Category Archives: Toys

Card Game Review: Super Happy Families

Generations of children have grown up playing the card game Happy Families. It’s a real family classic, it’s easy to learn and play; very easily transported and fun too. This week we were sent a new version to play – Super Happy Families, but what did we think about it?

Super Happy Families is based on the traditional Happy Families card game, aimed squarely at families (who don’t need to be super to play). There are 44 cards in the pack, eight families to collect and four cards in each family group. Whoever gets the most groups first wins.

Card Game Review: Super Happy Families

To play, deal five cards to each player and put the rest of the cards face down in a pile the middle. As ever, the youngest player starts by asking another player if they have a member of a family they are holding in their deck. If they have a card or cards from that family, they hand them over and the player asks again until you ask and you draw a blank. When this happens it’s the next player takes their turn requesting cards. When a player has a full family they must put the 4 cards face down on the table in front of themselves. The player who collects the most sets is the winner!

Super Happy Families is illustrated by Kirsti Davidson, an illustrator and surface pattern designer based in Brighton. The illustrations bring this classic game right up to date. My son, a big superhero fan loved them. He thought they were “awesome” and he really loved that they were so out of this world.

Super Happy Families is a simple game, but simple is often the best. It’s packaged in a sturdy box which is just the right size to slip into a pocket or a bag. It’s a great game. If you love Happy Families, but want to mix things up a bit, Super Happy Families is well worth a try.

Super Happy Families is available from good toy shops and online and costs £9.99. For more information, visit the Laurence King website.

Disclosure: We were sent Super Happy Families for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Giveaway & Review: Oi Frog Memory Card Game #AD

AD/Gifted When my son was starting to learn to read, one of the books which really (really, really) got him excited about reading was Oi Frog (swiftly followed by Oi Dog). Oi Frog is the award-winning storybook written by Kes Gray and it has been brought to life in this new and easy to play memory card game; the Oi Frog Memory Card Game.

Although the game is designed for pre-schoolers, improving my son’s memory is something the school have asked us to focus on at home. Memory games are ideal for giving all of our brains a bit of a workout.

Review: Oi Frog Memory Card Game

The Oi Frog Memory Card Game comes in a lovely illustrated tin. There are a number of sheets of cards which you pop out, as well as a card with the rules of the game on. There are 56 picture cards in the set. Each card has an Oi Frog illustration on and there are two of each one; so two frogs, two logs, two puffins and two muffins etc. Each card features the familiar illustrations from Oi Frog from illustrator Jim Field.

The game is incredibly simple to play; turn all the cards picture side down, then take it in turns to find a matching, or rhyming pair. By rhyming pair I mean a frog and a log, or a puffin and a muffin. The person with the most pairs at the end of the game wins. The trick is remembering which cards are where, so you can find a matching or rhyming pair when it’s your turn.

Review: Oi Frog Memory Card Game

The Oi Frog Memory Card Game is ideal for boosting memory skills (for people of all ages); and can help little ones learn about co-operation and taking turns. My son is 8 now and although this game is suitable for ages 3+, we all had a lot of fun playing it. It really flexed my aging memory muscles and we all really enjoyed it. It’s absolutely the kind of game we will play again and again.

The Oi Frog Memory Card Game costs around £10.95 and is available online and in good toy shops.

WIN An Oi Frog Memory Card Game

To be in with a chance to win an Oi Frog Memory Card Game, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will be sent an Oi Frog Memory Card Game.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 31st March 2019.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winners name will be available on request
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11. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
12. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

Disclosure: We were sent an Oi Frog Memory Card Game for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Review: I Saw It First! Jungle – A Family Spotting Game

This week we’ve been playing a new game – I Saw It First! Jungle – A Family Spotting Game. It’s a puzzle game for people who love spotting animals, like a ginormous Dobble but a bit harder and just as much fun!

Review: I Saw It First! Jungle - A Family Spotting Game

In I Saw It First! Jungle there are 300 jungle animals all over the double-sided board. Each of the pieces is printed on both sides, so no two games are the same because you can put the board together in many different ways.

