molehill as fast as you can. As you whack the moles will flip out of the molehill onto the floor. Once all the Moles are out then you move onto the next part depending which level of game your playing.

The basic game sees you simply collect 6 moles as fast as you can by whacking down on them with your mallet. Once you have 6 in your mallet, a yellow plastic mole will pop out of the top to indicate you have a full mallet and have won.

In level 2 each player choses to be either blue or green, and you have to whack all of your chosen colour moles as quick as possible. When all your moles are in your mallet then you can whack the red mole to win the game.

In the last level you bring points into the equation, with green moles being 1 point, blue 3, and the red 5. Tallying up your 6 moles at the end of the game to see which player has the most points to win. This way of playing was actually my boys favourite. Although all 3 ways of playing were great fun.

As a parent the things I liked the most about the game was:

  • It was very easy for my sons to set up themselves
  • They both fully understood the rules immediately as it was so simple to explain. So everyone knew what to do.
  • No Batteries
  • Each game only lasts about 2 minutes, so in the 15 minutes I was busy doing dinner they played about 10 rounds and were happy they’d had a good amount of playing time.



Spin Mania – Review

Todays review is another brilliantly fun family game we were sent from makers Drumond Park, Spin Mania.

If you’ve ever been the one sat on the sofa watching someone on the tv doing some plate spinning thinking ‘I could do that’ (which I think is just about everyone). Then this is definitely the game for you.

Plate spinning is one of those things that  although looks skilled and impressive, also seems doable at the same time. Well that’s how I’ve always felt, so I really couldn’t wait to have a go at Spin Mania. I was as eager as the kids.

The main component of Spin Mania is the Spin Machine. This sets your plates spinning, but also times your performance.

The aim of the game is to get your 3 plates spinning on their stands in the shortest amount of time. All 3 plates must be spinning at the same time to finish. So you need to be quick, as if you take too long your first plate may have stopped already, and you’ll need to respin it.

As if this wasn’t enough the game is even trickier than it first seems, as your opponent is in charge of placing the plate stands around the room – And you’re not allowed to look!

The boys and I started off getting to grips with the spinning plates, and it instantly had us in stitches as we just couldn’t stop laughing. Initially we just took it in turns putting the plates on the stands on the floor. It’s a tad tricky initially, but we soon got the hang of it. And once we’d mastered that, we went onto the real game.

Thomas needed to be told a few times about placement of the plate stands, because even though your opponent can put them pretty much where they like without you looking, they still have to be visible. He kept putting one behind the sofa! Anyway once we’d worked that out we had a great laugh.

Even though it’s timed and is a game, it doesn’t feel overly competitive playing it. Obviously you want to be the quickest, but the boys had a great sense of achievement from just competing I think.

It’s also fun if you just want to play by yourself, trying to beat your own time or simply honing your skills for later.

It’s very simple to set up, takes literally a minute to have everything out and ready to play. So it’s a great game for when the kids seem to be seemingly buzzing with energy, and need something to burn it off . A good 10 minute blast before bedtime for example.

The only slight negative is the need for 2 C sized batteries which are not included. These are not the kind of batteries you usually would have lying around the house, so make sure you pick some up when you get the game.

Spin Mania is a fun and energetic game which will delight children of all ages. The box states players 6+ but my nearly 5 year old Jacob was fine once he’d had a bit of practice. Great family fun!