Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Kidkraft Pirate Play Set

There's no doubt that children love pirates. Give them a chance to don an eye patch and wave a sword about and both boy and girl swashbucklers will jump at the opportunity. They manage to come up with hours and hours of pirate related role play and that's exactly what they'll do with the Kidkraft Pirate Play Set.

This play set contains a large pirate ship (measuring over 60cm long and over 60cm high) which is beautifully decorated both inside and out. Inside the ship there is great attention to detail with the illustrations showing everything from the ship's parrot in its cage to the hammocks in which the pirates must sleep. The ship hinges in the middle so that it can open out, allowing children to play inside easily too.

On the outside of the ship, as well as the ship's wheel (which turns) there is also a tall mast featuring two billowing sails (complete with pirate's skull decorations) and a rope ladder leading up to the crow's nest at the top. The play set also come with two pirate figures (both positionable), a set of steps to allow the pirates to climb to the upper deck, a treasure chest full of gold and a cannon to defend from the enemy.

The pirate ship actually comes in flat pack form and requires and adult with a screw driver to put it together. The instructions enclosed are easy to follow and all the screws and other parts are very efficiently labelled to make the job as easy as possible, but it is still a bit fiddly and can take about an hour in total. If you're wanting to give one of these Pirate Play Sets as a gift then we'd definitely recommend you assemble it first to save yourself a job on Christmas morning!

Once assembled the play set is incredibly sturdy and perfect for hours of imaginative play. Our little reviewer has already staged numerous battles between the two pirate characters and sailed the ship round the world several times. It would make an ideal gift for any pirate loving child this Christmas.

The Kidkraft Pirate Play Set is available in store and also online via the Cuthberts shop and retails at £54.99.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Lego Minifigures Series 11

In the run up to Christmas it can be all to easy to forget about some of the smaller toys that we sell that are popular all year round - and Lego Minifigures are one such toy.

Back in the summer we blogged about the special series 10, including the Mr Gold figures that were hidden in some bags. As far as we know we weren't lucky enough to sell a Mr Gold, but that hasn't dented our enthusiasm for series 11, especially since we know that a Minifigure bag would make a great addition to any Lego fan's stocking on Christmas morning.

So who is inside series 11 then I hear you ask? Those clever people at Lego keep coming up with more great ideas for the mini figure characters and this series is no exception. Here's the full cast list:
  1. Barbarian
  2. Scarecrow
  3. Pretzel Girl
  4. Evil Mech
  5. Island Warrior
  6. Gingerbread Man
  7. Holiday Elf
  8. Yeti
  9. Mountain Climber
  10. Welder
  11. Scientist
  12. Saxophone Player
  13. Diner Waitress
  14. Grandma
  15. Constable
  16. Lady Robot

If you want to know more about each of the Minifigures in the series then look no further than Jay's Brick Blog. There's a full three part guide to series 11 (part 1, part 2 and part 3) and I honestly don't think there's anything about these characters that you won't find out there!

Bags of series 11 Lego Minifigures are available in all our stores (St Albans, Letchworth and Hatfield Galleria) and are priced £2.00 each. We also have some stocks of previous series if you're still looking to finish off earlier collections.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Cuthberts Top 5 Toys for Pre-Schoolers for Christmas

When it comes to pre-schoolers many of the toys which we think are going to be most popular this Christmas come from television programmes that are popular with this age range. When watched in moderation television can be wonderful for encouraging children to play and as a basis for them to start acting out stories on their own.

1. Tree Fu Tom - Ultimate Tom - £23.45

Each episode of Tree Fu Tom sees Tim put on his magical belt and be transported to the world of Treetopolis where he has adventures with his friends and uses his magic to help get them out of scrapes. Sometimes he needs a bit of help and calls upon "the big world" for assistance with spells. This is where the children watching at home are asked to perform moves in front of their TV sets to help send the magic to Tom. The series was actually developed on conjunction with the Dyspraxia Foundation so that the moves children are asked to do to help Tom perform his magic are beneficial to children who have developmental coordination disorders.

The Ultimate Tom is fully posable and also has wings which pop out to help him "fly". By pressing the chest the music from the TV programme plays when you tilt him into a flying position. Both his Sapstone belt and his Holopax (to those of you not familiar with Treetopolis lingo - it's the thing he wears on his wrist!) light up and when they are pressed you hear Tom say one of 30 phrases from the TV show.

Tree Fu Tom fans will love Ultimate Tom and soon they'll be helping him perform magic to save his friends in Treetopolis.

