Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush – Review

Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush is the latest game featuring the loveable pink ball on the Wii U.

In the game Kirbys home of Dream Land and all the inhabitants have been drained of all colour, by an evil villain who appears from a portal through the sky. Luckily a magical paintbrush also appears, and helps Kirby and his friend Waddle Dee get their colour back. Kirby then sets off on an adventure to put things right.

You play the game by drawing rainbow ropes for Kirby to traverse on the Wii U’s touch screen gamepad. Kirby travels along the colourful ropes wherever you draw them. You use them to help Kirby navigate obstacles, collect powers and attack enemies.

However the magic paintbrush only has so much ink, so you have to keep a careful eye on how much ink you’ve used in your rope or Kirby might fall somewhere dangerous. Also the colours on the magical ropes only last so long before they start to fade and disintegrate. we’ve found that sometimes making more smaller ropes works best when you can.

Jacob is the biggest Kirby fan in our house, so has commandeered most of the gametime to himself. It’s hard to get him off it to be honest. The good news is that as you spend most of the time looking down on the gamepad, it’s the perfect game to take advantage of the wii u’s best feature, using the gamepad without needing the tv on.

Jacob loves that he can sit on the other sofa with his headphones on, playing a console game like it’s his 3DS. He plays the Wii U like this a lot if the game allows.

However when he finally lets everyone else play 4 of us can play together. One plays as Kirby on the gamepad, and the 3 others play as Waddle Dee’s on either wii Remotes or Wii U Pro Controllers. It’s so much fun all playing together, and very colourful seeing all the rainbow ropes running over the screen.

We all really like the art style of Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush. It’s made to look like everything is made of clay or plasticine. We had a lot of fun making our own Kirby and Dream Land thanks to the amazing art pack we received from Nintendo with the game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you fancy making your own check out the youtube video below, it’s a great step by step guide.

Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush is a lovely game for all ages. It’s very easy to just pick up and play.

Disclosure: We received a copy of Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush and the art supplies as part of our participation in the Nintendo Family Bloggers Network.

 

Crayola Colour Alive – Review

Easter holidays, and the boys have been getting creative and testing out the new Crayola colour Alive colouring books.

With Colour Alive you can see the images you’ve coloured in actually pop out of the screen and into your living room. Which is actually really neat.

As with most things nowadays there’s an app you’ll need to download.

The system works by scanning and recognising the special Colour Alive marker you have used. Each book comes with 7 Crayola Markers, but only one unlocks the special virtual reality pictures. With the two colouring books we had to review, the red marker unlocked the magic in Mythical Creatures, and it was the yellow in enchanted forest.

Once you’ve found the special colour you need to simply scan it in the Colour Alive app.  Then you can scan in your colouring pages and watch as the pictures appear to come alive.

Annoyingly at the moment it seems that the app is having a few problems on certain devices with scanning the coloured in pictures. However if you scan an uncoloured page and then colour it in the 4D effects will work.

Once we figured things out and released that our virtual dragon was located in the “my saved stuff’ section, we got to work taking some virtual selfies with our works of art.

Even Harry the cat got involved.

To celebrate Colour Alive being at the Gadget Show Live there’s actually a competition running this week, for the best Colour Alive Selfie with an amazing prize.

If you have a Colour Alive set you can enter by tweeting #colouryouselfie and your picture, and if you get to see it at the show you can try it out and enter there.

Disclosure: We were sent some Colour Alive sets by Crayola to review. All opinions are my own.

 

Sprukits Model Kits – Review

I’m always on the lookout for fun new products to review, so was happy to oblige when Bandai and A1Toys.com offered us a brand new model kit to review.

The new sets are called Sprukits, and the boys were absolutely thrilled with the figure we made.

We tested out the Halo commander Sarah Palmer model kit, but there are lots of different figures available. Batman, Superman, Joker, and Halo Master Chief amongst others.

The best thing about the new Sprukits sets is the ease of building. Theres no glue required, all the pieces snap together. Plus no fiddly painting, just a few stickers to apply to complete the realistic look.

All the pieces come on snap off plastic sheets, numbered to show you which piece you need next.

The instructions were all laid out really well, and we didn’t run into any problems during our build.

The sets come in three levels of building difficulty, however the boys and I built Sarah Palmer a level 2 model in under an hour with no problems.

initially I was a bit wary of the 8+ age rating, as I did think it would be too complicated for children that young.

