Xeno – The Interactive Monster Review

This is Xeno, he’s an interactive baby monster who loves to play!


Xeno has been hotly tipped by popular toy store Hamley’s as one of the top ten toys for Christmas 2014 and we were sent our very own for review.

Xeno Interactive Toy

Xeno comes in three different colourways, (all of which have the same play functions) Pacific Blue, Burnt Orange and Ultra Violet which is the one we were sent.  Quickly named by Joseph as “Dave” Xeno was welcomed into our family with open arms.  He’s made from a soft rubber, the kind that you find on sensory balls and has long floppy ears, big eyes and a little pot belly.

He has over ten different emotions (happy, moody, grumpy, upset, hungry, playful, unwell, thoughtful, disappointed, annoyed, bored and sleepy), forty plus different eye expressions with his clever LCD graphic eyes and will make over eighty different sounds.

Xeno has eight different sensors located around his body (head, mouth, tummy, right hand, left hand, left pawfoot, tail and snot) He has extremely ticklish feet, he likes to be fed, he’ll dance to music but only if he likes it and he also like to burp and trump a lot which the kiddywinks think is hysterical!


If you hold both of his hands Xeno will ask if you “wanna play?” and he’ll play 5 games with you.  These include Beat-a-Burp where Xeno will burp a rhythm and you have to copy it by pressing one of his hands.  In Catcha-Catcha you simply have to try and put your finger into Xeno’s mouth before he closes it and the kiddywinks favourite Quikk-a-burp where you have to guess when Xeno is going to burp and press his hand at the same time he does, it’s not an easy one!

Just like most interactive toys Xeno has his own free App (available on iTunes and Google Play) which will let you bathe and cook for Xeno.  The app is great just by itself as is Xeno but put the two together and you have hours upon hours of fun.




Having had the pleasure of Xeno’s company for a couple of weeks I can see why he’s made it to the top ten Christmas toys list, he’s awesome.  Imogen and Joseph have played with him every day since he’s arrived with Imogen running home from school to make sure he’s OK and isn’t hungry.  My only advise would be to stock up on good quality batteries (Pound shop ones don’t last long) and a couple of rechargeable sets would probably be best.

There is more information on Xeno on his dedicated website www.xenotoy.co.uk and he’s available from Amazon priced at approximately £79.99.

Frozen Elsa Fancy Dress Review

Just like most girls her age Imogen is Frozen crazy, she’s slowly building up quite a collection of the dolls by saving her pocket money like crazy and her most of her Christmas list is based around the highly popular Disney film.  One of the most coveted items on her ever increasing list is an Elsa dress so she was elated when the very same arrived for her from the kind fellows at Otley Run Fancy Dress.

Elsa Dress

Imogen’s Elsa dress arrived very promptly a couple of days later and she was, of course, thrilled with it.  It has a beautifully sequined bodice in the trademark Elsa turquoise which is trimmed with silver and has a lovely little Elsa and Anna badge at the centre which can be removed if you should wish.  The sleeves of the dress are a very delicate see-through, sparkly tulle which comes to a point at the wrist, just like Queen Elsa’s infamous gown.

Elsa Dress

The dress also has a heavily netted underskirt which gives a lovely princessy flare to it and apparently making it great for spinning in too!

Elsa Dress

By far Imogen’s favourite feature of the dress is full the cape which is attached to the back of the dress.  It is made from a very pale tulle and covered in a multitude of glittery snowflakes.

Elsa Dress

At six and a half Imogen is probably just above average height at 125c m so I decided to order her the size 7-8 which is recommended for a child of 130 cm and the fit was perfect, it comes about mid calf on her which is great as it means she won’t trip over when dancing and prancing about in it.

The quality of the dress rivals those that we have brought Imogen from the Disney store but comes without the price tag.  This Elsa dress is a steal at just £18.99 with P&P of £3.75, there’s also a very pretty Anna coronation dress at the same price and both are available in sizes 2-3 right up to 8-9 years.  Have a look at the pair on their website here.

The Adventures of Abney & Teal Magazine Review

On Thursday a brand new pre-school magazine hits the shelves featuring none other than the CBeebies favourites Abney & Teal and we were given an exclusive sneak preview!

Abney & Teal Magazine

There are 35 full colour pages to the magazine which is choc-a-bloc with activities to help develop early years learning.  Joseph, who desperately needs to practice his pencil control and learn his numbers had lots of fun with the Abney & Teal’s Counting Workbook which takes over 8 pages of the magazine.  He loved counting and then tracing over the numbers with great care and attention and took great pride in sticking on his “well done” sticker once he’d completed each page.

