Wednesday, 30 November 2011

NaBloPoMo is Over

I have taken part in NaBloPoMo and blogged everyday for the whole of November (go me!!)  This is actually my 76th blog post this month...I really do have excessive blogging syndrome.

I may not have completely fulfilled my own remit as laid down in my post from November 1st,  pledging to take part in the NaBloPoMo Challenge (ie not including lazy posts), but I've certainly posted everyday.  I have written reviews for Christmas present ideas, hosted competitions, joined in with memes, posted  recipes, film and game reviews and reported from events, as well as writing some personal heartfelt posts.  Quite a mixed bag!!

It's been fun, but I didn't enjoy the feeling of pressure and deadlines when I was battling against having a poorly toddler, getting no sleep and feeling ill myself!  But I refuse to be beaten.  Somedays I realise I just have nothing to say!  Other days I'm bursting with ideas.  I've also got a lot of commitments through working with PR companies, especially in the run up to Christmas with my Gift Guide.  I take those commitments seriously.

This challenge has made me appreciate that this blog is my place.  My words.  My way.  If I want a day off then that is OK.  If I post five times in one day, that's OK too.  I hope people enjoy what I do or at least some of what I do!!  As long as I am enjoying my blog, I will continue to write it.  Lesson learned!

An Ethical Christmas with WWF

My girls love their fashion.  9 year old Kizzy really enjoys picking out matching ensembles from her wardrobe.  So when I heard about the new range of ethical and Fairtrade clothing from WWF, I knew she would love to try one of their new long sleeved T-Shirts. She was delighted to receive a gorgeous chrysanthemum pink slim fit top with a giant panda design, courtesy of WWF.

The quality of the garment is excellent with strong double stitching securing the seams.  The gorgeous design is of a Panda created out of floral print.  It is unusual, distinctive and very effective.  The organic cotton is Soil Association standard and Fairtrade certified.  Kizzy was really impressed with it saying it was "lovely and warm with a really cute picture on the front plus it is good for the planet!"

Many consumers these days care about the impact of their shopping habits on the environment and are actively sourcing ethical products to buy.  The WWF clothing range fulfills this consideration and also reflects their ethos and mission, giving a range of clothing that both parents and children will adore with designs that feature endangered animals.

Renowned the world over, WWF is one of the leading global conservation organisations, established in 1961 to help preserve the environment and protect the Earth’s wildlife.  The main objective of the charity’s retail division has been to help raise much-needed funds to contribute to the WWF’s on-going projects.  This year the charity celebrates its 50th anniversary – a timeframe during which it has become a household name in conservation and recognised as an innovator in sustainability.

The WWF Shop has some great ideas for Christmas.  They include unusual panda design bone china mugs, gorgeous personalised dressing gowns, adoption kits, beautiful traditional games, environmentally friendly tote shopper bags and adults’ clothing including panda and penguin design hooded sweatshirts and t-shirts.  The Christmas cards and gift wrap available in the store are also beautifully designed.

The top that Kizzy received is very reasonably priced for such a quality garment at £16.95.  It really is gorgeous for any little girl and is available in sizes 18-24 months up to 9-11years.  Other colours and animal designs are available for both boys and girls.

Howard Wright of WWF-UK, said: “We take our role as a green retailer very seriously and we think it’s fantastic that more and more consumers are questioning where their products come from and the impact their purchases could have on our environment.  This range should also help bring that message and knowledge to children – as well as injecting some fun!”

So if you want to buy gifts that will make others green with envy whilst keeping your shopping credentials green look no further than!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Happy Feet Two on the XBox 360

The latest game that my kids have been playing is Happy Feet Two from Warner Brothers Games, a musical, adventure for all the family. The gorgeous graphics portray the whimsical world of Antarctica beautifully, and the penguin characters are really cute and their dance movements are fun.  It is visually really impressive and very true to the movie.

