I’m now officially a Cuber In Training

Today I’ve mostly been spinning around coloured boxes! Trying desperately to get my head around my brand new Rubik’s Cube

To conincide with the UK Rubik’s Cube championships from the 16th – 17th November, John Adams have set a few of us bloggers a challenge. To conquer the cube!

I’m taking part in the John Adams Rubik’s Cube Blogger training programme with @1ConsumerVoice, Tom from @DiaryOfTheDad, Wendy over at @savvywendy, and @MelTinkFerrari.

My ‘Cuber in training’ kit arrived this morning, with a 3×3 Cube with a how to solve guide,  2×2 cube and a mini Rubik’s Keyring cube.

There was also an ominous looking envelope containing our first challenge – To complete the cube in under 20 minutes.

We get three days to complete this challenge. Well I’m not sure about that to be honest, as I’m seriously struggling already.

Theres plenty of great video instructions on the Rubik’s Cube website to help, so I think I need to get watching .

However Maybe I just need to sleep on it and try afresh tomorrow. Wish me luck everyone!

 

Lego Minifigure: Year by Year, A Visual History – Review

I was so excited last week that we were picked to review the new Lego book to review from DK Dorling Kindersley books – Lego Minifigure: Year by Year – A Visual History 

I got the opportunity to review the book by signing up to the DK Books Newsletter. Every now and again you get an email letting you know all about their latest books and offers, plus regularly you can apply to review their newest books. Lucky us, this was our chance to get picked!

You don’t even have to have a blog, you just submit the review on the website. However this book was so wonderful I wanted to write about it here too.

This book is an absolute must for Lego fans young and old. It has such a wealth of information inside, and every page looks simply stunning. I feel so honoured to have this book and it’s something I will treasure forever.

The book charts the history of the Minifigure all the way from the beginning in 1974 when the first Lego figures were released, up to the present day in 2013.  However the first true minifigure wasn’t actually released until 1978 however, but if you want to know more about the distinction you’ll have to pick your own copy.

My husband was trying to explain to the boys that when he first had Lego there were no minifigures. They were dumbfounded, What no Lego men? The book has been a brilliant bit of nostalgia for me and hubby, and a big Lego lesson for the kids.

We’ve had some great family time flicking through the book together, reading each page which covers all the Minifigures there has ever been year by year.

It’s been amazing to see some of the figures I remember from sets I used to own growing up and relieving those childhood memories with the boys.

Another great part is that as Lego has been passed on from older brothers and uncles we realised that we have a wide range of minifigures old and new. Theres been a lot of ‘OMG I’ve got that hat!’ or ‘We have a guy with that uniform’ happening.  So Thomas has been busy going through all the spare pieces trying to recreate older minifigures.

There is so much information fitted into this book it’s amazing. and I’m sure we will be reading and re-reading it for years to come.

If you love Lego then you will adore this book. I highly recommend you get this book for the Lego fan in your life, young or old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Xbox Kinect 2 Way TV Experiences – Review

A few weeks ago I got an opportunity I really couldn’t turn down – I got to go to Microsoft Soho Studios in London and test out a brilliant new way of interacting with my Tv using the Xbox 360 and Kinect.

Me and two other bloggers ( Nova from Cherished by Meand Joanne Mallon, of Opposable Thumbs) were part of a group of bloggers from Tots100 who were lucky enough to have a private session at the studios to teach us all about Xbox Kinect 2 Way Tv Experiences.

2 Way Tv is a really interesting concept. Initially rather than a game it starts off looking like a traditional TV show, but suddenly the show starts talking to you and you in turn can really interact with it. Immediately it evolves from simply something you watch, into something you can actively take part in.

The two games that use this technology that we were shown were Sesame Street TV and Nat Geo TV. We  also got given some Microsoft points so we could download them when we got home to see what the rest of the family thought.

Sesame Street TV

Seeing my two boys Watching and playing Sesame Street TV is a real pleasure. I’ve always missed the traditional Sesame Street TV shows that I used to watch when I was growing up. Brilliantly the episodes on Sesame Street Tv are exactly what I’ve been missing from my childhood, but brought slap bang up to date for the current generation of kids.

