Postman Pat Special Delivery Service App – Review

This week the kids have been busy putting the new Postman Pat Special Delivery Service App through its paces on my iPad.

Based around Postman Pat’s newest incarnation at the special Delivery Service, it comes complete with all the familiar characters, voices, songs,and visuals from the series.

There are 8 main games to get to grips with, each with an Easy, Normal and Hard difficulty level. There is also an additional puzzle game you can play with the stamps you collect from your completed levels. So as you can see there’s a lot to keep your little ones busy in this one App.

Jacob and Thomas both had great fun with the games like Ben’s Sorting office and Post Box Run, although I think Jacob had a bit more trouble with the controls in this App than others we have tried. Even the Easy difficulty level was set quite high I thought.

Out of all the games we played Ted Glen’s Garage came out as the family favourite. In it you find yourself in Ted Glen’s workshop setting out to fix and make road worthy Pat’s van. Identifying the problems and then locating the right tools is sometimes a bit tricky, so it’s great for giving your little ones brain a workout whilst having a bit of fun.

I think this App is perfect for around the 5yr old age. Obviously younger Postman Pat fans will adore the sounds and visuals from their favourite show, but I think that children that little bit older will get the most out of some of the more challenging games.

Culica – Review

Culica is a brand new game of skill and logic, it’s fast to set up, fun to play, and unlike most things these days no batteries are required.

I found out about Culica from the creator of the game himself James Eadon. He sent me a message on Twitter and asked if I would be interested in reviewing the new game he’d invented. I’m always happy to try new products, so jumped at the chance to try out this whole new type of game.

Culica is essentially a game of logic, very basically revolving around putting pegs onto a cube. Obviously there is much much more to it than that, but I’m finding it really hard to explain exactly what. It’s the kind of thing that you have to play yourself in order to fully appreciate it.

Inside the box you will find the

  • Culica Game cube
  • 84 Coloured pegs
  • 4 instructional game cards
  • and a drawstring bag to keep the pegs in

On the included instructional cards you’ll find 5 different games to play, there are also more games being added periodically to the Culica website. So your never going to be lost for things to do with your Culica.

My 5 yr old and I have played through all the included games, but we always seem to come back to the cuColours game, as we find that the easiest and most fun, especially when it’s just a quick 10 minute game before bed. In cuColours you choose 14 pegs and place them in the bag. Each player picks a peg out of the bag and places it on the game cube, each peg must touch another but not pegs of the same colour. Even my 3yr old gets this game, and enjoys playing it along with the rest of the family.

The best thing about the Culica games is that there’s no long drawn out setup, you basically put the pegs in a bag and your on your way. This is obviously ideal for families with younger children like me, but also a deal maker for getting other people to play with you who usually insist they don’t play games. What these people actually mean in most instances is that they can’t be bothered with the long and drawn out setup and endless explanations of rules that accompany most games. Having Culica be so easy to just pick up and play will hopefully persuade them to have a go.

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Tonka Chuck & Friends – App Review

Tonka Chuck and Friends – Friends for the Long Haul is the first App to come out from the collaboration between Hasbro and Ruckus Media, and I’ve been wanting to try it out for ages. However I had to wait as I really wanted to try this one out on the iPad, so had to put it on hold until I got one. Well now I have one here goes.

The App is based on Hasbro’s popular pre-school Tonka Chuck & Friends toy range, and now also cartoon series. I think the cartoon series is shown on the Cartoonito channel in the UK although I’ve never seen it myself but I obviously know the toys very well.

I love the styling of this App, it’s so colourful and looks great on the iPad screen. It’s very easy to use, my 5 year old didn’t have any problems navigating around and playing the in App games on his own.

There are 3 different ways of reading the book, either the voice of Chuck will read the book to you while you turn the pages, or you can read the book yourself, or you can record your voice reading along to the book and then your child can listen to you reading the story back to them when they use the App.

My 3 and 5 yr olds and I sat down on the sofa and all listened to the story together, both of them fighting over who get’s to turn the page. The story kept them really engrossed, the mix of storybook, games and cartoon clips really worked at keeping their attention.

There are 2 different types of game, one where you have to wipe mud of the screen to reveal letter tiles underneath which spell out an appropriate word from the story, and the other requires you to match the picture cards to reveal the letters underneath.

These games were great for my 2 differing age boys, My youngest loved wiping the screen clean and Thomas really enjoys the matching pairs game. It was brilliant to have no tears or arguments for once as they both got a game they could successfully complete and have loads of fun doing it.

At the end of the story you can use the story word tiles you’ve collected to fill in the story as it happened, or make up a totally new story of your own. This was a nice parting feature as just when you thought you were finished there’s another fun activity waiting for you right at the end.