However once we got stuck in, it became apparent that 8+ was totally right. Thomas at 9 was in his element and could just about have completed it by himself, and my other son who’s 7 did very well too.

It was a bit fiddly for my youngest as some of the pieces are quite small. However he read all the instructions and told me where to put the pieces easily.

The finished figure looks awesome, and it’s great that it’s not just a model to put on the desk and look at. All the joints, arms,legs,feet, head are articulated, so she works like a regular action figure.

My boys are huge,huge Halo fanboys, so obviously this toy was right up their street.They are desperate to get the Master Chief and Spartan Sprukits models now.

Sprukits are a totally new way of model building that has really captured both of my son’s imagination. Totally recommended.

Disclosure: We were sent a Sprukits model kit to review from Bandai andA1toys.com. However all opinions are honest and my own.

 

 

 

 

Kiddizoom Smart Watch – Review

This time last week I was busy watching my boys climbing around in the trees, negotiating rope bridges and flying down zip wires, all the while filming their exploits on their brand new Kiddizoom Smart Watches courtesy of Vtech.

We had an amazing Day at Go Ape! Black Forest Park putting the Kiddizoom Smart Watch through its paces.

Vtech had planned a brilliantly fun range of tasks for the children to attempt whilst moving along the treetop course.

As they made their way along the obstacles they had challenges like “pull a cheeky monkey face” , “Film yourself howling like tarzan on the zip line”, and “Take a selfie on the balancing beam”.

My boys both loved their new Kiddizoom Smartwatches, which have the ability to take photos, movies, play games, record voice memos, and obviously help them tell the time.

The quality of the photos isn’t going to be rivaling your iPhone, but it’s a lot better than I was expecting. For a comparison the last Kiddizoom camera I used was the Kiddizoom Video Camera, and the video and photo quality are much improved over this. Thomas took his watch to school to show his friends yesterday, and I was actually surprised how good some of the pictures he took were.

The watches are charged by connecting it up to a computer by the included USB cable, so hurray no batteries.

When your charging the device you can also easily retrieve the photos and videos from the camera watch and put them onto your computer desktop. Thomas has already changed his desktop picture to one of the photos he took on the day from his watch.

Don’t take our word for it either, the Kiddizoom Smart Watch has today been announced as one of the Toy Retailers Association’s Top 12 Dream Toys of 2014.

The watch is available in three colours, Pink, the usual Kiddizoom Blue, and a gorgeous white version.

Both my boys picked white, and I was really glad they did. The white looks more grown up, and for me makes the watch look a bit less kiddy and much more fashionable. I would recommend the blue or pink for younger children, and probably the white from aged 7 upwards for this reason.

Thomas thinks he’s a mini Tim Cook from Apple wearing his Kiddizoom Smart Watch, he’s thrilled with the reaction he’s been getting from his friends whilst wearing it.

The touchscreen is responsive, and makes the inbuilt games like Finger Dance (my boys fave) and rotating puzzle really fun.

Even though the games are small and simple they’ve come into there own when the boys are bored in the car, or waiting in the supermarket, or going on the bus to town.

The cool thing with the rotating puzzle game is that any photos you take with the camera can randomly appear as a puzzle in the game along with the default pictures.

Jacob has even taken to amusing himself with the stop watch function. Timing how long it takes for me to drag him around Sainsburys, and how long it takes to walk to school.

With an RRP of £39.99 I think that it’s a brilliant value for money toy, and if you shop around you can almost certainly find it cheaper at the moment. However that’s if you can find it, as I can see it selling out rather quickly now due to its appearance on the Dream Toys top 12. My advice would be to buy early and beat the rush.

Perhaps the only thing missing would be a mp3 player and headphone socket. This would be the killer addition, however probably impossible considering for its size I’m surprised they managed to fit in a camera and video recorder. It’d be nice for the next model though :)

Thanks so much to Vtech Toys for arranging such an amazing day out, and for letting us try out these awesome Kiddizoom Smart Watches.

 

New Books about Loom Bands! and Loom Bands Charms! – Review

I was quite dismissive initially about Loom Bands, and how long the Loom madness would last. However I’ve been most triumphantly proved wrong as Loom Bands are still massive with the kids, and shows no signs of stopping. Well in our household at least.

