Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Reviews and Competition

Here a a few things MiniMck and I have had the chance to review and play with over the past few weeks. Competition details are at the bottom of the post.


When Holly at Mattel asked me if I was interested in letting MiniMck lose on a box of Fisher Price's new Trio building system, I jumped at the chance.

Trio is a construction toy with bricks, sticks and panels, with which you can make animals vehicles and generally whatever you can imagine. It is aimed at years 3 to 5. My own childhood involved a lot of Lego, imaginative vehicles and spaceships which after being intricately built would eventually end up involved in a fatal crash, from the top to the bottom of the stairs.

MiniMck already has his MegaBlocks, so I was hoping the new Trio construction kit would engage him. I wasn't disappointed.

As soon as I opened the Crazy Creatures box he was eagerly shouting 'toys, toys' - although he hasn't mastered 'Ts' yet so actually it was 'doys, doys'. I then started to play with demonstrate how to use the blocks (think large Lego blocks with holes in the middle that sticks or flat bits can go into). Mini Mck tried to construct something, and admittedly he is a over a year away from the target age for Trio, but he didn't quite have the strength to join the blocks together. So he preceded to tell me what should go where. We soon had our creation.

It was time for the ultimate construction kit test. How would the creature fare in a DeathStar like explosion at the bottom of the stairs, would it end up shattered in pieces like my childhood brittle Lego creations?

Surprisingly, no. Our wheel based Crazy Creature came through the ordeal loosing only an eye and a fin. The other many legged spindly creature didn't fair as well, loosing several legs. However, what this did show was that unlike his MegaBlocks and Duplo, which seems to fall apart when you look at them, Trio is sturdy; this is a big bonus. When you build something with Trio it stays built. Our wheel based creature, since named buggy for both the eyes and wide wheel base, has managed to stay complete for a couple of weeks and has even been allowed to join the esteemed pantheon of vehicles (a 70's Tonka digger, Lego Ambulance and wooden bus) that MiniMck lines up outside his bedroom.

The Crazy Creature sets are priced around £10, there is an aeroplane at around £6 and larger sets as well. Please note that the Crazy Creature set does not come with a set of wheels. Ours were kindly included as an extra by Holly from Mattel, when I mentioned that MiniMck has a current fascination for anything vehicular.

365 Everyday Games and Pastimes

365 Everyday games and pastimes, by Martin and Simon Toseland includes as it says, something fun for everyone.

I could also see it coming in handy over Christmas. For that time when everyone is slouched on the sofa in the post lunch full-belly-boozy-slump or simply to gather everyone together and have some wholesome family fun together.

The main impetus for the book is the author's grandmother, whose shop turned into a local pub, where people would gather to drink and play games. The authors have included games that are practical, easy to learn and require a minimum of equipment.

The book is split up into sections such as, Children's Party Games, Games on the Go, Rainy Day Games, Word Games and Christmas and New Year Games and Pastimes. It includes many games that we (I'm assuming) all know, Charades, Consequences, Picture Consequences (the one where you each draw the section of someone/thing), Battleships, I-Spy, etc.

However, there are five versions of charades and several other 'acting/miming' games. For adults there are drinking games, lists of forfeits, if you are stuck for any. The Victorian Body Challenges seem like they could be quite entertaining, especially if Uncle Bob or Aunt Fanny tried to do them after a few jars of ale or several snowballs.

As a teacher, I have also found a use for several of the games, some of the number based games are great as warm-ups for maths lessons and this years end of term Christmas party will include a few more interesting games than the usual musical statues and pass the parcel.

So for the games you have long forgotten or ones you never knew this is a great book to dip into and reminisce or find something for a particular occasion.

A fantastic site for gifts and gadgets to suit all ages, from stocking fillers for a few quid to £1500 150-in-1 arcade machines.

MiniMck and I have been playing around with one of their a light changing glow balls and some spa lights. He was not to bothered with the spa lights, which I didn't mind as I could then use them for a relaxing bath after he had gone to bed. However he loves playing with the light changing glow ball.

I put it in his bath, add some Matey and then let the bubbles build up around it. The foam then has an ethereal glow. With the main lights turned off, it is quite effective and he has fun trying to find the ball in all the foam. It is also a useful way to entice him into the bath, without tears, when he is being in one of his obstinate moods.

Paramount gifts is excellent for general Christmas Present Ideas or specifically if you are looking for Christmas Presents for Kids

MiniMck playing with his glowing ball (apologies for blurry photos, but the light conditions were obviously not great and using a flash kinda ruined the effect)


Square Peg publishers of 365 Everyday Games and Pastimes have offered 3 books for me to give away. I also have a spare box of the Trio Crazy Creature Set to give away as well.

All you have to do to enter the competition is leave a comment on this post stating what your favourite Christmas Family or Party game is, or what your favourite childhood toy was.

The draw will be made using a randomizer at

To enter, leave a comment on this blog.
The competition is open to residents of the UK only
Make sure your contact details are available.
The winner will be drawn at random from all entries after the closing date.
The competition closes at 23:59 on Friday 10/12/2010
No cash alternative offered.
The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode.
If a prizewinner does not provide a full UK postal address within a week of being contacted, the prize will be re-drawn and a new winner will be contacted.