Me and my sons have really enjoyed using the Chuck & Friends App, as far as I’m concerned it’s another Ruckus Media classic. You can download Tonka Chuck & Friends – Friends for the Long Haul from the iTunes App store for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

Tidlo High Tea Matching Set from John Crane – Review

Our next toy package sent from John Crane for us to review as part of the Craniacs program was the Tidlo High Tea Matching Set.

This being a very girly girly toy and me having two very boisterous boys I didn’t foresee this review going terribly well. I think however I underestimated the draw of this amazingly gorgeous looking wooden cake stand, because as soon as they saw the box they were both squabbling over who would get to play with it first.

The set comes flat packed in the box, and you simple screw the middle section in place with the supplied allen key. It took me little less than a minute, and then we were ready for tea time.

Jacob is 3 1/2 and has just finished his first term in nursery, so the main number matching aspect of this toy is great for him. He’s had a lot of fun trying to fit the correct cakes into the cake stand, usually when his big brothers not around though as he tends to get involved and take over very quickly.

The boys haven’t used it for anything else other than the matching game, but I can imagine that a little girl would get so much more from this toy. I can envisage stunning tea parties with these delightful cakes, and maybe a pretend patisserie  or cafe with these delectable delights on offer.

A gorgeous gift that although obviously more suited for a girl doesn’t mean that little brother won’t be fascinated with it too.

Skylanders:Spyro’s Adventure

A few weeks ago I was thrilled to be invited down by Activision to come and see an amazing new game they have been working on, the title in question was Skylanders : Spyro’s Adventure.

Now you may be wondering why Toybuzz a predominantly toy related website attended  the preview of a new computer game – well the simple answer is Skylanders is not just a game – it’s a brand new exciting concept where the game and real world figures interact meaning you can literally “Bring your toys to life”.

Skylanders is a really exciting new crossover between your regular video game and kids favourite action figures. Using a device called the Portal of Power you can teleport your toys directly into the game on the screen, which is amazing. Whilst watching the demo of the game, and also having the chance to play the game myself, all I kept thinking was “The kids will love this!”.

The story behind the game is Spyro the Dragon has now joined the legendary group of characters known as Skylanders, and with his friends has to save the planet Skyland from the evil portal master Kaos.

There are over 30 characters in all to collect, each one with different moves and attacks. Each of the characters will be from one of 8 elemental groups, Air, Magic, Fire, Undead, Life, Earth, Water, and Tech.

Changing characters on the fly is as easy as lifting your figure off the portal of power and simply placing the new one on. As you travel through the levels there will be puzzles and enemies that maybe another character would be better equipped to tackle, or even areas which only characters of a certain elemental class will be able to enter, so you’ll be switching back and for characters a lot.

The figures themselves will have “brains” that remember everything that you do as you play . All the power ups you collect, gold coins, battle upgrades will be saved inside your toy. This is brilliant in that if you go round a friend’s house for a game of Skylanders and place your Spyro or Trigger Happy onto their portal of power, your figure will play exactly the same as it does when your home.

I’ve told Thomas all about the game and he is tremendously excited, This game really is right up his street. To be honest I’m surprised no-one has tried to integrate toys and games in this way before, as I know from experience that my boys will go straight from playing Lego Star Wars or Mario on the TV, and then reenact the levels with their soft toys and action figures afterwards.

Also kids love collecting everything! So the idea that you can unlock new areas of the game when you add new characters to your figure collection is genius.

However the thing I was most impressed with about Skylanders was the fact that the developers haven’t just added the toy element and thought well that’s enough for the kids, they’re gonna lap this up, they have actually gone the extra mile by putting it all together with an exciting adventure storyline written by Toy Story writers Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow, and an amazing soundtrack by the wonderful Hans Zimmer. Toys for Bob have worked really hard to create a game that kids will really want to play.

Skylanders : Spyro’s Adventure is due to be released sometime during Autumn 2011, and I personally can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!

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Winnie The Pooh Puzzles from Jumbo – Review

To coincide with the release of the brand new Winnie The Pooh movie which hits cinemas April 15th, Jumbo have released a range of new puzzles all featuring images from the film.

The jigsaws are suitable for little ones from 3 years and up, and there are a few different sets to choose from.

We were sent the pack of two puzzles, which come in a lovely fold down box with carrying handle. It’s an excellent packaging idea for puzzles, and much better for keeping all of the pieces together than just the traditional box with lid.

One puzzle has larger pieces and consists of 12, the 24 piece puzzle’s pieces are smaller and so a bit harder to complete. At 5 Thomas made light work of them and had them both completed in about 5 minutes, my 3 yr old Jacob enjoyed the 12 piece puzzle but still needs a bit of practice until he can master the 24 piece on his own.

As well as the 2 puzzle pack we reviewed there is also a 4 in 1 puzzle assortment, and a 24 piece shaped floor puzzle which when completed makes the outline of our honey loving furry friend.

Fans of Winnie the Pooh young and old will love these beautifully designed puzzles, and they have really got us all in the mood for seeing the film!

