Tag Archives: Reviews

Review: National Geographic Animal Jam Toys

A brand new range of toys from the makers of the popular kids app – Animal Jam has recently been launched, you might have seen the adverts for Animal Jam on TV already. If you’ve not heard of Animal Jam yet, then be prepared to know everything about it by Christmas!

Animal Jam is the number one online social game for kids and it was created in association with National Geographic. The app is free to play and has over 45 million registered users around the world – three million of them  in the UK.

Created in partnership with National Geographic, Animal Jam combines role playing and anthropology to make an exciting educational game for kids. Players can collect fun facts in their journey books, learn about animal conservation and talk to real scientists.

Animal Jam

These toys will be instantly recognisable for fans of the app.  Animal Jam has been brought to life with this brand new collection of toys. They are collectable and all come with exclusive codes to unlock  content and other special  features  inside the online game.

We were sent a selection of the collectable toys to try out, here’s a little run down of what we tried and what we liked…

The Animal Jam Adopt a Pet (Series 1)

These are little pets which come with their own kennel (or dens as they are known in Animal Jam). Each kennel is home to a collectable pet and two accessories. You can customize your pet with accessories and stack the kennels to display your pets. There are 96 of these to collect and they cost just £2.49 which makes it a great pocket money treat. The boy really loved his kennel and out of everything he enjoyed playing with this tiny toy the most. A hit!

Animal Jam

ANIMAL JAM – Friends with Pet

The Friends with Pet costs £4.99, you get a 3 inch figure, a 1 inch friend and three interchangeable accessories. I think this is a great value set, it looks like it should cost more than it does and it would make a great party present for a little Animal Jam fan. We got the Posh Raccoon and Pet Kitty and they are very sweet.

ANIMAL JAM – Light Up Friends with Ring

Another great party present is the Light Up Friends with Ring. These are collectable 3” animal figures and have secret patterns, two interchangeable accessories and a light-up ring. These sets cost £7.99, we were sent the Lucky Lynx and the real hit for the small boy was the light up ring. 

ANIMAL JAM Plush characters

These cute plushes cost £7.99 and are 7 inches tall. There are several plush characters to choose from – Panda, Koala, Bunny & Monkey. We were sent the purple Koala and he is  super-soft and very huggable.

Animal Jam

Since we received these toys the small boy has suddenly seen Animal jam everywhere, we’ve downloaded the app and used the codes which came with the toys to unlock parts of the app. It’s fair to say that this had opened up a new line of interest for him, which is great.

The app is free and the accompanying toys are nicely priced, not too expensive and great for either pocket money (or stocking filler) treats, as well as being good options for birthday party presents for classmates etc. They are suitable for ages 5+ and would be a great little gift for any Animal Jam fan this Christmas.

We were sent these toys for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Toys: Meet the new Furby Connect

I was a bit old for a Furby the first time around, I was too cool for school and didn’t really get the attraction. But now I have a small boy of my own I see things through his eyes and the new, all singing, all dancing, all action Furby Connect is possibly the most exciting thing he’s clapped eyes on for a while. 

He’s never seen anything quite like it, and neither have we. It’s like one of the Gremlins has come to life! We will try our best not to get him wet – who knows what would happen if we did!

Furby Connect

The Furby was launched this autumn in time for Christmas and although he costs around £80 (though as ever there are deals and discounts widely available online), he would make a good “big present” for someone.

The Furby Connect is Bluetooth enabled, and apparently this means it knows what day it is. I imagine it will have a thing or two to say on Christmas Day morning. 

Furby Connect

He is easy to unbox, though you will need to unscrew his base from the cardboard and insert 4 AA batteries. Once he wakes up his eyes open and the talking, singing and giggling begin. We’d never quite seen anything like it and we were all in stitches within minutes.

Each Furby has 150 expressive animations which he conveys using his big LCD eyes, wiggling ears and light-up antenna. He is also the softest, fluffiest toy I’ve ever cuddled.

Apparently each Furby is different and acts and reacts differently to how you treat them. Our Furby liked to sit on my knee while I gently massaged him, I knew he liked it because he kept crooning “Oooo deep tissue” and making a happy face.