Loom bands seem to have taken over the school playground and beyond, and seem hell-bent on world domination. Before Loom Bands when travelling on a long train journey I would have had to pack the iPod full of music, headphones, pack of cards, and a tablet full of tv shows and movies for the boys to watch.

Last Saturday however we travelled simply armed with a portable Loom band case and two Loom Band making books and we were sorted for the whole way. No moaning “Are we nearly there yet?”, they were totally quiet and fully engrossed for the whole journey.

Loom Bands! and Loom Bands! Charms! from Heike Roland & Stefanie Thomas, Published by Quadrille are two new books totally devoted to the art of creating crazy,amazing, and most importantly awesome looking Loom Bands and Loom Band charms.

Inside the books you’ll find step by step instructions on how to make Loom Band bracelets and charms from the very basics to much more intricate designs.

We loved that each step of the process gives you clear instructions on what to do, and has a full colour photo so you can see exactly whats meant at every stage. Thomas says it’s like watching Youtube tutorials, but better as you don’t have to pause it all the time.

A fun thing that the boys really enjoyed was Looming without a Loom! In the book there are designs that you make using two pencils, and even one which you use a fork.

I’ll admit that as a family were good at the basic designs, but not so good as things get that bit harder. The Loom Bands! and Loom Bands Charms! books are great because the creations are in the book from easier to hardest, and most of the beginning of the books were ok with. I’m just working onto some of the hardest ones now, getting there slowly.

Heres one of the simpler ones, A flower. It’s not perfect, but it was my first attempt at something out of the loom band charm book. I am getting better, and the books have really helped.

 

 

Loom Bands! and Loom Bands! Charms! published by Quadrille are out now with an RRP of £4.99 each

Disclosure: We were sent a copy of both books in order for us to write an honest review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

VTech Short Story Competition

VTech have launched a short story competition to celebrate the launch of their newest gadget – InnoTab MAX

VTech are challenging children from 4-8 to write a short story of 500 words or less about absolutely anything. The winning story will be published as an InnoTab E-Book.

The competition is open for entry from Monday 6th October 2014, and closes on Wednesday 22nd October 2014. Entrants can enter as many stories as they like.

The stories will be judged by Best Selling Children’s author Terry Deary, known for his gruesome ‘Horrible Histories’ series.

The writer of the winning story will see their story turned into a downloadable InnoTab E-Book, and receive a brand new InnoTab MAX to read it on. Six Runners up will also receive an InnoTab MAX.

To be in with your chance of winning, simply send your entries to InnoTabMAX@grayling.com by Wednesday 22nd October 2014. Winners will be announced later in November.

For more information on InnoTab MAX and the full VTech range, visit www.vtech.co.uk

Crocs Jibbitz gets Zappar treatment

Jibbitz – those fun little charm accessories you can use to customise your crocs, have just got even more interactive.

Jibbitz have added Zappar technology to four new packs, enabling you to zappar your pack and use your new charms virtually as well as physically wearing them.

The New packs with Zappar technology are Battlefield – where you challenge Sarge in a paintball game, Pet Salon – Which lets you preen your lovely kitty charm, Race Benny with the Racing Car pack, and lastly take your picture with your beautiful butterfly charm in the Fairy Land pack.

We tested out the Battlefield pack – Perfect for my two boisterous boys.

After launching the Zappar app on my iPhone and Zapping the code on our pack, suddenly Sarge popped onto the screen out of nowhere barking orders.

The best part obviously though is the paintball mini game. Sarge appears in a tank and proceeds to launch paint at you, you have to dodge the paintballs by correctly clicking where the paint will land. If you don’t you’ll end up covered in paint, and it’s three strikes and your out.

It’s a fun added extra to your pack of Jibbitz, and eveytime Jacob sees the Sarge Jibbit it reminds him of the game and he wants to play it again.

The only problem I have is that the app won’t remember the Zappar code, so make sure you keep the pack if you want to play the game again.

You can press on Sarge’s head and he does a few different animations. Jacob’s favourite is when steam comes out of his ears and he then blows up and emerges covered in paint, he laughs and laughs every time.

The zappable Jibbitz™ charms are available now in both the UK and the US through Crocs stores and Crocs online, priced at £6.99/$7.99.

All new Zappar Powered Jibbitz for Crocs from Zappar on Vimeo.

Disclosure: We were sent a pack of the Battlefield Jibbitz in order to write an honest review.

