Friday 30 November 2018

Air Hogs Supernova Hand-Controlled Drone Review (age 8+) Sent by Spinmaster

For our latest review SpinMaster Toys have sent us the Air Hogs Supernova. This is a small indoor drone which is unlike any of the others we've used because it moves using the power of your hands. Mostly... Suitable for age 8+, this can turn anyone into a magician or give them the power of the force...

Packaging is attractive for shopping, doesn't take too long to open and you can use it for storage although it's not very traditional. No batteries needed, but you will have to charge the drone for around 1 hour before use, so bear that in mind for Christmas morning.

Thursday 29 November 2018

Staying Warm This Winter With Modern Fabrics (Sent for review)

Winter is approaching fast and the zero temperatures mean a change of clothes. Some of the best ways to keep yourself warm are by wearing sensible shoes and layers, and fabrics have become so clever that this is far more comfortable than ever before...

Wednesday 28 November 2018

Meccano Formula 1 SF71H Ferrari Kit Review (level 3, age 10+) Sent for review by SpinMaster

Meccano is a long time favourite construction toy in our house and the latest model they've sent us to review is the Formula 1 Ferrari Car. Based on the SF71H this is the latest model and at level 3 it's suitable for more experienced modellers aged 10+. A nice strong build and also a gorgeous shelf model that'll please fans no end.

Meccano boxes have changed and now have a rip off strip to help prevent theft from boxes. It will close snugly and is strong, so it's useful to keep for spares and dismantled models. No batteries, very little waste packaging and no fastenings - world and Christmas morning-friendly.

Tuesday 27 November 2018

Botley The Coding Robot Activity Set Review Age 5-9 (sent by Learning Resources)

Learning Resources might not have the snappiest name in the business, but they have some of the most interesting toys. Designed, as you'd expect, to stimulate your child's brain while they play, the hardwearing and long-lasting toys and games from Learning Resources are not only used at home, they're also popular in schools and nurseries.

They've sent us the Botley The Coding Robot Activity Set to review. This is aimed at children aged 5-9. My youngest child is 8 and he's reviewed with a 9 year old friend.

Opening the box is exciting because it has a little window on the front and is full of colour. You will need 5 x AAA batteries (3 for Botley and 2 for the Remote Control) and a tiny Phillips screwdriver, otherwise it's ready to go straight out of the box. Minimal packaging, nothing to undo and a useful storage box for afterwards. Christmas morning-friendly as long as you've got those batteries.

Monday 26 November 2018

Engino STEM Heroes Greenhouse Review for age 8-14+ (Sent by Engino)

I first fell in love with Engino at BlogOn Conference. Brand new to the UK, this construction system was developed by Costas Sisamos, a Teacher from Cyprus. He has degrees in Education and Engineering, and wanted to make a system of modular connectors that could be used to build quickly and easily, creating fully functional technological models.

The aim of Engino is to inspire children to become better problem solvers and future innovators, a message I wholeheartedly agree with... Teach your children to build and programme robots, not be one.

The Greenhouse itself arrives in a surprisingly small box and there is minimal packaging. You can open and start building immediately, so this one is definitely Christmas morning-friendly.

Thursday 22 November 2018

Magformers Special Sky Track Adventure Set Review Age 3+ (sent by Magformers)

Although Magformers are suitable for children aged 3+, they are such an easy to use construction system, with so much scope, that they can still offer a challenge to my 8 and 10 year old boys. We've been sent the  Special Edition Magformers Sky Track Adventure Set to review. This is a gorgeous and massive 64 piece set which contains lots of special components and a powered Sky Shuttle...

Opening this box is a pure joy. It's beautiful. There's so much colour and the layout is so exciting. Any child would be delighted with this on Christmas morning. You'll need 2 x AAA batteries for the Sky Shuttle and an incredibly tiny screwdriver.

Magformers are a series of geometric shaped frames which have rotating neodymium magnets safely encased in each side. Because the magnets aren't fixed, whichever way you try and connect, two or more of the shapes will attract and stay together.

