Bigjigs Toys Jungle Carpet Croquet – Review

We’ve been playing around with the Jungle Carpet Croquet set sent to us by Bigjigs Toys for a few weeks now, and it’s still got us in stitches every time we play.

It’s a lovely wooden version of the popular outdoor game, made for playing inside. There are four different jungle animal hoops to navigate the ball through. All are beautifully designed and painted. You also get 2 Croquet sticks, and 4 different balls.

The object of the game is to hit the tree in the middle, after passing the ball through all of the animal hoops in the correct order. If the hoop is knocked over or you miss the hoop your turn ends and it’s the next players go.

Not just a fun game, but also very educational. Helps your little ones with their colours, animal names, Numbers, plus hand and eye co-ordination skills.

It’s been lovely to have an indoor version of the game. As the weather has been so cold and damp lately we haven’t been outside in the garden much, and the Carpet Croquet has brought a little of the outdoor fun inside.

Jacob has got very good at it all of a sudden, I think he must be setting it up in the conservatory and having a sneaky practice while I’m not looking.

The game is so easy to set up I wouldn’t be surprised. Simply pop up the hoops and off you go. It’s perfect for a quick and easy game the whole family can play, when you maybe don’t fancy getting into a long drawn out board game.

Highly recommended

BigJigs’s Toys do not sell directly to the public, however you can find a stockist page on their website showing a huge range of fantastic shops that stock their wonderful toy’s.

You can follow Bigjigs on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/bigjigstoysltd or Facebook http://www.facebook.com/BigjigsToysLtd

 

 

 

 

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.

Melissa and Doug Fold and Go Castle – Review

This time last year I was already thinking about christmas (yes I really do start organising that early!). In the mental christmas list I’m always writing I had decided that I wanted to look into getting the boys a toy castle. They love fighting and knights and things so I thought a castle would b a big hit.

Unfortunately for me my search for a suitable castle didn’t go well, and consequently they didn’t get one under the Christmas tree. Every one I found during my extensive search was too large, too fiddly, or too expensive. I didn’t want this to be the main present, so wasn’t prepared to pay the what seems to be average £100 price tag.

If only I’d been able to find this Melissa and Doug Fold and Go Castle earlier, my prayers would have been answered.

I received this wonderful wooden castle for review from the lovely Jon at www.woodentoyshop.co.uk, and it’s exactly the kind of castle I was looking for. My boys have been having so much fun with it over the last week, I’m really thrilled.

The fold and go castle is the perfect size, not too big but definitely big enough for a lot of imaginative play. The fact you can fold it up and take it along with you to another room or even house is so cool. Apart from the figures and accessories you get included there are no other loose parts, so no need to worry about the walls or doors falling off when you transport it around, the castle is totally solid and stable.

The castle has a moveable drawbridge which is held tightly in place by some strong elastic rope. It makes a fair bang when you close up the drawbridge, but I think it adds to the atmosphere. There is also a jailcell with a iron bar effect door which is held in the same way.

Inside the castle you’ll find plenty of rooms and nooks for your figures to play in. Included in the set you get 2 horses with knights, a king and queen complete with thrones, a big bed and a treasure chest for hiding the royal valuables.

As you can tell I was really very impressed by this toy, It is perfect in every way. The value for money is excellent. After all my searching last christmas to no avail, I can’t believe that now I’ve found there is a wooden toy castle which is compact, fully assembled, comes complete with figures and accessories, and most important of all is amazingly under £30!

Pintoy Police Range – Review

Our first official assignment as Craniacs has arrived! A massive box of Pintoy Police toys.

I dived into the box and pulled out a Police Car complete with Police Officer driver, A box of 3 Police officers and one prisoner, and then shock horror a flat pack John Crane Pintoy Police station.

Don’t get me wrong I knew how big the Police Station was, so I should have been expecting it to need some assembly, but I hadn’t really given it much thought. So when I realised I actually had to put this thing together I was a little worried.