Being very competent gamers, both Thomas and Jacob are well used to playing Kinect games, and I think when I suggested watching these new Kinect Tv episodes they were expecting the usual character moving around on-screen and copying your movements. They were totally stunned almost immediately when the character asks you to stand in front of the onscreen mirror and changes his t-shirt so it’s the same colour as yours.

This was only the beginning however, they spent the next 20 minutes of the episode throwing things to the characters, shouting answers at the screen, and dancing around in magical Elmo’s world.

 

Elmo’s World

The episodes are worth it just for the 5 minutes of Elmo’s world alone. If you’ve ever seen Elmo’s world it’s based around Elmo living in a cartoon house drawn by crayon, very whimsical and simply anything can happen. Somehow the game creators have managed to expertly capture the feel of the show into these sections. It’s so hard to explain what happens, so it’s probably best you watch the video below to see what I mean, but it’s truly magical and definitely my sons favourite part of all the episodes.

 

There is one main aspect I love about the whole Sesame Street Tv concept the most. It’s exactly like a kids tv show, but 100 times better. Rather than being just a Sesame Street game, it’s really just like a show. You get to know all the segments, all the presenters. First comes the introduction then you’ll have a piece on something, then a song, then Grover, and always Elmo’s World near the end. Having that continuity between all the episodes enhances the whole series so much. Kids love knowing whats coming next, and what to look forward too.

 

Nat Geo TV

Nat Geo Tv is the same concept as Sesame Street Tv but as it’s aimed for slightly older children its a bit more grown up. Don’t get me wrong it’s lots of fun and you still get to mess around, but this time rather than jumping into Elmo’s World you get to become a bear and pretend your fishing for Salmon.

The shows are much more information filled, and it does feel exactly like your watching a normal Nat Geo documentary with a few of the Kinect photo challenges thrown in.

We found that the Sesame Street TV episodes are great for when the boys are full of beans and ready to get active, but the Nat Geo TV shows are perfect pre bedtime viewing. Theres enough interactive elements to keep even my youngest interested, but the beautiful scenery and wonderful animal helps everyone calm down after a long day.

Out of the two I would say that Sesame Street TV was our favourite , however that is probably due to the younger nature of my children. If you have a wildlife mad son or daughter who loves things like Nat Geo and Deadly 60 then Nat Geo TV would be the best thing ever.

Season Pass 

There are two ways that you can get these 2 way tv experiences for yourself, by either downloading or purchasing them on disc.

Like Tv shows Sesame Street TV and Nat Geo TV are released in seasons. There have been 2 seasons of both so far. Season one of both games are available to buy on disc in stores. However it’s easier if you download either the individual episodes or as a Season Pass on your Xbox.

Season 2 of both are only available to download as a Season Pass or individual episodes, not on disc as yet.

The Season Pass’s cost 2400 Microsoft Points, and as mentioned there are 2 seasons of both games available. Individual episodes cost 400 points each, and there is even a free episode of each to try.

If you go for one of the Season passes of Sesame Street TV you also get access to indulge in the massive library of clips from the show. Theres both classic and contemporary clips to enjoy, and it’s much easier to navigate and find great clips than searching on YouTube. You can even stack the clips into a playlist and make your very own episode to watch. My personal favourite clip has to be Ricky Gervais singing the Celebrity Lullaby to Elmo, it had us all in stitches.

New Experiences

I like to think of myself as quite a tech savvy gamer, and up to date with most things, but I have to admit that even though both the Sesame Street TV and Nat Geo TV are both in their second season now, they were totally off my radar. I am so glad I got the opportunity to try them out at the studios, and that I get the chance to let you all know how great an experience they are.

I compel you to try the free episodes out for yourself as it’s really hard to convey how new and original the episodes feel in writing, they simply need to be played.

 

Thanks to Microsoft Soho Studios and Xbox for having me over for the day, and to Tots100 for making it happen

 

Interview with Legoland Florida Master Model Builder Jason Miller

As well as all the fun and laughter, My one resounding memory of our recent trip to Legoland Windsor is all the questions.

