Category Archives: Reviews

Portable North Pole Review

The Portable North Pole has quickly become a Christmas tradition for us.  I really enjoy taking the time to make their videos, carefully choosing the photographs and reminiscing over the year as I do.  Obviously Imogen and Joseph love watching their video messages just as much, carefully listening to what Santa has to say and eagerly awaiting his all important naughty or nice verdict!

Portable North Pole

In the past we’ve used the free service but this year we’ve been trying out the Gold Pass which gives access to premium videos, and phone calls and they’re unlimited and yours to downland in HD forever.  With the Gold Pass their are seven different videos to choose from each of which are approximately 5 minutes long (apart from Christmas Eve which is 2 minutes, pretty understandable when you consider just how busy this man is!).  They are:

  • Visit an Elf House
  • Tour the Post Office
  • A Song Just for You
  • Secret Places
  • Christmas Eve
  • Movie Star
  • Birthday

Each of these videos can be personalised with their name, photographs, and little tidbits about them that that only Santa Claus would know.  Imogen and Joseph have had their first message each so far this year and simply watch in awe again and again.  Imogen was mightily impressed that Santa had a photograph on our house in her special book and Joseph was really chuffed that Santa had recognised his bravery starting school.

As well as the video messages unlimited phone calls are included with the Gold Pass.  Santa can call your child as many times as you like in the run up to Christmas with words of congratulations, a word of warning for bad behavior, a little encouragement.  He can even call to say thank you for his letter, to remind you to leave cookies or live from his sleigh on Christmas Eve.   Again, the kiddywinks have had a call each with little Joseph almost falling off his chair in surprise!  He was given a gentle warning that he has a while to go until he finds out if he made it to the naughty or nice list and that he must always listen to his parents.  Funnily enough his behavior has since vast improvement since!

We’ll be using the PNP right up to and including Christmas Eve building the excitement and keeping the magic of Christmas alive!  The free PNP videos are available now but I can’t recommend the premium service enough full details and previews are available online at

Counting Down to Christmas with Playmobil

November is quite simply racing by and with only nine sleeps until the first of December and the start of advent the kiddywinks are really looking forward to starting the countdown to Christmas.  Advent calendars are always the first sign of Christmas in our house and in the past we’ve counted down in numerous different ways.  There’s been chocolate, small wooden drawers filled with sweet treats and teeny, tiny stockings filled with small gifts that were unappreciated and cost me a small fortune.

This year we’ll be counting down with Playmobil and their Fire Rescue Operation Advent calendar.

Playmobil Fire Rescue Operation Advent

As Imogen and Joseph open each of the 24 doors they’ll gradually build up their very own fire rescue scene which takes place in a motorcycle workshop.  The calendar includes the backdrop, four Playmobil figures, a giant fire fighting robot and plenty of accessories.  We’ll be taking lots of photographs as they open the doors and sharing them on Instagram and Twitter so  make sure you pop across to take a peek.

Playmobil Fire Rescue Advent

This year there are six different themed advent calendars on offer from Playmobil including the new 123 advent perfect for younger Playmobil fans and the Christmas room with light up Christmas tree!

Playmobil Christmas Room Advent

It’s not too late to get your hand on yours, order online in the Playmobil shop now.

Planting with Children and Lechuza

Imogen and Joseph love the garden and lending a hand in the family vegetable patch, seeing and eating the fruits (and vegetables) of their labour is most rewarding and teaches them a variety of things as well as increasing their 5 a day consumption.  Sadly though we are fair weather gardeners and at this time of year the only thing we grow in the veg patch is weeds!

I’m not very good at keeping indoor plants alive, they either end up over watered by children with the best intentions or ignored until they shrivel up and die so I was really interested to hear about Lechuza self watering planters.  They have their very own sub-irrigation system which takes all of the guess work out of watering, making your your plants receive just what they want when they want it.

Lechuza Balconera

We were sent a Balconera 50 All-in-One Set in a bright Caribbean Blue as well as an amaryllis bulb so that we could test it out and see how we got on.  The Lechuza Balconera comes with the planter, removable plant liner and the sub-irrigation system.  The plant liner is easily removed with retractable handles so they don’t distract from the appearance of the planter.  There is also a water level indicator which sits at the side by the water supply shaft.  It can be used indoors or outdoors by simply removing the plug at the bottom for outdoor use.

Lechuza Balconera

Firstly you need to line the the plant liner with the substrate which will help control the water supply and then add compost before adding your plants or bulbs.

