Monday, 1 November 2010

Toyologist Review Week - Girls' Toys

So, it's the start of November which means that parents are beginning to think about what to get their little darlings for Christmas. Yes, I know I just said (well, typed to be more precise, but you know..) the C word but there are those of us who like to get their present shopping done by the end of November - as we have a particular allergy to visiting shops in the month of December.

As we have had so many toys from the Toys R Us Toyologist programme, this is going to be a tough one this year as the children have had so many new things to play this although they have started writing frighteningly long lists that look more like toy catalogues. However, as we have been doing so much testing - both with friends of ours and without - that I thought I would devote several posts this week to different types of toys. 

Today we're looking at some of the girls' toys that we have been sent. Little girls don't generally build, want to fight or bash cars together so if you're not used to buying for them, it can be a real headache. However, from my experience, they do love role play type things a lot. Missy Woo is very much into craft and making things, as well as a lot of colouring but that could just be an individual thing. 

One of the things that Missy Woo is not big on is dolls. Don't get me wrong, she has them and she says she likes them, but she really can take or leave them. She'll play for a while but I'll then find them left on the floor and doesn't naturally go to them when she's looking for something to do. We are then, perhaps, not the best people to review the Girls Only Emma Doll (£29.99). It's a 50cm doll dressed ready to go out with her friends and carrying a mobile phone. Well. Since we got this doll, Missy Woo has included "real phone" on her Christmas list. It does seem aimed at her age group so it does seem odd to include a mobile phone as an accessory as it does give the impression that it's normal for a child that age to have one (she's been told she's not getting one by the way!). Missy Woo likes to dress and undress dolls but the clothing on this one seems particularly tight and difficult for her to take off or put on. The doll also comes with an audiobook on CD, which has some odd stories where Emma goes online and talks to people which again is not really appropriate for the age. Having said that, Missy Woo has only listened to about half of it and then lost interest. I don't really see the point of the audiobook - I think the makers would be better to focus their efforts on making the doll better - like better clothing and so forth. This is definitely one for the little girl who really likes her dolls, otherwise it is a lot of money to pay.

Next up is the Sylvanian Families Brother at Home Set (£12.99) I am way too old to have played with this myself as a child so it's a new experience for me. This little set includes all the parts for a bathroom - and yes, that means a toilet too! There is also a Tam Tailbury figure, who is a dog. Apparently, he likes to spend lots of time in the bathroom annoying his sister and making her late for school. (Ooookaaaaaaayy!) The detail on this is amazing even at the smaller scale and you can see it's really well made. The little girls that played with this loved it - it was a perfect size for their little fingers and everything worked. I can see why it became so popular with children and adults alike - particularly as it is reminiscent of a more innocent type of toy. I just had a quick squizz at the Sylvanian Families website and the sheer range of characters, families and sets is completely amazing so buying such a set could be the start of a lifelong obsession. This would probably work best as a present to add to other sets, but would also be good as a starter present to gauge a child's interest in the range. My only concern as a parent is what to do with all those tiny little pieces which are bound to end up strewn across my floors. 

And then there is the Strawberry Shortcake Cafe Playset (£34.99). This is a strawberry shaped two storey cafe with a Strawberry Shortcake doll who appears to live above the shop. The set smells of strawberries which is a bit overpowering when you first open the packaging but the smell does subside after a bit. The set is coloured to appeal to little girls in a big way but feels more flimsy and less "real" than the Sylvanian Families set. This did not put off the little girls that played with it one bit. They loved playing with the doll, putting her in the cafe, moving all the pieces around. Again, lots of little pieces to get lost but that means there is a lot to keep them occupied with imaginary play. Overall, the girls gave this a big thumbs-up. As a parent, I would be happy to buy this too as it doesn't require purchasing other sets to be of any use, although other Strawberry Shortcake sets are available.

Come back tomorrow to The Five Fs blog when we will have more reviews of toys - but next time, ones that largely appeal to boys.

(I was provided with the above toys to review and have received no other compensation. The opinions stated here are my own, and have not been influenced by the aforementioned compensation.)
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