I shouldn’t really have worried, I will admit it took me a while to get to grips with the instructions (I am a complete DIY novice, and absolutely no good with these things) but it wasn’t half as bad as I thought it was going to be, only a few screws really and I was all done. It probably took me just over 30 minutes all in all, and left me feeling very proud of myself and I think the boys were impressed that i’d built their new toy for them too.

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£43.62

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£33.61

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This whole set is soooo cute, possibly too cute considering the subject matter, although I think it’s nice for little ones that the robber obviously doesn’t look too menacing. The main part of the Police Station has a backdrop of the officers changing room with lots of fluorescent coats, police helmets and lockers adorning the walls. In front of that you can place a perspex panel, representing the move from the back office side of the police station into the public area. There is a booking in desk with a pretend swivel chair, which Jacob thinks is for reading the news? There are also 2 more chairs provided for the waiting area.

Next door is a Police Cell, complete with a working slidey perspex bar covered door. Thomas with his particular penchant for the bad guys loves the prison as he calls it, he’s especially fascinated with the background picture of the toilet on the wall, Why are boys obsessed with toilets?

Jacob’s highlight of the range is the Police Van, it’s solid and chunky and again looks possibly too cute. My favourite little touch are the 2 delightful little wooden walkie talkies that come with the Police Officers and Prisoner box set.

I would recommend the John Crane Pintoy Police range of toys for parents of little ones who are looking for a toy that is something extra special, something that is built to last, is timeless and that will really fire up your little ones imagination.

[john_crane]

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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£24.90

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Smart Games Camelot Jr. (Amazon) Amazon Logo

£23.99

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£22.99

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£22.99

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£21.52



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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.

Thomas and Friends Battery Operated Figure 8 Set – Review

Part of the amazing deal I have of being Learning Curve’s Cyber Mummy 2011 representative is that I very fortunately get to test loads and loads of toys from Learning Curve themselves, the latest being the battery operated Figure of 8 set from the Thomas and Friends Wooden Railway range.

Despite having been appropriately named, Thomas the Tank Engine has never been a big hit with my oldest son (apart from the Accidents Happen video and song). Jacob however does enjoy watching a bit of Thomas and has a few Thomas toys, but not much. So I think he was really excited to see this new Thomas wooden railway set when the postman delivered it, as it was something all for him that his brother was not going to fight him over.

The set is 26 pieces, so small and compact and a perfect starter set for younger Thomas fans. It’s really easy to set up, you get simple instructions but you could probably do it just from copying the picture on the box. The pieces are chunky and easy for Jacob to handle, so he enjoys building the track with me before he starts playing, it’s all part of the game to him. One thing that did confuse me about the instructions is that all the pieces have the CT, ST and AT letters written on them like the Chuggington sets, but there are no letters printed on the actual track so that stumped me a little.

Apart from having the fun of Thomas chuffing along as if by magic, Jacob loves the special Stop N Go Fat Controller feature. When you turn the Fat Controller figure he will stop Thomas in his tracks, and then let him depart again when the coast is clear. This is fun for little ones to do, and me and Jacob did have a laugh when Thomas was having a go and didn’t realise how Jacob kept stopping his train.

I would say this is a perfect first Thomas the Tank Engine train set, and being part of the wooden railway range then when your little one is ready for some more involved Thomas adventures, you can add this track to your new purchases meaning that it can grow up with your child.

Tidlo 50 Piece Wooden Train Set – Review

Tidlo is the new toy range from purveryors of fine wooden toys – John Crane, and we were thrilled to be sent one of their 50 piece Wooden Train sets to review from Helen at the John Crane Blog, all decked out in the new stylish Tidlo packaging.

Will be brutally honest to start with and say that Thomas hasn’t shown much interest in the set really. I think he’s trying to stamp his authority over being the big boy of the house at the moment, and probably feels that at nearly 6 years old this might be a bit young for him. Jacob however has had a whale of a time with it.

