Name That! A Card Game Perfect for Travelling

Holidays with kids – even to the most amazing places – can still often involve long periods of inactivity, whether it be at an airport, travelling, or dealing with jet lag.

With that in mind, there are various family card games that are seemingly devised with such scenarios in mind, and Name That! is one of the latest examples.

The rules are simple – each card has a letter and a category on it. The first card defines the category, then the one underneath the first letter of your answer. Eg. Top category is ‘Super Hero’ (it’s superhero to me), and the next card is ‘C’ – so my answer would be Captain Marvel (of course).

Name That! example

The first player to call out a correct answer wins, and keeps the card. Player with most card at the end wins.

This is for 2 or more players, and the round cards come in a handy similarly shaped compact tin.

While this would be perfect to keep a couple of kids amused in the back of the car, the suggested age is 6+, and that is probably about right. If I was being mean I could have quite easily won the game against my daughter. At 4-years-old, she struggled to answer many of the questions, such as naming a ‘make of car’, a ‘musical artist’, a ‘painter or sculptor’, or a ‘historical figure’, as these are concepts we have hardly or ever discussed.

However, as regular readers of this blog will be unsurprised to learn, she had no problem with naming a film, toy, or superhero 🙂

So parents & older siblings will probably have to let younger kids win from time to time, to there may be tears. Unless you really like winning all the time…

Name That! is never going to take the place of a tablet + wifi + Netflix, but it’s an ok game to pass the time.

Name That! by Megableu has an RRP of £12.99


Disclosure: We were given a copy of this product for the purposes of this review.


My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Toy Assortment review

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has become a popular show in our house. My daughter loves watching it, and I was happily surprised at what an empowering show for girls it is.

While in many superficial ways it seem to embody some of the worst aspects of a brand targeted to girls, the TV series is a wonderfully vibrant and feminist show.

The world of Equestria – and especially the characters – offer such a rich resources for Imaginative play, that these toys – despite again appearing stereotypically girly – enable a child to act out themes and scenarios inspired by the show.

We were sent an assortment of toys to review – a blind bag, Twilight Sparkle’s Ice Cream Stand, and a Mrs Dazzle Cake figure and accessories.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Toy Assortment review packshots

Twilight Sparkle’s Ice Cream Stand

With her love of books and knowledge, Twilight Sparkle is one of my favourite characters on the show.

However, instead of a library here she is running an Ice Cream stand. Not sure of the relevance to the character, but hey – most of us like a good ice cream. In the set you get a Twilight figure, the ice cream stand, and a couple of what seem to be ice cream cakes.

It’s simple, and the best thing about it is that it’s Twilight Sparkle.

Twilight Sparkle’s Ice Cream Stand has an RRP of £9.99

Mrs Dazzle Cake

I was confused about who Mrs Dazzle Cake was, until I realised she is the character Mrs. Cup Cake. With her husband Mr. Carrot Cake, she runs Ponyville’s Sugarcane Corner bakery and sweet shop.

This set comes with a hint of that shop – a counter, cupcakes in a baking tray, and a fully decorated cake, to accompany Mrs. ‘Dazzle’ Cake. It’s part of a collection related to the pony Pinkie Pie, who works for Mrs. Cake.

There’s not much to this, but it’s a perfectly fine addition to any existing collection.

Mrs. Dazzle Cake has an RRP of £4.99

My Little Pony Blind Bags

Be careful. These blind bags are a potential money pit.

For those who don’t know, the concept is you can buy a series of collectable toys individually. However, instead of being able to choose which toy of the set you buy, your purchase is ‘blind’, in a sealed packet until you open it after purchase.

So while a collector may want just a few of these, you have to keep buying them blind until you get the ones you want. Same if you want the whole set. You may end up spending a lot of cash doing this.

Of course, there are also trades to be made – something that is a lot easier in this digital age than swapping Star Wars cards in the playground as I did when I was a kid.

The figure is compatible with the other figures, so again they make a decent addition to a collection.

My Little Pony blind bags have an RRP of £1.99 each.


Disclosure: We received all these toys from Hasbro for the purposes of this review.



LEGO Star Wars: Battle on Takodana (75139) review

Aside from Rey, one of my daughter’s favourite characters from The Force Awakens is Maz Kanata – so we were really glad to get hold of this set, Battle on Takodana.

