LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes Batman: Gotham City Cycle Chase 76053

Our daughter really loves Batman and the associated characters, and LEGO Batman’s silliness is an added bonus for her. She already has quite a few LEGO Batman sets, but this was a welcome addition to her collection.

More than likely inspired by the latest DC movie Suicide Squad, this LEGO Batman: Gotham City Cycle Chase is a fun little superhero set to construct and play with.

It is basically two bikes, one for Batman and one for Harley Quinn, plus a Deadshot minifigure.

The LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes Batman Gotham City Cycle Chase set (76053), featuring Batman, Harley Quinn, and Deadshot

The design of both bikes is reminiscent of the Batbike in the second & third movies of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, which was a very cool design. The LEGO designer has made a good job of replicating it, with key features such as the exposed chassis and big wheels.

They are a simple, relatively straightforward build – our 4-year-old daughter put it together with minimal supervision (actually, I just sat there while she did it).

The finished bikes are pretty nifty looking, and are nicely stable in motion given their wide wheel base. Batman’s bike also has articulated stud shooters, while Harley’s has a giant hammer (as the is her trademark weapon).

The Batman minifigure is fairly standard, with a grey body and cloth cape. Deadshot is nicely realised, though oddly based on the comic book version not the Suicide Squad movie version (where he’s played by Will Smith). He has a creatively put together weapon (describing it as merely a gun seems unfair) which is also a stud shooter and a rocket pack.

For me, the biggest attraction of the set was the Harley Quinn minifigure. While we already have a couple (one from the amazing Jokerland set and another from LEGO Dimensions), this one has a very different Suicide Squad inspired-look and my daughter enjoyed having another option to play with.

This is a good value licensed LEGO set at the price – you get two decent vehicles, and 3 iconic minifgures. Perfect for LEGO Superhero fans young or old.


The LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes Batman: Gotham City Cycle Chase (76053) has an RRP of £19.99.

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


Zog and the Flying Doctors – by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Zog and the Flying Doctors is not only another delightful children’s book from writer Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler – it’s a great story to counter traditional princess stereotypes.

Since Donaldson and Scheffler’s first collaboration with A Squash and A Squeeze in 1993 their books – including the commercial juggernaut that is The Gruffalo (1999) and the follow up The Gruffalo’s Child (2005) – have delighted children (and parents) with their engaging stories, delightful rhyming prose, and irresistible illustrations.

The pair’s latest collaboration is another sequel, and to a particular favourite of mine. 2010’s Zog told the tale of the eponymous dragon in training who struggles to keep up with his lessons. Over the years a girl named Pearl is a recurring figure in Zog’s life, helping him in his times of need.

Pearl is revealed to be a princess, and in a key plot point she enthusiastically relinquishes her royal role to become the doctor she always yearned to be. She even inspires the dashing knight who came to ‘save’ her from Zog, Gadabout the Great, to do the same.

Zog and the Flying Doctors

The sequel Zog and the Flying Doctors picks up where Zog ended. Pearl and Gadabout are the flying doctors of the title (they’re the doctors, Zog does the flying part), and the three of them roam the land helping various creatures in need of medical assistance – there’s the sunburnt mermaid, a unicorn with an extra horn, the Lion with the flu.

To my delight, despite the title, this book really focuses on Pearl, and her struggle to leave her princess past behind her.

While out on their rounds, Pearl urges them to stop by a palace to see her uncle, a King. Turns out that he’s unhappy with Pearl’s decision to become a doctor –  “Princesses can’t be doctors, silly girl!”, he tells her.

In classic fairy tale fashion, the king locks up the princess – seeking to control her and impose his idea of what she should be – a life of “Sewing pretty cushions, and arranging pretty flowers.”

Zog and Gadabout set about to free Pearl. Thankfully, Donaldson subverts the simple trope of the dashing knight rescuing the damsel in distress – Pearl is a world away from the cliched helpless princess, and she engineers her own liberation.

This is yet another great addition to the Donaldson & Scheffler partnership, with each author playing up to their creative strengths. Donaldson’s trademark rhymes make repeat readings aloud fun, and Scheffler’s distinctive illustrations bring these characters to life. Our daughter has insisted on multiple readings already, and we’ve had it less than a day.

But the icing on the cake of this delightful book is the way Donaldson once again subverts the princess stereotype. Pearl was already a key character I referred to when discussing princesses with my daughter, and I’m so glad that Donaldson & Scheffler have revisited her (this is only their second sequel).

This is a worthy addition to your families collection of Donaldson & Scheffler books – and if you don’t have any, Zog and this sequel are as good a place as any to start.

Zog and the Flying Doctors, by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, is available in hardback now and has an RRP of £12.99. We were provided with a copy free of charge for the purposes of this review.

Dads and daughters – Sharing a passion for football

Like many other dads of daughters, I don’t see the fact that my child is a girl as a reason not to share my hobbies, interests, and passions with her. When I was a child, I had zero interests in common with my parents and that has carried on to adulthood. For me, it’s wonderful to (so far) be able to bond with my daughter over shared interests.

But it’s not only selfish reasons why I do this. I see genuine value in the things I am encouraging her to engage in, that will help in her growth and development. Increasingly, Football is one of these areas where dads and daughters are bonding over.

SSE, sponsors of the Women’s FA Cup, shared with me the story of 12-year-old Daisy McGregor and her father Kenny. He is a passionate football fan, and has been taking her to see his beloved Peterborough United since she was 5. She loved it.