Although 50 pieces seems like a lot of hard work, the track itself is under 20 pieces and really easy and quick to assemble. No instructions needed just look at the box to help you along, and the whole set is up and ready for playtime in under 5 minutes. Everything also fits back nicely into the box, and because it’s so quick and simple to put together you don’t have to worry about keeping it out all the time as it’s just as easy to pack up and reassemble next time.

I like that the set is not just a train set, you also get lots of extras that make the set more realistic and special. Trees, animals, people, buildings, lots and lots of things to add to the fun.

All the pieces are really well made and beautifully painted, all pieces are very chunky and easy for toddlers to pick up and place where they want easily. As well as playing with the trains, Jacob has enjoyed stacking all of the buildings on top of each other making towers and using them like building blocks.

So although Thomas thinks he’s too old for train sets, I think he’s actually the one that’s missing out. This set is beautifully made, fun and compact enough that it can be easily packed away and taken along with you (Jacob is insisting on taking it to his grans house tonight). Thomas’ loss is Jacob’s gain I suppose, but I do wonder how long it’ll take for Thomas to give in and decide to have a play with it too.

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£65.99

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Tidlo Wooden Train Set - 50 Pieces. (Argos) Argos Logo

£35.99

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£59.99

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£58.98

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£40.00

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Tidlo Wooden Train Set (50 Pieces) (Amazon) Amazon Logo

£32.00

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[john_crane]

John Crane and Tidlo – Timeless Toys

Tidlo is the new name for John Crane’s own brand of toys previously known as Branching out. Having seen some of the new range myself at London Toy Fair last month, I can very happily report back that Tidlo will still carry on the John Crane tradition of brilliantly well made, colourful and fun wooden toys, thankfully only the name is changing.

Tidlo is derived from the danish word Tidlos meaning timeless, hence the tagline Timeless Toys. When I first heard the name I instantly liked it for some reason it made me think of tiddlers, so I think it’s a nice and original name for a children’s toy range.

Some of my favourite Tidlo products from Toy Fair were the Motorbike balance bike, SQIJ blox, High tea shape matching cupcake set, and the gorgeous kitchen station (I can only dream of having a real kitchen as nice as this one).

Much to my relief the arrival of Tidlo does not mean the end of Pintoy, John Crane will still be distributing this great range.

John Crane will also be distributing Lilliputiens, an amazingly gorgeous range of young children’s soft toys all created by a group of belgian mums.  This range  is so much fun, full of beautiful quirky and individual toys. My highlights of the Lilliputiens range are the Little Doctors set, the too cute baby handbag and the huge Walter Dragon cushion.

John Crane had a great stand at Toy Fair and thanks to the lovely Helen for showing me around.

Just can’t wait to get my hands on some of those great products now!

John Crane Pintoy Doll Family

If you’ve been reading Toybuzz for a while you may remember me mentioning how much I love Pintoy toy’s even without actually owning any. Well all that changed last week when i was sent the lovely Pintoy Family by the John Crane blog to review.

There are 4 members of the doll family, a Mum, Dad, Girl and Boy. Apologies for only having mum and dad in the picture but Jacob has become quite attached to boy and girl and have taken them away with him to his grans for the weekend.

Despite having two boys, they have both surprised me by how much they have played with these lovely dolls. Although Thomas wont call them dolls he calls them the mummy and daddy action figures. They are actually some of the best action figures he’s got, they bend easily, stand independently, and don’t have several plastic pieces just begging to be snapped off like most other toys.

The Legs and arms are made of rope with wire underneath I think, with stable little wooden feet and hands reminiscent of old fashioned clothes pegs . Which makes them really easy to bend, and stand in loads of different positions. It’s also great that Thomas and Jacob can make them stand and sit by themselves, as they sometimes get frustrated when they can’t get their toys to stand up properly.

