Playtime: LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Turtle Lair Invasion

If you were to rewind 25 years you would most likely find me searching the street for a loose manhole cover so I could join up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to fight off the evil Shredder. Sadly it was never to be and I lived an ‘ooze’ free childhood and instead settled for a Donatello action figure and a comfy place in front of the TV.

Today as I look upon the new movie version of the LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I find myself caught in a strange cocktail of emotions as a flood of nostalgia and a rush of kainotophobia battle it out for a suggestion of how I feel about the new movie Turtle design. I have to be honest I grew up with the Ninja Turtles and despite the numerous reboots over the years they have remained recognisable, this time they’re different, a bit too different. These Turtles are ready for a fight!

They’re the world’s most fearsome fighting team, They’re heroes in a half-shell and they’re green, When the evil Shredder attacks, These Turtle boys don’t cut him no slack!

Anyway… we were lucky enough to receive the LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Lair Invasion set to review, and despite my initial hostility to the new movie character design it didn’t take me long to warm to the LEGO Minifigure versions. After all everything is better in bricks!

I didn’t even have to open the Ninja Turtles Lair Invasion box for the excitement levels to reach fever pitch in our house, shrieks of joy could be heard for miles as we poured out the bags of LEGO from the box. This was going to be an epic build and luckily with the help of my four year old it would slow the building down to snail pace so we could savour the pleasure.

LEGO Turtles Lair Invasion Overview

The Complete Set

The LEGO Ninja Turtles Lair Invasion is the premier set of the new movie range of the LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and boasts a whopping 888 pieces, 6 minifigures, multiple interactive functions and probably most importantly, two LEGO pizzas. This set is impressive!

The Turtle Lair is under attack by Shredder and his Foot Soldiers. Splinter, Donatello and Leonardo must split up to defend their home. Use the bank of screens in the surveillance room to keep an eye on Shredder’s maneuvers. Grab the weapons and defend the manhole cover entrance to the Lair. Climb the ladder and use the cool trap function to drop barrels on the bad guys.

My first thoughts of the Turtles Lair is that this set has been built for playing, although it looks impressive as a stand alone set the real fun is to be had with the interactive features that bring the good vs bad battle alive.

LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Lair Invasion - The Build

The Build

The Lair Invasion set has a recommended building age of 7 – 14 and with two thick instruction books this is quite an intensive build. My son is only 4 and although he could never build this by himself he did play a big part in helping put it together, although it did take 5 long days and 12 snack breaks to complete! The downside to such a big set is that it takes time to build which is great for most of us but when the box teases you with all the fun features I imagine as a small child all you want to do is play with it!

Don’t let the evil invaders explode the wall to the fan room, and if the Foot Soldiers discover the hidden door, elevate the slide behind it to drop them in the prison! Shut the cage door to trap intruders and make those villains pay for trespassing on Turtle property!

LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Lair Invasion - Playtime

Playtime

The LEGO Ninja Turtles Lair Invasion set consists of three main structures that link together to create the Turtles lair. The biggest section of the lair stands three stories tall and has the fun addition of a helter skelter style slide that wraps around the structure from top to bottom, a fantastic way to get to the control room quickly when you are under attack! Out of all the features this was my son’s favourite part and he spent ages sliding all sorts down it. The best was the cozy slide ride between Shredder and Splinter that apparently reminded my son of us when we go down slides?!

LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Lair Invasion - Battle

Let the battle commence

The centre piece of the lair stands two stories tall which is made up of the fan room on the ground floor and a vault door that protects the lair entrance on the top. The fan room features a cool exploding wall that acts as an entrance point to the boisterous Shredder and his balaclava-ed Foot Soldiers. The smallest section of the lair has a sliding cage door that protects the weapon storage and could also act as a great space to trap Shredder and his clan in.

LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Lair Invasion - Pizza

The Take Away

As I write this review I realise just how many parts on this set are interactive and enhance the overall playability, which to name a few include a rotating training platform, the barrel launcher, hidden weapon sliding drawer and hidden door. All of these well thought out features allow the seige to play out across all elements of the lair to prolong the fight.

LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Lair Invasion - Shredder

Even bad guys love the slide

This set is currently priced at £79.99 which means it is probably better suited as a birthday or Christmas present than as an impulsive purchase. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are definitely enjoying a new lease of life as the new film realeases next month in the UK and movie merchandise is starting to pop up everywhere. I think it is safe to say that the Turtles will be featuring on a lot of Christmas lists this year and if you want to buy something special then this set offers fantastic value for money in terms of building and playability.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Love LEGO, Reviews, The Blog

Pimp My Ride: Little Tikes Cozy Coupe Makeovers

The Little Tikes Cozy Coupe Ride-on is instantly recognisable with its trademark red and yellow colours and classic chunky design. The cozy coupe has been around for over 30 years now and it seems that year after year it is the ride on car of choice for even the most discerning toddler. It is no surprise then that with this product being produced for so many years that often these classic ride on cars are passed on from sibling to sibling or even family to family and occasionally their new owners need to breathe new life into them.

We actually have two Little Tikes Cozy Coupes of our own, one is a fairly new Little Tikes Police Car which is great and we also have a second hand classic red and yellow one that is in desperate need of a makeover. I had planned to pimp it up into a Batmobile but I have never found the time to do it, however after seeing what others have done I definitely feel inspired to get out there and give it a go.

You only have to do a quick search on google or pinterest for the term Cozy Coupe Makeover and it will display hundreds of results with a wide range of designs. I have listed below some of my favourites, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

The Little Tikes Cozy Coupe Ride-on – 30th Anniversary Edition
In case you have been living in a cave in a remote location all your life below is a photo of the original version of the cozy coupe.

The Classic Little Tikes Cozy Coupe

The Classic Red Little Tikes Cozy Coupe

The Batmobile
There are several different versions of the cozy coupe Batmobile but this one is by far my favourite, I think it is the attention to detail that really makes it, the classic red bat symbol on the wheels is inspired!

I'm Batman! Batmobile Cozy Coupe Makeover

I’m Batman! Batmobile Cozy Coupe Makeover

Ghostbusters – Ecto1
When I started researching the idea of customising our cozy coupe I thought the Batmobile would be my favourite, and it was until I saw this unbelievably awesome Ghostbusters Ecto-1 cozy coupe! This is pure genius, everything about this project is quality and the attention to detail is second to none from the number plate to the blue hosing from the roof to the petrol tank. Having said that I think that this is slightly too ambitious for a man of my DIY skills.

ecto1 cozy coupe makeover

Who you gonna call?! Ghostbusters custom cozy coupe

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Michelangelo

Cowabunga Dude! This custom cozy coupe is brilliant and very topical at the moment with the upcoming release of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film.  I am also loving the fact that they have chosen Michelangelo by far my favourite turtle. A lot of work has gone into this project from the detail of the turtle shell on the roof which looks like dark green tape and the orange material that utilises the cars eyes to full effect. There are some very creative people out there!

Cowabunga! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cozy Coupe Makeover

Cowabunga! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cozy Coupe Makeover

Planes – Dusty
I have not seen the film Planes but I have seen enough of the trailers and merchandise in stores to know that this custom cozy coupe has done a great job in bringing Dusty to life. The most impressive thing about this project is the introduction of the propeller, wings and tail. There is one very lucky child out there that will be the envy of all his/her friends.

planes dusty cozy coupe makeover

Dusty from Disney Planes

Spider-Man

Spider-man, Spider-man does whatever a spider can… or in this case a car. It looks as though the body of the car has used the original red paint work and just added the spider web effect and Spider-man logo with a custom blue paint job to the roof, the result is great.

