Reviewed by Nia Lock
So, I was expecting some toys from TOMY, imagine my surprise and delight when the delivery man brought this!
When I opened the box, I could hardly contain my excitement! A sack of presents overflowing and candy canes and sprinkles galore. Amazingly, I managed to leave it all alone until I had my little ones home from school and then I unleashed the excitement and let them at it!
The first thing unwrapped was the game Pile up Pirates (RRP: £12.99), a hilarious game of skill and suspense suitable for up to 4 players, or more if you form teams I suppose. The aim of the game is to take turns adding the plastic pirates to the revolving stack of planks and pirates until it all falls down in a heap. This game is great because it’s fairly quick to play. It and can easily hold the attention of young children, especially as the finale of the pirates falling down is so dramatic, which makes it a great Christmas game for when the family is all together. If the little ones have a limited attention span due to the levels of excitement it won’t matter because this game is perfectly pitched and can be over in a matter of minutes or enjoyed on repeat! Rating: 5/5
Next we looked at Rizmo, an electronic pet (RRP: £59.99). Rizmo the evolving musical friend arrives in a square box with a tantalising shock of hair visible through the top, as you lift the box, it unfolds itself and Rizmo is revealed as a plump pink fluffy blob. Once picked up Rizmo, surprisingly weighty in your hands, straight away begins emitting the sort of squeaks that are simply irresistible to a gaggle of small girls and it has been rocked, squeezed, sang to and comforted almost constantly since it arrived. It has five play modes which you select using the button on its head between the flashing eyes which change colour depending on the selected mode. If we take good care of our Rizmo and sing and play with it enough it will evolve, or grow up, first into a child, this is kid Rizmo which I think will look a bit like a huge pink tadpole, and then into a fully grown Rizmo. Rizmo will only evolve once it has collected enough musical points and recorded songs. It makes a noise to indicate when a point has been achieved and so there is a reward element to taking care of it. Eventually Rizmo will grow up into one of two mystery creatures, we won’t know which until it happens, kind of like when you raise a child! It’s recommended for age 6+ but my children struggled to keep it from the baby who is desperately in love with it, possibly because its squeaks are now adorably mimicking her own. It has actually learned those noises since it arrived! One of the loveliest things about this toy is that it will remember some of the songs we sing to it as a baby and will be able to repeat them back to us when it grows up. My children are torn between keeping it as an adorable squeaking baby and encouraging it to grow up, very much the same way I feel about them actually, so I can see why it’s scored the top nurturing toy spot on How to spend it well at Christmas with Phillip Schofield. Rating: 5/5
Once we had finished squishing our sweet new Rizmo we unwrapped a new version of the well-loved game Articulate – Articulate Phrases (RRP: £32.99)! Even more fun than the last time I played this game, and actually more of a challenge, whole phrases really do make for a whole new board game here. Including over 1500 phrases, this party game is simple in concept and hilariously challenging. It’s definitely one for older families with a suggested age of 12+, not because it’s a difficult game but simply because the young won’t have sufficient sayings in their vocabulary. This game would make a super Christmas gift for a family as it could be expected that they would get a great many years of enjoyment from it. Rating: 5/5
The next toy, Ritzy Rollerz Dance n Dazzle Spa with Tori Tada (RRP: £34.99), was a completely new one to us. Featuring lights and music and supplied with a wheeled unicorn character named Tori Tada, this reminds me of a tour bus but it opens up. The top lifts and the side and back fold down thereby revealing itself to be a wheeled spa! It has a bath, dressing table, and sparkly track to drive your Ritzy Rollerz on and comes with 30 collectible charms. These little charms are supplied randomly but we’ve got a lovely selection including bubbles, bows, lips and musical notes. They poke into the wheels of the vehicle, Tori Tada’s wheels, the bath, or anywhere else that there is an indentation. There is even a little drawer in the dressing table to store your charms when they aren’t being used to adorn something. It’s a funny idea but it’s incredibly attractive to my children who just can’t seem to get enough of the light up unicorn horn/disco ball. I just find myself wishing there was a real-life Dance n Dazzle Spa because I do think it would make for a fabulous night out. Rating: 4/5
The next treat appeared to be a plastic ball, on closer inspection it was a shell. In fact, it was an Adorbs (RRP: £7.99). My children were very interested in the Adorbs because little girls love all things delivered in plastic shells for some reason. Usually they contain a small plastic toy, which delights them. I can’t describe the astonishment I witnessed when they discovered that there was a dressing up dress inside the little ball! The one we’ve got is the red fire dress, from the front it looks like an ordinary dress but from behind you can see that’s it’s more of an apron. This makes it ideal for tiny ones to put it on by themselves over their normal clothes and makes the perfect prop in a game of fire girl. There are six dressing up outfits to collect in a range of colours, all of them reminiscent of princesses. This isn’t the most substantial dressing up costume, but it’s well made and I think it would last perfectly well in the hands of a small child. It’s got great novelty value and would make a good stocking filler for a toddler, the dresses fit a 3-5 year old and are hand washable which is always a bonus! Rating: 4/5