My son Thomas was constantly asking questions, How do they make that? How long do you think that took to make? Do you think I could get a job doing that?

The more we explored Miniland and the new Star Wars Miniland, the more the questions kept coming.

So it was amazing timing when Attraction Tickets Direct gave us the opportunity to ask our questions to a real Legoland Master Model Builder – Jason Miller, Who works at Legoland Florida.

Thomas and I had a great time writing up all of his most pertinent questions, and finding out all the answers was incredibly interesting. It’s been a lovely mum and son project for us, and I hope you find the answers as fascinating as we did.

It was also wonderful that Thomas was able to take this interview into his school, and tell his class all about how he got to interview a real Lego Master Model Builder.

Here’s our interview with LEGOLAND Florida, Master Model Builder Jason Miller

Do you have to go to school to take classes on Lego building when you start at Legoland? 

When you first start as a Model Builder, you are required to successfully complete the Model Builder 101, a series of courses that explain the different techniques used by model builders. It takes approximately 1-3 weeks to complete the series.

 

What is your favourite ever Lego range? Mine is Legend of Chima, but my brother loves Hero Factory. 

My all time favourite product line from LEGO is the Wild West sets that were produced in the 1990’s. Of the current product lines, I would have to say my favourite is either Monster Fighters or The Lone Ranger.

 

Knowing how hot it can get in Florida, Do you have to do anything special to look after the Lego Brick models?

If a model is going to be installed outside, we coat the entire model in a UV protector to protect it from fading in the sun. Otherwise the model handles the weather on its own.

 

Can you remember your first ever Lego Set?

One of the first sets I remember receiving was a Lego City Airport and I remember flying the airplane all over the house.

 

Do you have certain things which you specialise in building, or do you have to build everything?

Every Model Builder has specialties and may be better at certain types of building than others. I tend to be good at building mosaics and designing buildings.

 

Do you ever get to go on the rides?

Every once in a while we will ride the rides to make sure all the models look great from the guests point of view. We want to make sure that every person that visits the park gets to see the same thing and experience it for themselves.

 

I would love to grow up and become a Lego Master Builder. Apart from loving Lego, what other skills do I need?

Math and Science are always important. We use math to figure out certain formulas that allow building in ways that we never thought we would be able to.

Math also helps in creating mosaics so we can make sure they will fit where we intend to put them.

Science is important for all of the animations we have in the park to figure out if a model will stand up to being moved over and over.

Cultural studies are also important because it helps us understand the environments and buildings in Miniland USA and why they are there and how our Minilanders would react to them.

 

How do you begin tackling the models, Do you plan them out on a computer first?

It depends on the model. Some models are in every LEGOLAND in the world and we do have files that guide us in the building of them. However, most models are designed by hand and a scaled prototype is built to see if the concept would work.

Once the concept is approved then we move forward with building the completed model.

 

Do you have a favourite Lego piece?

I sure do! It is a Lego 2×4. This is the most basic piece and allows us to create some really cool models.

 

Do you still play with Lego at home?

Absolutely! I have a large collection at home and build with them to relax and unwind at home.

 

I’m so grateful to Jason for answering all our questions, and to Attraction Tickets Direct for giving us the unique opportunity to ask them.

If all this Legoland Florida talk has made you thirsty for a visit of your own, you can book tickets online at www.attraction-tickets-direct.co.uk

 

 

 

Matchbox 60th Anniversary Die Cast Collection *Fathers Day Gift Idea* – Review

Recently we received these new Matchbox cars from Mattel  to review, and they are real beauties. Ones’ for the collectors definitely.

Released to commemorate Matchbox’s 60th Anniversarythese 24 die-cast cars all come in their own retro Matchbox sized box just like in the old days.

With their gorgeous packaging, and classic vehicles, these Matchbox vehicles would make a perfect Fathers day gift.

Everyday will have played with cars during their youth, and whether a collector or not are bound to flushed with nostalgia by these beautiful cars.

As part of the birthday activities Matchbox have released a short film on Youtube and their own Matchbox Heroes website, celebrating the love of Matchbox cars between children and their parents.