Spider-man cozy coupe makeover

Spider-man cozy coupe makeover

Fire Truck
Most of the cozy coupe makeovers out there have adopted a beloved theme from a TV show or movie, this person has gone for the classic Fire Truck with some cute addition to help spark the imagination of any budding fire fighter out there. The introduction of the ladder and the hose really help to finish the Fire Truck off, I am surprised the Fire Engine isn’t available in the original range, if it is I must have missed it. If you want to have a go at creating this check out the sweetcsdesigns blog.

Fire Truck Cozy Coupe Makeover

Fire Truck Cozy Coupe Makeover

CAT
Do you have a budding Bob the Builder in your household? If so then you may want to have a go at creating this custom cozy coupe, the classic CAT.

CAT Cozy Coupe Makeover

CAT Cozy Coupe Makeover

Minnie Mouse
This custom coupe is a great interpretation of Minnie Mouse with the pink with white polka dot body paint and the classic mouse ears on the black roof. This coupe is super cute.

Minnie Mouse Cozy Coupe Makeover

Minnie Mouse Cozy Coupe Makeover

Scooby Doo – Mystery Machine
Scooby Doo where are you? Your custom cozy coupe Mystery Machine is parked on a double yellow line! This design of the Mystery Machine is one of my favourites, Scooby Doo is very popular in our house and I could image this would make someone very happy and probably my son too!

Scooby Doo Mystery Machine Cozy Coupe Makeover

Scooby Doo Mystery Machine Cozy Coupe Makeover

Dukes of Hazard – General Lee
I imagine this cozy coupe makeover was probably the idea of a fanatical parent rather than the child it was designed for but either way they have done a great job. I hope they practiced jumping in straight through the window!

General Lee Cozy Coupe Makeover

General Lee Cozy Coupe Makeover

Toy Story – Woody
Last but not least this custom Little Tikes cozy coupe based on Woody from Toy Story is a brilliant idea and one I would never of thought of. I love the fact the paintwork mimics the clothing design of the lovable cowboy Woody. The details on it are great and I imagine a lot of patience was needed to create the chequered shirt and belt buckle. Brilliant.

woody cosy coupe makeover

Woody from Toy Story Cozy Coupe Makeover

If you fancy having a go at doing a cozy coupe makeover you should head over to ebay to see if you can pick up a bargain or if you are a fan of the original you can pick the Cozy Coupe 30th anniversary version up from Amazon for a reasonable price.

I struggled to find the original source of a lot of these cozy coupe makeovers, if anyone knows who the creators were please contact me so I can add a link to the original source as I would love to know more about how they were made.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in For Dads Eyes Only, The Blog, The Parenting Paradox

Playtime: Halo Mega Bloks UNSC Flame Warthog

This week I was sent a set of the new Halo Mega Bloks UNSC Flame Warthog to build and play with. It made a nice change to get something for me to build and play with as the product is more aimed at gamers than younger children. I have to be honest up until today I very much had the preconception that Mega Bloks was a brand aimed at very young children and produced chunky easy to build blocks and although I had seen the Halo sets in toy shops it wasn’t something I had instantly associated with Mega Bloks.

Not just for recon operations, the all-new UNSC Flame Warthog by Mega Bloks Halo tackles multiple missions. The M12 Force Application Vehicle is the UNSC’s primary ground vehicle, commonly used for its scouting and reconnaissance capacity.

Halo Mega Bloks Flame Warthog

On the hunt…

The packaging of the Halo Flame Warthog box is not only bright but eye catching especially with the Halo imagery on the front, I am sure it is definitely a head turner for any Halo fan. Having highlighted my preconception of the brand I was dubious of how good the quality of the bricks would be and how it would compare to other leading construction brands. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and the quality of the bricks combined with the easy to navigate instructions evaporated any concerns I had.

With an actual working suspension and 360 rotating turret, the highly mobile all-wheel drive “Hog” with all-new flame paintjob is clearly ready for battle!

Halo Mega Bloks Flame Warthog 3

SPARTAN!!

The build of the Halo UNSC Flame Warthog was really enjoyable, I had picked a time where my two boys were out of the house so I wouldn’t have to wrestle bricks off them or surgically remove anything from a small snotty nostril. It took me about 30 minutes to build the set and as you would expect with a recommended builders age of 8+ as an adult I didn’t have too many problems although I did find clicking in the axles that supported the wheels a bit sticky.

