Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Playmobil 4009 Super Set Animal Care Station

I remember seeing a tweet from a parent on Boxing Day last year and it simply said "When did Playmobil get so good?" and it probably sums up the feelings of many parents who are just rediscovering Playmobil through their own children.

The Playmobil range is now vast and the Playmobil world stretches from Stone Age Man with Cave through to hotels, pirate ships and emergency vehicles with so much more in-between. With these three inch tall figures and a bit of imagination your children can act out pretty much any situation they can dream up - at any point in history.

One popular set is 4009, the Animal Care Station Super Set. Any child with an interest in animals will enjoy being able to care for pandas, a zebra and a giraffe and to help their keep to look after them. As well as the vet, keeper and animals the set also contains a selection of food for the animals, veterinary supplies, a wheelbarrow and the pens and treatment room. 

Whilst the recommended age range is 4 - 10 years old it's also good for slightly younger children, as long as you keep an eye on some of the smaller parts.

The set also works well in conjunction with others from the Playmobil zoo range, like 4013 Penguin Zoo Waterpark where you can include real water for the penguins to swim and play in.

Going back to that original question on twitter about when Playmobil got so good. Well, they've had over 30 years experience now in designing and manufacturing toys to fuel our children's imagination. One local parent and blogger, daddacool, is a Playmobil Playologist and was fortunate enough to visit the Playmobil Factory in Germany last year. One thing that is really clear from reading about his visit is how much importance Playmobil put on the child's experience of playing with their toys and our little customers coming back for more seems to suggest that they're getting it right.

Playmobil is available in Cuthberts stores in Letchworth, St Albans and Hatfield Galleria, and you can also buy Playmobil on our website.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Doc McStuffins Time for your Check Up

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.

Since launching in the US in early 2012, Doc McStuffins has received widespread praise, especially for the strong way in which it inspires young girls into the medical profession, but also due to the presence of an African-American child in the lead role.

As is the case with many children's TV shows, Doc McStuffins toys have now reached the shops and one of the first of these is the Doc McStuffins Time for your Checkup Interactive Doc and Lambie.

This set contains both Doc and Lambie dolls, stethoscope, Doc's medical bag with thermometer and otoscope (for looking in ears) and a hair comb for Doc. Doc has a small button on her stomach, just under where the stethoscope sits, which when pressed says a couple of phrases and also sings the "Time for a Checkup" song from the TV show. Lambie also has buttons in three different places on his body which are activated when a child uses Doc's medical tools to listen to his heartbeat, take his temperature or check his ears.

The "Time for a Checkup" song which Doc plays is incredibly catchy and quickly becomes an earworm for the whole family. Doc fans love to be able to play it whenever they want to though and are very keen to sing along.

Doc and Lambie are perfect for any Doc McStuffins fan who wants to act out Doc's adventures and are quality toys which easily withstand the rigours of toddlers playing with them. They're not without a couple of frustrations though - Doc's hairband just doesn't stay on her head and it's impossible to fit her doctor's kit and comb in her bag at the same time, much to the frustration of the pre-schooler reviewing them. From an adult point of view it's lovely to see a TV series tie in which encourages so much role play, but if you buy Doc for your little ones be warned that the packaging is an absolute nightmare to get into - even more so when you have an excited child telling you to open it quickly.

The Doc McStuffins Time for your Checkup Interactive Doc and Lambie is available in all Cuthberts stores and also on their website. You can also win one by entering our giveaway below.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Hama Beads at Cuthberts

If you're looking for a non-messy craft for children then look no further than Hama Beads.

Hama Beads are incredibly simple, but very effective at the same time. The beads themselves are round plastic, with a hole through the middle, and can be arranged on a peg board to form patterns or pictures. Once the design is complete you lay a piece of the supplied ironing paper (like greaseproof paper) over the design and run a hot iron over it to fuse the beads together. This means that you can then display the completed picture or turn it into something like a drinks coaster.

Many of the peg boards are made of clear plastic so that you can lay the pattern sheet under the board to follow it easily. Separate pattern books are also available and numerous patterns are also available on the internet, with whole Pinterest boards devoted to them.

More artistic children can come up with their own Hama designs and it's relatively easy to do so. The only thing you need to remember is that if you're making a design on a board and then iron it, your finished picture will actually be the reverse of what you've put down on the pin board. Not a problem with a reversible picture, but if your design contains text you might come a bit unstuck - a lesson I learnt when making the Cuthberts logo at the top of this blog post!

There are three different sizes of Hama Beads available to suit different age ranges.
  • Maxi Hama Beads - 10mm diameter, designed for pre-school children aged approx. 2 and a half to 4 years.
  • Midi Hama Beads - 5mm diameter, ideal for children aged 5+
  • Mini Hama Beads -  2.5mm diameter, for children aged 10+
For younger children the beads really do encourage and help develop their fine motor skills and for this age range just putting the beads on the board is entertainment enough, without following a pattern. Hama Beads can also form a great part of role play and I've seen them used as food ingredients in many toddler cooked meals before. Pouring them from one container to another provides a great test of a child's dexterity through play.

I'm yet to find a child that doesn't enjoy Hama Beads and I've heard many parents say that it's been the only craft that their boisterous child has enjoyed and that has kept their interest for any period of time. Even as an adult, following a design can be incredibly relaxing after a busy day.

Hama Beads are available in Cuthberts stores in St Albans, Hatfield and Letchworth and also on their website.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Have you found Mr Gold?

Minifigures will be familiar to Lego fans of all ages and there's a special treat in store for some very lucky collectors of the latest series. Across the world, 5000 series 10 minifigure packets don't contain one of the main 16 collectables, but instead a limited edition Mr Gold.

Some Mr Gold minifigures have already started appearing for sale on eBay around the world, and here in the UK many already have bids on them taking them into hundreds of pounds. Not bad for an initial £2 investment!

You can keep track on the Lego website as to where Mr Gold has been found so far, and at the time of writing the UK is leading the Europe league table for the number of found Mr Golds. There are still over 4000 Mr Gold figures out there waiting to be found and one may well be in your local Cuthberts store. If you do find him please make sure you let us know and post a picture on our Facebook page!

To help you with your collection, Toymaster stores have also introduced a Lego minifigures Loyalty Card. Every time you buy a Lego Minifigure you collect a stamp and then your sixth minifigure is free. The loyalty card scheme runs until 30 November 2013.

And if collecting real life minifigures wasn't enough there is also a Lego Minifigures Collector app for your iphone. One for the real diehard Lego fans.

In addition to Mr Gold, the sixteen Lego minifigures making up Series 10 are:
  1. Librarian
  2. Medusa
  3. Roman Commander
  4. Warrior Woman
  5. Tomahawk Warrior
  6. Skydiver
  7. Bumblebee Girl
  8. Grandpa
  9. Paintball Player
  10. Sea Captain
  11. Sad Clown
  12. Revolutionary Soldier
  13. Baseball Fielder
  14. Trendsetter
  15. Decorator
  16. Motorcycle Mechanic

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