New dangers are threatening the Penguin Nation and everyone has to work and dance together to save the penguins from extinction.  Players use dance moves to collect other penguins into their group, stun their enemies with their moves and manipulate their environment to solve puzzles.  The first level walks you through all the elements of the game, practising the moves needed as you collect notes.  The dance moves are great and had the kids giggling...especially the way the penguins jumped up onto the steps!   As you progress you use spins, jumps and other moves to bash through rocks and move items around.  Much of the game is based on hitting rhythms using the buttons on the controller.  There is also some racing as the penguin slides across ice and 'flies' through the air.

Playing as Mumble you get to recruit other penguins to join your adventure, tap to the beat and get into the rhythm.  It is a beat bumping, feet thumping, move busting game featuring original music.  You get to unlock new songs as you progress through the game.

Happy Feet Two can be played on 3D which is as yet not a feature we can test, although my husband keeps trying to convince me that we need a 3D TV.  So at some point (if he gets his way) I might be embarking on 3D gaming!  It is definitely the future of entertainment.

So far the game doesn't have much of a storyline.  However, Kizzy seems quite happy dancing her way through the levels collecting notes and recruiting various penguins into her troop!  The game controls well making it easy to walk through the environment so younger children can definitely have a go and make the penguins dance, spin and slide, which they will enjoy.  It is quite cute and the penguins are fuzzy little fellas who boogie for fun but  I hope the gameplay becomes a bit more involved with more challenging puzzles in later levels because I can see pressing buttons on the beat and sliding on the ice may wear a bit thin.

Fans of Happy Feet will enjoy this game, which is available in all formats.  We were sent it for our XBox 360 which retails at £34.99.  I would have loved a Kinect compatible feature which would have worked well with the dancing element of the game and got the kids up and dancing with Mumble rather than just controlling him by pressing buttons.  It is for 1 or 2 players with a 2 player co-op mode where you can work together.

Overall, I like that this game is suitable for the very youngest gamer.  The first level is easy enough for them to handle and enjoy, especially as you can make the penguins dance around freely.  The music is fun and the scenery is lovely.  Parents and kids alike will enjoy this game.  However, I think the game play seems a little limited so it may not keep the more hardcore gamers entertained for too long.  It's definitely a family game played for fun and laughs!

Perfect and Brighten with Click 'n' Conceal

I don't think I've had a reasonable night's sleep for a fortnight.  With all the bugs floating around my family, one or the other of us has been poorly and up in the night coughing.  Consequently my eye bags are in serious need of cosmetic camouflage.  Thank goodness for Gosh cosmetics new Click 'n' Conceal, a multi-purpose tube of magic which boosts skin radiance and waves good-bye to dark circles, blemishes and imperfections.

You click 2-3 times to release the required amount of product, which allows you to control how much you use with no accidental squirts or spills.  The concealer is lightweight and creamy, feeling comfortable on the skin.  When using concealer around the eyes it is vital that the product doesn't drag, cake or go powdery.  I was impressed with its moisturising texture that gave a seamless finish.  You can layer it to build the coverage you desire.  Light reflecting properties hide imperfections and give radiance to your skin.

The concealer is long lasting and looks quite natural on the skin.  It is available in three shades to match skin tone.  There is also a greenish one to counter redness which would be really useful in winter, the season of windblown cheeks and red noses.

The tube itself is perfect to pop into a handbag or make-up purse to take out for emergency touch ups!  It can be used alone or over or under foundation so it is very versatile.

The Gosh Click 'n' Conceal is exclusive to Superdrug stores or for £6.99.

Mince Pies & Bubbly!!

Nothing really says Christmas like festive food!  A glass of bubbly and a luxury mince pie are perfect partners to celebrate the season and really are the epitome of Christmas.  When choosing which mince pie and sparkling wine to buy in order to impress your guests, bear this in mind!!

Which? Magazine have conducted some taste tests and the results are in.

Beating off competition from M&S, Fortnum ans Mason, Mr Kipling and Harrods, the winner in the mince pie tests was the Specially Selected Luxury Mince Pies from Aldi!  Filled with the finest Mediterranean fruit, naturally dried in the Mediterranean sun, then laced with French Brandy and a hint of spice for a festive kick, these mince pies are luxurious.  The indulgent all-butter pastry  is baked until it is golden brown, making the perfect mince pie to complete your festive table.