Rubik’s Cube turns 40 – Review

You may remember last year me taking part in the ‘Cuber In Training’ blogger challenge, with me finally completing the cube in 4mins 16 secs.

Well this year that twisty turny coloured menace of a cube turns 40 years old, and to celebrate the anniversary we were kindly sent some more Rubik’s goodies to test.

First Invented in 1974, it was in the 80’s that the worldwide obsession with the cube took over. Making the Rubik’s Cube synonymous with the decade as much so as leg warmers and Wham!

As a child of the 80’s the Rubik’s Cube will always hold a special place in my heart. In fact it’s the one and only toy I can remember me, my uncles and even my grandfather all trying our hand at. My granddad impartial is still a massive fan, and I often found him trying to complete it all these years later.

As well as the lovely old Rubik’s Cube, we were also sent a mini keyring version which is gorgeous, but so small it makes the solving even harder if that’s possible.

Our favourites though out of our bloggers box was the Rubik’s Twist (which my husband says used to be called the snake) and Rubik’s Race which is an awesome two player game.

The Rubik’s Twist has been such a revelation, the kids have been totally glued to it. Fighting over who gets to use it next. Which has been great, I love that they have been off their gadgets for a while and creating fun shapes with their hands and imaginations. It’s a real brain teaser.

Rather than having a single solution, the Rubik’s Twist is made for creativity. It’s basically up to you what you want to make of it. Try to put it back into a circle, making a pattern in the colours, making a shape like a cat or zig zag. The boys have really gone to town and enjoyed the flexibility of not having a pre-determined end solution to aim for.

Rubik’s Race is Thomas and I’s new thing to do together during our quiet time before bed.

Although we have so much fun it’s maybe not quiet, but it’s something not involving a screen.

Each player has a board with 24 coloured tiles (4 of each colour).

One player shakes the tumbler. Inside are 9 little coloured cubes, the game is to match the pattern that the cubes in the tumbler make on your own big board.

You do this buy moving around the tiles until the patterns match. The first one to match the pattern correctly is the winner. It’s fast, fun, but ever so tricky, and brutal when your one tile away from finishing and your opponent smash’s down his panel to say he’s won.

We have had so much fun with game. It’s the best game we’ve played for a long while, and so addictive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If all this talk of Rubik’s cubes has got you all nostalgic, then head on over to Google’s CubeLab where you can play online Rubik’s inspired games and digital artwork.

Thanks so much to John Adams for sending these Rubik’s goodies for us to try out.

Hue Animation Studio – Review

Over the last month the boys are I have been having a brilliant time together reviewing the Hue Animation Studio.

It’s a kit aimed at kids, helping them to make simple stop motion animation videos.

The box proclaims “Coming with everything you need to make your own animated movies”. Well we put it to the test and they weren’t wrong.

What’s included 

On opening the box you’ll find a brilliant simple to use plug in and play webcam, 5 bars of modelling clay for model making, and an installation disk and download code for the Hue Animation Software.

I went ahead and downloaded the software as I have a Macbook Air with no disk drive. It was probably easier than using the disk, and downloading from the website ensures you always get the latest version of the software.

As soon as you start up the Hue Animation Software and plug in the webcam your ready to go. The software is incredibly simple to get to grips with, just a little clicking of all the buttons to see what happened and almost immediately we were making movies.

Getting started 

Thomas decided to be the director of our movie and made the decision to animate his Minecraft and Moshi Monster figures rather than making a model with the clay.

First thing he did was write up a storyboard of our movie. We downloaded and printed out a template storyboard from the Hue Animation website, and I would recommend doing the same. It’s brilliant to have your story down on paper before you start animating.

Even though we changed some things as we went, we had the main gist of what he wanted to happen planned out. You can get free backgrounds from the website too.

The amount of support on the website is great, there’s a section of tutorials to help you get started and with using effects. Their Facebook page  is another great resource Or if you more of a visual learner they have some brilliant videos on the Hue Animation Youtube channel teaching you tips and tricks.

And this is the movie we ended up creating:

Finished Result

Thomas was absolutely thrilled with his movie, he thinks it’s amazing, and I was so proud of him. He came up with an original storyline, and we worked hard trying to get the frame lengths and text as he wanted. It was a very proud moment for him when he invited his friends around to watch it on Youtube. They couldn’t believe he had made it.