2. Doc McStuffins - Time for your Check Up Doll - £13.50

Dottie McStuffins is a six year old girl who wants to be a doctor, like her mum - and also happens to star in her own TV show on Disney Junior. With the help of some of her cuddly toys, she "pretends" to be a doctor by fixing her toys, earning her the name of Doc McStuffins. As soon as she goes into her playhouse and puts on her stethoscope all her toys come to life. The DocMcStuffins series on Disney Junior has received a huge amount of praise, especially for showing a girl in a leading role like this. Thanks to Doc young girls have been inspired to want to become doctors and help "fix" people just like she does.

This Doc McStuffins Doll comes dressed in Doc's favourite clothes, including her white coat, and with her stethoscope round her neck.

Here on the Cuthberts blog we've previously reviewed the Interactive Doc and Lambie Doll which is also available.

3. Doc McStuffins Doctor's Bag - £24.99

Once your children have finished playing with their Doc McStuffins doll it's time for them to pretend to be Doc herself and that's exactly what they can do with the Doc McStuffins Doctor's Bag. The bag is exactly like Doc's one in the television programme and includes an ear scope, syringe, thermometer and two plastic plasters, plus a stethoscope that speaks 15 phrases from the show. If that's not enough you can also buy the dress up set which includes Doc's white coat and a doctor's name badge with interchangeable inserts.

4. Peppa Pig Muddy Puddles Deluxe Playhouse - £24.99

The appeal of Peppa Pig to small children is incredible - even for those that have never seen the television programme! Rumour has it that even William and Kate named their little Prince after Peppa's brother.

Children who love Peppa will also love being able to act out their own Peppa stories with the Peppa Pig Muddy Puddles Deluxe Playhouse. This playhouse ingeniously folds out (meaning less storage space required when it's not in use) and also has a handy carrying handle so children can move it around. Inside the house there are four rooms, all looking just like they do on the television, and each comes with furniture. Peppa and George Pig figures are included and other figures from the Peppa Pig Muddle Puddles range also fit with it.

5. Playmobil 5810 Pirate Corsair - £30.00

Pre-schoolers love acting out stories and that's exactly what pirate lovers can do with this Playmobil Pirate Corsair.

The Corsair comes with a skull and cross bones sail, a working cannon and anchor winch and three Playmobil pirate characters. It is also fully waterproof and means that children can continue their Playmobil adventures in the bath (although a top parental tip is to make sure you've taken all the small pieces out before pulling the plug...)

Cuthberts Top 5 Toys for Pre-Schoolers are available either online or in our stores (Hatfield Galleria, Letchworth and St Albans). If you want any more recommendations for what to buy your little ones this Christmas then please pop in and talk to our staff.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Cuthberts Top 5 Toys for Toddlers for Christmas

Following on from last week's Top 5 Toys for Babies, this week we're looking at what we think toddlers will love this Christmas. One to two years olds are at that exciting age when they're starting to take much more notice of what's going on around them, becoming really inquisitive about the world  and able to move around confidently too. It's an age when they really start to "play" with toys, rather than just explore them and that's what we've tried to reflect in our top 5 list.

1. VTech Toot Toot Drivers Garage and Airport - £39.99 and £29.99

Since VTech launched their Toot Toot Drivers range it has been hugely successful with both boys and girls. The cars are the perfect size for little hands and they're also really easy for them to push around on the floor. The range is also full compatible, meaning that you can add to it over a period of time as your child grows up. As well as the large components like the garage and airport, you can also buy cars, additional road and now a train station too.

Local blogger Mrs C reviewed the garage back when it was first released and here on the Cuthberts blog we also reviewed the airport in detail just last month.

2. Mini Micro Scooter - 3 in 1 with O Bar and Seat - £74.99

Older children have been enjoying Micro Scooters for a few years now, but even toddlers can get in on the act with the Mini Micro Scooter 3 in 1.

The 3 in 1 set set gives you a normal Mini Micro Scooter (suitable for ages 3+) but also an O Bar handle and an seat which fits on to the O Bar handle. This means that for young toddlers they first use the scooter as a ride on toy and then when they're ready the seat can be removed. The O Bar handle gives them more stability and easier steering than the normal T-bar handle and means they can gain confidence before moving on to the T-bar handle once they're around three years old.

There's a review of the 3 in 1 Micro Scooter available here and the Cuthberts blog can also provide you with an excellent overview of the entire Micro Scooter range that we sell. The 3 in 1 Micro Scooter is available in either pink or blue.