Features two new super-articulated micro action figures with customizable armor, includes 2 Spartan GUNGNIR.

Halo Mega Bloks Flame Warthog 2

Making a stand…

I really enjoyed adding the finishing touches to the set with the likes of the 360 degree rotating turret and especially placing the super poseable ‘Spartan Gungnir’ micro figures into the vehicle.

When built the Flame Warthog is a robust vehicle and benefits from the real working suspension as it pushed along rough terrain. Although the likelihood is if you have bought this set for a gamer then it will probably just sit proudly next to the TV rather than being played with as all the action tends to happen on screen.

I think this would be a great gift for any gamer dads or if you just want a great construction toy then this set offers great playability especially for the price. The RRP is £24.99 which I think is fair for what the set offers bearing in mind you get the flame warthog vehicle and the two micro figures.

Mega Bloks offers a full range of Halo sets to keep the gamer fans in your life very busy for a long time!

Posted in Reviews, The Blog

LEGO® Star Wars™ introduces ‘Oscar-Style’ awards just for fans!

Warning, reading this post may result in a sudden yelp of excitement and have you donning a brown hooded dressing gown for days of intergalactic building.

Today the LEGO Group announced the event that all LEGO Star Wars fans have been training for… the Golden Brickies, an award ceremony that has been created to reward families with the most creative LEGO® Star Wars™ builders.

LEGO® Star Wars™ announces its first ever intergalactic national ‘Oscar-style’ awards just for fans! The ‘Golden Brickies’ Awards launch today on the LEGO Facebook page to celebrate the best fan created content for all the creative Jedi builders, budding photographers and film makers out there.

LEGO Star Wars Golden Brickies Awards

Better get building!!

In homage to the legendary movie franchise and upcoming Episode VII, LEGO® is inviting families across the UK to take part in this epic event which will culminate in an exclusive red carpet celebration event at LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort Hotel with other amazing prizes up for grabs.

Still not convinced? Well check out the details of the prizes on offer:

  • An invitation to the prestigious red carpet LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort awards ceremony on Saturday 11th October 2014
  • A chance to meet Return of the Jedi actor, Warwick Davis, as well as the bods behind the LEGO® Star Wars™ universe
  • A year’s supply of LEGO® Star Wars™ goodies
  • A LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort Annual Pass for a family of four
  • Entry into LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort afterwards to enjoy the Resort’s 55 rides, shows and attractions. PLUS entrance to the LEGO® Star Wars™ Miniland, which re-creates the most iconic scenes from the legendary movies and the animated TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars™ in over 1.5 million LEGO bricks.
  • Your very own bespoke LEGO® C-3PO award

If that doesn’t get you bricking it, I don’t know what will!

There are four categories of awards at the #GoldenBrickies:

  • Best picture – create a LEGO® Star Wars™ inspired photograph using your collection
  • Best mini movie – either create a LEGO® Star Wars™ movie blooper or your own alternative movie ending
  • Best set build – LEGO® Star Wars™ inspired build
  • Overall LEGO® Star Wars™ Golden Brickies winner for best content creation

The winners will be selected by an all star judging panel which includes the legendary Warwick Davis who played Wicket the Ewok in Return of the Jedi.

Now to the all important information of how to enter the #GoldenBrickies:

Simply upload your video or picture entry to the Golden Brickies page on the LEGO® Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter, using #GoldenBrickies and that’s it! Submission of entries will be open between 12th September and close at midnight on 26th September 2014. The award ceremony will then take place on Saturday 11th October so make sure you can make it before you enter!

I have already seen a few entries pop up on my social media streams and the competition will be strong, I am hoping to use the force to convince the judges that I am the winner they are looking for. 