Lechuza Balconera

Lechuza Balconera  Lechuza Balconera

For the first three weeks you need to water normally, which is where we may come unstuck, this is to allow the roots to reach the substrate at the bottom.  After this you fill the water reservoir via the watering shaft until the water level indicator reaches max.  The Lechuza Balconera will then have enough water for twelve weeks.

Imogen and Joseph can’t wait to see their amaryllis flower and have been keeping a daily check on it to look for any progress.  Personally I’m really impressed with the Balconera and it’s stylish design, it sits happily on my windowsill and I’m already planning a window herb garden for the Spring.

The Lechuza Balconera is just a small part of the Lechuza family which includes a wide range of planters in a variety of different colours and designs ideal for any home.  The Balconera 50 is priced at £29.99, is available in six colours and can be wall or railing mounted with additional brackets.  You can find out more and see the full range at

New from Flair Cool Create

Imogen is a huge Cool Create fan, the combination of fabulous art and crafts products added with the mix of some of her favourite characters in definitely a winner!  She’s had the incredible opportunity to review some lovely products in the past and as a result has added some great things to her bedroom, so she was delighted when she was asked to cast her expert eye over some new products in the ever growing range.

Flair Cool CreateFirst up is the Sparkle Activity Kit which includes 10 magic painting sheets, 10 colouring in cards, 30 shiny stickers, 8 felt tip pens, a paint brush and over 500 glitter tattoos.

Cool Create Sparkle Activity Kit

Imogen loved the colouring in cards and spent a large chunk of her half term colouring them in to create door hangers, bookmarks and art for her walls.  They have bold outlines which meant that she was able to keep within the lines with ease.

Cool Create Sparkle Activity Kit

The temporary glitter tattoos were a massive hit with both Imogen and Joseph who now have enough for every school disco until they’re 18!

Cool Create Sparkle Activity Kit Cool Create Sparkle Activity Set

Joseph got very excited about the magic painting sheets, which have a strip of watercolour paints at the bottom of the picture all you need add is water.  Now, I’m not sure if he was using a little too much water but the paper is fairly thin and got quite mushy and the results weren’t that great.  Other than that it’s a great set that will easily keep a multitude of children entertained for a long time.

Next up is the Shopkins Cool Cardz Design Studio.  Imogen has reviewed the Frozen Cool Cardz Studio before but as the biggest Shopkins fan this set was bound to be a winner!  It contains 15 cards with laminates. 2 sheets of Shopkins stickers, a felt pen and two ring stampers and an ink pad.

Shopkins Cool Cardz

Imogen decided that she’s make us all Shopkins secret club membership cards using a combination of stickers, stamps and drawings whilst Joseph carefully laminated the cards.

Shopkins Cool Cardz  Shopkins Cool Cardz

She was most impressed with the stamper rings which come in purple and pink which reveal either a shopping basket or strawberry stamper when the jewel is removed.  They also clip into the design studio when not in use so they don’t get misplaced.

Shopkins Cool Cardz

This was a huge hit and would make a great Christmas present for any Shopkins fan.  It’s available from Amazon priced at £17.99.

Playmobil Super 4 Toys Review #PLAYMOBILPlayologist

Super 4 is a great new CITV series that was inspired by Playmobil, the series is based around 4 different Playmobil worlds (Pirates, Fairies, Knights & Top Agents) and follows the adventures of new heroes new heroes Alex, Gene, Ruby and Twinkle, the Super 4!

Playmobil Super 4

To go alongside with the launch of the show Playmobil have released an awesome range of Super 4 toys based on the 4 different worlds Gunpower Island, Techno Polis, Kings Island and The Enchanted Island.  As Playmobil Playologist the kiddywinks were sent a selection of toys to test out.

Playmobil Super 4

Their goodies included The Royal Tribune with Alex (6695) as well as two figures Sharkbeard (4798) and Princess Leonora (6699).  As always Imogen was keen to get on with assembling the sets and did so without help and only a little guidance from Joseph.

PLaymobil Super 4       Playmobil Super 4

This set includes three figures, The King, the King’s son Alex and a knight, royal box with throne as well as a horse and plenty of accessories of which Joseph’s favourite is an extendable sword. There’s a secret compartment inside the royal box perfect for hiding treasure and the shield at the front can be used for decoration or for battle if needed.

Playmobil Super 4

Joseph’s favourite figure is the King because he think is outfit is the best and loves taking his cloak on and off.  With the added bonus of the additional figures Sharkbeard and Princess Leonora Joseph and Imogen have played with the set for hours.  Sharkbeard is usually the villain and Leonora the fair maiden in need of rescuing but she can also hold her own in battle as well.

