Saturday 30 November 2019

One Key Family Game Review(age 8+) By Libellud, Sent by Asmodee

This month Asmodee have sent us One Key from Libellud to review for the Blogger Boardgame Club. A co-operative game for 2-6 players aged 8+, players work together to find the Key Card by eliminating wrong answers. Once only the Key is left, you win the game.

One Key Family Game Review(age 10+) By Libellud, Sent by Asmodee

There are lots of exciting box contents and you'll need 5 minutes to press out tokens before first play. No batteries to find or excess plastic, Christmas morning-friendly.

One Key Family Game Review box contents brand new in card sheets

Libellud games are notable for their artwork, One Key is no exception. It's gorgeous and very different. There are 84 specially shaped illustrated clue cards with random scenes full of detail.

Cockfields Farm Christmas Experience Review (Press Visit)

Cockfields Farm is in Oldham, about 15 minutes drive from J22 of the M60. I've never been before, but I'd heard that their Christmas activity is something really special, and this year the North Pole themed grotto is bigger and better than ever before. We were invited along to review - and collect our special passports to travel to the land of snow and see Santa.

Cockfields Farm, Oldham Christmas Experience Review (Press Visit)

As we arrived the boys were given their 'passports' and a special token for the Build-A-Bear later. They had them filled out in seconds. Inside are spaces for you to collect stamps as you take part in the different activities. It was great because it made sure we didn't miss anything.

Cockfields Farm Christmas Experience Passport to be stamped

We started the morning with a light breakfast - and I was ecstatic to see there was a choice of bacon, sausages or veggie sausages.

Friday 29 November 2019

Mr Popper's Penguins Theatre Review: Waterside, Sale (Press Visit)

Last night we were invited to the launch night for Waterside's Christmas Show, Mr Popper's Penguins. We love visiting Waterside, it's one of our favourite venues and the welcome is always warm. Mr Popper's Penguins is a story we all enjoyed, and bringing the penguins to life was a challenge that we were all excited to see.

Pins And Needles production of Mr Popper's Penguins is recommended for children 3-11 and their families, it's full of song, dance, puppetry and formation flying penguins - and it was brilliant.

Mr Popper's Penguins Theatre Review Waterside, Sale (Press Visit)

Waterside is super easy to get to, opposite Sale Tram Station. It's a gorgeous purpose-built building and houses more than just theatre, until 4th Jan they are exhibiting a Cosgrove Hall collection, and it's well worth popping in to see that if you are nearby.

Cosgrove Hall Frame By Frame Exhibition Waterside, Sale Manchester

Thursday 28 November 2019

Sproutword Word Strategy Game Giveaway

We were sent a copy of Sproutword last month for review and I am delighted to say that the creators have offered one of my readers a copy as a Christmas Present.

Suitable for 2-4 players, Sproutword is a letter tile game which is entirely plastic-free and utterly beautiful. The tiles are a joy to play with, and the gameplay is so much more than 'make a word'. In this game you can use everyone else's letters and change words, and winning is all about having control of the longest word in play - the Sproutword.

Sproutword is a brand new game and doesn't yet have an official age recommendation, but as long as you are a fairly confident reader then you'll be able to join in, and with luck can even win. You'll have a more fierce and competitive game with players aged around 10+.

Sproutword cloth bags packed neatly into box with instructions

Inside the box are 4 cloth drawstring bags containing the wooden letter tiles (made from sustainable wood in Devon and Dorset). Each player chooses a colour, takes out a number of tiles and places them face up on the table before play begins.

Wednesday 27 November 2019

Escape Room The Game Review (age 16+) Sent by Goliath Games

In the past few years Escape Rooms have become incredibly popular. The rush of adrenaline as you hear that clock ticking away, and the pride when you solve the clues and escape, are both excellent fun. Now you can experience that thrill at home with your friends and family thanks to Goliath Games, and they've sent us a copy of Escape Room The Game for review.

Escape Room The Game pack shot - box with image of imposing double opening doors

Inside the box are lots of different components for 3 full one hour Escape Room scenarios - Prison Break, Virus and Nuclear Countdown. Almost everything is hidden inside sealed envelopes so that you don't see it in advance and spoil your game.

