Thursday 31 January 2013

Legends Of Chima Lego - 70001 and 70115

I hadn't really bothered with Chima Lego because I felt my children were too old to get the enjoyment from the 'play' aspect, or too young to be able to put it together themselves, and the only appeal for us adults was a vague sense of nostalgia because of the similarity to Thundercats.
Grandma gave us all some vouchers for Christmas, which we went to spend last weekend. In the window was a huge display of Legends Of Chima Lego, this immediately drew our attention and 'in the flesh' we could see it was far more exciting than we'd expected. With the UK release of the Lego Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sets still another 2 1/2 weeks away on February 15th it seemed a great idea to have a closer look. We bought 2 sets in the end - 70001 Crawley’s Claw Ripper, and 70115 Ultimate Speedor Tournament.

Lego Legends Of Chima ~ 70001 ~ Crawley's Claw Ripper

This set has 139 pieces and retails at around £12.99.The recommended age range is 7-14. It has 2 minifigures of Crawley and Leonidas, 1 weapon and the Claw Ripper itself. 

This is a  really excellent working model vehicle.The 'crocodile' theme is fantastic, with an opening jaw and rotating wheels and huge claws which turn as the vehicle moves. 

The cockpit opens to let the figure sit down, and there is a chest at the back where he can keep his treasure. The minifigures themselves have heads with 2 different faces, plus unique 'masks' that go over them to make the crocodile and lion heads complete.

We are really pleased with this model and feel it represents excellent value for money. It is achievable for your average young person to be able to afford, and offers loads of play value.

Lego Legends Of Chima ~ 70115 ~Ultimate Speedor Tournament


This set has 246 pieces and retails at around £19.99. The recommended age range is 7-12. It has 2 minifigures of the Croc and Lion in full battle regalia, 2 themed Speedors vehicles with rip cords, 4 weapons, 2 torches, a Chi Orb pedestal, 2 Chi orbs, game cards and Chi (jewels) and a large lion themed target with a huge mane. 

 This set has far more going on than you'd realise at first glance. The Chi can be prizes which you win by knocking balls (Chi orbs) from the pedestal or by hitting the target within the lions mouth using your Speedors, or 'lives' when playing the card game. The minifigures and Speedors are really beautifully done, and work really well. They travel very quickly, propelled by the rip cords in such a way that it's really easy for anyone to use them.

The way the minifigures sit in their Speedor means that they have never fallen off and are really secure, so you spend hardly any time at all rebuilding after crashes. The target within the lions mouth is really clear and spacious, and you can actually aim and hit it with only a modicum of skill and a little careful judgement. (Because I was playing with 2 young children I replaced the blue plastic Chi orbs with Maltesers to demonstrate on this occasion).

We've not yet had a proper game using the game cards supplied, but that will add another dimension to the simpler 'hit the targets' which we have been playing, introducing the idea of a finite number of turns before somebody has won 6 rounds and is announced the winner.

I think this set represents good value for money and offers tons of play value, and the 'game' element is easily adaptable for different abilities. The Speedors travel really well and are great fun to play with on their own!

Overall we're impressed with Lego Chima. It has several different levels of play available, from the build to the vehicles and characters, through to a very competitive game. It'll certainly keep us busy until the Lego Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are available - and I forsee turtles v lions v crocs after February 15th!

Wednesday 30 January 2013


I hate it when the kids are ill. Of course I do, I'm their Mum, I want them to be happy and they can't really be happy when they're roasting hot and feeling rubbish and have snot bubbles so impressive I want to take photo's. I also don't function quite so well on a few hours broken sleep, and nor do children.

Everyone round here seems to run their kids to the Doctors when they're ill, and as a rule I don't. In fact boy no.4 has not been since he was 6 months old and he's nearly 3. I don't know if it's being around babies and toddlers since I was 8, or just sheer complacency, but it's worked okay so far (well, except for the time I waited four days before taking boy no.1 to A&E and he turned out to have broken his arm, but he never told us it hurt, not once, so I'm pretty sure I'm at least partly absolved from blame for that one). What will the Doctor say that I don't already know? "It's a virus, give him plenty of fluids, keep him cool and if he's not better in 2 days come back". I don't agree with giving antibiotics for mild Tonsilitis or anything they can kick off themselves in a couple of days, and I do take them if they aren't getting better, but I know I'm in the minority each time my kids catch something everyone else around here gets and they've all met up in the surgery. Heck, I only ring in if someone gets Chicken Pox so that it goes on their record. I can't work out if my Doctor thinks I'm a risk-taker or a blessing....