The pastry is rich and biscuity and the filling has a boozy quality that my husband was very impressed with.  At just £1.69 for a pack of six, these mince pies are great quality at a great price.  They are available in store throughout the festive period.

When it comes to sparkling wines, Aldi's Philippe Michel Cremant du Jura beat Jacob's Creek, Sainsbury's, M&S and Tesco Finest finishing second in Which? magazine's taste test.  It has also won three times at the Quality Drinks Awards.  Made from 100% Chardonnay grapes grown on the Jura mountains, and produced in the same way as Champagne, it is the second fermentation which creates the sparkle in the bottle.  It is a serious vintage sparkling wine, with crisp, dry, citrus notes.  Light, refreshing, nose tickling bubbly!!

At just £6.99 and available all year round in store, this is a perfect sparkling wine to toast any occasion.  It is much cheaper than Champagne.  I love the brown bottle and foil which looks really classy.  This bottle would look fabulous gracing any festive table!

Aldi's policy is to offer shoppers brand quality products at everyday, exceptionally low prices.  This gives us the perfect opportunity to stock up on the best Christmas fayre for the cheapest prices.

Check out Aldi's Christmas Pages to find out what they have on offer to make this Christmas really special!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Mosh 'n' Chat Katsuma

Moshi Monsters are quite a phenomena, albeit one that has bypassed my own kids who aren't really big fans.  So when we received a Mosh 'n' Chat Katsuma, I didn't have any preconceptions of what to expect. 

The 30 cm tall orange plush toy looked like a typical anime character with its big eyes, huge head and fantasy appearance.  It is quite a cute looking toy.  If you press its tummy it begins to chatter and will continue to chat to you as long as you talk to it. However, it only speaks in its own Moshi language, which is basically gibberish.  Continually pressing his tummy causes it to giggle and laugh.

Katsuma is also meant to double up as a room guard for your bedroom.  A sensor should detect when people approach causing it to make a racket alerting you to any intruders.  This is an added feature that gives this toy a purpose. Unfortunately we couldn't get this to work despite our best efforts.  It just didn't detect us at all and sat silently instead.  

Freddy was quite excited having a toy that chatted to him and had a long lasting gibberish conversation.  It isn't ever going to assist his speech development, but he enjoyed the exchange.  But the novelty wore thin after a while.

Katsuma is quite a cute looking toy, but that is as far as his appeal goes.  If your kids are Moshi Monster fans, I'm sure they would love the Mosh 'n' Chat toy as a part of their Moshi Monster collection. It comes with an adoption certificate and code for a free in-game item.   However, we were not overly impressed by it.  Sorry Katsuma!

Secret Santa with Prezzybox

It's almost December and shops are about to be hit with the most ferocious retail activity of the year as we all stock up on pressies for loved ones and friends.  If you are part of any Secret Santa groups, whether at work or within your extended family, it can be tricky to think of any original gifts to surprise your recipient.

But fear not!!  Here are three fabulous Secret Santa ideas for around a tenner that are sure to be enjoyed and talked about for days to come, thanks to

Addictaball Maze 1
This is an un-put-down-able puzzle ball that looks intriguing and keeps you riveted through 138 stages of tricky maze.  With spirals, drops, swinging arms, flips and slides you will be puzzling for hours on end to complete the Addictaball challenge.  It is guaranteed to keep anyone entertained (and possibly a little frustrated) over the Christmas period!  It is definitely tricky...but this is what makes it so addictive, you just want to beat the ball!

Maze 1 is 19cm diameter with 138 stages and costs £12.95.  Maze 2 is 13cm in diameter and has 100 stages and costs £7.95.  Brilliant Christmas Gifts for hard to buy for friends!

Tude Beams

Flex the Tude Beam
Mood Lighting has just become super fun thanks to Tude Beams!  There are four great characters who each emit funky colours with real attitude.  Each has five light settings to suit your mood.  My favourite setting sees the throbbing lights dancing to the beat of music.  It's like a mini disco!!  The soft glowing colours are actually really relaxing, but the quirky characters exude mood and attitude.  A button on the bottom changes the mode  so you can choose the light effect to match your mood.