Abney & Teal Magazine

Other activities included are coloring pages, puzzles, mazes and there are also Abney, Teal & Neep puppets to cut out and create.  The centre of the magazine pulls out to revel a lovely four week reward chart with a sticker scene to complete with the large sticker sheet included.  The reward chart has a daily task to be achieved which as well as including small easy to do chores, such as making my bed look tidy, include fun activities to be done together.  Today’s task was to learn a new song so we’ve all been singing Five Little Ducks!

Abney & Teal Magazine

Imogen has thoroughly enjoyed reading the Abney & Teal magazine to Joseph, especially the story “A sleepless night” which she read without any help at all, well done Imogen!

Abney & Teal Magazine

Just like many children’s magazines the front cover features a free gift and this, the first issue, features a musical set comprising of a small guitar and recorder.  There are also competitions to enter and a page for you to do your own drawing to send in and possibly be featured in the next issue.

The Adventures of Abney & Teal is available from Thursday 23rd October priced at £2.99 and can be found in most newsagents and supermarkets UKMums.tv are also running a competition to win a six months subscription here.


Disney Princess Palace Pets Royal Carriage & Fashion Tails Review

Earlier this year Imogen reviewed the Palace Pets Pamper & Beauty Salon from Character, it’s still a very much loved and played with toy and was lucky enough to accompany Imogen to school on the last day of the school year.  Imogen has since built up an impressive collection of the furry tailed Disney Princess companions and was delighted when the latest Palace Pets playset arrived for her to review, the Royal Carriage.

Disney Princess Palace Pets Royal Carriage

The Royal Carriage comes with Furry Tail Friend Teacup, Cinderella’s Puppy who is ready to make an entrance at the royal ball with her sunglasses and petticoat accessories.

Disney Princess Palace Pets Royal Carriage The carriage is very beautiful with some lovely attention to detail, Imogen loves the tiny bluebirds on the front.  It has some lovely features which include a flip down table with tea pot and tea cup for refreshments on the go but flip it up and it’s a mirror!

Disney Princess Palace Pets Royal Carriage There is also a roll out carpet for your Palace Pets to make a grand entrance, however this is fairly flimsy and can be very difficult for little hands to slide in and out.

Disney Princess Palace Pets Royal Carriage


Imogen was also sent a “Beauty” Palace Pets Fashion Tails.  Beauty is Aurora’s kitten and she comes with three interchangeable tails which she can decide to wear depending on her mood.

Disney Princess Palace Pets Fashion TailsImogen loves playing with Beauty with the Pamper & Beauty Salon playset, arriving by carriage of course, for a full makeover, brushing her chosen tail and getting her ready for parties.

Disney Princess Palace Pets

Both of the playsets have been a huge hit with Imogen who has played with them non stop since they arrived.  The Palace Pets Royal Carriage is priced at £17.99 and the Fashion Tails (Beauty or Teacup) are priced at £9.99 and I think they’re great value for money, IMogen has certainly has her money’s worth of play with them already.

There’s a growing range of Palace Pets available from Character on their website www.character-online.com with prices starting from as little as £5.99.  IMogen is very keen to complete her collection at Christmas with Treasure (Ariel’s Kitten) and the much coveted and apparently impossible to get hold of Sultan (Jasmine’s tiger).

Imaginext Lion’s Den Castle Review

Joseph’s love affair with Imaginext started earlier this year with DC Super Friends Batcave, it’s one of his most played with toys and he’s been lusting after a lot of the Fisher Price Imaginext range for quite some time.  I’m sure that you can imagine the delight on his face when the Imaginext Lion’s Den Castle arrived for him to review.

Imaginext Lion's Den Castle

The castle is an impressive size at about 60 cm wide and 40 cm tall and takes the form of a lion with the main door forming it’s mouth and the lion’s paws creating secret dungeons.  The playset comes with:

  • Two knight figures
  • A green lizard figure
  • A lion figure
  • A throne
  • 2 shields
  • 2 helmets
  • 2 axes
  • A king’s crown
  • A crossbow with six disks.

The toy castle needs no assembly and comes with the 2 AA batteries already installed, so it’s ready for play straight away.

Imaginext Lion's Den Castle

There are four levels to the castle and plenty of fun features that come with lights and sound effects.  There are turn disks scattered around the castle that will activate the castle’s “defense mode”, shutting the lion’s mane and jaws and activating the lion’s paws grabbing who or whatever might be in their path!

Imaginext Lion's Den Castle

There are also three shields on the front of the castle that when hit with one of the disks from the cross bow (or pressed) will collapse the throne room floor or open the lion’s jaw and collapse one of the castle’s tower’s bringing down it’s defenses ready to be stormed!

Imaginext Lion's Den Castle Imaginext Lion's Den CastleImaginext Lion's Den Castle Imaginext Lion's Den Castle

There is also a jail cell with a secret escape trap door that is also activated with the shields.