Boy no.4 will be fine, we've all already had this bug, so he's getting lots of sympathy and love, and besides boy no.3 has it all worked out that he's "going to stay downstairs and sleep on the sofa tonight to take care of him"*......

*4 year old speak for "I will stay awake all night, really really, and I will get to play with the Lego and watch Ben 10 on the telly until morning and I'll have the best time ever, and I won't be scared of the dark, or the quiet, or being without a grown up, and I won't just fall asleep around 10pm from boredom and exhaustion........oh yeah, and I'll sit in the living room and scream a lot until you come down if he's sick".....and if you think I'll let him - no.

Izziwizzi Kids reviewer application video

I hate seeing myself on camera. I think it was summed it up perfectly once on a TV show by Dylan Moran, "did I really get that fat? And I'm not that old". Thing is, I know most people feel like that, and somehow that makes me feel better about it.

Video is a whole new dimension of torture, with added movement and sound. You can't just film a little bit of your face, or pose in the best soft light and take 1427 pictures until you find one that's acceptable.
Doing review videos has meant that I've had to get over my fear and loathing and get a little used to what I actually look like, rather than the self-image of me at 23 before life and 6 children took their toll. I find it helps if you bear in mind that most people who see it don't know you, and those who do know what you look like anyway (including at the end of the night when you've had a couple or more beverages and your mascara is sliding down your face and your carefully chosen outfit looks like you slept in it).

Here's my video application to continue to be a part of the Izziwizzi Kids reviewers panel. Well worth the cringing and the wailing about how frizzy my cloud of hair looked that day (which was in part due to the weather that I'd waited for especially so that I could film the snow). Hopefully It'll all be worth it!

If you want to apply then you'd better get your camera/phone/Innotab out sharpish and post your video on the Izziwizzi Kids Facebook wall, fill in the online application form and sit back. Rest assured we won't be laughing at you, we'll just be jealous that you turned the lights down before you started, or had dancing girls and fireworks in your video!

Applications close after Playfest tomorrow night (Thursday 31st January 2013). Best of luck, don't break a leg...

Saturday 26 January 2013


I know it makes everything really hard work, but it's so beautiful and calming....I could look at it for hours :)

Thursday 24 January 2013

No Privacy In The Loo

After reading Yummy Mummy Flabby Tummy's hilarious post today - No Privacy In The Loo - I felt I had to respond.

When no2 and no3 were 7 and 5 they used to pass me notes under the door ranging from 'I'm hungry' or 'Are you okay?' through to 'I need you Mummy' and 'I hate you having a wee'....

As they get older they tend to learn not to just barge straight in, and give a tentative knock before asking the least important and most inane question they can think of. For bonus points they will calmly mention something that demands I leave the bathroom immediately to sort it out. This can be 'I have to go to School and need that £2', 'there's someone at the door' or 'I need my shoes/coat and they're in there'.

To step it up another notch we have the ones where you cringe as you leap up in a huge hurry "why have you got blood on you" being an often heard example.

The most plaudits however are gained when they know they really have you. You are up like a rocket and race from the bathroom with your knickers round your ankles, any self-respect gone. My personal and genuine all-time favourites are "what's that hissing noise in the kitchen?" and "why is my (2 year old) sister allowed on the ladder and I'm not?"....

Privacy in the loo? You might as well get one of those numbering systems like the ones they have at the cheese counter.... :D

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Snow Kingdom

I've always loved The Imagination Tree for the beautifully simple yet genius ideas they have for play. Their Snow Dough Winter Wonderland is gorgeous and loads of fun, and when boy no4 decided he wanted to play outside in the snow today, I really did have to catch up with the housework and getting tea sorted, but I thought straightaway how to keep us both happy (well, me less than him!).  

It might be real snow - but I wouldn't have thought to bring it in if we hadn't pretended beforehand - thank you Imagination Tree.

If it can go in the bath, it can usually go in the snow - and we'll be letting ours melt completely just to check we don't throw any treasure into the garden...(mainly because we aren't really meant to play with boy no2's Star Wars Lego when he's not even here, and they do have teeny tiny little snow goggles on)

Please ensure that any snow you use comes from an area that has not been fouled by animals or birds - we took ours from our own garden on the roof of the wendy house!

(Update - An hour later and ALL the snow is still in the box except one Mike The Knight snowballs a giraffe incident!)

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Sorry, I don't remember your name?