Furby Connect

We downloaded the app onto my son’s iPad and between the Furby and the app he’s already had hours and hours of fun with it all. With the app you can feed him, play games or take him to the toilet. The Furby Connect World app keeps your Furby updated and apparently brings in new Furby phrases, music, and videos every week that your Furby can interact with.

When the antenna glows on your Furby Connect, it means it is getting an update from the Furby Connect World app and there is something new to discover next time you open the app.

One of the things my son had enjoyed most with the app is hatching and raising Furblings from egg. Another big hit was feeding his Furby who would then let out a large burp – this is not the toy you use to teach table manners, but it is a lot of fun.

I did wonder how I’d ever be able to get our Furby to shut up so we could all get to sleep. Thankfully he comes with his own sleep mask which you attach to his face. After 30 seconds or so of snoring and sleepy noises, he does settle down for the night, only waking when you take his mask off. I really like this feature, I’ve spent the last six years jumping out of my skin when a noisy toy sets itself off in an otherwise silent house at night, so being able to guarantee silence is a big plus for us.

Watch our “Meet our Furby Connect” video here…

I am surprisingly un-irritated by our Furby Connect. I’ve come to look at him as a pet I don’t have to clean up after, and one I can switch off if I need to.

The small boy absolutely adores him. It’s early days but he is enjoying looking after him and making sure he is happy. 

I like that the app keeps him updated and that there are lots of additional play options in the app with the Furby. We also like that he’s really snuggly and adorable. He looks at you with these big eyes, coos gobbledygook at you and you can’t help but be a little bit smitten by him.

The Furby Connect is available for around £80 and you can find them in Purple, Teal, Pink and Blue (ours is the blue one). They are suitable for ages 6+, though younger ones may need some help navigating the app at first. They are widely available in toy shops and through online retailers such as Amazon.

Furby Connect

Disclosure: We received our Furby Connect for the purposes of writing this review, all opinions and images are our own. Contains Amazon affiliate links.

Toys: Transformers Robots in Disguise Optimus Prime

This month we received a Transformers: Robots in Disguise Power Surge Optimus Prime and Aerobolt to put to the test. Optimus Prime is the leader of the Autobots and as a result, on every Transformers fan’s wish list. The small boy was no exception, and has long wanted an Optimus Prime of his own. 

The Transformers: Robots in Disguise Power Surge Optimus Prime and Aerobolt is no ordinary, bog standard Optimus Prime. Yes he transforms like other Optimus Primes (and he does it in 5 pretty quick to learn steps), but this Transformer has a “power surge mode”. More of which later.

Transformers: Robots in Disguise Power Surge Optimus Prime

Optimus is well packaged in a sturdy box and is held in position with strong string. It didn’t take us long to release him so we could start playing with him. He is made from strong plastic, as someone who remembers playing with metal Transformers in the 1980’s, I did inwardly wince slightly when I transformed him, thinking I could easily snap him, but I didn’t and after a couple of weeks of robust play he’s still absolutely fine.

Transformers: Robots in Disguise Power Surge Optimus Prime

Included with the Transformers: Robots in Disguise Power Surge Optimus Prime figure are –
     • Mini-Con Weaponizers Aerobot figure
     • Sword accessory
     • Demo battery

It’s great that there is a battery included already (1 AA if you need to replace it), so he’s ready to go as soon as you get him out of the box. Optimus Prime is big, he’s the biggest Transformer toy I’ve ever seen, he’s a statuesque 11 inches tall! The instructions are pretty easy to follow and you can transform him from figure to truck in 5 steps. The truck cab isn’t attached and you have to clip it onto the truck. I do worry that the cab could end up getting lost somewhere in the house.

Transformers: Robots in Disguise Power Surge Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime comes with an Aerobolt, this is a Mini-Con and you attach him to Optimus and activates the Power Surge mode, helping to convert your Transformer into a weapon. Because the Aerobolt has wings he can help your Transformer battle in the air.

Optimus Prime has pop-out cannons and wings, lights and a selection of sounds. He has four different modes of play: robot mode, vehicle mode, flight mode, and Power Surge mode. Power surge mode is what made my son shout “that’s so cool!” So it must be. In power surge mode his wings open up, the cannons rise up and he makes a whole load of different battle sounds.