The planet of Takodana is home to Maz Kanata’s castle cantina. This set of the exterior is from a very specific point in the story – when the First Order attack, pretty much destroying Kanata’s ancient drinking hole.

LEGO Star Wars- Battle on Takodana (75139) packshot

Constructed from over 400 pieces in 3 numbered bags, this set is recommended for ages 8-14. It was a fun build for my 4-year-old daughter and I to do together.

Despite being a location set, there are various moving parts to construct which add an interactive ‘battle’ element to it. Doors slide open, a twist of a dial and a wall collapses, a lever topples a tree, and rubble explodes from (presumably) a laser blast.

As well as a Maz Kanata minifigure, you also get Finn, Kylo Ren, and two stormtroopers – including the already cult character TR8R, with his distinctive riot baton.

LEGO Star Wars- Battle on Takodana (75139) TR8R minifgure

Maz’s head is a customised sculpt, that includes her hat and goggles in one piece. Finn is a standard minifigure, with a blue lightsaber. My daughter enjoys reenacting the scene where Finn complains “I need a weapon…” and Maz replies “You have one!” indicating the lightsaber she has just given him.

LEGO Star Wars- Battle on Takodana (75139) Maz Kanata and Finn with lightsaber

Beneath their helmets, the Stormtroopers are the usual grumpy white men that LEGO Star Wars troopers tend to be. Given The Force Awakens overtly showed that First Order troops are gender inclusive and racially diverse, I’m wondering if it’s time for the LEGO convention of defaulting to white male troops to change.

LEGO Star Wars- Battle on Takodana (75139) Stormtrooper minifigures without helmets

Kylo Ren is also a grumpy white dude under his helmet, and in this set we can see him in all his emo LEGO glory. He also comes with a fabric cape and his distinctive lightsaber.

LEGO Star Wars- Battle on Takodana (75139) Kylo Ren without helmet

It may seem modest, but this is a fun little set with a lot of play potential. My daughter added Rey, Han, and Chewbacca figures so she could act out other parts of the story – we also had (mini) Tie Fighters attacking and Poe Dameron and his X-Wing squadron coming to the rescue.

In an ideal world the structure could maybe have been another level taller, given the size of the castle in the movie, but this is just a quibble.

This would make a nice addition to anyone’s LEGO Star Wars collection, especially if (like us) you don’t already own any of these figures.

LEGO Star Wars- Battle on Takodana (75139) girl playing


LEGO Star Wars: Battle on Takodana (75139) set has an RRP of £49.99.

Disclosure: We were provided with this set free of charge for the purposes of this review.

© & ™The LEGO Group and Lucasfilm Ltd.


LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens Video Game Review

The LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens game is a fun new way to explore the galaxy of Episode VII – with a few surprises along the way.

LEGO plus Star Wars is one of those combinations that would have obsessed me as a child. As an adult – and a parent – the synergy between these two brands is irresistible, and while we have plenty of Star Wars LEGO sets, we’re also fans of LEGO Star Wars games. The latest addition to the cinematic saga has also inspired the newest game – LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The game surprises from the opening. We fired it up expecting it to start the same way as the movie, but instead it begins 30 years earlier – at the Battle of Endor. So in an action packed opening, we fight with the Ewoks, bring Vader back to the light side, take down the Emperor, and blow up the second Death Star.

The story then movies back to more familiar territory with the First Order’s assault on Jakku, Poe & Finn escaping the First Order, BB-8 finding Rey, and so on. But as I’ve already referenced, the story unfolds in a slightly different way than the movie, and this stops it being a simple re-tread of it.

LEGO Star Wars The Force Awakens Millennium Falcon
While the game faithfully recreates many iconic scenes from the movie – this is not simply a retread of the storyline

There are elements that will be familiar to fans of previous games – collecting coins, mini-builds, and knockabout humour. There is also a free play mode that is accessible as the game progresses.

One major difference is that this game uses actual dialogue from the movie. It also goes one step further – the main cast have all recorded additional dialogue. And when I refer to the main cast, I don’t just mean newcomers such as Daisy Ridley and John Boyega – the likes of Carrie Fisher and even Harrison Ford have also recorded new lines. Perhaps Harrison’s performance in this game will be the last time he ever plays Han Solo?