Wednesday 21 November 2018

KURIO SMART 2 in 1 Tablet Review Age 6+ Sent for review

One of my favourite things we've been sent to review this year is the KURIO SMART 2in1 Tablet. Subtitled as the 'Ultimate Android Tablet for kids 6+', this gorgeous gadget has a 10" IPS screen, detachable Bluetooth keyboard and magnetic protective case. It looks gorgeous and performs really well. Set up was easy enough too...

Packaging is minimal and very effective. My parcel had clearly been thrown around and my tablet is thankfully undamaged. Inside the box are the tablet and keyboard, protective cover/case, quick start guide, power cable and adapter.

The Case is gorgeous. It has hidden magnets which hold it closed and also in place when folded as a stand. The keyboard is also attached by magnets. The tablet is held in position by small plastic corners which have a good tight grip without feeling dangerous against the screen.

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Christmas Activities and Events for Families in Manchester and the NorthWest UK

It's Christmaaaaaaaaaaas.....well, it isn't yet, but if you are looking ahead at what you can do with the family over the festive period, here are loads of ideas for theatre and other events in the Manchester and NorthWest area of the UK.

I'm happy to add anything relevant that is in the NORTHWEST UK and is suitable for families of any age - please send me an email with NW Christmas in the subject heading...

Monday 19 November 2018

intu Trafford Centre Christmas! Toy Parade plus Alpine Village And Grotto review

Last Saturday we were guests of intu Trafford Centre to be among the first to experience their Christmas attractions - and to catch the 2nd ever Christmas Toy Parade. We all had an excellent day out and it really did put us into a festive mood.

Our day started super early for a Saturday, long before the shops in the centre opened. It gave me a chance to take photos before everyone arrived though - so bear that in mind when photos look empty of people - it was only 8.30am!

We were repaid for our early start with a breakfast of saucy beans and truffle mushrooms, sausage and bacon for breakfast (the Gentleman from Leon hovering over the table was utterly lovely - as was his food!). We then got to meet some of the stars getting ready for the parade later in the day.

Sunday 18 November 2018

The Grand Pile'O'Stockingfillers Giveaway 2018

My favourite Christmas Present giveaway of the year! The Grand Pile'O'Stockingfillers is an assembled box full of things we've been given for the site over the year. Maybe we were given extra, or already had one, it was a bit young or my boys just don't need another pink blind bag collectible...

Rather than waste all this stuff by putting it in a drawer or letting my boys open it and forget it instantly, I've put together a big box of goodies and one of my readers can win the lot. It is a random assortment, so you probably won't find it all useful, but there's something for everyone...

Rapidough Family Game Review and Christmas Giveaway Age 8+ (Sent By Drumond Park)

One of my final Christmas Present Giveaways for 2018 is from my good friends at Drumond Park, and it's for Rapidough - a family favourite here for years.

Suitable for 4 or more players aged 8+, this is a very funny family game which involves recreating items shown on a card in dough - and like a good cheese, it matures as your family gets older...

We really like this game and have played it a lot over the years, including reviewing it in early 2015 with my younger children. What I can tell you now is that it gets better as your family grows up. Models become more complex and gameplay speeds up.

Friday 16 November 2018

StikBot Movie Set Christmas Present Giveaway (age 4+) Sent by Zing Toys

StikBots are great fun and we've reviewed them several times now. They are little poseable figures with sticky pad hands and feet, which are designed to be perfect for creating animated movies. There are lots of different themed sets available for amateur film-makers aged 4+ and I'm delighted that Brainstorm Toys (StikBot UK Distributor) have kindly offered 3 StikBot Movie Sets as Christmas presents for my readers.

Inside each box is not only the StikBot, but press out thick glossy card pieces to create scenery, backdrop, props and small plastic accessories to complete your scene. They're attractive, clever and don't need any glue or tape.