The board is covered with all kinds of creatures, some are familiar, like the leopard or the hippopotamus, others less so, like the eyelash viper or the giraffe weevil.

Review: I Saw It First! Jungle - A Family Spotting Game

The game comes with a box to assemble and 300 hexagonal counters each with an animal on one side and the name of the animal on the other. To play you take a counter from the box and show it to the other players. When they say “go” everyone must look for that animal on the board. The first one to spot it shouts “I saw it first” and keeps the counter. You can play for as long as you like. The person with the most counters at the end of the game is the winner. It’s simple but brilliant.

Like I said, the games go on as long as you want. It’s really fun to try to spot the creatures on the board. There’s a good variety of different animals and lots to talk about. Ben knew a lot about some of the animals, birds and insects already and happily chatted about where some of them lived and what they ate as we searched the board for them.

Review: I Saw It First! Jungle - A Family Spotting Game

I Saw It First! Jungle comes in and eye-catching triangular box and features illustrations by Caroline Selmes. It’s easy to understand but addictive to play, and great fun for adults and children alike.

I Saw It First! Jungle costs £19.99 and it is available from high street shops, direct from Laurence King and online retailers such as Amazon.

Note: We were sent I Saw It First! Jungle for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Toy Review: Mr Frosty Choc Ice Maker

When I was a little girl, all I wanted for Christmas was a Mr Frosty. Times haven’t changed much and high on my son’s wish list was a Mr Frosty Choc Ice Maker. Mr Frosty didn’t arrive for Christmas, but as a birthday present. This meant only one thing – making choc ice treats for the weekend!

Review: Mr Frosty Choc Ice Maker

Like all Mr Frosty products the Mr Frosty Choc Ice Maker is a simple idea; easy to follow instructions and solidly made, simple equipment. All you need is some ingredients – your favourite yoghurt, some chocolate for melting and some sprinkles if you’re feeling fancy.

The Mr Frosty Choc Ice Maker comes with all the equipment you need, though you might want to also use some kind of board to keep your table tidy from any drips or dribbles and a spoon for stirring and spooning the melted chocolate. In the box there are some silicon molds to create your own Mr Frosty & Penguin frozen chocolate figures; plastic lolly sticks and an igloo which you melt the chocolate in. The roof of the igloo is also where you stick your lolly sticks while you chocolate sets. There is also a set of very simple, easy to follow instructions.

Review: Mr Frosty Choc Ice Maker

To make your choc ices, slot your lolly sticks in the mold. Spoon in the yoghurt, I tapped the mold a few times so the yoghurt would settle. Then put this in the freezer for a minimum of three hours. We spent our three hours at his birthday party, which was nice.

When we got home I checked that they were frozen, which they were. I left them in the freezer until I was ready for them as they melt quite quickly. Following the instructions, melt the chocolate in the igloo in the microwave and once it’s melted take your lollies out of the freezer, remove them from the mold and quickly spoon the chocolate over.

Review: Mr Frosty Choc Ice Maker

The chocolate does set very quickly, so if you are planning on sprinkling them with anything, do it quickly. Set them in the igloo roof to set and then eat them or put them in a box back in the freezer if you’re saving them for later.

The Mr Frosty Choc Ice Maker is well made, simple and easy to use. Our choc ices were really tasty (we used a good quality vanilla yoghurt) and it was really fun to use. It’s a pretty tidy kit too, other than a smear of yoghurt and a dribble of chocolate, there was no mess.

Now we understand the process, the world is our lobster. We could cover them in nuts, change the yoghurt flavour, swirl through peanut butter, anything. I can see us playing around with this again and again. It’s such a simple kit to use. It’s brilliant.

Review: Mr Frosty Choc Ice Maker

The Mr Frosty Choc Ice Maker kit costs around £12.99 which I think makes it a nicely priced Christmas present idea. Mr Frosty Choc Ice Maker is available in most toy shops and supermarkets such as ASDA and Smyths Toys.

