Thursday, 28 October 2010

Top christmas toys 2010

This year’s Dream Dozen, in alphabetical order:
City Airport, Lego UK (£84.99)
Fireman Sam Deluxe Fire Station Playset, Character Options (£29.99)
FurReal Go Go Walking Pup, Hasbro (£59.99)
Jet Pack Buzz Lightyear, Mattel UK (£39.99)
Kidizoom VideoCam, VTech (£59.99)
Monopoly Revolution, Hasbro (£29.99)
Moon Dough Barn, Spinmaster Toys UK (£19.99)
Nerf N Strike Stampede ECS, Hasbro (£54.99)
Paper Jamz Guitar, Wow Wee Europe (£24.99)
‘Pumpaloons’ – action game, Drumond Park (£19.99)
Sylvanian Families Motorcycle and Sidecar, Flair Leisure (£24.99)
ZhuZhu Grooming Salon, Character Options (£22.99)

The Toy Retailers Association's Dream Dozen made the headlines yesterday in all newspapers. The top toy costs nearly 100 pounds, which is a cheerless thought but, luckily, most of the others are wallet friendly. Strangely most toys are ‘boy toys’. Yes Michela could play happily with Fireman Sam toys but she is at that stage where she is starting to like pink plastic, fluffy things and dolls. Mind you, at playgroups I see plenty of little boys playing with toy kitchens and dolls.

Unsurprisingly, I recognise most of the toys - they have been massively advertised on Milkshake and other commercial children's channels. But the other day I was startled by Michela complaining that she didn’t want to watch Mama’s TV. I glanced away from my laptop and realised that there was an ‘adult’ ad advertising insurance. Obviously, marketeers have realised that parents are ‘watching’ children’s TV and have pounced on it, but let me tell you, it doesn’t go well with my daughter. She’d rather watch an advert showing children playing with dough so she made me change to CBeebies.

Today has been a day all about toys. I got my prize from the Supersavvyme’s Twitter Party hosted by British Mummy Bloggers, which will delight my little girl. I haven’t opened the box yet as we had a charity shop spree and found lots of little things that took her fancy, including a brand new cassette and book for her Leapfrog pad and Dora the Explorer Fuzzy Felt board.

Talking about charity, I got a press release from Oxfam, here is the gist:
In response to today’s announcement [Dream Dozen], Oxfam Unwrapped is launching the ethical alternative with its new kids’ range of charity gifts that can transform the lives of some of the poorest people in the world. Oxfam Unwrapped is aiming to encourage children in the UK to think about children around the world who are less fortunate than themselves, and to understand how they can benefit from a gift this Christmas.
The gifts available for kids vary from the very simple, such as a desk and chair at £21 (equivalent to ‘Pumpaloons’ action game at £19.99 on the TRA list) through to the most essential, such as care for a vulnerable child (which includes activities and support for children who are suffering as a result of HIV/AIDS). The Playtime gift, which provides health education to kids in emergency camps via play (£7), comes with an activity book for the child in the UK. The total cost of the Dream Dozen is £472.88 – if the equivalent was spent on Oxfam Unwrapped gifts it would fund the education of 15 children, or 22 desk and chair sets.
Dr. Linda Papadopoulos, a psychologist and mother, comments on the launch of the kids’ range: “The Oxfam Unwrapped kids’ range is a great idea – it will mean that in amongst the craziness that is Christmas today there will be a point at which the kids can stop and think about what their practical, original gifts will mean to the child who receives it, thousands of miles away.”
So parents, grandparents or friends can choose an Oxfam Unwrapped gift for a child, who receives a gift card on Christmas Day that tells them more about the present they have received.  And thousands of miles away a child either in an emergency camp or village will be given the playtime, the care or the desk and chair they need. 
Naomi Lewis, an Oxfam Unwrapped customer, comments on the impact an Oxfam Unwrapped gift had on her son: “I often buy presents from Unwrapped and last year "Santa" bought my five-year old son some school equipment for a child in Africa.  He was proud to tell his family that he had let Santa give one of his presents to someone who wasn't going to get anything.”

My first reaction was, WOW! Then I thought, "Will a child really like this kind of present?" Don’t get me wrong, I have been volunteering for parenting charities for years, we buy and donate stuff to charity shops and I limit Michela’s toy loot at Christmas by requesting practical gifts, but I’m not sure if she would be pleased by this kind of gift. Charity gifts require a selfless attitude and as she is busy trying to assert her identity ‘against’ us, it’s a bit early for that. I think we will be supporting Oxfam by visiting the charity shop as usual. They have lovely new gifts too.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Technorati, here I come again!