Imaginext Lion's Den Castle Imaginext Lion's Dan Castle


Joseph loves the castle and has played with it every day since it arrived, most of the time Imogen will join in on the fun with the pair taking it in turns to be the baddie or trying to storm the castle as an evil twosome!

Imaginext Lion's Den CastleAs with the entire Imaginext range, the Lion’s Den Castle is well made, well designed and durable.  The sound effects are great and very realistic and one of Joseph’s favourite things about the castle.  It’s been great for simulating imaginative play and it will certainly be getting an awful lot of play in our house.

Suitable for ages 3+ The Lion’s Den Castle is priced at around £50 and there are plenty of accessories and compatible extras that can be purchased separately.

Fireman Sam Ocean Rescue DVD Review

Joseph is like most three year old little boys and loves anything to do with a fireman, fire engine or any vechile with a light or ladder on top. Fireman Sam is one of his favourite TV characters and he was very pleased when he was recently sent and awesome bundle of Fireman Sam goodies which included the latest Fireman Sam DVD, Fireman Sam Ocean Rescue.


Fireman Sam Ocean Rescue

The DVD has a total running time of 65 minutes and contains 6 bite sized Fireman Sam episodes including:

  • All at Sea
  • Whale Watch
  • The Pontypandy Cup
  • Turtle Hunt
  • The Treasure Trap
  • Stage Fright

The first episode, All at Sea, sees the opening of Pontypandy’s new Ocean Rescue Centre and the introduction of new characters Ben the coastguard and the Sparks family.  There are also two awesome new water vehicles introduced in this episode, Titan and Juno the Jet Ski.

In other episodes Pontypandy’s bad boy Norman Price sets off in search of a rare sea turtle and gets himself and Mandy lost and Norman (it’s nearly always him!) and James get lost in fog while looking for buried treasure in The Treasure Trap.

Joseph’s favourite episode has to be Turtle Hunt as it combines everything that he loves, the sea, sea creatures and Fireman Sam although we have watched the entire DVD several times since it arrived and he still enjoys it all!

Fireman Sam: Ocean Rescue is available now with an RRP £12.99.

Panda Soft Drinks Review

Who remembers Panda Pops?  I have lovely memories of my primary school headmaster dishing them out at the school disco and making various Panda Pop mocktails with varying success!

Well, they’re back but this time with a few changes.  The new product range has been expanded and now contains still juice drinks, flavoured still waters and litre bottles of squash.  What’s better is that they’re made with only natural colours and flavourings and contain no added sugar.

The kiddywinks were sent a selection to try out along with some awesome Panda goodies (I just love the retro style lunchbox – why can’t you buy these anymore?)

Panda Drinks

The flavoured still water “Panda Splash” is available in two flavours, Orange and Pineapple and Blackcurrant and the still juice is available in Raspberry or Blackcurrant.  Imogen and Joseph carried out a testing session where Imogen declared the Raspberry as her favourite while Joseph preferred the Panda Splash Blackcurrant.  All are equally refreshing and at 250ml and with re-closeable sports cap lids they’re the perfect size for lunch boxes or picnics.

Panda drinks are available from all major supermarkets nationwide with 6 packs of drinks priced at £1.99 and litre bottles of squash very reasonably priced at 99p.

Teksta Kitty Review

This year Character have expanded their range of Teskta Robotic pets and added a robotic Kitty and T-Rex to the Teksta family.  Imogen was the very, very lucky recipient of a lovely new Teskta Kitty who arrived last week and was promptly called Katy.

Teksta Kitty

The Teskta Kitty is a 4th generation robotic kitty who will respond to your voice, hand actions and even lights.  She does this with sensors that are located along her body and head that know if she’s being stroked, spoken to or played with and she’ll react to these.  You can tell how your Teskta Kitty is feeling by here eye patterns as well as her sounds, she’ll purr, cry, whine and meow just like a real kitten!

Teksta Kitty Emotions

She comes with a small robotic mouse which you can use to make your Teksta Kitty do tricks, if you hold the mouse above her head she will sit and beg for it.

Teksta Kitty

The mouse is also magnetic and kitty can hold it on her mouth and she’ll feed on it and she will also pounce on it!

Teksta Kitty

You can also train Kitty with the Teksta app, which is available on the Apple App Store (iPad series. iOS 5.0 or aboved) or Google Play (Android 3.0 platform or above).  Using the app Kitty can dance, sing, feed her different types of food including milk and fish, teach her new tricks, set an alarm for her to wake you up in the morning (which has come in very handy) and even compose a new song on the piano for your kitty to sing to!

