Reviewed by Louise Totton
I know that when I think of Ryman, I pretty much think of paper shredders, pencil sharpeners and, at a push, felt tip pens. Not exactly top of my list when I think of places to pick up Christmas presents and stocking fillers, so I was a little surprised when I saw some of the range they are offering this year. I was sent a small selection of their range to try out, and I have to say it was a surprisingly fun and eclectic mix.
I was sent a Syma X20 Pocket Drone, a pair of wind-up racing unicorns, a desktop clay pigeon shooting game, a pocket roulette game, a set of Stabilo Boss mini pastel highlighter pens and a Karaoke Sing & Share Mic and Earphones.
I was particularly excited to try out the drone as since my neighbour has been flying his drone, my 8-year-old has expressed an interest in having one. My neighbour’s drone is a serious bit of kit at well over £1000, which is obviously a ridiculous sum of money to spend on a child’s toy, but at £24.99 the X20 from Ryman is a more realistic and affordable proposition and is at about the right level for a Christmas gift. The packaging on the drone says it is suitable for ages 8+, which seemed ideal.
The drone is palm-sized and very light – I would imagine it would be far more suited to being used indoors, or in very still conditions outdoors, as I think it may get buffeted about in the wind somewhat. It has a 20-metre control distance, which means that the operator has to ensure the drone is within 20 metres of them at all times. For a drone of this size, 20 metres is more than enough as I don’t think I’d actually be able to see it beyond this distance!
The drone has a lithium battery, which is charged via a micro USB port and cable that comes in the box. Charging takes just over an hour and onboard lights indicate when the battery is fully charged. A full charge gives around 5 minutes of flight time. The remote requires AAA batteries, which are not included. Drones are certainly a lot trickier to operate than a remote-control car! Whilst an 8-year-old can operate this drone, it absolutely requires a lot of adult supervision and space. I live in a modern house, and the ceilings are not very high, so we didn’t really have the space to try some of the stunts that the drone is capable of. We spent a few sessions practicing the very basic controls – taking off and landing in a controlled manner as well as steering it through open doors and some other very basic controls. Even this took an awful lot of practice and was a little frustrating at times, but was still great fun. This drone is a stunt drone – it has a 6-axis gyro stabilizer and is able to perform a 360-degree stunt flip. Whilst the drone may be capable of performing the stunts, I certainly am not! I haven’t yet managed to master anything beyond basic flight, but the drone is great fun and I can imagine it would be a really well received gift on Christmas morning, for either an older child or an adult who likes gadgets and toys.
The instructions that came with the drone are pretty thorough and I can imagine that with practice, it could be the start of a new hobby.
Along with the drone, I was sent a selection of stocking filler type gifts. The one that my eldest daughter was keenest to get her mitts on was the My Mini Karaoke Sing & Share Mic and Earphones. This is a lovely pocket-sized gift, comprising of a tiny, metallic looking microphone and in-ear earphones. These plug into the 3.5mm headphone socket on an Android or iOS device, and a karaoke app is installed. This is great fun – you can listen to yourself as well as record your attempts to your device. We thought this was great fun and would make a super stocking filler for an older child or teenager. It is priced at £9.99, but is currently on offer at £6.99, which I think is a great price.
The Clay Pigeon Shooting games is another great fun little item – it consists of three pigeon shaped erasers, a little elastic band powered rifle with a pencil barrel and a number of elastic bands. This is great fun, and would be a fantastic little activity to get out after Christmas dinner. The range on the rifles is spot on for playing at a desk or at the dinner table and it is surprisingly challenging. I can well imagine a few glasses of wine over Christmas dinner would see the competitive spirit out of a few family members and this would provide lots of laughs. A brilliant after dinner activity for £4.99.
On a similar vein, the racing unicorns are just as simple and just as much fun! Unicorns seem to be everywhere are the moment and are very ‘cool’. This set consists of two differently coloured wind-up plastic unicorns, which on the face of it doesn’t sound all that exciting, but the kids found it strangely compelling! The unicorns are well made, and the kids enjoyed winding them up and trying to get them over the finish line first. At £5.99, these make a lovely stocking filler for a unicorn lover.
The Pocket Roulette game is a small tin with a spinning roulette table on top. The roulette table is covered with a clear plastic window and contains a ball bearing to indicate the winning space. Contained within the tin is a small playing mat for placing bets on, as well as a selection of small coloured chips. I love this game – it can be played with 2-4 players, but is not suitable for children. The game is well made and the spin on the table is fluid and it doesn’t get stuck or jam. Because it is fully contained in the tin, it is really portable, and bits shouldn’t go missing. It would be great to take along when visiting friends and family over Christmas. At only £5.99, this would make a great value joke gift for an adult, or a secret Santa present.
Finally, we were sent a set of Stabilo Boss Mini Pastel Highlighters. We thought these were a really cute size, perfect for a child’s pencil case. These came in a set of five pastel shades – green, yellow, pink, blue and lilac. The highlighters are not standard office-issue pens. They have funky decorations on them and they look great. It seemed like a real novelty to highlight in pastel shades instead of the usual fluorescent pens. Again, a fantastic little stocking filler and a good price at £6.49.
I was really surprised by the range of products available at Ryman, as it is not the kind of place I would previously ever have considered going to for my Christmas shopping. I will now be keeping my eye out on their website for little stocking filler gifts.
For more information, to buy online or to find your nearest store visit www.ryman.co.uk.