Saturday, 23 October 2010

Twinkle, twinkle, little star: Next baby & tot competition

After the success of its children's competition last year, Next has launched a new modelling competition aimed at babies and tots up to the age of 36 months. So if you fancy seeing your baby like the next supermodel with a 12-month modelling contract with Urban Angels and win £500 of Next vouchers, just visit the competition's page on Facebook! Winners will also participate in a photo-shoot for NEXT and Prima Baby magazine.

The competition opened yesterday morning and closes at noon on 16 November (see rules on poster, below), so if you haven't got a good pic of your little one, shoot away now! You will also need to rally your troops - ask all your relations, friends, work colleagues and anybody you know to vote for your little star.

Good luck and spread the word!
Rules & Regulations

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Testing, testing... Hasbro toys - In the Night Garden Tea Party

In the Night Garden Tea set

Thanks to Mummy Bloggers, I was invited to test some Hasbro toys. The choice was mouthwatering (I love toys and I do envy Tom Hank's job in Big) but as I have a daughter who is three and into role play, I went for In the Night Garden Tea Party (pictured above). 

This is such a treat, we usually test children's equipment for Made for Mums but they don't do toys. Still, these reviews are useful to parents who are overwhelmed by the mountain of products available in shops. If you are interested in reading our reviews, click here and scroll down to reviews.

This In the Night Garden tea set was a test of Michela's affections as she used to love In The Night Garden (and I did too, I did a lot of writing work with the programme in the background) but although she still plays with her talking Makka Pakka (a present for her 2nd birthday alongside the Upsy Daisy trike, all pictured at the bottom of this blog), she doesn't want to watch the programme anymore.

Try this, Igglepiggle

This is yummy, Upsy Daisy

More tea, vicar... erm Igglepiggle? (Sorry, couldn't resist)

Michela watching the DVD with her friends
How did it go? The pictures speak for themselves, but here are few notes from me. I wished the characters were designed to sit down as I did have to prop them up. We could have used Michela's litte chairs but then it would have taken half of our cramped little room and blocked the passage to the kitchen - a no-no with a permanently hungry toddler. That said, later on Igglepiggle was taken for a ride in Michela's buggy and put to sleep, so the position worked for 'bedtime'. 

The game is suitable from 2 years+, which is a correct assessment in my opinion, at three she is still keen on it, although the included DVD wasn't watched in its entirety. She is a bit bored by the fact the characters don't say much - which is fitting as she is a chatterbox. The price, £29.99, is fair value as if you buy the individual toys in that size and some accessories and a DVD you'd spend more.

The theme is great, any toddler, boy or girl loves a picnic. My daughter goes to preschool and all the children love playing with plastic plates, pans, etc. As you can see in pics, Michela added some plastic food and other accessories to the tea set, plus a red napkin used a picnic rug. One last comment from Mummy: can the headband be adjustable? Michela loved wearing it but it was on the small side.
Michela still enjoys her Upsy Daisy trike
Michela after her 2nd birthday (clutching Makka Pakka)

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Who's afraid of the Half Term?

On Tuesday I 'went' to my first Twitter party, organised by British Mummy Bloggers to brainstorm activities that will keep our children amused at home or away. I tweeted a few suggestions:
  • Collect twigs, berry and leaves to make an autumn picture on a rainy day (just add glue and paper)
  • Make fluffy magic wands and fishing rods using twigs, string, feathers and sequins...
  • Use to map local walks (only some cities are on the site, though)
  • Go to an Apple Day event - find events in England by clicking here.
  • If in Cambridge, check out the University of Cambridge What's On website and Local Secrets' events section.
British Mummy Bloggers is also having a poll on their blog and it looks like most of us are staying at home. As you have guessed, we live in Cambridge and our preschool closes on 22 October, so there's an extra day to the usual half-term week. I will be browsing the University of Cambridge What's On site and Local Secrets' events section, plus go to a local Apple Day event. Michela is quite 'artistic', so no doubt there will be plenty of sticking, crayonning and colouring... Fingers crossed it doesn't rain all week!

Oh, and to answer the question, I'm very scared... I have work to do and a child on my hands for six days (excluding weekends, of course).