Flex in light-up action!
Whether they are sat on a desk at work as an executive toy or in the bedroom of a teenager, the funky flashing lights are excellent gift ideas.  For just £9.95 they come complete with 3 AAA batteries.

Yummy Dough

From ages 3-99, no-one is too old for the fun of modelling this edible, colourful dough.  You just add water to make a smooth modelling clay that is easy to mould into fun creations.  These can be baked in the oven to create yummy, colourful biccies.  Just imagine the characters that could be created...this could be hilarious in the workplace!  The dough comes in red, yellow, blue and green.  It is really innovative and bound to be a lot of fun for adults and children alike.  At £7.95 this is a great product and an unexpected present choice for fun loving, cookie munching friends and family.  It includes a measuring tool and modelling tool.  For those of us who enjoyed playing with Play-Doh as a child, this is a real blast from the past with the added bonus that you can eat the end result!  Genius!!

Perfect present ideas for fun loving family and friends!
For these and other unusual and thoughtful Christmas gift ideas including fun, original presents perfect for Secret Santa or stocking fillers, check out  They have something to suit whoever you are buying for whatever your budget.

The website is easy to navigate with pages dedicated to him, her or for the kids.  You can pick by price, by occasion or by department and there are lots of great products featured to inspire you.  Pop across and have a browse and complete your Christmas shopping from the comfort of your own home!

* I received these fabulous goodies from Prezzybox and I love them! Great gifts, good prices, excellent service and perfect for Christmas!*

My First Number Flashcards

My First Number Flashcards from Ravensburger consists of 50 good sized cards which are designed to help your child with number recognition, counting and simple number problems.  They support early years numeracy and help develop number skills in children aged 3 and over.

I was impressed with the quality of the cards.  They are brightly coloured and printed with appealing designs which children will be attracted to.  They are printed onto quite sturdy and glossy card.

The set of cards includes pictorial representations of the numbers 0-20 in both written and numerical forms.

  The number word cards show the numeral and corresponding number of objects on one side with the written number word on the back.  Each picture shows a different object such as sheep, balls or puppies.

The numeral cards have the number on one side with the corresponding number of items on the other.  They are represented by ducks in a pond.

There are also cards showing the different operations: plus, minus, divide, equals and multiply.  This enables the introduction of simple number sentence work.

Three further cards have larger numbers on, 30, 40 and 50 to extend counting skills.

The instructions on the box give some ideas on how to use the cards with your child, from simple counting and number recognition exercises, to putting numbers in order or matching up the correct number to the corresponding picture card.  They make number work fun!!

Freddy is 2 and enjoyed counting the objects on the cards.  He is pretty good up to 14!  He will get lots of use from these cards as his skills develop so they would be a good investment for any toddler.  They also aid language development as the child names the different objects which is a bonus.  

The cards are available from Toys R Us for £5.99.

Baby Sing Christmas

We've been enjoying getting into a festive mood with the lovely Baby Sing Christmas CD compilation.  This charming collection of favourite seasonal tunes has been arranged for guitar and voice and provide a gentle introduction to this traditional repertoire.
Music for Baby provides specially produced collections to introduce tiny tots to real music and support their development.  Music influences our life from when we are in the womb and continues to do so throughout our lives.  Not only is it fun, it also aids concentration, sleep, movement, learning and emotional development.  It's never too young to introduce baby to real music featuring real instruments with real musicians performing on them.  The CDs do not contain over simplified songs with synthesized sounds or silly adults will enjoy listening to them too.

Baby Sing Christmas has 13 tracks which include favourites such as Winter Wonderland, Silent Night, Jingle Bells and Frosty the Snowman.  There are five bonus tracks that are remixed with additional voices.  If you want to have a taste of the quality of the music you can listen to excerpts here.

Music is a very important part of life Inside the Wendy House and at 2 years old Freddy loves to sing and dance.  He really enjoys listening to music and these melodic Christmas classics are proving to be a big hit.  I love to fill the house and the car with Christmas tunes on the run up to Christmas to set the mood.  This CD is simply lovely to listen to!

