Lalaloopsy Mini Jewel Sparkles Review

Continuing on the theme of what’s turned out to be a crazy amount of dolls lately, we recently received a Mini Jewel Sparkles Lalaloopsy doll, and since we only received (and expected to receive) one, there were tears in the house!

Lalaloopsy dolls were once rag dolls who magically came to life when their very last stitch was sewn, taking on the personalities of the materials that were used to make them, so since Jewel Sparkles came to life on the 13th of March, she seemed a perfect fit for Aviya, who was born on the 13th of March.Jewel Sparkles

In January this year, Lalaloopsy launched a Netflix Original Series, an animated series featuring all-new original music that brings to life the popular Lalaloopsy line of dolls.Read more: Lalaloopsy Mini Jewel Sparkles Review

LOL Surprise Dolls Review

To my eternal chagrin, my little Aviya is a collector. She loves collecting things – it used to be rocks, then it became Shopkins, then NumNoms, and now, LOL Surprise Dolls. It’s a good thing we have a big house with plenty of room for little things.

The other thing about this particular little girl is that she loves pass the parcel. It’s her favourite party game – she loves it so much, for Christmas I wrapped 50 little collectables in a big ball for her Christmas present. She loved it.

So, LOL Surprise Dolls are totally her cup of tea!

LOL Surprise is a big ball, wrapped in seven layers, with each layer revealing a ‘surprise’. 
Read more: LOL Surprise Dolls Review

Dreamworks Trolls Fancy Dress Wig & Friendship Watch Review

Halloween may have come and gone, but in our house, every day is just another opportunity for fancy dress. One of my neighbours recently exasperatedly commented that she’d never seen my children not dressed as fairies or other fictional characters! Since we recently watched Dreamworks’ Trolls we were all too happy to try out (or is that try on?) some Trolls fancy dress.

Trolls is a very light-hearted musical movie. It’s set in a plastic fantastic, super colourful world,  with ultra happy characters – all but one – who go through a series of stresses, most of which is the immanence of becoming supper to the Bergens, a larger, uglier race. The trolls escape, forge a new life, and soon forget the dangers of the Bergens in the happiness of their new home. Of course, this leaves the Bergens sad and miserable (they believe you can only be happy by eating a Troll), and eternally in search of the Trolls. During one loud and carefree party, the fireworks attract the Bergens, and Troll-world is thrown into disaster again. Poppy, the happiest troll ever born, and Branch, her extreme opposite, set off to rescue their friends, and so starts a journey in which these unlikely allies begin to understand each other and find the love they’ve been searching for right under their noses. The Bergen king finds himself in his own Cinderella story with a scullery maid and the Trolls help him realise his love for her, and in the end the good guys win, the bad guys are banished, traitors are found out, the humble inherit a kingdom and everyone goes home happy, and singing one of the multitude of pop songs incorporated into this Dreamworks musical.

[youtube xyjm5VQ11TQ]Read more: Dreamworks Trolls Fancy Dress Wig & Friendship Watch Review

Schleich Horse Club Pick Up With Horse Box {Review}

Schleich have come a long way since I was a child with a drawer full of blue smurfs! We have a decent selection of farm animals from Schleich and a lot of plastic horses from Playmobil, so I was really excited to be sent the new Horse Club Pick Up With Horse Box to review because I knew my horse loving 7 year old would be thrilled with it.Schleich Horse Club Pick Up with Horse Box

Read more: Schleich Horse Club Pick Up With Horse Box {Review}

The New Doll In Town: Project MC2

A few months ago my daughter was browsing Netflix for something to watch when she came across Project MC2, an action miniseries about four teenage girls who use their science know-how to be secret agents and save the day. She was engrossed in it and has watched it a dozen times since, so when I saw there were dolls to match, I was excited to get her one.

Since watching the show, she’s decided that she wants to be both a scientist and an inventor – in her spare time when she’s not being a dancer, that is – and who am I to stand in her way.71JAgxLCgkL._SL1500_

Read more: The New Doll In Town: Project MC2

Christmas Gift: My First Scalextric

One of the gifts under many trees this year will be a My First Scalextric set, a beginners introduction into Scalextrics. I remember playing on a set myself as a child, many many moons ago, but I don’t remember what it was.

We’ve been reviewing the My First Scalextric set, and been  having a lot of fun with it.

Firstly I should say that setting up, I didn’t follow the instructions, so don’t look at my pictures as an example of set up!scalextric

In the box you will find the track pieces to form a figure-of-8 track, two stilt contraptions to hold the raised track up, two controllers and their related cabling, and two cars. There’s a general colour scheme is red and yellow with the track parts in grey.

The track clips into each other, and also fits with other tracks from the Micro Scalextric range, so while you use this as your starter track, you can build on it as your child(ren) get(s) older and more confident.

When setting up, if you’re as newbie to Scalextrics as the child this set is for, it’s useful to follow the instructions, because it should be set up with the arrows all facing in the direction the cars will be going. You’ll save yourself a lot of frustration by just doing it the right way from the start.scalextric2

That said, it’s not hard to set up, and is pretty quick. You don’t need batteries either, which is another bonus come Christmas day.