Escape Room The Game Review by Goliath Games box contents

Ad | The 2019 Christmas Good Toy Guide

The Good Toy Guide is brought to us by Fundamentally Children, who I'm working with again this year to promote the 2019 Christmas Good Toy Guide. They promote toys that teach your child the skills they'll need as they grow. Toys which make your child think, explore, problem-solve and develop motor skills like hand-strength or dexterity. The sort of toys I really like.

The special edition Christmas Good Toy Guide 2019 is out now and is free for anyone to read online,  plus 65000 paper copies are also being distributed around the UK.

Where to find The Good Toy Guide Christmas 2019

Fundamentally Children and the Good Toy Guide don't sell toys, so included in the guide are over 50 toys which have been tested and specially chosen to be included based entirely on merit. Each toy is clearly rated for Fun, Skills Development and Ease of Use.

Tuesday 26 November 2019

Press Review; The Art Of The Brick LEGO Art Exhibition, Manchester

This Winter the Great Northern Warehouse in Manchester's Deansgate is playing host to The Art Of The Brick, a touring installation of more than 75 models and 1 million genuine LEGO bricks. It's all been created by artist Nathan Sawaya, and we were invited along to take a look...

The Art Of The Brick LEGO Art Exhibition Review at Great Northern Warehouse manchester

I'd never been to the Great Northern Warehouse before, but it's really easy to find and get to, every tram except 1 goes down Deansgate. Inside it's a huge space, as you'd expect, and the exhibition is housed on the 1st floor.

Great Northerners artwork at the Great Northern Warehouse in Manchester

When you first go in, don't miss the short introduction film by the artist himself, Nathan Sawaya. I found it really interesting, and I love the fact that he tells anyone watching 'anything can be art. Go and make something with whatever you have to hand' - which brings you nicely to the first model.

The Art Of THe Brick Apples Planets solar system cello and hand gripping LEGO brick

The first room is a collection of still life objects and the planets did fascinate my boys, as they often do. I particularly liked the Cello, the way the shape curves is spot on. My favourite was THINK!, and we had to peep inside that brain. I won't spoil it, you can probably guess the contents...

Ad | ARTdiscount 69 Piece Multi-Media Art Set Review

We're working with ARTdiscount and they've sent my boys one of the products from their recently expanded own brand collection for review. The 69 piece Multi-Media Art Set is a great introduction to more 'grown up' painting, sketching and drawing, with charcoals, acrylic paints and lots more.

ARTdiscount 69 Piece Multi-Media Art Set and young boy concentrating colouring at the table

This is an impressive set and the sort of thing that any amateur artist would be delighted with. Big, bright and colourful, and when you look inside, it's also lovely quality. I know ARTdiscount are very excited about their new products, and with over 40 years experience, they know their stuff.

The box is a mix of card and plastic. My boys choose to keep large sets like this 'in the box' when they can, as it looks so impressive and keeps it together, but ultimately it'll be nice to see more card used in future, as most people will just throw it out. The delivery packaging scores full marks for Earth-friendly - reused cardboard and paper tape - nice one.

Included in the set are:
12 x 12ml Acryclic Colours
12 Coloured Pencils
5 Drawing Pencils
12 Soft Pastels
3 Brushes
3 Charcoal Pencils
3 Charcoal Sticks
2 Blending Stumps
12 Sheets of Paper
Sand Paper
Plastic Palette
Metal Sharpener
Kneadable Eraser
White Eraser

Monday 25 November 2019

Review Visit | Manchester Ice Rink at Media City

Last weekend we were invited over to Media City in Manchester to try out the recently installed Manchester Ice Rink. A temporary ice rink set up as part of the Winter Village at Media City, it's completely under cover and family-friendly, with plenty of seating and space for spectators.

Review Visit | Manchester Ice Rink at Media City

Manchester Ice Rink is very easy to get to, a couple of minutes walk away from the Media City Tram Stop. You can see it on the right hand side, just before your tram pulls in.

Manchester Ice Rink at Media City outside view from the front

When you go inside, the ticket office is to the left, and the Retreat bar area is to the right, with lots of benches for changing footwear in the middle. It's a really big space and wasn't at all cramped, even though loads of people were changing at once. It is understandably noisy though.

Wednesday 20 November 2019

Pile O Stockingfillers Christmas Present Giveaway

Tadah!!!! It's time for the Christmas Present Giveaway that I know some people at least enjoy the most. The lovingly named 'Pile O Stockingfillers'. This is where I put together an eclectic mix of the stuff I've collected over the year and give it all away to one lucky reader.