Even if you don’t win it will be fun trying and sharing your work with other LEGO Star Wars fans…. here is a photo I took earlier #GoldenBrickies

LEGO Star Wars Millenium Falcon

Save me a seat Wicket!

May the force be with you!

Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in Love LEGO, The Blog

Playtime: My 1st JCB Big Wheeler Joey

We were recently sent a ‘My 1st JCB Big Wheeler Joey’ from Golden Bear to review and we finally got a chance to play with it this weekend.

I have two boys, my eldest will turn 4 in a couple of months and my youngest just celebrated his first birthday this week. Even though our house is cluttered with toys I sometimes think we don’t have enough hands-on toys for my youngest to play with, he seems to get caught up playing with toys that are typically too old for him as he likes to hijack his brother’s playtime. I thought the ‘My 1st JCB Big Wheeler’ would be an ideal toy for him to enjoy on his own.

My 1st JCB Big Wheeler Joey is a super sized ‘Kid Tough’ character! Pull his exhaust to lift the scoop and you can lift the rear digger bucket for added play. His chunky big wheels are ready for any indoor or outdoor challenge!

My 1st JCB Big Wheeler Joey Toy

My 1st JCB Big Wheeler Joey Toy

The bright colours and character design of Joey the JCB were the first thing that caught my eye and the interest of both my boys, I hadn’t even removed it from its box when I had been pressured into opening it ‘quicker’ with chants and grunts of impatience. The JCB toy is aimed at children aged 12 months + and what I thought would be perfect for my my 1 year old seemed to have equally as much play appeal to my near 4 year old.

Once I removed the toy from its eye catching packaging we took it straight into the play area for a test drive. The toy is clearly advertised as ‘kid tough’ which is quite a statement but one that I think holds up to its promise, as although the JCB is a light weight toy the plastic moulding seems fairly robust. I am not sure it would hold up on a real construction site but it certainly did its job when raced across the room in an overly enthusiastic manner.

My 1st JCB Big Wheeler Joey Toy Playing

Playtime

The My 1st JCB Big Wheeler Joey measures 25cm in length and 17cm in height which combined with its light weight design makes it perfect for a 12 month old to push along and engage with, not too small and not too big. Apart from the big deep treaded wheels the JCB has two moveable functions, the front moving scoop and the rear digger bucket. Both these features make the toy a little bit more interactive as you can introduce sand, soil, stones or even a pile of jelly beans to the play zone.
My 1st JCB Big Wheeler Joey Toy Playtime
The My 1st JCB Big Wheeler Joey is available from Amazon at a fair price of £9.99 however it is currently on sale at £7.49, a bargain.  I think for the price you really can’t go wrong with this toy, it is fun, interactive and durable, it would make a perfect gift or an impulse buy to inject a bit of life to a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Golden Bear have a wide range of ‘My 1st’ toys available which would complement the JCB and they even have talking versions too.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Reviews, The Blog

Looking back… The thoughts of a second time Dad-to-be

My youngest son had his first birthday yesterday and I thought it would be interesting to look back at how I felt about the prospect of having a second child and compare it to the reality. I wrote the following post when my wife was pregnant but it never got published and thought it would be nice to share it now. 

24 weeks in and pregnancy feels different this time around. Instead of worrying about the unknown I panic over the thought of containing a turbo charged toddler whilst supporting the needs of a newborn baby and an exhausted mummy. Life with just one can sometimes be overwhelming, how will we cope with two?!

People say it gets easier when you have more than one child, I really can’t imagine how. At the moment we struggle to even leave the house in the morning, or as I like to call it ‘The Great Escape’. It is near on impossible with a toddler, how are we going to do it with a baby in tow? I am already one bad morning away from sleeping in my work suit in the hope it will shave a couple of minutes off the morning rush.