There are a few things you need to know when you get your Transformers: Robots in Disguise Power Surge Optimus Prime. Firstly, his feet fold out underneath, have a look and just unfold them otherwise he will never stand up by himself. Secondly there is a button behind his head which you can press to make the sounds.

The Transformers: Robots in Disguise Power Surge Optimus Prime is for children aged 5+ and my nearly 6 year old LOVED it. He did struggle a bit to transform him, so smaller ones may need a bit of help with that. However once he was shown a couple of times he more or less got the hang of it.

Transformers: Robots in Disguise Power Surge Optimus Prime

Optimus is robust and has stood up to some very rough play. He’s been brilliant for his imagination, I’ve often found my son immersed in an imaginary battle between the Autobots and Deceptacons in his bedroom.

He’s not cheap, his rrp is £50 but I actually think he’s worth the money, and as always there are deals and discounts to be had if you shop around. I found him for a little over £37 on Amazon

The Power Surge Optimus Prime and Aerobolt is a huge hit. He’d make a fantastic Christmas present and I don’t think you’d be disappointed if you loved Transformers and you were given this for Christmas. I know I have one very happy boy on my hands.

Disclosure: We received the Transformers: Robots in Disguise Power Surge Optimus Prime and Aerobolt for the purposes of writing this review, all opinions and images are our own. Contains Amazon affiliate links.

Days Out: Visiting The Blackpool Tower

As a child I spent a lot of time in Blackpool. Living in Manchester it was our nearest bit of seaside and we had family there, so it was a regular haunt. We thought Blackpool was probably the most amazing place on earth. We never really did the Pleasure Beach, but Blackpool Tower, with its beautiful ballroom, circus and million mile views was somewhere we seemed to visit quite a lot.

Over the Bank Holiday weekend we took the small boy to Blackpool. Our first stop was SEA LIFE Blackpool, which was brilliant. After we’d left SEA LIFE he was keen to hit the beach, but I wanted us to have a quick trip up the Blackpool Tower  before we all got covered in sand. 

Blackpool Tower

Although the Blackpool Tower is home to several famous attractions including the Ballroom, the tower circus, the tower dungeon and Jungle Jim’s, what we really wanted to see and do was the tower itself. 

As Merlin Card holders we showed our cards and got into the lift up to the Blackpool Tower Eye. This is a fairly recent addition to the tower. The first stop was the obligatory before attraction photograph. I always say yes to having these taken out of politeness, but we never buy them and they always look awful and/or really unnatural. The people in front of us declined, so we decided to as well and we were just waved through.

We joined a short queue for the 4D cinema experience. There are no seats in this cinema, so be prepared to stand for the short showing. The short film shows you the history of the tower and is a whistle-stop tour/flight around Blackpool complete with wind through your hair and foamy bubbles being blown at you. I found it quite exciting, the small boy wasn’t quite as keen. I think he was a bit nervous about going up the tower.

Blackpool Tower

Nervous faces…

Once you’ve watched the film you join the queue for the lifts up the tower. We had already decided to stay on the glass SkyWalk platform rather than climbing the stairs to the top. Both of my boys are a bit windy about heights and we thought we could go back another day and push it a little bit further with them.

They were very brave and both eventually managed to step out onto the 5cm thick glass. To be fair, the tower is 380ft tall and it is very strange standing on glass and being able to see all the way down.

Blackpool Tower

Blackpool Tower

I wonder how they clean the windows

It was a gloriously sunny day, the sky was a beautiful blue and you could see for miles and miles. On a clear day you can apparently see the Lake District, Liverpool and across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man.

Blackpool Tower

We spent quite a bit of time walking around on the SkyWalk platform, admiring Blackpool and beyond from all angles. We talked about going even higher up the tower, but we decided to leave that for another, slightly braver day.

I would have liked to have spent more time exploring the attractions at the tower, but the boys were very keen to get on the beach, but we will be back another day soon for a proper look around. 

For more information visit the Blackpool Tower website.