So how does it work? We’re quite happy with it. I’ve read other reviews where people have complained bitterly about the My First Scalextric set, but considering that we don’t have ‘proper’ Scalextric to compare it to, we are quite happy. If you go too fast around the corners you fly off the track (much like driving in real life, then!), so there’s a bit of skill to it too.

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I like that there are grooves in the controllers, so you can stop children from just going full throttle from the get-go, and in so doing prevent the cars flying off the tracks to an untimely demise.

While this is a set for young children, from 3 years of age, it does require some adult supervision. You can’t just leave the kids to it (I know mine would have the cars riding up and down the walls of the house and over the carpets and in the bath, if I left them to it). Instead the little connectors on under the cars need to be kept protected to make sure that they make the right contact on the track.

For fans of Scalextric, My First Scalextric may not be your favourite set, but it is a good starter set, and it’s definitely a good set for younger children if you don’t want to spend a fortune on a beginners kit. And as far as Christmas gifts go, it’ll be great for spending time and having fun together after all the gifts are unwrapped on Christmas morning.

Lalaloopsy Jewellery Maker Toy Review

Ameli loves Lalaloopsy, so when I was asked if we’d like to be Lalaloopsy ambassadors for the year, I thought with her birthday coming up it would be a great way of spoiling her a little, without having to cost me much! Just after her birthday we received our first Lalaloopsy toy for review: the Lalaloopsy Jewellery Maker (or Jewelery Maker if you’re in the US!)Lalaloopsy Jewellery MakerThe Lalaloopsy Jewellery Maker is part of the Tinies series, meaning it comes with three small Lalaloopsy characters and one golden ‘limited edition’ one.  The Jewellery Maker is also a 2-in-1 toy, as it is a Jewellery Maker, but also a Ferris Wheel toy.

As a toy it has little tea cups with lids that the Tinies can sit in as they go on the ride, which can lead to lovely imaginative play as the children describe the ‘view’ over the ‘landscape’ from the ferris wheel. It’s also a good safety talk introduction as we discovered when one of the Tinies plunged to an untimely death when the lid hadn’t been closed, and received a spin from a ‘helpful’ little sister. (You’ll be pleased to know she was resurrected by a kiss and a cuddle).

As a Jewellery Maker, there are pros and cons to this product. I think if used in conjunction with regular manual threading of beads, it’s just a bit of fun. I wouldn’t let it be the only means of threading beads for my girls though as there’s a lot of developmental value in terms of both dexterity and hand eye coordination that happens when children try to string beads.

That said though, the jewellery maker is fun as it allows children to thread the provided plastic ‘string’ and feed beads into the receptacle, which then shakes and vibrates the beads onto the ‘needle’ feeding it onto the string. In this way kids can create a pattern and make their own jewellery.

There are enough beads for about two full necklaces, and about the same in string, but you can add any beads that have at least a 2mm hole, and you can use any safe string too, so it can be a gift that keeps on producing.

I would have liked a closing container for the beads so that they don’t end up filling up every nook and cranny of my house, but I imagine most crafty people will have something they can use.

Battery life on the Lalaloopsy Jewellery Maker seems to be pretty decent, since it only powers a little spindle, really, and it long outlives the beads. It’s unfortunate that the ferris wheel itself doesn’t actually turn when the button is pushed, but I guess when you’re threading jewellery is no time to be distracted by fun on the fairground.


I was sent this toy for free as part of the Lalaloopsy Ambassador Programme. Views and opinions are my own (or that of one or both of my daughters!)

New! Dora & Friends Range of Toys

You know when you have one of those days where you just can’t wait for bed time to come? Yeah, I have those too. A couple of weeks ago we were having one of those when the postman  rang the doorbell. He had a large parcel for us and we were excited to open it!

Inside we found the rest of the afternoon’s entertainment, and the whole tone of the day changed! Now, I’m not saying you should go out and buy toys every time you have a rough day – that would be terrible, actually – but in this instance it was perfect!

It looks like Dora is having a makeover on Nickelodeon as new friends are being introduced – I’ve only ever seen the episodes with Dora and Boots and Backpack, but in these new episodes, Dora’s friendship group has expanded to include some other girls.

One of these is Alana, and in our big box of Dora fun, we received the new 8″ Dora doll and the new Alana doll. We also received two different versions of Dora’s well-known charm bracelet, and a mobile phone.

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This new range of toys from Fisher-Price launches today around the UK and includes 5 different ‘friends’ dolls. These dolls are actually quite beautiful. They have those weird big eyes that look really creepy on some dolls, but because of the oversized heads, they seem to fit really nicely here.

Despite the big eyes and head, they actually look pretty, and not creepy or weird at all. The arms and legs are poseable, which means she can stand or sit or ‘walk’. The ah-ma-zing thing about these dolls, however, is the hair. It is so soft, I honestly thought it might be real hair at first. My daughters have spent hours brushing Dora and Alana’s hair.
Dora and Friends Alana

This series of dolls is a lot more grown up than the pre-school series. I do find that a little bit sad as I don’t want my girls to grow up in the same ways just yet, but it would definitely make Dora appeal to a wider age range in general. While the girls are dressed like characters from the new series, they just look like little girls dressed up for an adventure.

