Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Toy Review - Vannelope Von Schweetz and Taffyta Muttonfudge Toy Racers from ThinkWay Toys

Vannelope Von Schweetz and her Candy Kart
We've been looking for Wreck-It Ralph tie-in toys for a while, and it looks like a few are slowly leaking out onto the UK Market. Argos now sell three of the superb Thinkway Toys racing karts from the movie's 'Sugar Rush' segment, including the two we bought.

Vannelope Von Schweetz's fantastic hotch-potch go-kart is super-detailed, and comes with a posable Vannelope figure which 'plugs in' to the kart, so when kids are driving the kart around the floor like mad things (as Princess C has for most of yesterday and today) the figure stays put. A good feature.

Decorated just like her kart in the movie, it comes with biscuit wheels, wafer spoiler and lots of tiny little details. The wheels are free-rolling and it's a nice robust toy for even the roughest toughest playtimes.

We also purchased Taffyta Muttonfudge's candy racer:

Though she's the 'bad girl' in the movie, Charlotte actually preferred Taffyta's car (probably because it's so shockingly pink).

It's a bit of a shame that Argos only sell the three racers (the third is The Swizz / Tongue Twister) as Thinkway and other manufacturers have put together some fantastic toys to compliment the movie.

With the blu ray and DVD release coming up in UK territories, we might see a few more toys arriving - but so far, the only way to get them seems to be to hunt online where prices can be extortionate (both these karts were £12.99 each in Argos which isn't cheap but they're very good quality products).

Friday, May 24, 2013

We are bloggers - Feedback is like cheese or chocolate to us!

It's interesting when we go to Blogger events, or get the opportunity to meet other blogging folk, or people we've been tweeting at for ages. We meet some very lovely people, and the one thing that most of us have in common is that we're all feedback junkies.

Let me explain. To a blogger who tells you that they write their blog for therapeutic purposes, Feedback probably isn't that important but I've rarely ever met anyone who writes anything (for a living or purely as a means of spilling the contents of their over-active mind onto a blank blog post) who wouldn't want feedback of any sort.

After all, we're out here in the public domain, talking about...well...stuff, so it's like cheese or chocolate to us.

Sometimes it can be very frustrating when you've poured your guts, your sweat and most importantly your time into a blog post only for it to meet static and silence.

It's also very frustrating when you put together a well-meaning post, or a positive review and then someone drops by the comments box or tweets you about it to tell you that "you missed the full stop at the end of the third sentence" (yep we do make mistakes from time to time, but so did the Dalek who ended up on a blind date with a dustbin).

Feedback is important. We try to give it where we can, if we're popping by other people's blogs we usually will comment - or if someone's put together a stonkingly good blog post and tweets about it we'll fave and retweet it.

We only ask that you try and do the same. You've no idea how much it thrills us.

Monday, May 13, 2013

When did Pass the Parcel get so complicated?

You can now buy ready-made pass the parcel parcels! No, really!
We'll be straight with you here. We hate Pass the Parcel. If there was ever one party game to cause instant groans and moans of dismay (amongst adults that is, not kids!) it's Pass the Parcel. We purposely avoided doing it at Princess C's birthday party and quite a few folk seem to have cottoned on that it's a sucky waste of time at a kid's party but still it prevails.

But it's changed. Here's a then and now comparison:


  • One parcel, one prize!
  • Parents randomly operating cranky old Binatone music centre while simultaneously glugging down a delicious beverage / holding down a conversation with other parents
  • Wrapping paper was nearly always newspaper or cheap stuff
  • All kids, regardless of gender, took part
  • Kids passed the parcel with scarcely a pause in between
  • The prize at the end was always massively disappointing