LEGO Star Wars The Force Awakens harrison ford
Harrison Ford recorded original dialogue for LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens – perhaps his last ever performance as Han Solo

While the voice cast adds great authenticity – and occasional gravitas – it does detract a bit from the knockabout humour associated with previous titles.

But it is as enormously fun as ever to take charge of these LEGO Star Wars characters, explore these environments, fight off  the opposition – and smash the s**t out of everything. Rey and her staff make an immensely satisfying fighting combo.

Like the movie, Rey is probably one of the best characters in the game – and Daisy Ridley appears to have recorded a lot of extra dialogue for this.

LEGO Star Wars The Force Awakens Rey
Daisy Ridley also recorded additional dialogue for the game – quite a lot by the sounds of it

There is added DLC available. We downloaded a set of playable droid minifigures, as well as a season pass which currently enabled us to access a set of playable Jedi characters (this was on the PS3 version). There will be further level and character packs released.

These LEGO games are a great way to play video games with my daughter. At 4, she’s still taking a fair bit of coaching – so I really appreciate the way the screen splits in 2-player mode so that I can continue completing a key task in my half of the screen while she’s mucking about on hers.

But the controls are easy to master, the gameplay is readily accessible, and the puzzles are a good challenge for her.

LEGO Star Wars The Force Awakens Rey BB8 Finn

It’s a real blast to see our already familiar LEGO Star Wars figures and sets in this game – from the minifigures to the vehicles and settings. If you love LEGO, The Force Awakens, and fun video games – then this is for you.

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now available for PlayStation®4 and Xbox One (RRP £49.99); PlayStation®3 , Xbox 360 and Wii U (RRP £39.99); Windows PC (Steam) and Mac (RRP £24.99); and PlayStation®Vita and Nintendo 3DS (RRP £29.99)

Disclosure: We were provided with a free copy of the game and a season pass for the purposes of this review.

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens © & ™The LEGO Group and Lucasfilm Ltd.



Encouraging Physical Play in Girls (and Boys)

I use the term ‘stay-at-home dad’ a lot in reference to myself and my fellow fathers who are the ones looking after the kids while their partners are gainfully employed. It’s a counterpoint to ‘working mother‘ I suppose. When have you ever heard the term ‘working dad’?

Anyway, one of the ironies of the name is that us at-home dads rarely stay at home at all. Even a couch potato like me (my marathon running wife is the physically active adult of the house) is keen on attending playgroups, playdates, outings – and simple trips to the local parks.


My daughter adores going to our nearby playgrounds – whether large or small. Each piece of apparatus presents to her a challenge to overcome, an activity to be enjoyed again & again, or something to practice on to improve her skills.

So despite my couch potato ways, I do like to ensure our daughter gets a lot of physical activity. This is also backed up by her nursery, where the kids are frequently playing outside, whether it be organised football, planned assault courses, or simple old fashioned free play.

Girl on nursey slide

I hope this continues when she heads off to school, but a report by Liverpool John Moores University paints a different picture.  It finds that “the average amount of physical activity taking place during PE lessons was remarkably low”, and that as much as “68% of a child’s PE lesson is spent stationary”.

Childhood obesity continues to be an issue that worries parents. While it is only part of the solution, encouraging physical play is vitally important in combating this problem.

Girl leaping in playground

ESP Play, a provider of outdoor playground equipment in the UK, commissioned the research. They found that following their one of their installations, physical activity in all children increased.

One fact in particular jumped out at me: “Initially the playground had more impact on the activity levels of boys, but over time the girls increased their activity levels more.”

Continuing to encourage physical play in girls is incredibly important as they grow older. While toddler and preschool girls are regularly tearing around the playground, you see the proportion of girls lessen as they get older. There is a stereotype of boys being far more physically active than girls – who are seen as preferring less physical activities.

Fellow dad blogger John Adams recently wrote how he feels school uniforms could dissuade girls from physical activity. He suggested leggings would be a good addition to the uniform arsenal. I know my kid loves playing in hers…

Girl Playing on swing

To be fair, I have no need to doubt that my daughter’s new school will not provide adequate opportunities for physical activity – they are a forest school and have masses of outdoor space. They also let girls wear trousers as part of their uniform, and from what I see many choose to do so.

But it does keep me mindful of the need to stay aware of the amount of physical activity she gets. I don’t want her to turn out to be a couch potato like me.


Disclosure: The is a sponsored post in collaboration with ESP Play.