Thursday 15 November 2018

51 Months #TBCSmiles...

It's an absolutely manic time of year for me just now with all of the Christmas toys and books, and the small matter of Christmas Present Giveaways. I've also just had a day off for my birthday, and an other day off to visit my daughter in Sheffield with the Co-op to find out what she's really been eating! Well worth it despite having to catch up...

Autumn has definitely arrived and your photos are very Autumnal!! It's lovely going back seeing all of the Halloween costumes and firework photos, because that already seems like it was months ago. Christmas will be with us before we can blink.

I especially love that we have so many grown ups in photos this month, it's nice to see you the right side of the camera, taking photos for your children to show their kids when they are your age. You don't have to have lots of followers or a fancy camera, ANYONE is welcome to join in and a HUGE thank you to everyone who does.

Healthy Meals for Uni Students (Paid Partnership with Co-op Food and Britmums).

Back in September we waved 3 of our young people off to uni, 2 of them as Freshers starting their 1st Year. Before she went I had a special 'goodbye tea' with my daughter and last Friday we turned the tables. It was my turn to visit her at Uni and she had to cook for me. I also had a peep in her kitchen cupboards to see if she really is eating healthily...

My daughter had mock exams until late afternoon, so I met her straight afterwards at the Student Union. There's a Co-op food store really close by and we headed over there and picked up the ingredients. It's a gorgeous Co-op with loads of space...

The Co-op are working with MOB Kitchen and you may have seen one of the crew, Ben, in the October issue of Co-op magazine (found in-store). They've put together a collection of recipes that are easy to make, healthy and filling, and so we decided to choose a recipe from the list.

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Reveal Family Game Review And Christmas Giveaway Age 8+ (Sent for review)

This review and giveaway is for the family game Reveal, which is a bit of a special one for us. It's been sent for review by the inventor himself and he's also sending a copy to one of my readers as a prize in my Christmas Present Giveaways. Suitable for 2 to 4 players or teams aged 8+, this is a game which has no questions, only answers, and we first tested a prototype almost 2 years ago.

It's lovely to see the development of a game like this and I'm delighted that Reveal has been picked up by Paul Lamond Games and is now available to buy in Smyths.

Inside the box are the game board, dice, 3 packs of Answer Cards (Movies, TV and Music), a cardboard sleeve/slipcase to conceal answers and golden tokens to keep score.

Everything stores in the box and there's minimal single use plastic, plus no batteries, so Christmas-morning and storage-friendly. There's no set up time involved and no complicated rules to learn, just open up the board and place your counter at the corner Start Space.

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Celtic Herbal Winter Woodland Gifts Christmas Present Giveaway (sent for review)

I've got a very special and somewhat traditional giveaway tonight. Courtesy of Celtic Herbal one of my readers can win Frankincense! Welsh company Celtic Herbal make excellent quality handmade products which last an incredibly long time and are indulgent just as much as they are relaxing.

They've offered a Pine & Frankincense Winter Woodland bundle with a soy candle and a very smart reed diffuser, as a prize in my Christmas Present Giveaways.

I have used Celtic Herbal myself for a while now. I love their products. They are not inexpensive, but they last so long and work so well, that you really get your money's worth. I've used their Exotic Wood & Ylang Ylang Bath Oil for the last 9 months and it's a true treat every time.

Sublime Slime Jumbo Activity Box Review for age 7-11 (Sent By The Curiosity Box)

We had a great time exploring at The Digital Kids Show last weekend and one of the most exciting things we found in the STEM Zone was The Curiosity Box. I've heard of their boxes before and been impressed at the quality and range of activities at very fair prices. It was lovely to meet the people behind the project and bring home a box for my boys to try out themselves.

The Curiosity Box have a massive range of different Science and Engineering Boxes for children aged 7-11, and a new CuriosiTots Box for younger children aged 4-6. We were given a Jumbo Curiosity Box: Atomic for children aged 7-11. My 10 year old was ecstatic!