We were sent Mr Frosty Choc Ice Maker for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Toy Review: BRIO Crane and Mountain Tunnel

A wooden train track is something most children play with at some point and BRIO is one of the biggest makers of wooden train tracks and accessories (we have almost all of their range already). This week we’ve been putting the BRIO Crane and Mountain Tunnel to the test, but what did the boy think of this new addition to his train set?

Toy Review: BRIO Crane and Mountain Tunnel

This month my son turns 8 and all he really wants for his birthday is BRIO. He has always loved his wooden train set and gets it out every so often to play with it. Over the summer something really clicked with him and a combination of  BRIO YouTube videos and having some extra time on his hands made him fall properly back in love with his BRIO.

BRIO is very safe to play with, it’s well designed, sturdy and great for little fingers to slot together. My son is definitely at the older end of the target age range, but he really adores his wooden train track and plays with it every day. This BRIO Crane and Mountain Tunnel is suitable for ages 3+.

Toy Review: BRIO Crane and Mountain Tunnel

The BRIO Crane and Mountain Tunnel set includes a mountain with crane; a cargo engine, a BRIO mini figure, a wagon, a load and 2 pieces of wooden track.

The BRIO Crane and Mountain Tunnel is easy to connect up to any exiting wooden track you’ve got. It comes with two pieces of track which slot together through the mountain to make the tunnel bridge. To play with this set fully you will need more track and trains. We’ve got lots of track, so that wasn’t a problem.

You will need 2 LR44 batteries which aren’t included. The batteries power the sound, so when your train passes through the tunnel it makes one of four train noises. Though you can do without the sound if you like and just make your own choo-choo noises if you prefer.

Toy Review: BRIO Crane and Mountain Tunnel

The boy was absolutely delighted with the BRIO Crane and Mountain Tunnel set. He had some similar pieces already which he added to the track he laid down and he really enjoyed playing with all of the elements. The tunnel bridge which goes through the mountain is an especially good feature; though it is a little tricky to set up. You need to connect the two pieces of track which come with the set through the tunnel.

The crane piece sits on top of the mountain and swings around. There is a magnet on the crane so you can lift the cargo in and out of the wagons. There’s also a mini figure who operates the crane. It’s well thought out and a really good size if you’re looking to add a bit of height and interest to your existing train set.

Toy Review: BRIO Crane and Mountain Tunnel

We can’t fault it, it’s exactly the kind of thing the boy has been asking for since summer. The BRIO Crane and Mountain Tunnel costs £49.99 and would make a good present for a wooden train enthusiast like my son!

For more information, visit the BRIO website.

We were sent the BRIO Crane and Mountain Tunnel for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Review: Oregon Scientific Smart Globe Explorer

My son, lover of maps and everything geography has been asking for his own globe for a few months now. We’ve been looking at a few different kinds of globes in the run up to his birthday. We wanted something more than just a simple globe; we wanted something which would furnish him with facts, test his knowledge and teach him about the world. Did the Oregon Scientific Smart Globe Explorer AR tick all of those boxes?

Review: Oregon Scientific Smart Globe Explorer AR

The Oregon Scientific Smart Globe Explorer AR is a globe which opens up so you can also explore the solar system and the Earth’s core. It comes with a wireless talking smart pen which you touch the globe with and it helps you explore the world and the solar system. You can also install an App on your phone or tablet which allows you to explore in more detail using augmented reality.

Review: Oregon Scientific Smart Globe Explorer AR

The globe sits on a stand which has an interactive activity panel which contains more than 42 educational games and activities. To operate the activity panel you need to use the smart pen which you can charge and update using the USB cable included. The pen takes about two hours to fully charge and the charge seems to last quite a long time. The smart pen is shaped a bit like a space shuttle and makes all the right noises.

To use it, you select your age group and activity, then follow the instructions. There are simple games like finding certain places on the globe and touch them with the pen. There are three age range settings; 5 to 8, 9 to 14 and 15+, and a pull-out local map so you can explore the UK and Ireland in more detail. The Oregon Scientific Smart Globe Explorer AR is suitable for ages 5+.