Imogen has quickly learnt how to play with Katy the Teksta Kitty to make her happy and is teaching her new tricks all the time.  She’s a lot of fun without the app but obviously does a lot more with it and that helps improve her value for money.  Imogen and Katy have quickly become best friends and the pair will often be found in her room playing together or having cat conversations! I love the fact that she’s responsive to light and goes to sleep when it’s dark, otherwise I swear Imogen would be up all night with her!

Teksta Kitty

As the Teksta Kitty is robotic her movements can be quite noisy, aside from the “normal” cat noises that is, at first this bothered me no end but you do get used to it and I honestly don’t think that Imogen or Joseph have actually noticed it at all.  I’ve videoed Kitty and Imogen doing tricks but I’m having technical issues at the moment but this video will show you what she can do.

Priced at around £59.99 they’re not cheap toys but Imogen has had so much fun with her since she arrived that I really think they are worth it, whilst she won’t replace a real pet in anyway it’s a great way to get your child to learn the responsibility of a pet without any of the vet or food bills!

Teskta Kitty is available from Character and is suitable for children aged 5+.

Tom & Jerry Tricky Trap House Review

Imogen and Joseph love the cartoon capers of Tom and Jerry (occasionally they remind me of the pair too) so were thrilled when Flair sent them their Tom and Jerry Tricky Trap House to review.

Tom & Jerry Tricky Trap House

The house has two floors and five rooms (three upstairs and two downstairs), a veranda, a Tom and a Jerry figure, furniture and accessories and a removable rocket. It comes pretty much ready assembled, it’ll just take a couple of minutes to remove the house from the packaging and and set the accessories in place.

Tom and Jerry Tricky Trap House

Dotted around the house are 10 mechanical “traps” so that Tom and Jerry can either trick or trap each other.  Upstairs there’s a shower with fall through floor, wonky legged grand piano, a falling chandelier and downstairs there are more traps with the “exploding” fridge, spring up floor and blast through door!

Tom and Jerry Tricky Trap House Tom and Jerry Tricky Trap House

Tom and Jerry Tricky Trap House


Imogen and Joseph’s favourite part has to be the removable rocket, which Jerry can hide inside and then blast off away from Tom!

Tom and Jerry Tricky Trap House


The house is a good size and can be folded away neatly at the end of play, although you will need to arrange the furniture quite cleverly to do so.  The house itself and a couple of the accessories to appear to be a little bit flimsy, for example Imogen was playing with the patio swing and managed to snap the back off of it and I’ve forgotten how many times I’ve put the legs back on the piano. Having sad that both Imogen and Joseph has loved playing with it, taking it in turns to be Tom and Jerry and trying to trick each other but personally I’d like to see it made a little better.

My Stoptober Journey Starts Here

OK it’s confession time, I’m a smoker. Yes it’s a dirty habit and one that I’m not proud of.  I blame my youth, working in bars for the reason I started and yes I did stop when I was pregnant with Imogen and Joseph but it was all too easy to start up again shortly after they were born.  Every New Year’s Eve I promise myself the new year will also see a new, no smoking me but it never happens.  There are many, many reasons why I’d like to give up, mainly because I don’t want my children to think it’s OK to smoke but also because of health and financial reasons, all that money I light up daily could be put to much better use.

As I am statistically more likely to quit with support this October I’ve decided to take part in Stoptober the 28-day national stop smoking challenge with the help of Boots, who have set me four weekly challenges.  Rather than being like a non smoking bootcamp these have been especially designed to support me as I experience new changes for the first time on my smoke free journey.


The first of my challenges starts NOW and will see me preparing for my Stoptober journey with expert, tailored, advice from Boots UK pharmacist Angela Chalmers who has told me how to beat cravings and stay focused on my goal.  As per her advice I shall be starting a new hobby to keep my hands busy (which will see me preparing for Christmas with a lot of buttons), recognizing my smoking triggers and trying to avoid them, not punishing myself for any relapse that there might be and rewarding myself. I have my eyes on a new coat and pair of winter boots and a jar where all of my saved money will go to give me a visual goal.

I have my NHS Quit Kit in hand and have purchased a Boots NicAssist nasal spray and gum to try and beat cravings.  The NHS iPhone app is installed on my phone to track my progress and offer instant support as and when I need it and I shall also be turning to Twitter using the #Stoptober hashtag for a friendly ear.

If you’re planning on quitting for Stoptober there’s a wealth of information on Boots.com including how to find which nicotine replacement therapy is right for you and how to cut down using the Smoke Less Plan.  Also, do let me know, we can do this together, but if not wish me luck and join me for a Twitter chat (hashtag #bootsukstoptober) between 1pm and 2pm on Thursday 16th October to see how I’m getting on.




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