Baby Sing Christmas is available directly from for £10.  Other titles are also available to purchase and would make wonderful stocking fillers for little ones.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Puss in Boots 3D

Today, thanks to Sky Perks, I attended a sneak preview showing of the new Puss in Boots 3D movie at the fabulous Odeon cinema in Manchester's Trafford Centre.  My three girls (aged 9 to 20) and I donned our 3D specs and settled down to enjoy this Dream Works' Shrek prequel, telling the story of what Puss got up to before he met Shrek, Donkey and Fiona.  How he becomes a legend!

Antonio Banderas's Puss is on great form as the sword fighting, lady loving feline.  Salma Hayek plays his love interest and partner in crime Kitty Soft Paws.  Other characters include the terrifying bandits Jack and Jill and the scheming dreamer Humpty Dumpty.  The story is about betrayal, revenge and redemption and is action packed, filled with dancing, adventure and excitement.  It hinges around a plan to steal golden eggs from the Giant's Castle in the clouds, accessed via a beanstalk grown from some very elusive magic beans.

The movie has the flavour of a Spaghetti Western.  It is peppered with gags, many appealing to the adults only!  There were laugh out loud moments for both the kids and the grown-ups.

The quality of 3D just gets better and better.  The landscapes are rich and colourful and the characters are vivid and detailed.  Split screen imagery is used to good effect.  It really is a sumptuous visual feast.

If you like Shrek you will love Puss's new film.  However it completely stands alone as a film in its own right with enough action, laughs and cute moments to keep everyone entertained.

My girls enjoyed it.  20 year old Megan was not sure about going to a kids' film, but afterwards said she was glad that she came as she really enjoyed it.  Some of the risque moments had her giggling!  Kizzy is already planning to add it to her DVD collection in the future!

If you want to take the kids for a Christmas treat to the cinema, the film is released on the 9th of December in the UK.

Listography....Cartoon Characters

This week Kate has us reminiscing about cartoon characters from our youth in this week's Listography.  Seeing Kate's list brought back fabulous memories of Mr Benn, Top Cat and Hong Kong Phooey, all firm favourites of mine.  But here is my definitive list!

1: Hairbear

The Hairbear Bunch was just awesome.  So much so, I even had a cat that we called Hairbear.  The 70's hippy bears spent all their time trying to escape from the zoo on their invisible motorcycle to go to parties or they'd chillax in the secret bachelor pad/cave conversion.  Trippy or what!?

2: Professor Pat Pending

I loved Wacky Races.  My sister and I always used to choose who we wanted to win.  I always went for Prof Pat Pending the science nerd.  I remember one episode where he won by averting Dick Dastardly's trap by making the Convert-A-Car sprout wheels on stilts to race across the finish line.  Good times indeed!

3: Mary, Mungo and Midge

Mary lived in a tower block in an inner city with her dog Mungo and her flute playing mouse Midge.  Together they had urban adventures!  In one episode they went to a building site and had a joy ride in a crane.  Health and Safety??  I don't think so!

4: Hercules from The Space Sentinels

My first cartoon based crush!  The blond hunk of manhood was Hercules, the super strong superhero who protected mankind from the evil Morpheus.  He worked with Mercury and Astrea onboard Sentinel One with the maintenance robot Mo.  Hercules was such a fitty with his tight trousers and headband combo.  Just look at that chiselled jaw and six pack.  So what if he is just a drawing!!!

5:  Count Duckula

Count Duckula is just brilliant!  The vampire duck is the result of a failed incarnation ritual where tomato sauce was accidentally used instead of blood which means "He won't bite beast or man, cos he's a vegetari-an!"  Marvellous!!  Igor, his butler is not happy serving a veggie vampire and misses the good old days filled with blood lust and mayhem.  Voiced by David Jason, Count Duckula was an inspired character in a cartoon that played homage to the old Hammer Horror films with Vincent Price-esque narrations.  Duckula has ambitions to be an entertainer and has no interest in his vampire lineage.  It should be brought back to TV for its massively catchy theme tune if nothing else!!