I once said to a woman "I don't know what it's called", then felt bad I couldn't help her and tried to make light of it, joking "I have that thing where you can't remember names".
She looked me in the eye "Anomic Dysphasia?".
I was so stunned that she knew the name I got really excited, which she took to be because she'd reminded me of what it was called and I didn't have the heart to explain. Besides, I'd never see her again....probably....

7 years later that woman still thinks I can't remember names due to an actual medical condition......and I can't for the life of me remember her name....

Monday 21 January 2013

Boring snow post

I can't help myself, I really can't. I tried to stop myself posting a snow picture, and I've held on for nearly 24 hours now, but it's beaten me.

Snow is just far too much fun. When else can you peg something hard and stingy directly at the face of someone you don't really like, and all they can do is smile politely? What other opportunities arise where children learn so quickly that you are nearly always right - 'yes, you do need a jumper under your coat', 'wellies WILL be better than shoes', and 'gloves, even if they're those weird ones with flip over bits on the fingers, are better than no gloves'. When else do you get to make something that doesn't answer back, brings out the competitive creative streak in you and breaks a smile on the face of the people who see it (which is a lot of people if your garden is next to a Churchyard).

I love snow, I'd happily have more of it, so here is this years best effort ~ note the use of red/white potatoes to make actual eyeballs with pupils....stroke of creative genius obviously.... :)

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Orchard Toys Reviews ~ Part II

Because we love Orchard Toys games it's no surprise that we asked Santa to bring some for Christmas.

We took advantage of the free postage for orders over £15 and ordered Where's My Cupcake? and What A Performance, which had both come highly recommended at Playfest on Twitter and Facebook. Where's My Cupcake was mainly for boy no.4, who is 3 in March, and What A Performance was for the whole family to play together. As with all Orchard Toys games and puzzles they are designed and manufactured in the UK from strong 100% recycled board. They have really bright colours, modern pictures and chunky pieces that don't bend or come apart during even quite boisterous play. They are built to be played with, and built to last.

Where's My Cupcake? ~ Age 3-7

Where's My Cupcake retails at £7.50. It is suitable for 2-4 players, and the suggested age range is 3-7. It teaches turn-taking, matching and observation skills, and encourages conversation and politeness due to the quirky and cute "would you like a cupcake?" when you pick up a card that matches another player's top card!

My 2 year old loves this game. He understands entirely how to play and is delighted whenever he gets a matching pair of cards. The way the game is played you match cards to any of 10 cards that are first placed on the table, and also to whatever your current top card is on your plate. This means that the numbers of pairs are far higher than 'snap' and the child gets a greater sense of ongoing reward. When the card you pick matches one of the other players top cards then you 'gift' them the card to add to their pile.

It's really a very sweet game, which although competitive is also co-operative and friendly. It is very quick and simple to play, making it ideal for children who are just learning to play board games. The cakes are all beautifully drawn and really appetising, with different toppings and icing, so it's fantastic for teaching and reinforcing colours and shapes without even trying.

What A Performance ~ Age 5-12

What A Performance retails at £15.95. It is suitable for 2-6 players, and the suggested age range is 5-12. It helps with maths, communication and social skills, encouraging active participation and extrovert behaviour within the group.

We played in pairs with under 5's and over 12's together, and everyone had a great time. It is very competitive but because everyone has to take part in forfeits and daft actions it's also hilarious. You travel around a board using a dice and landing on squares that mean you have to choose a card and perform the sound, action or task shown. If you fail you have to perform the forfeit. Our older children really got into the spirit of this game and the younger children loved that interaction with their siblings. I have to say I really enjoyed it too, watching Daddy and our 2 year old have to sit on their hands until their next turn was brilliant.

I bought this game on recommendation and hoping that it would be okay even though my children straddle the age group, and I was not disappointed. It is one of the most expensive games that Orchard Toys sell, but it's easy to see why. We will make many great memories playing this together as a family, and possibly even in the evenings when the children have gone to bed!

Orchard Toys are available direct from Orchard Toys, or if you prefer to shop offline you can find your nearest stockist on their website

Izziwizzi Kids and Play Fest - Your Chance to be a Reviewer!

Izziwizzi Kids is the brainchild of a lady named Al Boxall-Gordon - here is what it's all about, in her own words: was born way back in 2005 when Al Boxall-Gordon (a new mum at the time) who was finding world surrounding children, toys and play frustrating. At that time the emphasis on toys and play seemed to be very much centred around what was most profitable, rather than why different types of play were important and stimulating different types of play. And so it was… was born originally as an e-commerce store, moving into online TV offering alternative toys and gifts that followed a new set of rules.