  • One or two parcels (sometimes even gender-specific pass the parcel sessions going on simultaneously to ensure the prizes 'fit' the winner)
  • A prize in every single layer - usually something you don't want your children to eat before they ruin their dinner / teeth / best clothes they came to the party in
  • Parent strategically operates iPod and Speaker Doc, following complicated hand and voice signals from strategically placed other parent who makes sure all children get a go
  • Wrapping paper must be at least M & S / John Lewis. Cheap stuff not allowed even though it's going to end up scattered all over the party venue
  • All kids take part, but the ones who don't still win a prize anyway
  • Kids pass the parcel with strategic clinginess just in case the music stops (pointless because of point 3)
  • The prize at the end is still always massively disappointing. 
Pass the Parcel is great for two things. 1) Ensuring huge swathes of time at your children's party are taken up by this long, boring, drawn out process (watch parents faces if you do the whole thing twice!) and 2) For lulling children into the false sense of excitement that perhaps, just this once, they will be "THE ONE" (even though we all know that the winner is picked in much the same manner that Eurovision winners are - so it'll be a decision that's long been cogitated over and decided on weeks before your child has even turned up to the party!)

I look forward to the bright shining future when Pass the Parcel has been superseded by "Pass the Smartphone around randomly until the winner is chosen and wins an unlock code for Angry Birds 20"

Thursday, May 9, 2013

how to get princess hair

My little princess seems to master messy hair very well. She has curls (thankfully not as curly as mine) but it's very fine and fly away. It seems to knot so easily and trying to get a brush to her hair involves screaming sessions and ouches that you didn't know could ouch so at the weekend we just let her leave the house extra messy and don't brush it.

But with school each morning and having to tie her hair up I got fed up with the arguments and took her to Boots. Where upon she fell in love with the tangle teezer. We tried this out in Hamleys a few years back, the lady back combed Princess C's hair and then brushed it out with not a whimper.  I was sceptical she had very little hair then and always behaves like an angel to strangers so didn't stump up the cash. But following this a few friends at work happened to say they wanted a good hairbrush as their hair knots easily, I directed them to the tangle teezer and they haven't looked back.
So there we were in Boots and her eyes went straight to a pink flower pot tangle teezer that involved parting with more money than I really wanted but hey lets give it a go. Well its working and she's even brushing her own hair. Its the perfect shape for smaller hands to hold and it nestles in the little pot below that can keep a selection of clips and hair bands in.

She loves it and has told everyone about it and we now have no tears. We have brushed wet and dry hair and combined it with anti-tangle spray for an extra breezy brush. So maybe I shouldn't have been so sceptical 2 years ago when we were in Hamleys and it would have saved us 2 years of tears!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The case of the curiously coloured Tadpoles in Class.

Children's drawings rock!
It's been nagging away at me for some time, and it's something that quite a few arty folk are also concerned about. Are schools trying to stifle artistic talent before it's even had a chance to bloom?

There was a short sharp example of this at School this morning. One of Princess C's classmates is always drawing, and she draws some beautiful (and quite surreal) things. The class has a new Tadpole tank and the children were all busily drawing the tadpoles and the tank.

We were talking to C's teacher and one little girl came up to proudly show off her drawing. The most beautiful rainbow-coloured tadpoles, all happily swimming around in a crayola-storm of cobalt blue, a work that I thought was utterly enchanting, amazing and brilliant.

"Are Tadpoles that colour? Are they really? Did you look?" said the Teacher. The poor little girl looked utterly crushed or like she was about to burst into tears. I wanted to give her some encouragement and tell her that I thought her picture was awesome but there was that moment of nothing that passed between the teacher and I, that silent "I'm the boss here, don't disrupt the calm cool waters of my pond"

So creativity then? With the current strive to produce perfect little robot children who are literate and numerate, do we neglect to allow them the freedom of expression that drawing and creative play nurture? I don't get that. I don't get how there could ever be a way of thinking that literacy and numeracy are adequate substitutes for creativity when it comes to measuring success (particularly at school).

So what if the tadpoles were multicoloured, to me it still looked like a busy and thronging tadpole tank with all the elements in the correct place - the colours were actually an added bonus not a detriment.

I'm not sure what I'm trying to say from the top of my wobbly soapbox but I hate seeing instances where children are put down or dissuaded from creative moments because they're 'not doing things right' - Art was never about right or wrong, even when you get into the more technical aspects of exploring line and shape, colour and shade, anatomy and observation. Art was always about the amazing imaginative process of taking something that you have tucked away in your mind and letting it loose so others can share it.