Monday 12 November 2018

Robo Alive Dino Robotic Toy Giveaway (age3+) Sent by Zuru Toys

This is a toy giveaway which is aimed more at younger members of the family. Sent to us for review by Zuru Toys, the Robo Alive Dino is a walking, roaring Dinosaur who opens and closes his mouth and will no doubt be very popular with young paleontologists.

The Dino takes ages to unpack and open. It's not difficult, there's just a lot of tape and then the Dino's feet are fastened on by plastic pegs. You'll need 2 x AAA batteries too, so I can't call this one entirely Christmas-morning friendly. Once the batteries are in though, he's away.

Balloon Bot Battle Game Review and Christmas Giveaway Age 8+ (Sent by KD Games)

Balloon Bot Battle is brilliant. An active and understandably noisy game, sent to us by KD Games to review, it's already a favourite. Suitable for 2 players or teams aged 8+, this is a lively family game which really allows you to let out your frustrations on your family - with their permission...

There is minimal plastic and a sturdy box, which is wasted because once you've assembled your robots they don't fit in it for storage, and aren't designed for disassembly. Assembly is quick and easy though, and actually quite exciting.

Inside the box are all the parts for 2 Balloon Bots plus 20 balloons, stickers and instructions. Assembly is fairly obvious as long as you start with everything turned the right way.

Saturday 10 November 2018

STEM Activity Books Review and Bundle Christmas Giveaway (Age 6+) Sent by Carlton Books

My last book review and giveaway in this year's Christmas Present Giveaways is a fantastic bundle of 4 STEM Activity Books which have been sent to us from Carlton Kids Books to review.

Suitable for young readers and future Scientists and Engineers aged 6+, this is a set of books which will stretch your child in interesting and engaging ways, while they complete puzzles and pictures, spot the odd one out, answer questions and a host of other fun activities...

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and maths, and these subjects are vital for children who will be entering the job market in 10-20 years time. Each of the 4 books is a large format glossy paperback with 64 full colour pages and over 40 STEM activities crammed inside.

Friday 9 November 2018

Star Wars Ultimate Co-pilot Chewie Interactive Plush Toy Review (age 4+) Sent by Hasbro

When Hasbro offered me the chance to review Chewie, I was really busy and barely looked before thinking, "sure, I'm a big Star Wars fan and Chewie is great". When he arrived I was completely blown away. I'm smitten. He's a cuddly toy with supersoft furReal fur, but he's also an intelligent reactive animated Chewbacca who has over 100 sound and motion combos... and he's pretty darn impressive.

Chewie arrives in a standard display box and is fastened in my plastic tags, so you'll perhaps want scissors to carefully get him out, but it'll only take a minute. He needs 4 x AA batteries, but arrives with demo batteries that often last a good while, so he's Christmas morning friendly.

Thursday 8 November 2018

Bananas Review and Christmas Present Giveaway Age 4+ (Sent by Bandai)

I always like to find interesting stockingfillers and the Bananas we've been sent by Bandai are certainly that! Brightly-coloured and scented, and filled with all kinds of goodies including characters, stickers and a display vine, our girls would have loved these squishy collectibles when they were younger. My boys maybe aren't quite so keen...

The Banana is mainly it's own packaging. It's quite big at almost 13cm long and inside are a host of little treats that make this the perfect stockingfiller. Available as a single Banana or packs of 3.

The Bananas have different contents with 24 ‘surprise’ Crushie friends to collect, including Rare and Ultra Rare Crushies. The Bananas attach together, another feature which makes them a great collectible.

Wednesday 7 November 2018

MiniMaster Sports Company 1/8th Scale Football Game Giveaway (age 8+)

I am truly delighted to have the MiniMaster Sports Company involved in my Christmas Present Giveaways because their 1/8th scale Football game is one of the most beautifully designed toys I've reviewed all year, with absolutely tons of added value and it's genuinely suitable for anyone aged 8-99 or over...