Camelot Jr Board Game- Review

Camelot Jr is a new board game from puzzle makers Jumbo, under their range of brain training Smart Games.

We were offered the opportunity to choose our choice of one of the Smart Games to try. There’s a game called Day and Night which teaches children about colours, shapes and shadows, or a game called Smart Car where you need to build trucks with coloured bricks, but Thomas chose the Camelot game as he’s fascinated with knights and castles like most children.

It’s really hard for me to write this review, as I’m not sure I can find the words to praise this game enough…it’s amazing!

The aim of the game is to use the colourful wooden blocks to make a path for the Knight or Princess to travel from one castle to the other. In half of the puzzles the Knight is rescuing the Princess, and in the other half the tables are turned. The puzzle and solution booklet lets you know how to set up each puzzle, and which set of bricks you can use to solve it. There are 4 levels of difficulty from Beginner to Expert, and a total of 48 challenges to puzzle over.

As you’ll know by now both of my boys are big big gadget fans, anything that beeps, makes a noise or does anything remotely electronic is the bees knees. However Both Thomas and Jacob have absolutely taken to this game and love it. First thing in the morning after breakfast Thomas has been rushing to get the box out to complete a few puzzles before school. The box says that the game is for children from 4-9, but Jacob has been watching Thomas intently when he plays, and has already completed a few of the easier puzzles himself.

The concentration on Thomas’ face when he’s playing is amazing, you can almost see the little cogs whirring and grinding as he tries to find the solution. We are getting into the harder puzzles now, and there’s lots of placing blocks, then turning them around, then sideways, then back round again until he gets it right. It’s really wonderful to see him giving the game his full attention, and working it all out for himself.

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I love that everything fits so nicely into the box, and the whole thing is only 11 pieces so we are re less likely to lose something. Everything is out of the box and set up in seconds, so it’s perfect for getting out quickly and have a sneaky go here and there. Thomas is already planning on taking it to his Grandmothers house next week to show her how clever he is, and luckily for gran it wont take up much room in the back of the car.

We’ve only had this game 2 days and Thomas has already gone through 25 challenges like a whirlwind and already up to Expert level. I had to promise “cross my heart” that we would play again after school just to get him into his uniform this morning! This is a big big hit in the Toybuzz household, and as you can see on the video Thomas has given it a big 10/10.

Well deserved.

Nintendo DS Peppa Pig Theme Park Fun – Review

My boys are both gadget mad! DS, PSP, Leapfrog, and MobiGo we’ve got them all, and that’s only the handhelds! So when the opportunity to review the new Peppa Pig Theme Park Fun game for the Nintendo DS came up, they were both very happy to oblige.

I love the fact that Peppa Pig is almost equally loved by boys and girls alike, as well as mums and dads. I will happily admit to sitting down and enjoying the odd episode with a cup of tea and a biscuit. The game is in exactly the same vein as the TV show, it even has the same wonderful John Sparkes narration guiding you along the way.

The premise is that Peppa and George are headed for a family day out to a local theme park, and your there with them every step of the way. You start of the day by waking both Peppa and her little brother George up, then brush teeth, get dressed, make sandwiches, fix the car, play eye spy, all before your even at the main event!

At the Theme Park there are fairground rides to be ridden, snacks to be made, and fun sideshow games to be played. Both Jacob and Thomas enjoyed the shooting gallery game the most, and the good thing is that you can play your favourites over and over again by choosing that mini game from the menu.

Peppa Pig Theme Park Fun is brilliant for younger gamers because all the instruction is given over by the narrator, there’s no text to be seen. Also most of the games are  intuitive enough that little or no instruction is really needed anyway.

As a parent this is a big plus from me, as I often watch the boys get frustrated with so called toddler games for the DS which feature a lot of text instruction, thus meaning a lot more help from mummy and daddy is needed. Both Boys were fine with Theme Park Fun, and mummy got a bit of well deserved peace while they played.

So if your looking for a DS game that’s guaranteed to be played with by the little ones, rather than ending up doing most of the work yourself, I would definitely recommend Peppa Pig Theme Park Fun.

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Another Rubik’s puzzle I can’t solve

Toy makers Drummond Park and the amazing Professor Erno Rubik today unveiled the latest mind bending puzzle to join the Rubik’s family.

The Rubik’s 360 is hard for me to explain as I don’t really understand it.

It’s a sphere with 6 coloured balls and the each need to be placed in their own holder’s dotted around the outside of the ball, sounds pretty easy but there is a catch.

Inside the sphere is two more spheres each independently suspended on a rotating axis. So you need to manoeuvre the balls through holes in both of the inner spheres before they can reach their home.

This looks really cool and I’m sure if you’ve got a teenager with too much time on their hands, giving them one of these would certinaly keep them quiet.

The Rubik’s 360 is set to be released later this summer.

Have a look at this video to see what all the fuss is about.