The Torch Dragon Tour of London

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It’s not every day that you are given the opportunity to hunt for Dragon’s in London guided by Historian and TV Presenter, Suzannah Lipscomb and a fire breathing baby dragon! So, when Hasbro invited ‘Being A Mummy blog’ along to celebrate the launch of ‘FurReal Friends Torch My Blazin’ Dragon’  I was more than happy to step in and join the tour.

I took my 8 year old history loving boy with me and my ‘all things cute and cuddly’ loving 6 year old girl with me and I can honestly say we all had a brilliant day. It was an absolute privilege to wander around London with a historian who clearly loves both London and the stories that have seeped into the cityscape throughout the ages.

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We started the tour at the George Inn in Southwark with the legend of George and the Dragon and from here, over the course of a few hours, we visited sites of dragon lore, fire, treasure, executions and an icy River Thames. The enthusiasm of Suzannah’s delivery and the delightful game of spot the dragon meant there were no little voices complaining of tired legs. The only real demands of the day from the children were regarding when they might have a turn carrying Torch, the Baby Dragon. There was however, plenty of time to enjoy interacting with Torch after the tour when we warmed up attour the Soho Hotel.

I have to admit that, before going, I thought my 8 year old boy would be interested in the tour but not particularly the toy, whilst I thought my 6 year old would be less interested in the history but delighted by the toy. I was wrong. Both the tour and the toy were a huge hit with them both. My husband and eldest daughter, who had stayed at home to bake profiteroles, were regaled with tales of dragons and heads on spikes whilst packaging was removed from our new pet baby dragons!

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At the Soho Hotel, when Torch was brought out for the children to play with, both were besotted. Torch is, in short, cute! He has a lovely, ‘look after me face’ and makes adorable little noises that make everyone say ‘aaaah’. He responds to touches on his nose, mouth and tummy with noises, burps, movement and ‘fire’. Feed the dragon water and then touch his tongue to see him breathe fire. The use of lights and steam give a good enough illusion of a baby dragon learning to breathe fire and the addition of a toy marshmallow which changes colour as the dragon ‘toasts’ it is genius. My 6 year old in particular loves her baby dragon. She is desperate for a real life dog which unfortunately isn’t likely, so this dragon has become her pet and she delights in looking after him. She carries him while he sleeps against her chest and then giggles when she wakes him up and he wants to play.

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It was interesting to see at the hotel how Torch appealed to girls and boys alike and to a much wider age range than I would have imagined. Even my 10 year old has been clamouring for her turn with the baby dragons. She is a massive Harry Potter fan and has commented how Hagrid would love to take care of Torch and with her Hogwarts letter only a year away from arriving, Torch provides some fantastic wizarding practice for future ‘Care of Magical Beasts’ lessons!

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As we were leaving the hotel Suzannah said to me she hoped she had inspired the younger tour members with even just a little bit of interest in history and I don’t doubt that she succeeded. My two left brimming with tales and let’s be honest, when history involves dragons what isn’t to love!

b51420000_630509475247_main_16As for Torch, would I recommend it as a toy? Most definitely. Dragons feature in so many myths and legends and inspire such wonderful adventures. This dragon isn’t just a cute plaything to be looked after until the child becomes tired of it. It can be used to fire up a child’s imagination in so many ways. It can facilitate storytelling through play and bring a little bit of magical fun to roleplay games. One of our new dragons is currently playing the role of Smaug, guarding the presents under the Christmas tree which I am told are in fact the treasure from Smaugs lair. The other is being rather cheeky and keeps trying to ‘toast’ my toes, (not such a terrible idea on a day as cold as today!).

You can buy the Torch at: 

Smyths, Argos, ToysRUs

If you’d like to find out more read on:

FURREAL FRIENDS TORCH, MY BLAZIN’ DRAGON

This playful little guy is just learning the tricks of the dragon trade, so he doesn’t really breathe flame, but he does breathe flame-colored mist. Really!

This wonderful baby dragon responds with 50-plus sound-and-motion combinations. Press his charm, pet his nose, or give him his treat for fun responses, such as breathing flame-colored mist, giggling, snorting, moving his head, and other sounds and movements. Of course, he’s a very surprising little fella, so he may just respond with a big burp instead!

His front legs are fully poseable, so he can be hugged and cuddled!

Take care of this adorable dragon… he’s full of mischief and surprises, but just like any baby, he loves to be cuddled and cared for.