This year I didn't go to as many conferences, and the pile of actual stockingfillers wasn't as big as in previous years, so I've had to top it up with a few bigger bits, including a couple who I've also included in my Christmas Present Giveaways already...

Pile O Stockingfillers Christmas Present Giveaway collage 2 photos of boys with Santa and 2 photos showing games and toys and books etc

There's this Autumn's big family release - Toy Story 4 on DVD. I have another chance for you to win this here - and I'll also include a couple of paper masks which will be great next Halloween....

Toy Story 4 DVD and masks on top of random toys and paper

There are a few books I ended up with extra copies of, including a Hannah The Spanner book given by the author, Stuart Simmonds, and 2 more of you can win a copy of this beautifully illustrated story book here.

Monday 18 November 2019

Chill Factorᵉ Santa's Grotto And Snow Park Review

My boys are 9 and 11, and I really wasn't going to take them to see Santa this year, but they had tried to convince me you are never too old, and then we were invited by Chill Factorᵉ to review this year's Santa's Grotto and Snow Park experience.

Chill Factore Christmas Santa's Grotto and Snow Park Review

I couldn't be more pleased that I said yes because even with 25 years as a parent. I think this was my favourite ever visit to see Santa..

Sunday 17 November 2019

#TBCSmiles November.... 63 Months.

I'm super late this month with the TBCSmiles, but I really am not going to offer an apology because I was busy making smiles. I had a lovely birthday on Thursday and then I went on a school trip with my youngest son, followed straight away with a press visit to review Santa's Grotto at Chill Factorᵉ. It was a bit busy and I needed an easier weekend.

My family and me with huge smiles at Chill Factore Manchester 2019

I think one of the biggest problems with the UK and the entire world right now is that we forget how important people are. We are so busy and so stressed that we get on the treadmill and start walking, Our employers, our government, our society and everyone else train us and tell us to keep walking, but we all need to remember to step off regularly.

I panicked a bit that I was going to be late with the TBCSmiles, and planned to do it first thing Saturday morning, but when I saw the smiles we all made on Thursday and Friday, I realised I didn't need to panic. No-one will come to harm if my post is 3 days late, and what I was doing right then was far more important.

It's too easy to lose sight of what is really important.

Boy smiling his biggest smile at Santa Claus Chill Factore Manchester 2019

Saturday 16 November 2019

Sproutword Plastic-Free Strategy Word Game Review (sent for review)

Sproutword could be described as a mix of Scrabble and Chess. It's a game that just about anyone can join in with, without having to learn complicated rules or spend any time on set up, and it's also entirely plastic-free and more beautiful than you'd expect any tile game to be. We've been sent a copy for review...

Suitable for 2-4 players, aged around around 10+ for a real competition. Younger players aged around 6+ will be able to join in with a less competitive, slower-paced game. I played with one of my grown up sons, and my 2 boys aged 9 and 11.

Sprout Word strategy word game review collage of photos showing players and game

Sproutword was created by two blokes, Ian and Dan, who developed it in their lunch breaks using scrappy bits of paper. When making the game real, they've used sustainable wood and zero plastic, and local crafters in Devon and Dorset, making Sproutword almost certainly the most eco-friendly game I've ever reviewed.

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Christmas Present Giveaway: Randomise Party Game (Age 8+) From Gamely Games (sent for review)

Randomise is a game for 4 or more players in 2 teams of 2-20 players aged 8 or over, and we have a copy to give away courtesy of Gamely Games, who also sent us a copy to review. This is a word guessing game where your teammates have to guess the entire sentence you are trying to communicate within the time limit - and you can choose to draw, act or describe, whichever takes your fancy!

Christmas Present Giveaway: Randomise Party Game (Age 8+) From Gamely Games (sent for review)

Inside the box are two piles of cards and the instructions. Everything is minimal, with barely any plastic, and the game can be sent through regular post.

Randomise Party Game  review for Gamely Games box contents

Slam Dunk Basketball Party Review with the Manchester Giants (Press Review)

On Sunday we were invited over to the home of Manchester Giants Basketball Team in Urmston, Manchester, to experience their children's parties. None of my family know anything about basketball, it's not something any of my children have played, and that really just made it more exciting. It's always fun to try something new - you'll definitely learn something and you might find you really like it.