We don't sell Micro Scooters online, but if you pop into any of our stores we will happily show you the Mini Micro 3 in 1 and explain how it all works and grows up with your child. If you already have a Mini Micro Scooter in the family, we also sell a pack containing the O-bar handle and seat.

3. My First Brio Railway - £29.99

Wooden train sets are huge hits with toddlers and again are things that can grow with them. The My First Brio Railway is a perfect introduction to the world of wooden railways and simple enough for young children to be able to play with it effectively.

The wooden track pieces fit together like jigsaw pieces and the set also comes with handy ramp pieces at each end so that toddlers can guide the train up on to the tracks, rather than having to place them on correctly. There's a sweet little tunnel to guide the train through and the train itself comes with three carriages which attach together with magnets. The First Brio Railway is also compatible with the rest of the Brio range, as well as with other wooden railways.

4. Wow - Dexter the Digger - £22.99

One of the best things about the Wow range at Christmas time is that it doesn't require batteries! Dexter the Digger is Cuthberts' best selling item is the range and a huge hit with children.

Like all Wow toys Dexter the Digger is incredibly sturdy and perfect for little hands that might not always be gentle with their toys. Using a slider on the side of Dexter's digging arm he can be moved to scoop and pick up the three boulders that he comes with. He also twists in the middle so that he can turn and drop the load anywhere he wants to. To help keep him in check Dexter also comes with a builder figure called Bill.

5. Peppa Pig Lullaby Peppa - £21.99

For children you love Peppa Pig this Lullaby Peppa is the perfect bedtime companion. If you child presses the heart shaped area on Peppa's tummy then she plays Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and also projects gentle starlight up on to the ceiling, which will then fade away after 20 minutes. The combination of music and light will help to relax your little one and make it easier for them to fall asleep. 

Cuthberts Top 5 Toys for Toddlers are available either online or in our stores (Hatfield Galleria, Letchworth and St Albans). If you want any more recommendations for what to buy your little ones this Christmas then please pop in and talk to our staff.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Teksta's Space Jump

Here at Cuthberts we're always keen to know that all the toys we sell have been through the most rigorous testing possible, but Teksta is the first toy we know of to have been sent to space as part of its testing!

Teksta, the robotic puppy, went up to an altitude of 97,000 ft before returning to earth by parachute. Whilst up there the air temperature went as low as -61 degrees C and the air pressure down to 0.406 lb/sq ft. It's pretty spectacular to watch!

Teksta really is the perfect puppy for Christmas. Much like a real 8 week old puppy, he will need training, but he will respond to voice, touch and hand gestures, yet doesn't leave puddles on the carpet or need walking everyday. Owners can teach him to sit, walk and even do tricks though, including an impressive back flip. With his expressive eye patterns that light up in different colours you can learn to read his emotions and work out what he wants and needs - whether it be food, to play or just to have some attention. Teksta also comes with a ball to play fetch and a bone for when he is hungry.

The Teksta App also lets him tap his paws along to the beat of music - apparently he can even do Gangnam Style! Puppies don't like being alone and that needn't be the case with Teksta though as if you let him "borrow" your tablet he can even video link with other Teksta friends.

Teksta comes in both pink and blue and both colours are available at Cuthberts. Both colours retail at £59.95.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Cuthberts Top 5 Toys for Babies for Christmas 2013

Here at Cuthberts we know how difficult it can be to find a perfect toy for a child at Christmas. Every year we get customers in store asking us what we recommend for a baby, a three year old boy, a five year old girl or an eight year old that is just impossible to buy for. Parents, grandparents, other relatives and friends are often confused by all the fantastic choice that is out there.

To try to make things easier for you, we're putting together a series of guides showing you what we think the top five toys are for each age range and we'll be publishing these here in the run up to Christmas.

We're going to start off with our youngest customer - babies up to one year of age. Admittedly they may not give you much verbal feedback on what you buy them for Christmas, but we understand that it's their first Christmas and you still want to make it special for them.

1. In The Night Garden - Talking Igglepiggle £14.99


Children love the characters from In The Night Garden and this Talking Igglepiggle will be no exception. This plush soft toy is very tactile and ready for a cuddle from your little one. He also plays songs and sounds from the In The Night Garden television programme which will be instantly familiar to children who watch it. Attached to Igglepiggle's hand is his iconic red blanket which some children choose to use as a comforter.

And if this Igglepiggle isn't big enough for your little one - we also have a large version!