Toys, gifts and play should stimulate a wide and carefully researched range of aspects of a child’s development

Toys and gifts should be considerate to the needs of parents (including storage and fit with lifestyle)

Toys and play should stimulate different aspects of interaction …parent and child, child alone and child with other children.

Toys and gifts should not be so heavily disposable. We should take responsibility for the way that toys and gifts are produced (both socially and environmentally) and we opt for good quality and robustness over price.

The latest fads are a no go. Everything is centred around what is good for the child and not what is good for the pockets of major corporations.

Children using their imaginations and stretching themselves mentally and physically.

Since it’s launch, has featured on GMTV, LK Today, This Morning and Loose Women to name but a few. And although has taken a new direction away from an e-commerces store, with our new direction and focus for the website as an interactive resource, we are now able to offer you even more services than ever. As a result we continue to go from strength to strength.

Play Fest is the online meeting and discussion that takes place most Tuesdays 8.30-10.00pm on Twitter using the hashtag #Playfest, and Thursdays 8.30-10.00pm on the Izziwizzi Kids Facebook Page. These discussions are open to anyone to join in and usually offer a chance to win some of the products and toys featured that week. It has become increasingly popular and is now attracting a big crowd and some top names in the toy industry including Lego, Mattel and Brio.

Because of the success of Playfest, Izziwizzi Kids is now looking to recruit toy reviewers who will be given training and support and regularly review. They need people who are keen and can turn around video reviews in around a week or so. You don't need to be David Bailey or have equipment better than the BBC, but you need to have children and be interested in play! To apply you will need to submit a 1-2 minute video to the Izziwizzi Kids Facebook Page and a pool of reviewers will be chosen from the applicants.

If you've always fancied reviewing but never known where to start, or you just want to join in, why not give it a go?

Monday 14 January 2013

Saturday 12 January 2013

Orchard Toys Reviews

We love Orchard Toys here, and having used them previously as a childminder and in a nursery, I know that they are really popular games and puzzles which can encourage even the quietest child to start talking and join in.

We were lucky enough to review both the Three Little Pigs and Old MacDonald Lotto for Izziwizzi Kids Playfest. As with all Orchard Toys games and puzzles they are designed and manufactured in the UK from strong 100% recycled board. They have really bright colours, modern pictures and chunky pieces that don't bend or come apart during even quite boisterous play. They are built to be played with, and built to last.

Three Little Pigs ~ Age 3-6

The Three Little Pigs game retails at £11.75. It is suitable for 2-4 players and the suggested age range is 3-6. It is perfect for nursery or pre-school aged children who are learning to count, and beginning to become confident with numbers. It teaches turn-taking and basic game play, and also the concepts of winning and losing via a more indirect path, as a player can be 'winning' but then have a couple of unlucky throws and fall back. 


We loved the 3D nature of this game, the little pig characters and the houses made it really tactile and held the interest of the younger children, they were also excellent for encouraging a little imaginative play!

Old MacDonald Lotto ~ Age 2-6

Old MacDonald Lotto retails at £9.50. It is suitable for 2-4 players and the suggested age range is 2-6.
This game is ideal for a younger child who is learning to turn take and play games. It teaches recognition of different animals and objects, and their corresponding actions or sounds, expanding a child's vocabulary and increasing their confidence. It encourages observation, memory and matching skills.

The aim of the game is to collect all of the matching cards shown on your lotto board before the other players. If you find a matching card you then perform an action or sound that corresponds with that card before placing it on your board.

Our 2 year old especially was delighted with this game and felt really special that we have a game he can play on an almost even level with his older siblings. He very quickly learnt all of the names for the objects which appear, from the very familiar through to 'woodpecker' and 'milk churn' which are not so commonplace.
He picked up the idea of taking turns very quickly, although found it harder when there were 4 players and spent a lot of time being confused as to when it was his turn, but it was all good. We liked that we could change the game slightly to match the ability and interest of the children playing. When the 2 year old played he really liked the 'farmer' characters, so we let him choose one before we even started, otherwise he couldn't concentrate on the game because he was too keen to, in his words 'choose a player'!

Orchard Toys are available direct from , or if you prefer to shop offline you can find your nearest stockist on their website  Click Here

We were lucky enough to be sent these games to review, but the opinions and reviews are our own genuine thoughts.

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Be A Knight - Do It Right!