Manchester Giants Children's Basketball Party Review (Press Visit)

The Manchester Giants are based at the George H Carnall Sports Centre, which is easy to find, just off the M60 in Urmston. Children's Parties last a whole afternoon and including a 1 hour training session with Manchester Giants coaches, pizza party meal and a Manchester Giants basketball game.

Manchester Giants Basketball Kids Party Review

Monday 11 November 2019

Christmas Giveaway: Science Mad Chemistry Lab (age 10+) Sent for Review

The Science Mad Chemistry Lab is a proper Chemistry set designed for children who are ready to move on from volcanoes and start looking deeper into why their world works as it does. Trends UK have sent us this set to review with my 11 year old, and my 9 1/2 year old joined in with some extra close supervision...

Science Mad Chemistry Lab (age 10+) box cover shot showing children doing science

We are a household who love science and my boys have grown up experimenting. I'll start by saying this is an awesome Chemistry set. The price is brilliant for the kit included and the experiments are genuinely age 10+ and incredibly exciting for my boys. Here's why we think that...

Science Mad Chemistry set review box contents included

Inside the cardboard box is a plastic insert holding all of your equipment. There are over 20 pieces of equipment, including several made from real glass - the spirit burner, stirring rod, a glass tube, 2 test tubes, beaker and conical flask - so we've opted to keep ours in the box between use for safety.

Friday 8 November 2019

Trapwords Family Party Game Review (age 8+) Sent by Asmodee

This month's independent game review sent to us Asmodee is a word-guessing game for 4-8 players aged 8+. Trapwords is a fast-paced game where two teams battle it out to guess the most words, and like a lot of independent games, it's beautifully presented and really quite special.

Trapwords Family Party Game Review (age 8+) Sent by Asmodee

Inside the box are lots of components: a game board made up of 7 different 'room' tiles, 5 monsters, 2 team figures, 4 books, 50 word cards, 10 curse cards, 10 monster cards, 2 torches, sand timer, pencils and a pad of trapword list sheets.

Trapwords game review box contents

You'll need 5 minutes set up and 5 minutes more before first play to press out the cardboard elements. Unlike other word guessing games, Trapwords is played with a board (made using 5 tiles from a set of 8) and as you progress it gets harder.

What's On this Winter for families in Manchester and the North West UK

Christmas is coming! And so are all of those fabulously festive events, theatre and days out. Here's a rundown of some of what's happening in Manchester and the NorthWest UK over the next couple of months - for families with kids of all ages, including teenagers and students.

If you have anything you'd like me to add, please send it over with a low res photo - try and give us a couple of weeks notice and please do not send me any more events in Bury St Edmunds - that is a far cry from Bury, North Manchester! We like FREE and low cost events and activities best of all.

Thursday 7 November 2019

Christmas Giveaway: Learning Resources Beaker Creatures Alien Experiment Lab (age 5+)

I love Learning Resources toys. They introduce younger children to all kinds of skills that they'll use for their lifetime, while playing with some of the best toys around. I'm delighted that they are giving one of my readers a Beaker Creatures Alien Experiment Lab as a Christmas present.

Recommended for children aged around 5-9, the Alien Experiment Lab includes over 20 different experiments for your young scientists to try...

Beaker Creatures Alien Experiment Lab (age 5+) Pack shot

There are 18 pieces in your set, including a Slime Station and Slime Extruder, Creature Mold and Pod Maker. There are also 2 collectible little Beaker Creatures Aliens hidden inside Reactor Pods. There is loads to excite any youngster.

Beaker Creatures Alien Experiment Lab box contents

Wednesday 6 November 2019

Christmas Giveaway: Jumbo Games Puzzles Bundle (sent for review)

On Thursday this week (7th November) at 4.30pm I'll be joining in with Jumbo Games for a big Puzzle Party on Twitter. The theme is "A Night In With Jumbo" and it's a perfect fit for these dark Winter evenings.

I've been sent 4 x 1000 piece puzzles, a sorter and a ginormous puzzle board for review, and Jumbo Games will be giving away the same bundle during the party. Very importantly though, they'll also give away this same bundle to one of my readers as a Christmas Present Giveaway...

