Reviewed by Alex Wilde
Last week was our niece’s first birthday and our present to her was the super cute and colourful ‘Darby Dog’ Ride on Toy from Skip Hop’s Zoo range. We’ve purchased stylishly smart baby and toddler toys and accessories from this New York company before, so we were interested to see if their toy range lived up to expectations.
Darby Dog was delivered in the minimum of recyclable packaging needed. I chose the correct end of the box to open first, because I was greeted by his cheerful smiling face of light blue, green and orange, with white and brown accents. The ride-on comes in four pieces: body with rear wheels, front wheels, handle and seat. Each piece is made from solid, well-formed and colourful plastic. Simple pictorial assembly instructions were provided in six European languages.
What makes this ride-on-toy unique is its ‘three ways to play’ – it can be used as a push along walker/wagon, a sit on scooter or stand-up scooter. The ability for the toy to grow with my niece as her gross motor skills develops represents excellent value and one of the primary reasons I purchased it over the many competitors out there.
As she has just started her walking journey, I opted to piece Darby Dog together in ‘wagon mode’. Assembly was a doddle! Equipped only with a Phillips head screwdriver, he was ready to roll in less than two minutes. Although not required for use and enjoyment, three AAA batteries have to be installed for extra fun. These need to be purchased separately. I’d recommend rechargeable as they are going to get a lot of use.
I’ll “Skip Hop” over the gift wrapping and get straight into the road test, however I will say that there was a look of joy on my niece’s little face when she revealed Darby’s adorable head and moulded floppy brown ears. In wagon mode the bright orange seat flips over to form a basket by depressing two side buttons. I was really pleased to see that these required adult strength and would stop it from wobbling when used as a seat. We played together filling the wagon with some of her favourite cuddlies and toys – in and out they went until she had got the correct mix in her mind. She then discovered the large white button on the sturdy, wide handlebars that activated the prominent headlight and filled the room with a random mix of melodies, beeps and other sound effects. Before very long, she was up and off for non-stop fun— careening around the house and giggling with delight! The smooth wheels rolled well on a variety of surfaces (carpet, wooden and tiled) and left no marks.
Later on, I converted Darby Dog into ride-on mode. Again, it was a quick job of using the screwdriver to release the locking mechanism on the front wheels and handlebars. The handlebar is then positioned with the headlight face forward and the seat-come-basket flipped over. As with all parts the seat was comfortable and covered in small raised bubbles to stop slipping. My tiny reviewer was just as elated to sit and bounce up and down, honking the horn as I pushed her along. She isn’t quite capable of using her feet to scoot along, yet I can see how the ride-on will help her learn foot-to-floor motion.
As she gets older, Darby Dog will transform to a stand-up step-on scooter for those first speedy adventures. The basket is removed fully and the adjustable handlebars one up to a comfortable standing height. I can’t wait to see her whizz along!
The perfect gift to encourage and develop motor-skills, balance and coordination in a fun, safe and immensely enjoyable way. Adorable and highly functional! Five Stars from me and a speedy toddler!
There are a variety of matching Darby Dog products available in Skip Hop’s extensive Zoo range, including apparel and food/drink storage. Plus there are other Ride On characters to suit other styles – the winsome and magical ‘Eureka Unicorn’ and the bold and sporty ‘Ferguson Fox’. All three are available online from Amazon, John Lewis and specialist Baby/Toddler stores. There seems to be some great offers available (approx. £48), just in in time for Christmas or those all-important birthdays. I cannot recommend this product highly enough.