Coincidently saving the file ready for upload the Youtube is simply one click. extremely simple.

As I said Thomas was thrilled with his movie, however the perfectionist in me can see a few problems, and in the next movie were making I am trying to correct these.

Firstly you can see throughout the film that the light changes. That’s my fault really. The instructions do suggest using a static light source like a lamp, but we didn’t have a desk lamp to use. I’m going to get a small lamp to use for our movie making by next time.

The other thing was the blank background. We filmed our figures inside a shoebox so the colour would be all blank and I could then use Hue Animations ‘Chroma Key’ setting, to paste a background behind like a green screen.

Unfortunately it didn’t work out very well as some of the figures we used had white on them, so when we projected the background,  it went over the figures too. Again this was my fault, I should have used a green screen but we just wanted to film as soon as we opened the box.

The shoe box worked well as a film set, but we are going to paint it green for next time.

Final Thoughts

For kids and parents looking to make some fun memories and fab movies the Hue Animation studio is just the ticket. I have no doubt that there is better movie making software out there available for much much more money, but with its £50 price tag  Hue Animation is unbelievable value for money. Plus the software is so simple and user friendly, the kids can create movies all by themselves.

We had so much fun making our little movie, and Thomas learnt a lot too. I would most definitely 100% recommend it.

Information from the makers:

The Good Toy Guide approved Hue Animation Studio contains everything a budding animator needs to begin creating stop motion animation videos.  Children can discover, imagine and create stop-motion animation through powerful, easy-to-use,animation software complete with Hue’s market leading Plug ‘n’ Play HD camera with built-in microphone and a unique flexible neck for unlimited positioning options. 

The software (used in schools and at home) helps children to create simple visual adaptations using toys, modelling clay, play figures and stop-frame animation techniques.  The process of animating with the Hue Animation Studio encourages children to learn a diverse range of skills in both a fun and stimulating way.  They can create a story, create characters, make them from clay or plasticine, design and make sets, compose soundtracks or select appropriate recorded music to enhance a film.

Disclosure: We were sent a copy of Hue Animation Studio in order for us to give a full and honest review. All opinions are of course my own.

Smiggle – Review

This week the Toybuzz boys have been a total whirlwind of creativeness, thanks to the amazing bundle of Smiggle goodies we were sent.

Smiggle are a cool Australian stationary company which are this week branching out over to blighty, opening a store this Wednesday at Westfield Stratford. This will be followed by further store launches in Reading, Brighton and Kingston. You can also check them out at their website www.smiggle.co.uk.

The main thing that struck me about all the lovely things we received was the sense of humour and fun the brand has. Everything was very vibrant and vivid, the theming of the notepads and pens were wonderful, the boys and I just loved the direction of the brand immediately.

We received a great array of different stationary goodies – pens, colouring pencils, notepads, rulers and rubbers, pencil cases, and some great creative activity packs like a scratch art book.

The felt tip pens come in a brilliant plastic case, which is really handy for keeping them tidy. They are slightly smelly too, but not overpowering like some can be. A nice subtlety.

Jacob’s favourite product has been the scratch book. You get lots of black pages and a little plastic stick with which to scratch the black away. Underneath the black is a myriad of colours, so the image you scratch away looks stunning. It’s great fun, and gives you a really dramatic effect.

No sooner had Thomas and Jacob dove into the bag of Arty loveliness, Thomas had come up with the perfect project for him to use them with. He formed the ‘Minecraft Colouring Club’ for him and his school buddies.

Everyday he’s been travelling to school with his backpack full to the brim of colouring pens, sketch books and pencils. All the materials he and his friends need for some cool creative fun at playtime.  I’ve been amazed by some of the things they have all come up with. Plus I’m really happy that for the past week he’s been spending more time drawing at the kitchen table than playing his tablet.

Apologies to Smiggle that the only thing he’s been colouring is video game related, but at least it’s cut down his screen time for a while.

Smiggle’s name means “Where a smile meets a giggle”, and from what I’ve seen in the few days my boys have been busy Smiggle, the name is very very apt :)

If your lucky enough to live anywhere near Westfield Stratford I would highly recommend giving the new store a visit on opening day Thursday 20th February. I only wish I lived nearby as I’d be there for sure.

Disclosure: We received a selection of Smiggle products in order for us to give an honest review