It’s also nice to see some dolls have a realistic wardrobe for once. There’s no mini skirts and crop tops here, all the dolls are dressed in normal everyday trousers, skirts and t-shirts.

There are some many great products from John Crane that I haven’t got the time to mention them all, but I will mention a few products that compliment the Doll Family really well. The Woodlands family dolls house is probably my favourite of the houses from John Crane, It’s just so roomy and easy for little hands to get right into whilst playing. The amazing dolls house furniture available like the bunks beds (which can also be two singles if you wish) Washing machine, Even ironing board make this house really come to life.

Going back to the very funny John Crane Blog, writer of the blog the lovely Jenny Wooden mum is currently running a photo competition ‘Where in the world is Jenny Woodenmum’. Well inspired by recent blog photos of Jenny and family thoughtfully looking at a globe wondering where to go next, me and my boys decided to send Jenny off to Egypt. OK so we were missing some sand, but did manage to find Jenny a camel and a pyramid. Jenny was even lucky enough to discover the secret of the Sphinx and find some Hidden treasure inside.

Wonder what Jenny and family will do with there newly aquired millions? Tune into the blog next time for the next exciting instalment!

Radio Flyer

Whilst flicking through the John Lewis catalogue yesterday I came across the lovely Christmas section, with a huge Christmas tree and presents arranged beautifully underneath. Then my eye was caught by a pile of presents skill-fully loaded into a red wagon, it was a Radio Flyer trailer! Just like in the movies.

Even though I’m not American and the Radio Flyer is not at all a part of British culture, I’ve always loved these things! I’ve grown up watching cheesy John Hughes American movies, and these things have always featured somewhere. I’m pretty sure Kevin McCallister in Home Alone must have had a wagon to keep all of those traps and gadgets in.

So I was really surprised when I saw that the Radio Flyer wasn’t in the picture for artistic effect, but you could actually purchase these now in the U.K.

Why couldn’t someone have told me this sooner?

I’ve got so much stuff already, there’s no room for a big red wagon this year. I wish I’d known sooner, as I would definitely have got one for the boys (me!) for Christmas.

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£368.83

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£305.23

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£239.95

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Radio Flyer Classic Tricycle (Amazon) Amazon Logo

£225.98

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£171.82

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£160.00

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Radio Flyer Big Flyer Chopper - Red (Amazon) Amazon Logo

£149.50

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£146.99

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£137.02

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£130.58



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£127.63

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Radio Flyer Steer And Stroll Trike (Amazon) Amazon Logo

£126.59

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£119.00

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£113.45

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£109.99

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£68.99



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£63.00

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£50.99

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£49.99

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£49.99

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Radio Flyer Little Red Wagon 5 Trike - Red (Amazon) Amazon Logo

£29.95

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£23.92

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£13.90



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£13.11



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£7.78



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£6.95



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Radio Flyer - Concert Band - Set Of Parts (Amazon) Amazon Logo

£6.50

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Radio Flyer Ez Fold, Stroll 'n' Trike. (Argos) Argos Logo

£245.99

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£109.99

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£50.99

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£129.99

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£102.99

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£99.99

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£99.99

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£79.99

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So after doing my research (nosing round the online shops). I’m shocked by how many Radio Flyer things there  are now, I always picture the boy pulling the classic red wagon and the little girl riding the trike with the ribbons hanging from the handle bars but now there’s so much more.

Possibly my favourite find is the Radio Flyer Pathfinder wagon, I think if I was going to get one wagon this would be it.

I love the way that it can be used as an ordinary wagon for transporting toys and things, and also as a fun way of getting the kids around too.

The wagon floors lifts up to make two separate seats, both complete with seat belts and the all important juice holder.

I can just see my kids having a blast riding around in this little beauty on trips to the park and family days out.

You can also get a handy canopy to keep your wagon and it’s contents either dry on a wet day or in the shade on a sunny day , whether that be your treasured teddy bear or even the kids.