Review: Oregon Scientific Smart Globe Explorer AR

There’s such a lot of educational value in this Smart Globe Explorer with over 220 countries to explore. The globe itself is vibrant and interesting, when used with the activity panel and smart pen there’s just so much information and interesting things to do. My son who is just shy of 8 years old picked up how to use it really quickly. I was delighted to discover at 6.30am this morning that there is a volume control on it.

Using the globe, you can learn all about countries, continents and capital cities. You can also find out about populations, currency and information about the world leaders. There’s also a current affairs section, which is one of the things which needs to be updated on a regular basis.

Review: Oregon Scientific Smart Globe Explorer AR

The globe opens up to reveal the Earth’s core and the solar system, which can be explored using both the smart pen and with the augmented reality app. The interactive augmented reality really brings things to life and features, landscapes, animals, landmarks, dinosaurs and even the solar system.

Weirdly, it somehow triggers our Alexa. If you have Alexa, it’s worth using your globe in a different room or it creates a slightly bonkers robotic cacophony.

Inside the stand is the pull-out map of the UK. Take this out and open it up and it creates a stand for the globe to rest on when it’s opened up. Using the smart pen you can tap on various points of interest on the inside of the globe and more information spills out.

It’s a great piece of kit. The Oregon Scientific Smart Globe Explorer is all we wanted in a globe and more. The smart pen and the activity panel really makes this for me. Together they’re a brilliant teaching tool and you can really learn a lot from them. It’s the kind of gift which will grow with a child. The different age settings mean that there is more age appropriate learning available with each birthday.

The Oregon Scientific Smart Globe Explorer is available from a wide range of retailers and online and currently costs £129.99 (though at the time of writing it’s £99.99 on Amazon). It’s a lot of money for a globe; but if you’re serious about STEM and learning at home, or if you have a child like mine who lives for maps and geography, then it’s worth investing it. Especially as it’s the kind of thing which will absolutely grow with the child.

We were sent the Oregon Scientific Smart Globe Explorer for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Family Game Review: Quirk! The Card Game

We are always on the look out for games we can take out and about with us. I always like to have something fun but tiny in my bag to bring out when we’re out for dinner or on a train journey or something. On a recent trip to Coniston in the Lake District I had one such thing up my sleeve – Quirk! The Card Game.

Quirk! is a new card game from Emmerse Studios. The pack contains 56 cards including; 13 Characters cards (39 cards), 7 Tactics cards, 3 Defence cards and 7 Skip cards. The pack also includes instructions. It’s a bit like a mad combination of Go Fish and Exploding Kittens. It’s actually remarkably easy to pick up and lots of fun. My almost 8 year old loved it, and his 40-something parents enjoyed it too!

Review: Quirk! The Card Game from Emmerse Studios

Each player gets dealt three cards to start with. The aim of the game is to collect three matching Quirk cards. The player with the most sets of cards at the end is the winner. Simple, yes?

I’ll be honest and say we did read the instructions a few times before we started playing, and we weren’t 100% sure of what we were doing when we began, but once we’d played for five minutes, it all became perfectly clear.

Review: Quirk! The Card Game from Emmerse Studios

You act out the Quirk card you want to any player of your choosing. So on your turn you might wink at one of the other players, they have to guess you’re after the wink Quirk card and if they have it, they give it to you. If they don’t, they say “Go Quirk” and you have to pick up a card from the top of the pile. There are tactic and defence cards which you can play if you need to. The instructions for using these cards are written on them. It’s all much easier than it sounds.

Quirk is suitable for up to 6 players aged 5+ and we all really enjoyed playing it. Each game takes about half an hour to play, so it’s great for a quick game when you’re out.

Review: Quirk! The Card Game from Emmerse Studios

It’s a standard sized pack of cards, so it’s very transportable and great for keeping in the car for trips out and weekends away. It can get a bit silly (my husband squawking like a parrot did attract some attention in the cafe we played it in), so if you’re self conscious, don’t play it in public.