I didn't even get to include Trap Door, the Herbs, The Family Ness, Dogtanian and the Three Muskahounds or Ulysses.  But I have enjoyed a trip down memory lane!   Thanks Kate :) xxx

Bubbles - Love 'em or Hate 'em!


Saturday, 26 November 2011

A Car Seat Fit for Lightning McQueen!

I've loved being an ambassador for the Graco brand throughout 2011.  I've tested some amazing products...the Symbio, Fusio, Nautilus, Ugo and now the Graco Disney Pixar Cars Junior Maxi Plus car seat.

With Cars 2 now released on DVD, Freddy is enjoying watching Lightning McQueen and Mater as his Disney fix of choice!  So to combine his favourite characters with my favourite nursery brand was a winning formula!

The Junior Maxi Plus is the last car safety seat your little ones will require, seeing them through the time when they are legally required to use one.  Suitable for ages 3-12 years (15kgs +), it uses the car's seatbelt to secure the child.  The arms and head support are height adjustable to ensure the best fit and this also allows the car seat to grow with your child.

Safety is paramount with triple side impact protection, integrated seatbelt guides and intuitive belt routing.  The backrest can be removed to make a booster seat for older children.

For comfort, there is a 2 position recline for the padded backrest.  There are also 2 retractable cup holders for drinking on the go!

The gorgeous design features all your favourite Cars 2 characters...Finn, Lightning and Mater.  The dark blue cover is machine washable and has snazzy red piping.  Freddy loves the design and will soon be using his Junior Maxi Plus for occasional use in his Daddy's car, until he outgrows the Nautilus and uses it permanently.  The beauty of the Junior Maxi Plus is that it can be transferred from car to car really easily, keeping your child safe if travelling in other people's vehicles.

The Junior Maxi Plus is available in Toy Story, Cars and Disney Princess designs which will appeal to all Disney fans (and their Disney loving Mums!!)

RRP is £69.99 and it is available from good stockists including Argos, Babies R Us and Halfords.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Animagic Benji...My Best Friend

When we received Animagic Benji, the cute interactive puppy, to review, Kizzy and Freddy were very excited.  He looked lovely with his fluffy white fur, big puppy dog eyes and shiny black nose.  Benji  is meant to behave like a real pup.  He sits up, barks, waggles his ears, wags his tail, plays tug of war, growls and snores when he falls asleep. All the fun of having a puppy without the house training!!  

Meeting his new toy!
Benji has a sensor that is meant to detect you as you approach so he will excitedly bark to let you know he is pleased to see you.  Unfortunately, however hard we tried, our Benji would not respond until we manhandled him quite vigorously, which was a bit of a disappointment. Once he got going he did reward us with wiggling ears, waggy tails and cute puppy noises which delighted the children.  He sat up and lay down, but getting him to do so was a bit hit and miss.

Cuddling Benji
You are meant to be able to play Tug of War by putting his rope toy into his mouth and pulling on it.  We struggled to make this feature work and couldn't get him growling at all.  We all tried but couldn't quite get the knack of this game.
Tug of War!
The other disappointing thing about Benji was the noise of the mechanical movements which sometimes made a loud clunking noise. This was a bit worrying and sounded like his legs were breaking.  

However the general consensus was that he was very sweet and really quite adorable, but just didn't do as much as you'd expect a premium priced toy, with an RRP of £59.99, to do.  It is a shame because he is such a cute little puppy that you really want to pet and play with.  You'd be just as well buying a cuddly toy to hug instead, for a fraction of the cost.  The kids do all love him and play with him...but of course they did not have to pay for him. I would expect more from an Animagic toy, it's a pity the beautiful Benji didn't deliver.


Lego, Harry Potter and X Box ...a Winning Combination!

Following on from years 1-4 comes the next instalment of the Lego Harry Potter gaming experience.  Based on the final 3 books, players get to enjoy Harry's heroic adventures in the wizardry and Muggle worlds!  Available on all platforms, the game builds up to the ultimate battle between Harry and Voldermort.  With new challenges, over 200 characters to unlock, more magic and levels that include exploring Grimmauld Place, the Ministry of Magic and Godric's Hollow, this is the ultimate game for Harry Potter fans!  We were sent the XBox 360 version to try out.
My kids love Harry Potter, Lego and the we were onto a winner from the outset!  They hadn't played the first game but it didn't matter.  From the first introductory film clip, they were mesmerised.  The storyline is very true to the films which delighted them as they played.