Playmobil Super 4 Playmobil Super 4        Playmobil Super 4

The rest of the Super 4 range looks just as impressive as well and includes a Take Along Black Barron’s Castle, Camouflage Pirate Fort, Skyjet and Musical Flower Tower which is at the top of Imogen’s Christmas list.  Prices range from £3.99 to £44.99 and can be seen here.

If you’re still stuck for something to do in half term why not check out the 4 Super 4  trails taking place over London between now and Christmas to try and find a 24 carat gold Super 4 figure.  There’s more information on how to take part here.

Xeno Zoopies Review

Last year Imogen and Joseph were lucky enough to be sent one of the must have toys of the year from Flair, Xeno, an interactive, lovable baby monster.  This year Flair have introduced new friends to the Xeno family, the Xeno Koopies.

Xeno Koopies Logo

They come in three different colourways, green, orange or purple and will need 3 AAA batteries, which aren’t included.  Xeno Koopies are smaller, rounder versions of Xeno with the same soft rubber “fur” and floppy ears as Xeno.  The Koopies have glow in the dark eyes which will also roll around as he does.

Xeno Koopies

Xeno Koopies have a rounded base and will vibrate, spin and dance around a hard floor with ease.  He has 6 different interactive sensors on his body and says over 70 different phrases and can be stretched, squeezed and fed all of which will give a different reaction, watch out though just like his cousin Xeno he can be a little gassy! Xeno KoopiesHe will also listen to music (or your singing) and decide whether he likes it or not.  He interacts and chat with other Koopies and with Xeno and can also be used with the free Xeno Koopies app.

Xeno Koopies

The kiddywinks have had great fun with their new friend and he’s brought new life to their old friend Xeno.  They think it’s hysterical when he burps or trumps and whilst Imogen goes to every length to make sure he’s happy Joseph goes out of his way to make him mutter grumpily!

The Xeno Koopies are available now from Amazon priced at £39.99.

Hey Duggee Magazine Review

Today sees the launch of the the brand new CBeebies magazine based on the popular show Hey Duggee!  Joseph is a massive fan and was thrilled to be given a sneak peak of the magazine before it’s release.

Like most children’s magazine the Hey Duggee magazine comes with a free gift, the first includes a fun baking set with Hey Duggee cookie cutter and chef’s hat.

Hey Duggee Magazine

Inside there are 35 full colour pages which are choc-a-bloc with Hey Duggee activities, cutting and sticking, colouring in and stories all of which support the early years curriculum.  There is also a fun quiz to find out which member of the Squirrel club you’re most like, apparently I’m Betty, and plenty of sticker fun to be had too.

Hey Duggee Magazine

Joseph particularly enjoyed the pull out and keep Squirrel Club Book which had puzzles to solve, a fun and tasty Hey Duggee recipe and took great pride in sticking his baking badge onto the badge collection poster before displaying it in his room.

Hey Duggee MagazineWe’ve all enjoyed the magazine, Imogen has also enjoyed the magazine and loved reading Joseph the “The Cake Badge” story and chatting to Joseph about the things he could do to earn special badges.

The Hey Duggee magazine is available from today, and 4 weekly thereafter, priced very reasonably at £2.75 and can be found in most newsagents and supermarkets.  Joseph is already looking forward to the next issue and has already been spying on what the gift might be!

Hey Duggee Magazine


Y-Volution Balance Bike Review

Before the Summer holidays the kiddywinks wrote lists of what they wanted to do during the Summer break, places they wanted to go, people they wanted to see and things they wanted to achieve.  At the top of Joseph’s list was to learn to ride a bike just like his big sister.  Father Christmas kindly gave him a bike last year but it’s still slightly too big for him and despite being on the smallest setting his feet barely reach the pedals.  Still, over the holidays we persevered but with very little luck.   I’d always read and heard such great things about balance bikes that I thought this may be the way forward for him so when I was asked is he’d like to try out the Y Velo balance bike from Y-Volution I jumped at the chance.

Y Velo Balance Bike

The bike arrived whilst I was a work so Tony, who’s not great at following instructions or putting anything together, assembled it.  Apparently it was very easy to do as there weren’t many parts,  it came with all the tools you need and took less than 15 minutes.  That evening Joseph coasted around the house getting used to the bike before we took it to the park the next day.

Y Velo Balance Bike

In the wide open space, Joseph started to walk with the bike building speed gradually until he was running and then free wheeling with it.  I’m really pleased with how quickly he picked it up and soon he was very difficult to keep up with!

Y Velo Balance Bike

The Y Velo has easily adjustable handlebars and seat which will make sure that it grows with Joseph for as long as he needs it.  There is also a steering limiter to control how much children can turn, the tyres are also wider than normal balance bike tyres which helps with balance and also provides a comfier ride.

