Friday, 8 April 2011

Netmums Review: Littlest Pet Shop Hamster Playground

My children love getting toys to try out and review. Unfortunately, having a girl and a boy of primary school age, toys are rarely unisex so one of them is generally going to be disappointed and we have strops about the unfairness of it all.

This week, it was Monkey who was disappointed as I was sent the Littlest Pet Shop Hamster Playground - really not his thing these days. I did my best to keep it away from him for a while - I forgot to hide the parcel before they came home from school one day and he spied the word "TOYS" on the box. He actually believed me when I said it was not toys then read the word "Hasbro" as "Hash Browns" so I got away with it for a day or two as he honestly thought he could eat the contents of the box. Bwahahaha.

So, yesterday afternoon, Missy Woo and I gave the toy a run for its money whilst he was at football. We had an hour or so. The first fifteen minutes were spent getting the toy out of its packaging. Grrr.... it's a pet peeve of mine but this seemed worse than normal. In particular, there were lots of what looked like small animals that were actually just cardboard cut-outs. There was sticky tape, double knotted thread, and some plastic clasps, bit of plastic, and that thin stretchy, almost invisible yarn. Honestly, is all that completely necessary when it's already in a cardboard box?

Once devoid of its packaging, there was thankfully little or no assembly to be done. The playground comes with two small animals - hamsters, I guess, d'oh! - but there is space to fit more on. I guess it's a collectible set, so they are encouraging you to buy more, but Missy Woo was a bit disappointed she couldn't put animals everywhere. Annoyingly, nearly all the promotional images I've seen of this on toy shop websites show up to 8 animals on the playground, giving the visual impression that they are all included. Please, don't do this - children of that age don't read the small print.

The playground consists of a hamster wheel, which you turn with a handle, a spinning hamster ball which is detachable for rolling around the room, and a spinning apple perch. There's a little house in the shape of a piece of cheese, and a cute little water bottle. It also has some tiny pieces of hamster food and a bed, which I'm sure to curse when I tread on them in the days to come. It's pretty solidly made, unlike some flimsy plastic toys. The animals need to be clicked into place on the wheel and perch which Missy Woo seemed to find quite hard to do at first. It was the same with the hamster ball - she had to ask me to twist it together properly.

That said, Missy Woo seemed to love it from the moment we (finally) got it out of the packaging. She told me that she thought it was great and that she loved the apple and the hamster ball best. She also said she might not play with it every day - go figure! She was however moved enough to draw a picture of it, which she insists she is going to take into school to show everyone what her new toy looks like. She also made me take a photo of this masterpiece so that I can share it with you all. Here, then, is Missy Woo and her tribute to the Littlest Pet Shop Hamster Playground.

All in all, I thought this was pretty good value, although I can't help feeling it would be better with more figures to play with. And much less packaging.

Oh, and true to form, Monkey came home from football and promptly threw a tantrum about not having his own toy. Hopefully, we'll have a boy toy to review soon. At which point, Missy Woo will sulk. I can't win.

Littlest Pet Shop Hamster Playground is widely available. I found it for £14.99 in Argos but it's more usually £19.99.

I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network. I am paid an expenses fee to cover my time but Netmums have no editorial control whatsoever about what I blog about. Being a member of the Netmums Blogging Network means that I get to try out products and brands and get my expenses covered but that I retain full editorial integrity.
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