2. Fisher Price Learn & Laugh Cookie Shape Surprise - £16.99

The Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Shape Surprise is so much more that just a shape sorter. With two different modes it detects when shapes are correctly inserted into the holes and says either the name of the shape of the number written on it. It also makes noises if you press the button that is its nose and when the lid is taken off it detects when a hand or shape goes into the jar, again rewarding the child with a phrase or music.

As well as helping young babies develop their motor skills through picking up the shapes and trying to place them inside the jar, it also helps them recognise different shapes and colours. The concept of cause and effect is also reinforced through the way that the jar will make different sounds depending on what the baby does. 

3. Lamaze Octotunes Octopus - £28.99

What's special about the Lamaze Octotune Octopus is that each of his tentacles plays a different note when squeezed. Whilst just the ability to make noises will impress a baby, mum or dad can use the included song book to play whole tunes. The tip of each tentacle is a different colour (as used in the song book to tell you which note to play) and the rest of the legs have either different patterns or textures on them to keep babies amused and develop their sense of touch. With the bright colours and friendly face this octopus is bound to become a firm favourite.

The Lamaze range contains some great toys for babies, all in their instantly recognisable bright colours and variety of textures. Their cot and buggy toys are firm favourites.

4. Woolly & Tig - Woolly Soft Toy £14.99

Woolly and Tig is another CBeebies televison programme starring a three year old girl (Tig) and her spider Woolly. Together they have lots of new experiences - whether it be going somewhere new or changes in routine - and the programme focusses on how these new experiences can make children feel. Any fears or anxiety are soon replaced with fun and laughter when children have Woolly by their side.

This Woolly Soft Toy is soft and cuddly and perfect to accompany small children when they start having new experiences in life.

5. Tomy Hide 'n' Squeak Eggs - £8.99

Tomy's Hide 'n' Squeak Eggs are part of the Play to Learn range, which aims to help educate children through play, and these eggs have become somewhat iconic, found in loads of nurseries and playgroups and they are always a hit with children.

The idea behind them is simple, you have a plastic egg carton and six eggs which fit in it. On the bottom of each egg is a shape (heart, circle, cross etc) and these correspond with shapes in the egg carton so that each egg can only go in one position. The top of the eggs' shells is removable and inside is a coloured egg which squeaks when you press it down.

Younger babies have great fun just holding the eggs and knocking the lids off to reveal the colourful insides. Then as their motor skills develop they love pressing them down to make them squeak, before moving on to learning how to place them back in the egg carton correctly. Whilst they may seem incredibly simple the possibilities for play are endless.

Cuthberts Top 5 Toys for Babies are available either online or in our stores (Hatfield Galleria, Letchworth and St Albans). If you want any more recommendations for what to buy your little ones this Christmas then please pop in and talk to our staff.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Rainbow Loom

Cuthberts are delighted to tell you about one of their newest products - the Rainbow Loom. Over in the US the Rainbow Loom has been a huge success in 2012 and we're proud to be one of the first to sell it in the UK. 

So, what exactly is the Rainbow Loom and what can you do with it?


The Rainbow Loom is a plastic loom used to make patterned friendship bracelets from rubber bands. You place the rubber bands over the pegs on the board following either a simple basic zig-zag arrangement, or one of the more complex patterns that you can find online.

Once the bands have been laid out on the loom you then use the provided hook (very much like a crochet hook) to move the bands and create a joined up bracelet.

When complete you join the two ends together with a provided "c-clip" to form the bracelet. As the bracelet is made of rubber bands it stretches to easily fit over your hand.

The kit comes with the loom, hook, 600+ coloured rubber bands and 24 c-clips, meaning that you have enough to make 24 bracelets. Also in there is a mini-loom so that you can make very quick "single" pattern rubber band bracelets.

The instruction manual that comes with the loom contains everything you need to understand how to make a "single" pattern rubber band link bracelet. These are relatively easy to follow and once you've got the knack of using the hook to move the bands about you can quickly produce a bracelet.

Things don't stop there though. The possibilities are endless when it comes to designing bracelets or other accessories. There is a very high level pattern map in the instruction leaflet, but the best instructions are actually found online, with a great selection of videos on the Rainbow Loom website.

The loom can look quite complicated once you're following some of the patterns online and it does take a bit of practice to know what you're doing. The results are worth it though.

The Rainbow Loom is aimed at children aged 8 and over and is perfect for anyone who loves crafty projects. The friendship bracelets that you can make from it also make it very popular with girls.

We'll be aiming to post some detailed Rainbow Loom tutorials here on the Cuthberts blog over the next few weeks. The Rainbow Loom will be available in Cuthberts stores next week and can also be purchased through our online store here.
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