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.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Cuthberts Open 2013

There was a fantastic turn out at the Hatfield Galleria last weekend for the Cuthberts Open 2013 - the first time that the Galleria has hosted a speed cubing competition and it was an event that caught everyone's attention. Cuthberts were proud to be the official sponsors and thoroughly enjoyed seeing everyone get into the Rubik's cube spirit.

People of all ages were amazed by the speed that these cubers work at, and it was great to see so much enthusiasm for a cube which started life as a simple children's toy. Judging by the number of cubes we sold over the weekend it looks like the event may well have inspired quite a few people to have a go themselves.

The competition itself was fast and furious - when you compare how long it takes you to solve a cube at home (if indeed you can!) and then look at the speed which these cubers work there often is no real comparison. In some cases, blink at the wrong time and you would have missed quite a bit of action.

Full results from the competition are available on the World Cube Association website. It's worth concentrating on the figures though. The best time logged over the weekend for solving a standard 3x3 Rubik's Cube was 6.58 seconds (by world number 3 Alexander Lau). 6.58 seconds! That's mind bogglingly fast. Even the winner of solving one of these blindfolded managed it in 43.98 seconds (the UK's Oliver Frost) I'm yet to manage to solve the 2x2 cube that I was given as part of my research for writing this article - yet the Cuthberts Open saw someone solve it in 1.67 seconds. I'm left wondering if I've been given a trick one that's impossible to solve!

As if the mental ability to solve these cubes isn't enough the manual dexterity required is also very impressive. Cuthberts caught up with world number three Alexander Lau and watched him solve a standard 3x3 Rubik's cube. Just watch how fast his hands move!

Many thanks to everyone that was involved in making the Cuthberts Open 2013 such a success - organisers, competitors and supporters. We very much hope that the cubing world will return to the Hatfield Galleria soon. If you missed all the action and are inspired to have a go yourself head down to one of our stores as all three will be stocking a range of cubes.
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