Also available is Quirk! Legends which is along the same quirky lines, but with unicorns, dragons, superheroes and evil villains. Both games are available on the Quirk! website for £10 or on Amazon for £12.99.

We were sent Quirk! for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Review: 60th Anniversary Paddington Bear Plush

Paddington Bear has been a part of the nation’s childhoods since 1958. The tale of the lost bear from Darkest Peru has delighted and inspired generations of children, me included, and now my son loves Paddington too. This October is Paddington’s 60th anniversary month, will you be celebrating 60 years of this little lost bear from Darkest Peru?

In 1958 the first Paddington Bear book, A Bear Called Paddington was published. Little could Michael Bond have known then how many people around the world would come to know and love this small bear, with his recognisable bush hat and duffle coat.

Review: 60th Anniversary Paddington Bear Plush

To celebrate this milestone anniversary, Rainbow Designs have unveiled their brand new Paddington Bear Classic range. It features a host of cuddly toys for enthusiasts and fans of Paddington to cuddle and love. One of the most eye-catching in the range is the new Large Cuddly Anniversary Paddington Bear with Scarf. This Paddington Bear plush is snuggled up in a checked scarf complete with “Please look after this Bear” label. This plush is cuddly enough to appeal to young Paddington fans and stylish enough to look the part on a collector’s shelf.

The design of this Anniversary Paddington Bear is inspired by the original artworks by Peggy Fortnum and he does look very true to the original bear. I love his battered felt hat and the label (which you can remove if you want) is a lovely extra touch. The snuggly scarf with the 60th anniversary badge is what will make this bear such a collectible. His coat isn’t removable and the duffle coat toggles are printed on, which I think is a much better option if you’re giving this bear to young children.

Review: 60th Anniversary Paddington Bear Plush

This Anniversary Paddington Bear is suitable from birth and as soft and cuddly as they come. He is 23cm tall and costs around £24.99.

The 60th Anniversary Paddington Bear would make a wonderful gift for a Paddington Bear fan of any age. With Christmas coming, who will look after this bear?

The 60th Anniversary Paddington Bear from Rainbow Designs is available from a wide range of retailers including John Lewis.

Review: 60th Anniversary Paddington Bear Plush

Disclaimer: We were sent this 60th Anniversary Paddington Bear plush for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Toy Review: HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium

As a teenager I used to love watching Robot Wars. I liked checking out the robots and trying to guess which one would win and which one would just be smoldering bits of metal at the end of the battle. I’m keen to pass on my love of Robot Wars to the next generation. We’ve watched a few episodes of the more recent series of Robot Wars and we’ve been playing with our new HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium; which I reckon is just about as much fun as the real thing.

The HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium is part of a wider collection of HEXBUG Robot Wars toys. It costs £19.99 as it a great starter sized set. It comes with two robots, two sets of armour and a plastic stadium (shaped a bit like a giant fidget spinner). For the money, you get quite a lot of Robot Wars kit to play with.

The HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium is pretty simple to put together. You clip the pieces of the plastic stadium together and slot the legs into place. Likewise the HEXBUGS are good to go, you can put armour and weapons onto them to make them more battle ready.

Toy Review: HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium

The robots – Alter Ego (the blue one) and Warp (the red one) come with a selection of armour and weapons which you just clip on. If you’re not using the armour or weapons in the battle, they have a special holder to keep everything safe. It’s worth using the holder, the small bits of plastic could very easily get mislaid or roll under the sofa or something.

To play Robot Wars, each player switches on their robot (there’s an on/off button underneath each one) and puts it down in one of the corners of the arena. When both players are ready; everyone releases their robot and the first bot to get knocked out of the stadium loses. The winner is the last one in the stadium.

Toy Review: HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium

The HEXBUGS operate by vibration. They don’t have wheels or anything to move them, just little rubber legs which propel them when they are switched on.

As well as Alter Ego and Warp, there are two other HEXBUG robots to collect – Sparkplug and Cold Front. They’re all pretty cool.

HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium is suitable for ages 3+ though their little fingers might struggle with putting the fiddly armour and weapons on. My nearly 8 year old absolutely loved it and has asked for more of the range for his birthday. It’s all good clean fun. It’s simple to set up and use, he can play by himself or get us involved in the action.

The HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium would make a great little Christmas present for someone who wants to play robot wars but you’re not sure if its worth investing in the larger £80 stadium.

Toy Review: HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium

The HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium is widely available from a range of retailers and online. It costs just £19.99 and comes with everything you need to head into battle, Robot Wars style.

We were sent a HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Toy Review: Clementoni Mind Designer Robot

My almost 8 year old absolutely adores science and we are very keen to encourage this at home. We are firm believers in learning through play, if you have fun learning then whatever you’re learning usually sticks. This week we’ve been putting the Clementoni Mind Designer Robot through its paces. This clever little robot can help with all kinds of things, from spacial awareness, maths, reasoning and geometry. It’s a clever piece of kit and no mistake.

Toy Review: Clementoni Mind Designer Robot

The Clementoni Mind Designer Robot costs £49.99 and in the box you will find:

  • MIND – Educational Digital Robot
  • A double-sided “board”
  • Transparent disc (to position the pens)
  • Three felt tip pens
  • 10 sheets of A3 paper
  • List of voice commands
  • Instruction manual

MIND is pretty simple to set up. You will need 4 AA batteries and one of those little screwdrivers to open the battery compartment. You will also need a tablet, we have an iPad which worked well. There’s a free app to download which you can use to operate MIND.

MIND has a control keypad in his back, a mode selector and microphone. You can programme him to move and draw shapes and he can memorise a sequence of up to 40 commands.

When we were first getting to grips with MIND we were mostly using the app mode and the voice commands to get it to draw geometric shapes. This is a good way to get used to how it works (and as a parent I can’t tell you how good it is to tell someone to do something and it actually gets done).

Toy Review: Clementoni Mind Designer Robot

We moved on to the educational mode. For this you need the double-sided board, which isn’t actually a board, but a huge A1 glossy piece of paper. The yellow board features the Number Challenge. You choose your level; easy, medium or difficult. We chose the easy level. In this game, MIND needs to be programmed with the directions it needs to move in to get to the correct square on the board. There will be simple sums to complete along the way.

On the blue board you need to find you way around a maze, collecting objects MIND says you need along the way. This is a great exercise in logic, reasoning, strategy and spacial awareness.

Toy Review: Clementoni Mind Designer Robot

It’s a remarkably simple piece of kit. Once you have read the instructions and got the hang of it, it’s great fun and really, really educational. I know for my son playing with MIND will really cement some maths and give it a practical application. For me it’s the thinking ahead and in steps which I think will make a big difference to him. He tends to rush at things and this may help him to take a step back and approach things in a slower, more methodical way.

When I told my husband that the Clementoni Mind Designer Robot cost £49.99 he was impressed; he thought it would cost nearly double that. We really, really liked it and I hope that my son will play with it a lot.

Toy Review: Clementoni Mind Designer Robot

Things to remember about the Clementoni Mind Designer Robot:
  • You DO need a tablet to use alongside this
  • You DO need 4 AA batteries
  • If you are giving this as a gift, it’s probably worth carefully taking it out of the box and playing with it, downloading the app and figuring out how it works before you wrap it up. If you know what you’re doing beforehand, you can save an hour of setting up and instruction manual reading on Christmas morning. Trust me on this one.

It’s a big present to buy for someone, but it does have a lot of different functions. It’s enjoyable to play with, even on the basic drawing geometrical shapes mode and I really like that there’s lots of learning to be had with this. The best thing is that it doesn’t feel like learning and gives a child a practical application for their maths etc.

The Clementoni Mind Designer Robot costs £49.99, is suitable for ages 7+ and is available from a wide range of retailers including Smyths Toys.

We were sent the Clementoni Mind Designer Robot for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.