Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Electronic Music Mix Star-Lord toy

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy returned to the big screen in Vol. 2, and so did a slew of new merchandise – including this Guardians of the Galaxy Electronic Music Mix Star-Lord toy. Continue reading Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Electronic Music Mix Star-Lord toy

Got an opinion on gendered marketing to kids? Have your say by joining Hasbro’s Family HotSpot community

**This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Hasbro**

I’ve written a lot about toy maker Hasbro in the past. They are the master licensee of Star Wars and Marvel toys – two of my favourite fandoms since childhood, which I am now passing on to my daughter. Continue reading Got an opinion on gendered marketing to kids? Have your say by joining Hasbro’s Family HotSpot community

Furby Connect review: The cute kawaii toy has come of age

Furby Connect review: Hasbro’s cute kawaii toy has come of age in this latest version with its increased interactivity, range of sounds, and brightly animated LCD eyes. 

Our daughter has been regularly bugging us for 2 things, for what seems like forever – a baby sister, and a pet. To her great disappointment, we are not planning on having either. She also has a rich entourage of imaginary friends.

She clearly has a great desire to have some kind of pal at home with her,  so when Hasbro sent us one of their new Furby Connect toys to review, I thought it would be a hit with her,

First impressions: Thankfully, despite being listed on their database as a girl, Hasbro sent my daughter a blue Furby – they also come in Pink, Purple (more hot pink), and Teal (greeny blue). So basically, blue and pink.

Batteries are not included. You have to unscrew the Furby from the packaging to get at the battery compartment (it takes 4xAA batteries). Be prepared – as soon as you put the batteries in, the Furby will come to life.

Yes, come to life. Despite the fact know this thing isn’t alive it’s difficult not to feel that it is. The Furby moves and wriggles when you touch it, talks to you in a kind of English-Furby patois, and most alarming of all is its eyes. The technical explanation is that they are animated full colour LCD screens, covered with motorised eye lids. However, the effect is of incredibly expressive eyes – the classic window to the soul.

However, as they are illuminated screens – in low light they can look downright spooky.

furby-connect-evil-eyes
The Furby Connect – imagine these evil eyes staring at you in the dark….

The Furby can start to act like a kid on too much sugar after a while. Like an overactive child needing to be removed from stimuli, the Furby can be put to sleep (not a euphemism) by placing the provided eye mask on. Alternatively, just leave it alone for a while.  We put it to sleep while watching TV, because it just wouldn’t shut up.

It also gave me a surprise when it woke up – delivering an in-joke for Blade Runner fans…

I didn’t make it up btw – it actually said that….!

Be warned, if you’re easily offended by toilet humour you might want to stay out of earshot of this creature. It constantly – and loudly – farts and burps. My daughter and I find it more amusing than my wife.

This is called the Furby Connect because of the smartphone app you can link it too. We found this to be problematic, and continue to have issues with the app. It only works on one of our devices, and constantly crashes. When it is running, it often loses connection even when right next to the Furby.

To be honest, if you can avoid the app for the time being, I would recommend it. It’s a pain, seems full of in-app purchases, and – more than anything – why give the kids another reason to stare at a screen, especially when they have this pretty cool tactile toy to play with in reality.

Despite the fact it comes (so far) in variations of pink and blue, this is essentially presented as a gender neutral toy. My daughter says it’s a girl, but that tends to be her default for anything where the gender is unclear. I like that Hasbro are using both boys and girls to advertise it.

boy and girl playing with furby connect toy and app
A Hasbro promotional photo: Despite only coming in variations of pink and blue, I would say the Furby Connect is still presented as a gender neutral toy.

This toy isn’t cheap, but it is likely to be a hit with any kid.  Our daughter has really taken to it. First thing in the morning she will wake it up. When she comes home from school, she will do the same. She laments that I spend more time with her Furby than she does.

Which is true. 🙂

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Hasbro’s Furby Connect has a UK RRP of £99.99. We were sent this item free of charge for the purposes of this Furby Connect review.