Where will the extra energy come from to survive the sleepless nights and high octane days? I find myself puppeteering my wife around the house, as the combination of a non-stop toddler and the growing bump eat away at her energy. I have flashes of guilt as I step over her pregnancy induced narcoleptic body to fulfil the needs of our demanding son. I am consciously aware that my wife is getting less pampering this time around but I comfort myself by thinking I am helping in other ways.

baby bump loading image

As our family grows so do our expenses. I find myself unintentionally counting down to the birth by pay days rather than weeks. I don’t mean that in a negative sense but from a budgeting aspect, I want to make sure that with the inevitable cut backs we can still enjoy the odd treat. After all my… er.. my son’s LEGO addiction won’t fund itself.

As I sit here now in my only place of peace, the toilet, I have time to argue a positive for every possible negative that may cross my mind. I hear the familiar sound of my son repetitively asking “Why?” in tandem with the groans of my wife as she wrestles to get his socks on. The commotion warmly reminds me of the rollercoaster adventure that we are about to embark on. Yes our nerves are in tatters from the first time around but it’s the ups and downs, thrills and spills that make parenthood so rewarding.

I can put my hand on my heart and say that since becoming a dad I have never felt more complete. My relationship with my wife has been tested at times through tiredness and stress but the love and laughter shared has ensured that our bond is stronger than ever. The overwhelming sense of pride I get when I see or hear my son do something new is a feeling that money can’t buy and now I can look forward to experiencing it all again.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Babies for Beginners, So you're gonna be a Dad, now what?, The Blog

Top 10 Best Worst Baby Gifts…

It seems a lot of people I know have either just had a baby or are having a baby which means that gifts will need to purchased. I like to think outside the box when it comes to baby gifts and as a Father of two myself I know no matter how cute and nice a baby grow looks it can become a bit dull after the hundredth one. So this has led me to scour the deepest and sometimes scariest parts of the internet to try and find the perfect baby gift, this is what I found…

1. The Windi Gas Relievers…

Yes these baby butt plugs are real and come from the company that brought us the ‘snot sucker’ among other essential items. Wind can be a problem for all of us but for babies it can appear to be excruciating at times so no doubt there is probably a place for this product. Personally I prefer a less hands-on approach to dealing with the problem.

“The Windi is designed specifically for this purpose. The soft, pliable, hollow tube features a rounded tip that is long enough to reach past the muscle that prevents the release of the gas, and also has a stopper to prevent an insertion too far.”

windi gas reliever for babies

Feeling windy?!

2. Baby Wigs

Are you feeling anxious that your newborn baby daughter’s bald head will cause random strangers to mistake her for a boy?! Well baby bangs could be the product for you!

“For the girl who has everything, except hair!”

I have two boys so I am not in a position to state whether this product is a must buy or not. I am sure it has it’s fans but personally I like my babies au naturel!

baby bangs hair wigs

Wig-diculous?

3. The Daddle – For Dad that likes to take babies for a ride!

“The Daddle is a soft-stuffed model of the real thing. Comes complete with adjustable stirrups, soft saddle horn and a latigo strap designed with Dad’s comfort in mind. Provides interactive fun for kids and adults alike. The Daddle is made of washable sturdy cotton and will bring hours of enjoyment to your home. Daddle Up!”

To be honest, having experienced a few years of being rode bareback the thought of the Daddle seems a necessary luxury! In fact I have a birthday coming up so if anyone feels generous I would be over the moon to receive a gift like this.

The Daddle

Daddle up!

4. Zakky Infant Pillow

I am considering renaming this post to the best baby gifts as the Zakky Infant Pillow may look like “Thing” from the Addams Family has ventured into childcare but I think it is an ingenious invention. When my baby boy wakes in the night it can often just take a calm soft hand to settle him down, almost in an instant, but then take it away and all hell breaks loose. The next time you are stuck with your arm wedged between the bars of a cot at 3am while you have fallen into a heap of sleep you too will be racing to buy ones of these ridiculous looking pillows.

zakky infant pillow hands

Need a helping hand?!

5. The Baby Butt Fan

“The Original Baby Butt Fan™ makes diaper rash prevention a breeze! It’s the only portable fan on the market that has been specifically designed with baby in mind.”