Torch, My Blazin’ Dragon is definitely not an ordinary pet. He comes from a fantastical place far, far away, and has many wonderful features. With lots of love and care, this playful little dragon is sure to be one of the happiest pets around!

Includes pet, color-change treat, water vial, 2 extra filters, and instructions.

·       Ages 4 and up.

·       WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD – Small parts. Not for children under 3 years.

·       Requires 4 “C” alkaline batteries, not included.

·       Distilled water recommended.

If you’d like to follow the Torch Tour with your children over Christmas the itinerary can be viewed on Map My Walk here. Locations include Golden HindeLondon BridgeMonument to the Great FireSaint Dunstan in the EastSite of ScaffoldTower HillLeadenhall Market (stop for coffee / refreshments), St Andrew UndershaftSaint Michael’s Alley, Change Alley, The Royal Exchange, Guildhall Yard, St Mary-le-Bow, St Paul’s Cathedral, Cock Lane, Giltspur Street, St Bartholomew, Smithfield Market and finish at St Bartholomew the Great End.

Toy Review: Teksta Voice Recognition Puppy

tekstaI’m currently on my quest to try to find new and exciting Christmas gifts for my little gang. They had seen the new generation Teksta Puppy advertised on TV and thought it looked brilliant and it was something that they were really keen to have. As soon as we were offered the chance to actually review it I jumped at the chance. On reflection this might not have been the best idea as i’m now short on my potential Christmas gift list, however its useful for readers and my kids have had the best Bank Holiday weekend playing with their new puppy!

The Teksta Puppy retails at £59.99 and is aimed at 7+ age group. It now has voice recognition, multi-coloured LED eyes and realistic ear movements. There are 10 voice recognition commands programmed in and state of the art artificial intelligence means he barks, whimpers and so on.

We’ve been having lots of fun with the Teksta puppy and one of the best features is oddly that he requires a fair amount of training (as does his owners). Myself and Fifi have found this great fun as she really wants her own dog and this is a great introduction to dog ownership. Have a look at our efforts:

We have found the voice recognition a bit hit and miss but in theory there are 10 commands ranging from making the puppy bark through to making him do a flip. Fifi likes the song and dance feature which has two different songs. She also likes making it walk towards her.

There is also a free app to go with the Teksta Puppy and that lets you do all the actions straight from the app. Its easy to use and is another way of controlling the puppy.

This is a brilliant toy for this age group as it is great fun and actually teaches them a lot about elementary programming, patience and training animals. Fifi has genuinely gained a lot from it and it continues to be a popular toy in our household. In terms of value for money the price of Teksta has really come down, I remember them being quite pricey a few years ago, however at £59.99 this represents excellent value for money for a quality toy.

Teksta Puppy has a friend: a Toucan, it looks like this bird will be on our Christmas list this year!

If you’d like more information or to buy it have a look here.

Toy Review: Peppa’s Alphaphonics Campervan

Peppas Alphaphonics CampervanI don’t do a lot of toy reviews, with three children I think we have just about every single toy under the sun. However, when this came along I thought it would be very useful for little 4 year old Ned who is desperate to read. Ned is slowly gaining a grasp of phonics (mainly helped by his speech therapy) but to be honest, he is the third child, i’m back at work, time is limited.

Peppa’s Alphaphonics Campervan is aimed at pre-schoolers (3+) but I think could probably be used by slightly younger children as a fun toy to teach sensory reactions. That way, you can extend the life of the toy and get some good value for money. Although at RRP £19.99 it wont break the bank if you opt for it for a Peppa fan who is slightly older.

There are 8 games for children to work on: Whats the Letter? Copy Me? and Find the Letter. Needless to say little Ned has enjoyed Find the Letter most as it seems to challenge him enough to keep him entertained.

peppas alphaphonics campervanThe thing which I have found most useful is that it does build upon existing knowledge of phonics and adds to it to extend to those letters which are not taught in phase one of jolly phonics. Another useful skill (dare I say it- especially for my little hyperactive boy) is the ability to concentrate on one thing for a while. Its proved most useful in keeping him focussed beyond the usual screen based equivalents.

There keyboard is really easy and intuitive to use, a sliding bar at the top enables you to choose the game you want to play. As a parent I have two main criticisms, first that it is a little bit loud and secondly there is no on-off switch. The campervan has an automatic shut off, which does mean that it cant be turned off easily if a button gets depressed in the toy box.