The levels are big and impressive looking with lots to explore and discover.  Your character can interact with the environment which is really pleasing and fun! The graphics are colourful and smooth and it looks great with massive attention to detail.  With collectibles, things to unlock and puzzles to solve, this is a game that will last for ages.  You can play as different characters, switching between them with a press of a button.  This allows you to complete different tasks.

Harry uses his wand to cast spells to solve problems with satisfying results.  It is magic!!  More spells are unlocked as play progresses.  There is some potion making and broomstick flying too.  This game captures all the fun of being a wizard!

The game is recommended for ages 7+ as it contains scenes of 'violence' and 'fear'.  The storyline does have some very dark elements but the gameplay is not at all scary and is handled lightly and with humour.  The death eaters are really quite sweet!  It is made to be fun and to appeal to younger children and adults alike, and there are lots of laughs along the way.  There is of course an element of battling involved as 'he who can't be named' inevitably meets Harry in their showdown!  But it isn't a violent game...after all, they are Lego characters!

Kizzy aged 9 found the levels challenging, but in a good way that adds to the longevity of the game.  Things need to be done in a certain order so that the gameplay progresses, but there are a lot of clues to point you in the right direction.  The satisfaction of completing each step was met with whoops of joy and cries of "I did it!!"!   She also loved exploring the landscape and making the characters do silly things like whizzing down a slide, flying through the London Eye or swimming in a pond!  She was thoroughly entertained by this visual treat.

Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 is available on all formats with prices starting from £17.99.  The XBox game currently costs £35.71 on Amazon.  It can be played by 1 or 2 players with a drop in/out co-op mode. We are extremely impressed with this game which appeals to Kizzy, her 15 year old sister and their 42 year old dad!  It's nice to have a game that the whole family can enjoy together and assist each other in working out puzzles.  This is definitely another great game in the Lego video game range!  A perfect present for playing over Christmas!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Light Strike...Action at the Speed of Light!

My husband told me that he would have happily traded his mum, dad and favourite nanny to have got his hands on a set of Light Strike guns when he was a 10 year old boy.  The idea of having a gun with lights and sounds that could actually register hits when you shot on target, was the stuff of school boy fantasies as he played Cops and Robbers using his fingers as make believe weaponry.

I know a lot of parents are very anti-gun toys, but I have a 24 year old son who was exposed to toy guns and  war based video games and he has turned into the most sensitive, loving, well adjusted adult, so I am not a member of the gun-free-play camp.  I see no problem in toy guns and do not believe they encourage violence in any way.  Kids have played at being soldiers, spies or cowboys and Indians for generations, I see it as a rite of passage for young boys.  If they don't have toy guns, children will use sticks or fashion weapons out of Lego.  It does not mean they will grow up with a blood lust.  It is make believe and I think sheltering kids or banning this play is potentially far more damaging.  Just thought I'd get this in here before I begin my review so you know my viewpoint on these products.  I appreciate other people may not share my views.

We were sent a fantastic bundle of Light Strike guns and accessories to review from Wow Wee Toys.  They bring the world of video gaming to life with lights, colour and sound.  They are not made to look like realistic modern weaponry...this is futuristic, fantasy stuff! With one on one tournaments or team battles, the Light Strike range is a versatile toy for older children to play with.  The guns are very impressive looking and come in a variety of styles which have different features such as varying fire rate and reload time.  They can be customized with the accessories such as the enemy scanner, scope for greater range and refractor launch for extra fire power.  When you shoot an opponent a health light goes off on their gun.  Losing three lights freezes them out of the game until they re-spawn.  You can activate shields to minimize enemy damage and give you a tactical advantage. Ammo is unlimited but you have to re-load to keep topped up.