At age 6, Daisy was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, a condition which causes her to to have various involuntary spasms such as coughing and twitching. It’s been a very stressful thing for her to live with – but Daisy found something that helped her cope with it: playing football.

Starting with simple kickabouts with her dad, he then encouraged her to join the local all-girls side Yaxley Football Club. The positive effect on her symptoms has been huge.

Check out more on their story in this video, the latest in the SSE Dads and Daughters series:

So what started out as simply a dad sharing his passion for football with his daughter, has developed into a life changing activity for her. Us dads shouldn’t feel uneasy about engaging our daughters in this way. Just because it’s something we as men love, which hasn’t been considered a ‘girly’ activity or interest in the past, doesn’t mean it can’t be something that girls won’t engage with fully too.

It’s great that Daisy was able to find a girl’s club near her. The girls’s game is getting a tremendous boost from The FA SSE Girls Participation Programme, with more than 60 clubs taking part around the UK, giving a much needed boost to the number of girls only football settings.

I’ll support any campaign with the goal to increase girls participation in sport, boost their confidence, break down gender stereotypes, and celebrate the positive outcomes when dads bond with their daughters.

For more on Daisy and Kenny McGregor, and the SSE’s Dads and Daughters campaign, head to their website.


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with SSE, one of the UK’s leading energy companies, supplying energy to around 8.21 million customers throughout the UK and Ireland.


Kubo and the Two Strings – a stylish, classy and modern animated classic

A stop-motion animated movie, that combines Japanese and western storytelling, Kubo and the Two Strings is an epic, visually stunning kids film that treats its family audience with respect and intelligence.

The movie is from US animation studio Laika, who were behind dark children’s film Coraline and the more recent Boxtrolls among others.

Kubo is a one-eyed Japanese boy living on an island with his mother. The pair arrived there when he was a baby, running away from something terrible.

Magic runs strong in their family, and when their past catches up with them Kubo embarks on a quest to find pieces of a mythical armour, with an enchanted monkey and samurai beetle as guardians.

As the quest continues, we learn more about Kubo’s past, and see his own magical abilities grow stronger. His magic manifests itself via his guitar-like instrument, bringing to life sheets of paper in a kind of origami sorcery.

The film switched between intense action, comedy, drama, and some genuinely creepy set-pieces.

The villains are stunningly realised with a cold, menacing presence, and the scene when Kubo’s evil aunts are revealed is as mesmerising as it is frightening.

My daughter adored this movie – despite the fact she spent the majority of it cuddled up on my lap, frequently hiding her face and peeking out at the screen. The same thing happened with a dad & daughter sitting next to us. I heard more than a few upset kids elsewhere in the cinema.

But this is not to put you off from taking your kids – this is absolutely a children’s film, and one that I highly recommend. In terms of our experience watching Kubo, it’s worth noting we saw it on one of the biggest and loudest screens in the country (Empire, Leicester Square) which likely heightened the tension.

It’s great when a film comes out of the blue and blows you away like this. Stunning animation, sophisticated storytelling, fascinating characters and a great voice cast (including Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, and even George Takei).

Go see Kubo and the Two Strings. Take your kids. They’ll be delighted, enchanted, and possibly a little terrified, and they will love you for it.


Wicked Uncle Online Toy Store Review

Wicked Uncle is a site that helps you choose presents for kids who you might be struggling to find the right gift for.

To assist you do this, they have various categories to help you whittle down your choices.

It’s a great concept. While I’m happy with getting the right gift for my daughter, it can be tricky when it comes to choosing for other children I don’t know well.

Filters include age, and categories such as Outdoorsy or Engineer which as far as I’m concerned are far more useful than boy or girl in choosing the right gift.

Unfortunately, the most prominent categories on Wicked Uncle are still for Boy and Girl, which I feel is a bit of a shame – one of the fundamental principles that got me blogging in the first place is that there is no such thing as a type of toy for either girls or boys.

I think the categories on Wicked Uncle are much more effective in choosing the right gift than boy or girl.

In Wicked Uncle’s defence at least they have an All category right next to it, as well as a picture of a girl dressed as a pirate. And some of the choices in the Girl section at least subverted the traditional stereotype, such a Astronaut and Firefighter outfits.

There is a good selection of toys on the site, and after careful browsing (and consultation with wife & daughter) we settled on a Kite and a Pocket Microscope.

It’s interesting to note that the gifts we did get did not show up as choices when ‘4-year-old Girl’ is selected as a category, so it’s worth exploring around the filters if you’re not entirely sure about your selection.

We eventually choose this excellent mini-microscope and a terrific kite. Neither of these showed up when searching for a 4-year-old girl (like our daughter) so it’s worth looking outside the strict parameters of your search to find the right gifts.

Check out was simple, with a £2.95 delivery charge, and the nicely parcelled package arrived a couple of days later.

One thing that I do think is missing from the site are reviews. I am sure there are very good commercial reasons for not having them yet – but I found myself cross-referencing products with other sites that DO have reviews while making my selection.

I think Wicked Uncle is a great concept. But while I appreciate gender remains a category many people still like to shop with (Wicked Uncle say it remains a popular option from site users), I personally wish it wasn’t featured as prominently on the site as it is. I am of the opinion that the other great categories Wicked Uncle have are far more effective when choosing the right gifts for a child.


Disclosure: We were offered £40 store credit to use on Wicked Uncle for the purposes of this review.