Peppas alphaphonic CampervanI’ve been looking for a non screen based interactive to help Ned with his phonics and this completely fits the bill. Its well made, sturdy and you’re guaranteed to get a lot of use out of it. Clearly it is most appealing to Peppa fans, so if you’re little one is in the right demographic then this is a great choice. It would also make a good gift for a child on the cusp of 3- Christmas is not too far off…

You can get hold of one at Argos

Disclaimer: We were gifted Peppa’s Alphaphonics Campervan for the purposes of review

Meerkat Movies!

batman meerkatIf your children are anything like mine they will be super hero obsessed. It was a bit of a stroke of luck then that a limited edition Batman Aleksandr Meerkat arrived on the day of my eldest boys birthday! He immediately fell in love with the little fella.

Compare the Market sent over the toy to celebrate the launch of the new Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Movie. Of course the arrival of the toy as also meant that the movie was flagged up to the kids and i’ve had them begging to take them ever since. I think its too old for them yet so they’ll have to wait a while. In the meantime they’ll have to make do with the advert…

Win tickets to an exclusive Playmobil London Fire Brigade Party!

Do you remember I posted about Playmobil Brigade a little while ago? Well, there is even more exciting news!

London Fire Brigade PlaymobilLondon Fire Brigade have recruited a specialist #PLAYMOBILBrigade to celebrate their 150th year. This means that fire stations will be hosting 65 collaborative open days across the capital throughout 2016 to teach children about fire safety in the home. I cant stress how brilliant I think this is, it is such an important thing to be aware of for both adults and children.

To celebrate, we have 1 VIP family ticket to the launch party on Saturday 9th April to give away to one lucky winner, allowing you exclusive entry before its open to the public

There’ll also be a special birthday cake baked by Great British Bake Off star Firefighter Mat Riley, and an appearance by London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson and the Brigade’s first ever Young Fire Safety Officer, 7 year old Archie Cosaitis! Your little ones will be able to meet real firefighters and life-sized PLAYMOBIL ones, plus enjoy toys and activities galore!

The open days are a perfect day out for anyone who’s ever fancied playing firefighter for a day. Limited-edition London Fire Brigade versions of popular PLAYMOBIL Fire Brigade sets have also been created for little ones to learn through play at home. 10% of proceeds will be donated to the Brigade’s charities of choice, with toys available from April to purchase at the open days and from PLAYMOBIL customer services.

The open days follow the release of the PLAYMOBIL crew’s catchy sing-a-long video, showing how London Fire Brigade fights more than just house fires and highlighting how much they do for the community. It is being used by London Firefighters and the Brigade’s Education team as part of their fire prevention outreach work.

For your chance to win, simply watch the video here and answer the following question:

What causes the third emergency that our PLAYMOBIL firefighters are called to?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To find out how to join in the celebrations throughout 2016, visit www.lfb150.co.uk

Full Terms & Conditions:

1.

Participation in the competition is free of charge and does not require an order to be placed. By entering the competition – with the consent of his/her legal guardian if the user is of minor age – accepts these terms and conditions, and any other conditions or deadlines mentioned separately.

2.

PLAYMOBIL will handle all personal details such as family name, first name, phone number and email address in accordance with legal provisions.

3.

Entry to the competition is open to all persons aged 18 and over, and resident in the UK. Legal representatives and employees of PLAYMOBIL or LFB and their family members are not eligible.

4.

To take part in the competition the user must submit the correct answer to the question on this page by midnight on 31st March 2016.

5.

The winner will be randomly drawn from all entries in relation to the competition. Any recourse to courts of law is excluded.

6.

The winner will be notified via email and will need to reply by email to confirm acknowledgement of the prize. If a winner fails to make contact by midnight on 4th April 2016, the prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be drawn at random.

7.

The prize:

  1. There will be 1 winner who will win 1x family ticket (2x adults, 2x children) to the launch party
  2. The family ticket allows 2x adults, 2x children entry to the exclusive invite-only section of the event on Saturday 9th April, 11am-2pm, and they are welcome to stay during the section open to the public (2pm-5pm)

8.

PLAYMOBIL reserves the right to replace the advertised prizes with other prizes and to change the game rules any time. The change takes effect the next calendar day. In this event the participant is not entitled to lodge a claim of any kind against PLAYMOBIL.

9.

PLAYMOBIL shall not be liable for any loss or injury which the participant may incur as a result of accepting or making use of the prize. 

10.

PLAYMOBIL is entitled to exclude participants from the competition at any time in the event of a serious breach of contract.

11.

PLAYMOBIL has the right to cancel the competition at any time without prior notice and without indicating any reasons, particularly if technical complications arise. 

12.

Any recourse to courts of law is excluded.