There are 24 vehicles in the collection in total, ranging from classics such as the The Austin FX4 London Taxi and The Routemaster Bus to cool new models like the Mitsubishi Evo10 Police car.

The boys and I were sent the Evo10 police car, Volkswagen T2 bus and the Jeep Wrangler Superlift to take a look at.

I thought that the Evo10 being a Police car would be the runaway hit, but it turns out that Jacob prefers style to substance and fell in love with the cool stylings of the Volkswagen T2. He’s all about the gold bling underneath :)

Both of the boys loved the old style packaging, and were fascinated when I told them all about Matchbox cars coming in Matchboxes. They thought that was awesome, and both asked why the didn’t still come in the boxes.

Jacob is saving his favourite Volkswagen to give to his dad for father’s day, he’s been hiding it underneath his bed so daddy doesn’t find it. I think daddy is going to love it as he’s always been a Matchbox man, no Hot Wheels for him.

The Matchbox 60th Anniversary die-cast collection cars are available from Tesco for £3.49. Suitable for ages 3+.

Sir Alex Ferguson celebrated through the years by Topps

As the world comes to terms with the shock news that Sir Alex Ferguson will be leaving Manchester United at the end of the season, Topps took to Twitter to post their own fitting tribute.

Being the longest serving manager in the premier league has some advantages, namely being getting yourself on the most Match Attax cards.

I just love this nostalgia filled image, and just had to share it with you all. Not just for the changing clothes and ever receding hairline, but also for the changing style of the actual Match Attax cards and premier league stickers. I do wish I had some of those retro early ones.

So how many of these Sir Alex Ferguson stickers and Cards did you have?

New Doctor Who Sets at Toys ‘R’ Us

Doctor Who is Thomas’ new thing, and he’s all in at the moment.

With the 50th Anniversary of the series happening this year, every things gone a bit Doctor Who mad, and he’s certainly picked a good time to start obsessing over it.

So my ears pricked up this week when I heard about some new sets of Doctor Who Figures from Character Options that Toys ‘R’ Us are exclusively releasing to celebrate the 50 year milestone.

All one of the eleven Doctors will be released in a special commemorative set, alongside with one of their most dreaded enemies – The Daleks. So each set will be a twin pack featuring a Doctor, plus one Dalek that he faced from a famous episode.

The sets are being released in batches, with the first 3 available for pre-order now at the Toys R Us Website.

Tenth Doctor and the Bronze Dalek, Second Doctor and the Silver and Blue Dalek, and the Sixth Doctor and the White and Gold Dalek are the first sets collectors and fans can get their hands on.

All of the sets will only be available for a limited time, so grab them whilst you can. The first 3 will be retired when the next sets of 3 are released.

Each set will retail at £19.99, so not cheap, but not exorbitantly priced. £10 a figure sounds reasonably really for a collector’s item.

Thomas is going to have some serious saving to do if he wants the complete set. Which he obviously will!

Lego Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Sets

Apologies if I’m a bit slow on the uptake here, but these Lego Ninja Turtle sets seem to have come out of nowhere.

The first I heard of them is when I saw them all neatly lined up on the shelf of my local Entertainer.

The turtles are a good fit with Lego in my opinion. It fits in with their others sets like Star Wars and Batman, which have the advantage that both the kids and mum and dad have grown up with the franchise already.

Case being I grew up watching the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles first time around on CBBC after school on Thursdays, and now my boys are watching the latest revamped version over on Nickelodeon weekend mornings.

There are 5 different sets to collect.

LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle product range:

  • RRP £9.99 – Kraang’s Lab Escape
  • RRP £19.99 – Stealth Shell in Pursuit
  • RRP £24.99 – Shredder’s Dragon Bike
  • RRP £49.99 – Turtle Lair Attack
  • RRP £59.99 – Shellraiser Street Chase

I love the look of the Shellraiser Street Chase and Turtle Attack Lair, they would be my top two picks. The Turtle Attack Lair is exactly the kind of Lego set my boys love playing with, in the same vein as the Batcave set.