Each doll comes with a charm which can be interchanged and added to the Magic Charms Bracelet. I’m not crazy about the design of these as the joint for connecting the charm to the bracelet is underneath each charm meaning they stand up perpendicular to the arm, making them look easy to knock off and subsequently lose. That said, we haven’t actually lost any yet, so maybe they are sturdier than they look.

Each doll also comes with removable clothes and shoes. This is great for normal kids. For mine it means we have two naked dolls roaming around the house, and four missing shoes. This is a flaw in my children though, not of the dolls.

At £10.99 RRP I think the Dora and Friends dolls are really good value for money. They are quite beautiful.

Dora and Friends CharmsThe Magic Charms Bracelet (£9.99) consists of a chain link plastic bracelet, with 5 charms containing the girls’ pictures, almost like lockets without the cover bit. In between those are the special adventure charms that are like the ones on the show. There’s a backpack, star, horse and loads of other things.

The final toy in our box was the Dora Smartphone. My 3 year old loves this and walks around the house having conversations with anyone and everyone on her phone. It’s a ‘touch screen’ phone which plays incoming calls and voicemails from Dora and her friends when pressed. Kids can pretend to take photos and use the Map App with the phone, which looks just like the one from the show.  The phone plays ringtones, bilingual phrases and songs.

Here’s a short video review from YouTube if you’d like to see more:

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We were sent these Dora and Friends toys from Nickelodeon and Fisher-Price to review. Thoughts are our own. 

Galt Toys Playnest Review And Competition

I am such a fan of Galt Toys, that I could, quite frankly, feature their products every month and not run out of things Iove for both Ameli and Aviya. This week, however, it’s an Aviya toy that we’re raving about: The Galt Playnest

At only 12 weeks old, we’ve no where near gone through the full potential of  uses of the Galt Playnest, and we’ll have plenty of use out of it still, but I’ll tell you what we love so far.

The Farm Playnest is an inflatable donut covered with bold, bright and colourful washable nylon cover. Galt says that it’s suitable from birth, and depending on your use of it, tend to agree.

With Aviya, I’ve put a thin pillow in the hollow of the ring and put her on her side to sleep during the day while we’re in the living room. I’ve also been using (and in fact recommending in baby massage class!) the playnest for tummy time from birth. Because you can put the baby at an angle, they can have gentle pressure on the belly while still having somewhere to rest their heads*.

Aviya’s been holding her head up pretty much since birth, so it’s been easy for us to do. Also, since the ring is inflatable, it is soft against the belly which I think would be ideal for babies who ‘don’t like’ being on their tummies* (they don’t like it because they’re not used to it. If put on their tummies from birth, most babies will prefer it as a sleep position as it continues their natural womb like positioning.)

I’ve also used it without the pillow for her to lean back on so that she can look around and be part of what’s going on in the room. I particularly like that if Aviya slides over to the side, she can’t fall off anything, like the sofa. It’s a nice, contained, safe space, and because she’s not flat on her back or in the same position for too long, I don’t have to worry about flat head syndrome either*.

I was a bit concerned initially that it would pop if Ameli tried to get on it with her sister, but after a few weeks of both of them in the playnest, and her bouncing in, out and on it, I no longer have that fear. It’s pretty sturdy and stands up to toddlerhood.

As for activities, we’ve not had to pay too much attention to what it offers yet, as Aviya’s not there yet, but it does have things like a squeaker in the duck bill, crinkly ‘flaps’, a squishy pig’s nose and fluffy sheep’s head. I think for a younger baby, I’d prefer it to have arches as at the moment there’s not much on it to entertain her, but then, she is 12 weeks old! As she gets older, sits up and becomes more engaged in her environment, I think she’ll love the playnest and I’ll love the security it offers.

On a slightly different note – I was concerned this would have a playpen feeling, like she’d be trapped in it, which I wouldn’t like. Having it inflated and in use, however, I don’t think that will be the case at all. It’s not something that could be used to ‘contain’ a crawler, so it should definitely be used with adult supervision, especially if you have a cuddly toddler and a baby and especially if baby is sleeping in it.

Overall, though, we love this Galt Farm Playnest.

*These are my thoughts, not Galt claims.

Competition

If you’d like to win a Galt Farm Playnest, visit the Galt website, then come back here and let me know what other Galt product you like.

For an additional entry, (which is not compulsory, and is not sponsored by Facebook and which has nothing to do with Facebook or its employees) you can like Galt Toys on Facebook, and leave a second comment below saying you have. Also, leave a message on their wall telling them I sent you!

This competition finishes at 23:59 on 18 June and the winner will be randomly drawn. Winners will be announced here and on the Diary of a First Child Facebook Page. Please check these to find out who won.

AND THE WINNER IS

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