I have several video reviews of toys from the last 3 months of last year which I will post up here in due course. The first is a review of the Mike The Knight Deluxe Glendragon Castle Playset by Character Options that I made for Izziwizi Kids Play Fest. The review was due in the day after my package finally arrived, so I had to film it alone using my camera, rather than waiting to use my partner and their mobile phone, which gives a much better quality result, so please excuse the poor quality...(my poor little 6 year old camera has been blown into obsolescence by a telephone...*sob*)

The Mike The Knight Deluxe Glendragon Playset by Character Options

This playset features Mike The Knight's castle home in the Kingdom of Glendragon and comes complete with Mike and his horse Galahad, a treasure chest and plenty of straw. It has a secret slide under Mike's bed which transports Mike straight downstairs to Galahad and a hidden compartment in the floor where Mike can store his treasure. Mike is very rubbery and bendy and we liked that because we think he will last a lot longer than if he was made of stiff plastic!

My 2 youngest boys really enjoy playing with this set and it is brilliant for telling stories, comprehension and make believe. They really enjoy small world play and we found that this set was a perfect size for playing along with Playmobil, Fisher Price and other characters and accessories that we already had. We were also lucky in that Santa Claus thought it was a good idea this Christmas to bring a couple of the add-on playsets which are also available to extend play and introduce other characters from the BBC childrens' programme.

Overall this playset has given them hours of fun, and the additional sets make it great for more than one child to play together. The RRP of £29.99 is high, but the additional sets are far less expensive and make a really large toy.

 We were lucky enough to be sent this toy to review, but the opinions and reviews are our own genuine thoughts.

Sunday 6 January 2013

Next Christmas

So all the decorations are away and mainly back in the loft. We've found at least 8 stray baubles since we taped up the box, so they'll sit in a drawer with last years finds - which we forgot to fetch and put out with the rest (at this rate we'll have more in the drawer than on the tree by 2017).
Boy no.3 is 4 and this year was the first that we thought he understood all about Christmas and was able to enjoy it all and have some idea of what was going to happen next throughout. He was okay about the decorations going away, but sad the Christmas Lego display came down off the cupboard.

"Please don't put it away, I love it. I want to play with it some more".
"It's bad luck to leave it out. We need to put it away so that it is nice for next Christmas".
"There's going to be another Christmas?".
"Yes, next year".

Just occasionally children really can be easily pleased....

Wednesday 2 January 2013

New Years Resolutions

1. Put on weight
2. Exercise less
3. Spend more time on the computer by myself
4. Spend less time playing on the PS3 with my partner and kids
5. Spend hardly any time at all working on the veggie patch in the garden, and still expect results

Obviously these must have been last years resolutions, because I seem to have kept them all.....

2013 - Must try harder... ;)

Tuesday 1 January 2013

Hobbit Lego - The Goblin King Battle 79010

We were incredibly lucky just before Christmas to get the opportunity through Izziwizzi Kids to review the brand new Lego Hobbit set - The Goblin King Battle.

When you open the box the bricks are in 5 separate bags, with 3 instruction booklets and a sheet of stickers for special bricks. The instructions are clear, the stickers go on easily, and the bags are not split by type or size of brick, but by area of the build, so each bag builds one aspect. We really liked that, not least because it meant each of our teenagers could choose a part to build, get the correct bag and start.

The set has 7 minifigures - including Gandalf, dwarves, goblins and the fantastic goblin king himself. There are loads of loose items including a host of weapons, plus several moving parts with interesting functions. The build is very much a puzzle, and then what you have is a different toy more suited to the younger people within the age range for re-enactment and make believe.

This is a HUGE Lego set and all of the children (and adults) were delighted to get a chance to play with it. The suggested age range for this set is 9-14years, and with a build time of several hours and 841 pieces, many of which are non-standard, you can see why. The design is fascinating and really intricate, there is barely a straight line in the entire build. It has so much more going on than we had expected, went together and stayed together well. There are also lots of intricate moving parts and functions including a bucket crane which turns and lifts/lowers, a rope bridge which collapses and a firing catapult.

 This set has an RRP of £79.99, which we feel is a fair and standard price for a set of this size. I actually think that compared to most very large themed Lego sets, this set is more in line with some of the more modern sets like the Monster Hunters and Ninjago, and is better value, as it provides a huge amount of play opportunities rather than being more of a static model once completed.

 We were very impressed with the Lego The Goblin King Battle. A side effect we hadn't forseen was that after spending half the afternoon building together, our 3 teenagers actually chose to all watch a movie together and didn't stop talking for the rest of the day - it was a real team-building exercise! A definite thumbs up!

We were lucky enough to be sent this set to review, but the opinions and reviews are our own genuine thoughts.