The next thing to emerge from the box of delights was a tractor. As family of tractor enthusiasts we were all delighted with the John Deere Build-A-Johnny Tractor by TOMY (RRP: £24.99) before it was even out of the box. It’s a lovely looking tractor with a happy face. It’s suitable from 18 months so just perfect for my smallest child. The tractor comes complete with its own drill and drill bits which you can use to dismantle your tractor, removing its wheels, bonnet and cab quickly and with a very pleasing noise from the battery powered drill. Once reassembled, the tractor has been very busy being driven all over the house and requiring lots of wheel changes. Although it is suitable for toddlers it has also entertained my five-year-old for quite a while as it’s such a well-made and engaging toy. My husband has never recovered from his childhood tractor obsession and is therefore in his element and only disappointed that he didn’t own one earlier. This would make an excellent Christmas gift for any small tractor enthusiast. Rating: 5/5
We were all very pleased indeed when the next thing my daughter pulled out of the sack was a 1:32 scale Britains farm machinery, Pink Valtra T254 playset (£34.99). As long-term fans of Britains farm machinery, some of us having played with it for at least 40 years, we were very interested to see the first pink tractor we’ve ever encountered. It pink because £1 from the sale of each of these goes to Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now. Lovely as we think the pink tractor is, it is a bit strange to have pink bales. Britains Farm Machinery is so well loved because it features accurate scale models of real tractors rather than just toy ones. It is suitable from 3 years but is well made and will provide many years of play and enjoyment. It has a working three point hitch which means that you can lift implements such as the detachable double bale lifter included with this playset. The tractor drives along very nicely and is also very attractively packaged making it most suitable as a Christmas present. Rating: 4/5
Now we were getting towards the bottom of the sack and with just two things left to play with we came across the KiiPix smartphone picture printer (RRP: £39.99) which is a nifty little gadget which would make a great gift for a teenager, or for anyone who takes a lot of photos on their phone and might enjoy having a few retro style prints to display. It’s an unusual mixture of modern and retro, the printer is completely manual, no batteries, no plugs, no wifi. In fact nothing is required except your phone, the KiiPix printer and some film to go in it. It takes FUJIFILM instax mini film which comes in a cartridge which you load into the back of the printer and wind on manually with a little knob in a similar fashion to when cameras had film cartridges in them which had to be wound with a thumbwheel. Once your film is in you turn the screen brightness on your phone up full and switch your automatic screen lock off so that it doesn’t lock while you aren’t looking at it and ruin the exposure. Then you balance your phone on top of the printer and then line up your photo so that it shows through the window. This bit is a little tricky and you may need to zoom in or out to get it looking right. Once you’re happy you simply push down on the shutter button once and wind your photo out using the same knob you wound it on with. You can now watch your photo develop before your eyes. The quality isn’t equal to getting a print done in the usual fashion but it’s a lot of fun and almost magical to observe in this digital age. Rating: 4/5
The very last thing we had to play with on our journey of toy discovery was a game called Puff Ball Extreme (RRP: £24.99). I had never encountered this game before but that’s probably related to the young age of my children. There is plenty of enjoyment to be had with this game, the premise of which is to get the ball from the beginning of the course to the end by blowing it from one cup to the next. A very simple idea but a lot of fun, firstly, from the construction of the course. The Puff Ball Extreme set comes with enough components to make one gigantic course or two smaller identical courses for competing against another player. In designing the course, you can place obstacles on the way such as the see saw or ski jump and you can vary the height of the cups too which makes the game more difficult as well. The construction phase is great for developing logical thinking and is quite easy to assemble once you’ve decided where everything should go. Blowing the ball along the course takes a little bit of practice to learn the technique but then it becomes surprisingly good fun. We tried to have a little competition, but it all ended in hilarity because some of our players were too small to understand but it did not matter, a great time was had by all. Rating: 4/5
Having enjoyed toys and games by TOMY since I was a child and after experiencing this epic re-enactment of Christmas day packed in a box, I can say for certain that TOMY make something for everyone. The toys are great quality and have genuine lasting play value, they are educational and encourage child development on many levels. TOMY international mission is to make the world smile – well you certainly made us smile!
For more information about these and other TOMY products, visit uk.tomy.com.