The set comes with 1/8th scale articulated 'kicking' footballer in white, who is ready to customise to any team of your choice (MiniMaster Sports even sell model paints separately at under £2 each) plus all of this:

Action Wand with pull-lever handle
Eye2Ball shot training aid
Goal with net (W)70cm x (H)30cm x (D)15cm
Target Screen
Gameboard with spinning Pointer
Anglefinder/Defensive Wall
5 x Lightweight Footballs
Marker Tape (4m)
5 x position Markers
Display Stand

Tuesday 6 November 2018

Football Fan's Sport Books Bundle Review and Giveaway (sent by Carlton Books).

Today's book review and giveaway has been sent to us by Carlton Kids Books. A bundle of 3 books for the sports fans amongst you, with World Football Records, Neymar: The Ultimate Fan Book and the sporting gamer's Who's Who - eSports Superstars.

Jacamo Men's Everyday Clothes review ~ Sent for review

Jacamo sell a huge range of clothes for any occasion, including everyday wear. As you will probably be aware if you've heard of them, they sell a good variety of sizes including clothes for big and tall men. My partner was offered a selection to review and although he's 6ft tall, he is now quite slim and wasn't convinced Jacamo would have his size. They do. .

If I start by saying he's really happy, he's worn them to work and to go visiting, he's let all his mates have a feel of his hoodie and coo over his trousers and one of them has already placed an order off the back of it... that probably sums up my review in a nutshell.

My partner chose his own selection and went for a pair of black jeans, a burgundy hoodie and a really smart pair of desert boots for work and 'any time we go anywhere not muddy'.

This time of year a good hoodie is essential and the Tog24 Barlow Mens Deluxe Zip Hoody really has pleased my partner. He chose 'Purple', which is a dark plum colour with grey lining. It is a really nice hoody, very well made and finished with good thick material and quality cord at the neck.

Monday 5 November 2018

Eye Spy by Guillaume Duprat Lift-The-Flap Book for age 3-99+ Review and Giveaway (sent by WOEB)

What On Earth Books didn't only send us Absolutely Everything!, they also sent a really gorgeous lift-the-flap book for readers of all ages. Eye Spy is a huge format and incredibly beautiful book that is utterly fascinating. It shows how animals, birds and other creatures see the world and they see it very differently to us! I'm really delighted to have a copy to give away to one of my readers in my Christmas Present Giveaways...

The beginning of the book explains how we see and how eyes work, and why we even need sight at all. It's beautifully written and presented in a fold out page which already makes you feel you are holding something exciting.

Amazing Optical Illusions Book Review and Giveaway Age 6+ Sent by Carlton Books

This afternoon's Christmas Present giveaway and review is a brilliant non-fiction book which has been sent to us from Carlton Kids Books to review. Suitable for any reader aged 6+, Amazing Optical Illusions is a book which challenges you to look at the world very differently! Especially when our eyes deceive us...

This is a fairly thick book in a large format and the illustrations are really big, so even I don't have to squint to see all of the effects. Inside the book are 96 pages with over 80 optical illusions - enough to satisfy anyone.

Each optical illusion is explained so that the reader understands what is happening and often exactly why it happens. This is a puzzle book with the answers on every page and there is a really varied assortment of different optical illusions and ways to trick our eyes, our brains, or both.

Sunday 4 November 2018

GB Posters Gift Box Of Your Choice Christmas Present Giveaway

We worked with GB Posters back in September and they sent us an amazing bundle of goodies. They sell hundreds of different posters and loads of branded merchandise including keyrings, mugs, glasses, button badges, hip flasks, plus brilliant low cost, lightweight poster frames.

This is exactly the type of gift I regularly buy at Christmas and I'm delighted that GB Posters are offering a gift box of your choice for one of my readers in this year's Christmas Present Giveaways.

The range at GB Posters is huge, there's an A-Z on the website and you'll find something for anyone. We reviewed a bundle of GB Posters items which suited our family. Posters are 4 for the price of 3, and generally £4.99 each - the same price I paid 30 years ago in HMV and Athena...

We chose Fallout, Playstation and Skyrim merchandise for the gamers, and posters for everyone, including the human skeleton, the world, Star Wars blueprints and a ginormous Periodic Table 2018.