Christmas Giveaway Jumbo Games Puzzles Bundle sent for review

Included in the bundle are:

1x Wasgij Christmas 15 ‘Santa’s Unexpected Delivery!’ 2x1000pc Jigsaw Puzzle
1x Falcon de Luxe ‘Santa’s Special Delivery’ 2x1000pc Jigsaw Puzzle
1x Puzzle Mates Portapuzzle Board
1x Puzzle Mates Puzzle Sorting Trays

Tuesday 5 November 2019

Christmas Giveaway: So MAGIC DIY Wonder Magic Garden (Age 8+) Sent by Canal Toys

The So MAGIC DIY range from Canal Toys is bright and colourful with interesting things to grow and build. We were sent the Wonder Magic Garden for review a while ago and it's been incredibly well-used here - by everyone.

It seems a Zen Garden is a relaxing and tranquil thing whatever your age, so I'm delighted that Canal Toys are giving one of you a Wonder Magic Garden as a Christmas Present.

Christmas Giveaway: So MAGIC DIY Wonder Magic Garden (Age 8+) Sent by Canal Toys

There are lots of different features, but your garden has 4 different sections and plenty of coloured sand to pick and choose how you fill them. There is also a putty-type slime to fill your pond area of the garden.

So MAGIC DIY Wonder Magic Garden pond pool area

Monday 4 November 2019

Christmas Giveaway: Big Potato Party Games Bundle! (Age 10+)

We love Big Potato Games. Perfect for a household where the kids are getting older, all of their games have easy to learn rules, instant play and make you laugh. This bundle has 3 of our favourites - 20 Second Showdown, What Came First? and my personal favourite, the gloriously packaged Blockbuster Movie Game.

Big Potato have sent us a lot of games for review over the past couple of years, and these are 3 excellent choices which we've all really enjoyed, so I'm delighted that they have offered to send this bundle of 3 games (worth almost £65rrp) as a Christmas Present to one of my readers.

Friday 1 November 2019

Christmas Present Giveaway: HUGE Tactic Family Games Bundle!

I am ecstatic to have this awesome Christmas Present giveaway courtesy of Tactic, who also sent us these games for review over the last couple of months. One reader wins the entire bundle: Original Alias, UK Alias, Story Chest and The Great Tour (European Cities).

Together this bundle of Tactic family games is worth over £100 at recommended prices, we've reviewed and loved all 4 of these games. This is without doubt one of my favourite giveaways I've ever run.

Original ALIAS game from Tactic review box shot

Original Alias is an instant play, easy to learn word guessing game suitable for 4 or more players aged around 10+, in teams of 2 or more.

Christmas Giveaway: Angry Birds Island Challenge Slot Car Racing (Age 6+) Sent by Tobar

Maisto are a very well-known manufacturer of all kinds of small scale wheeled toys and collectibles. Die cast models, remote control vehicles and fantastic car tracks are just some of the Maisto items we've owned over the years and last month Tobar sent us their Angry Birds Island Challenge Slot Car Racing Set to review...

Angry Birds Island Challenge Slot Car Racing pack shot

Everything arrives in a sturdy box and there is very little plastic packaging - nice one. You will need a whopping 8 x AA batteries to power your track, plus a small Phillips screwdriver, but it is Christmas morning-friendly otherwise and you can be playing in 5 minutes.

Angry Birds Island Challenge slot car racing what's in the box contents

Inside the box you have 2.27m of track as 1 straight, 6 small curves, 4 large curves and battery section, plus 2 controllers, 2 vehicles, 6 adjustable track supports and 2 pieces of guard rail plus fastenings. There are also spare Guide Keel's for the underside of the cars (the bit that drops into the slot and keeps them on the track).

Christmas Giveaway: My Personalised Case £50 Voucher

A couple of months ago My Personalised Case sent me a new tough phone case and bluetooth speaker to review. Both are personalised with my own photos and I am impressed with the quality, printing and reliability of the products, so I'm very happy to say that they've offered one of my readers a £50 voucher to order something for yourself - or someone else...

Christmas Giveaway: My Personalised Case £50 Voucher

The My Personalised Case website is very intuitive, and easy to navigate and use, with lots of familiar options and effects available. Ordering took about 5 minutes including uploading photos.

My Tough Phone Case is in 2 parts with a rubbery lining and tough outer shell. It has been on my phone since it arrived and has been dropped several times, including a terrifying fall all the way down the stairs. It's survived so far!

Christmas Giveaway: My Personalised phone Case with photo