Transformers – Power Surge Optimus Prime and Aero Bolt Figure

The Power Surge Optimus Prime (with  Aero Bolt Figure) is one of the latest incarnations of the famed robot-to-vehicle toy line.

The Transformers emerged in the 1980’s as part of a wave of toys that used cartoons to help sell them to kids (see also My Little Pony, and He-Man). They remain as popular as ever, thanks in part to the Michael Bay movie series, but also endless cartoon shows that continue to support new lines of merchandise. The latest cartoon is Transformers: Robots in Disguise, and features this particular toy version of Autobots leader Optimus Prime.

The figure comes with a couple of accessories – a sword, and most importantly the Mini-Con Aero Bolt Figure. This is what unlocks the various modes: robot mode, vehicle mode, flight mode, and Power Surge mode. Each mode has accompanying sounds and/or different elements unlocked within the figure.

The figure also unlocks features on the standalone app, by scanning the shield (which the Mini-Con figure converts to).

But what about the key aspect of the Transformers – transforming?

While my daughter really liked the idea of the robot turning into a truck, she seemed much more into the robot. I was a little disappointed about the transforming part of this toy. The vehicle seems more like an afterthought, as Optimus the truck is not a very convincing disguise.

transformers-power-surge-optimus-prime-and-aero-bolt-figure-truck

I could be charitable and suggest that perhaps the mere 5 step transformation is easier for younger kids to master.  Even then I don’t think it’s that simple, as it’s hard to tell what it’s supposed to look like. We finished and were like “Is that it?” Also, some bits seem to fall off rather easily – but at least this is better than them breaking.

However, the robot version looks awesome – like the cool Japanese style giant robot he’s supposed to be, with sword, shield and wings. And the sounds are kind of cool.

To be honest, I think at nearly £50, this is priced high for what it is – but the little Transformers fan in your life may disagree.

transformers-power-surge-optimus-prime-and-aero-bolt-figure-packshot

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The Power Surge Optimus Prime, from Transformers: Robots in Disguise, has an RRP of £49.99. Recommended age is 5+,  app 9+. We were provided with this toy free of charge for the purposes of this review.

Family Fever

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Sugarcube Corner toy review

After finally taking the plunge and watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic with my daughter, it remains a staple in our household. More often than not, it’s the answer to my question to our daughter “What do you feel like watching?”.

Visually, Pinkie Pie was probably my least favourite Pony. One of the six friends who make up the core group of the show, she is just so… pink!

But the thing is, her character is far from stereotypically girly. While she loves all things party related, she is also something that female characters are rarely allowed to be – funny.

More than that, she’s goofy, silly, whacky… Her character is the source of much physical humour, and she is rightly adored by many children – and not just because she’s pink, but because she makes them laugh.

This set is from the bakery and sweet shop where her character works. As well as Pinkie Pie, this also has another pony called Cheese Sandwich (!) and various accessories such as plastic cakes and balloons.

Included are items specifically for Pinkie Pie to be the loon we love – a ball to balance on, a propeller hat, a fake moustache, and even a rubber chicken. She also has her pet gator Gummy.

MLP Friendship is Magic Sugarcube Corner Sweet Shoppe with Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich
My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Sugarcube Corner Sweet Shoppe toy

As a toy, it doesn’t really do anything. Other than some doors opening, there are no moving parts. Even the figures are just figurines, with no articulation. I can’t imagine someone who hasn’t seen the show thinking much of it.

However, as a tool for imaginative play for children who do know the show, this works fine. I’m glad that the Pinkie Pie figure here is depicted as lovably goofy as her onscreen persona – I have noticed that many MLP toys do not reflect the tone of the vibrant tone of the show.

Pinkie Pie is a character who wants to make people happy, and this set certainly made my daughter happy.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Sugarcube Corner has an RRP of £19.99.

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Disclosure: We received this product free of charge for the purposes of this review.