It’s open plan, got lots of different levels, and tons of bits and bobs to do inside.

However I’ll have to add Shredder’s Dragon Bike to my wish list as then you’d have all the turtles, Splinter and Shredder. Hey, what about Krang? Ok, We’ll have to get that one too! Yes it looks like another big Lego collection is happening

 


Fatal error: Call to a member function xpath() on a non-object in /home/martin/src/php/datafeed_studio/admin/models/api/affiliate_window.class.php on line 129

 

A trip down memory lane with Girls World and Tiny Tears – Review

I obviously had a very deprived childhood,  as I never owned a Girls World or Tiny Tears.

Every year I would look at them longingly in the Argos catalogue  but by the time it came to make my list to Santa they’d been overlooked for Pound Puppies, Teddy Ruxpins and Cabbage Patch Kids.

Well luckily for me those iconic children’s toys are still around to this day, and for 2012 have been given a bit of a makeover by makers John Adams.

John Adams have kindly sent me a new Girls World Styling Head and Classic Tiny Tears to review, so finally after over 20 years of waiting I  have them.

Having two boys I didn’t really envisage them taking much of a part in this review. However with all the fuss recently around gender neutral toys I decided to see if the boys wanted to join in and play along with me. The result of which really surprised me!

Tiny Tears is the same classic doll that I remember wanting back in the 80’s. Although I think the hair and clothes are different, those beautiful big eyes which close when you lay her down were still there. Plus obviously the ability’s that we all remember the most, Crying and then having a wee.

The doll herself is gorgeous as just a doll, foregoing all her extra abilities. She is so beautiful, and her hair is amazingly glossy and brushable. You even get a little brush, so you can spend hours doing her hair. Other accessories included are a sparkly pink pacifier (or dummy to you and me), Pink potty, feeding bottle and pull up knickers.

I was surprised that initially the boys seemed really interested to see what Tiny Tears was all about. We filled the bottle and tried to get her to cry and wee, but unfortunately it wasn’t happening. By the time I’d figured out what I was doing wrong they had departed to the Living Room to continue playing Tech Deck, so I was left alone with my dolly again.

The reason I was having trouble was that I thought she had to be laying flat to have the bottle, but in fact she needs to be upright for the tears and wetting to work. I suggest sitting her down on the potty to feed, as it comes out pretty quickly, and after a short while the tears start also.

The only drawback I found to Tiny Tears is the included potty. For some reason it has holes at the bottom, so the water just goes straight through onto the table or floor. I found that a bit weird, but I presume it’s to do with safety. Also the bottle has a rounded bottom, so you cannot put it down as it just rolls around.

Apart from that Tiny Tears is otherwise faultless. Once she’s sitting upright, everything works great. She’s a beautiful doll, and any little girl would love to find her under the Christmas Tree.

Classic Tiny Tears is suitable for ages 3 and over, and is available now.

Next up we tested out the Girls World. Apologies for the bad hairdo work we did on this one, I’m never going to be a hairdresser. At least we had fun anyway!

This one was the toy that surprised me, as both the Boys and I had loads of fun doing up our lady’s hair. In Fact the only reason Thomas isn’t in the photo is because Jacob wouldn’t let him get a lookin half the time.

The Girls World Styling Head comes with tons of accessories for budding little Vidal Sassoon’s. Theres bobbles, scrunchies, and beads in a multitude of colours. A big hairbrush, A tool for applying the beads, some mini crocodile clips and some slides. Plenty to be getting on with I think you’ll agree.

On the back of the head is a string, which depending on how you tie it will make the hair grow right on the top grown longer or shorter. Just be careful not to pull too hard as the string will go inside the head. It’s a nightmare to get out again, but I did do it eventually.

If truth be told it’s a very simple toy, just brush the hair, put in some clips and your done. But once you’re doing it time literally does fly. You can be brushing the hair and doing some beading, all of a sudden it’s been an hour gone!

Your little one will spend so much time just applying clips and schrunchies. And  the best part is no batteries, flashing lights or noises to worry about. It’s pure simple fun.

Girls World is available now and retails for around £24.99