The bike is a great size, perfect for Joseph, but it still fits nicely inside the boot of my car without having to be taken apart.  He’s had a great deal of use of it over the past month and endless amounts of fun.

Y Velo Balance Bike

The Y Velo Balance Bike is suitable for children aged 3+ with a maximum weight of 25kg and is available in green or red from Argos priced at £49.99.

Fireman Sam Fire Rescue Centre Review

Fireman Sam is still Joseph’s favourite Fireman and he was delighted to come home after a long day at school to find Character’s latest Fireman Sam playset waiting for him.

Fireman Sam Fire Rescue Centre

The Fireman Sam Fire Rescue centre has been especially designed to use with the latest Die Cast Fireman Sam collection of vehicles and comes with Wallaby One, Pontypandy’s mountain rescue helicopter, piloted by Aussie Tom.

The playset does need assembly, quite a lot of it and the instructions aren’t the clearest.  There are also a large amount of stickers to position so if you’re giving this as a gift I would certainly assemble it before wrapping it.

Fireman Sam Fire Rescue Centre

However, once together it’s nice and sturdy and ready for action!

Fireman Sam Fire Rescue Centre

There are plenty of fun features to the rescue centre like the large ramp, garage door which opens with the easy to operate button at the front and mini launch ramp hidden just underneath the helipad.  There are also lots of road signs and traffic lights which Joseph loves to move around during his play with it.

Fireman Sam Fire Rescue Centre

Joseph has been playing with a mixture of his own die cast cars as well as Wallaby One but has the die cast versions of Jupiter and Venus on his Christmas list which are available separately at £5.99 each.  He’s had a huge amount of fun with the set which has come out to play again and again.

The Fireman Sam Fire Rescue Centre is available from Character and is priced at £29.99.

Playmobil Coast Guard Centre and Rescue Boat Review

We are delighted to be asked to stay on the Playmobil Playologists programme for another year.  Both Imogen and Joseph loved Playmobil and little Joseph’s Christmas list is already 90% Playmobil.  Over the course of the next 12 months we’ll be reviewing some of their amazing toys and showing you sneak peeks of their ever so popular seasonal products including their advent calendars and Easter eggs.

Our first job this year is to tell you all about two news items to the City Action range that the Kiddywinks received in the Summer holidays, The Coast Guard Station with Lighthouse (5539) and Rescue Boat with Water Hose (5540).

Playmobil City Action

As you can tell, Imogen and Joseph were very pleased with Playmobil’s choice of toys for them and they got stuck straight in assembling the Rescue Boat.

Playmobil Rescue Boat with Water Hose

Playmobil Rescue Boat with Water Hose        Playmobil Rescue Boat with Water Hose

Imogen really enjoyed the assembly, following the instructions whilst directing Joseph to find the correct parts, occasionally allowing him to place lights and aerials onto the boat.  There are three figures that come with the boat as well as a host of accessories, first aid kit, life ring, walkie talkies and a working winch to pull other to safety.

Playmobil Rescue Boat with Water Hose

Joseph’s favourite thing about the Playmobil Rescue Boat has to be the water cannon.  There’s a small water tank and pump at the back of the boat which is connected by a hose that runs across the length of the boat to the front of the boat.  Press down on the pump to spray water – perfect for fire fighting!

Playmobil Rescue Boat with Water Hose    Playmobil Rescue Boat with Water Hose

Next up is the Coast Guard Station with Light House.  This needs a little more assembly than the Rescue Boat and Imogen and Joseph did need a small amount of adult help to put it together.

Playmobil Coast Guard Station

The Coast Guard Station comes with five figures, a rubber dinghy and loads and loads of accessories from a fire extinguisher to surfboard and flippers to emergency medical equipment.

Playmobil Coast Guard Station

There’s a two level command centre and observation tower and a fully functioning lighthouse beacon to warn others of it’s presence.

Playmobil Coast guard Station Playmobil Coast Guard Station

Around the back of the station is a working winch to pull the boat in and up into the station and there’s a ramp at the front to launch in from when it needs to respond to an emergency.

Playmobil Coast Guard Station

The Kiddywinks have had so much fun with both the Rescue Boat and Coast Guard station and they’ve played with them creatively using their imaginations to create some fabulous scenarios to act out with their new toys. As an added bonus both of the boats will float and double up as amazing bath toys.  They can also both be used with the Playmobil underwater motor which is only £6.50 and will add a great deal of fun to both of these playsets.

The Playmobil Coast Guard Centre and Rescue Boat are both available from and are priced at £49.99 and £34.99 respectively.

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