Ready for Action!
I was impressed with how exquisitely detailed the interactive futuristic guns are.  They have a finger print recognition feature which is a nice high tech touch.  They are well built and robust.  The buttons use touch-tech activation to control it.  As the guns have built in sensors there is no need to wear a special target jacket to record hits. They bring the fun of laser tag to your home in a simple and innovative way.  Each of the designs of gun are different so you can choose the one that suits your own strategies.   The fire and reload times vary.  Each gun is further customizable with accessories.  Each gun comes with a separate light up target for practising your aim.  The voice and sound features are excellent and add to the role play element.

There is an Intelligent Targeting System which allows games such as Capture the Flag which gives the team or player the advantage of having a medic to restore health or lets them use bomb mode to damage enemies using a 360 rotational burst of gunfire.  It would work well in a multiple team situation with experienced players.  It can also be used as a target in a solo game. However, we preferred the old fashioned one on one shoot-em-up method of play.  We did all agree though that the colourful ITS looked very impressive spinning around with its lights blazing!

Accessories include the Scope which increases the range up to an impressive 100 ft which is useful when playing outdoors.  Sniper mode can be used for single shot action.  The Scanner detects enemy activity up to 30 ft away so you can shoot first and gain the advantage in a game.   The Refractor adds fire power to take out multiple enemies with a super shot. It adds recoil action to the gun which makes it rumble as you shoot. The Machine Gun gives you super fast fire power.

Using the Scope.
Our overall opinion is that the accessories are a bit of fun but not essential to the gameplay, as is the ITS.  The sound effects of the game are spot on and add excitement.  They are really futuristic and include voiced instructions telling you when to reload or activate your shield.  They do give you the feel of being in a video game or a movie.  To experience the gameplay at its best, you would need two guns.

The Light Strike products use a lot of batteries, each gun takes 4 AA's and the targets take 3 AAA's.  The ITS takes 4 AA's.  The accessories just plug in and do not require further batteries.  Batteries do however seem to last quite a long time.

The Light Strike toys are recommended for ages 6 and up.  My 42 year old husband, my 24 year old son and I had hours of fun together!  I honestly thought it was an awesome toy which brought out the kid in me!  It is particularly fun playing in the dark and looking out for your enemies' lights as they take cover.  Goodness knows what my neighbours must think!   Freddy did like pushing the buttons on the gun and enjoyed the sound and light FX, but it is obviously not aimed at very young children.  It is an amazing piece of kit that will please both experienced gamers and youngsters alike.

Light Strike Assault Striker GAR/ SR-1  RRP £39.99
Enemy Scanner RRP £9.99
Refractor RRP £9.99
Machine Gun RRP £9.99
Scope RRP £9.99
Intelligent Target System RRP £24.99

See for further details!


With so many toys on the market, it is refreshing to find something that has a retro feel, reminding me of my own childhood playthings.  Tumblekins from Great Gizmos are just like that!  Made from real wood, Tumblekins are classic vehicles with a fun twist.  The characters that come with the vehicles tumble and roll and spin around as the vehicle is pushed along. 

We received a lovely chunky fire engine complete with a static ladder and fireman.  Freddy was very keen for Daddy to get into the packaging so he could play with it.

The wheels of the fire engine have hub caps that are off centre creating a fun effect when the vehicle is pushed along.  The fireman can slide down the ladder into the driving seat, where he spins and tumbles as the fire engine whizzes along.  The result is an enjoyable and fascinating toy which held Freddy's attention as he pushed it around the floor.

The kid powered vehicle pushes along with a very satisfying motion.  It encourages pretend play and develops fine motor skills.  The fire engine is one in a range of Tumblekins vehicles that will delight toddlers with their fun movements.  They are well made, chunky, tactile, robust and so far our fire engine is resisting Fred's tough play techniques!

The Tumblekins Fire Engine is a great toy for toddlers aged 1 and over.  It is fun and Freddy enjoyed pushing it across the floor to watch the fireman spin around.  Vehicles are a bit hit with Freddy and this one has an added element of fun that kept him amused and entertained.

The Fire Engine retails for £17.99.  It will be a very well loved toy that will make a fabulous present for a little one!


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