In theory The Baby Butt Fan seems a great idea but in reality I like to get in and out of the danger zone as quickly as possible, plus I cannot imagine the kind of looks you would receive if someone walked in whilst your were fanning your baby’s butt!

baby butt fan

6. The Baby Mop

Having a baby is exhausting and it doesn’t get any easier as they get older, especially when they start crawling. However the Baby Mop pays off for the parents that encourage their baby to get crawling and explore different areas of the home especially the dirty parts!

These baby mops are super soft and comfortable. The mop is made using ultra absorbent materials and engineered to clean and shine your floor.”

the baby mop

7.  A Celebratory Cake

Childbirth is a different for everyone and whether an easy or horrific experience it is exhausting for all involved, therefore the thought of rewarding the new parents with a celebratory cake may seem like a good idea. To be honest cake is always a good idea, unless…. you completely misjudge the situation and present a detailed designed cake that brings back memories of the birth.

worst baby shower cake ever

Mary Berry would be proud…

8. The Noisiest Toy

Remember when your childless friend bought your son / daughter a really annoying noisy toy and handed it over with a smug look on their face?! So that same friend has just had a child…. payback.

I happen to have some extensive experience of enduring the noise of annoying toys, even possessed ones that go off in the dead of the night and there is one toy that is simply the worst. The flute.

My son has had quite a selection of flutes over the last couple of years all of which have been re-homed. If you have payback to give then go for the flute.

noisy childrens flute

9. Baby Poop Alarm

I love technology and have way too many gadgets however, I think the Baby Poop Alarm is a step too far for even me. However if you suffer from Anosmia then you may want to invest in this clever gizmo that will alert you every time your darling angel has done a poop, for the rest of us I am sure the overwhelming stench will be enough to raise the alarm without the need for this gadget.

baby poop alarm

10. Mr Milker

With the Mr Milker Dads can now breastfeed too. I would love to see the face on a Dad that unwraps the Mr Milker in front of the family. I think any device that can give men the opportunity to form closer bonds with their babies early on is worth exploring…. however…

“Breastfeeding Envy” is what many psychologists are now saying is the most common and least-discussed concern among today’s young parents.

the mr milker

The breast gift for Dads

Have you come across any other best worst baby products on the web? If so please share!

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Babies for Beginners, So you have a baby, now what?, The Blog, The Parenting Paradox

Countdown: LEGO Minifigures Series 12

Finally an official launch date has been announced for the LEGO Minifigures Series 12 collection – 1st October 2014. There are plenty of images of the collection doing the rounds on the web at the moment but we can’t actually get our hands on them for another month! I suppose that gives me just enough time to attempt to fill in the gaps of the previous series!

LEGO Minifigures Series 12 - Released 1st October 2014

LEGO Minifigures Series 12 – Released 1st October 2014

I was quite late to join the party of the LEGO Minifigures Series so it has taken me longer than others to perfect my LEGO bag fondling technique. I have gone from a discreet 5 minute fumble in the corner of the store to a quick assertive stroke stood brazenly in front of the merchandise. I am no expert but I have got lucky on a few occasions.

With the full range of Series 12 now confirmed I have gone back and forth to try and decide what ones I want the most. It is really hard to call a favourite as many of them have appeal for different reasons. For example I really like the ‘Prospector’ for the attachable beard but then the ‘Rock Star’ looks awesome, a definite must have for the guitar alone!

lego minifigures series 12

Prospector and Rock Star [LEGO Minifigures Series 12]

Hopefully between myself and my son we will actually be able to complete a Minifigures series for once, although that is probably doubtful, we are still scouring the country for Mr. Gold from series 10!

If you fancy going interactive with your LEGO Minifigures then you can try out the Minifigures Online game that is currently in BETA mode. I have downloaded it but yet to have a proper play on it, will feedback more when I have, or take a look for yourself.

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Love LEGO, The Blog

Camping with a baby… What could go wrong?!

Last week we took advantage of what seems like the last of the summer’s sun and headed down to Lewes in Sussex for a two day camping adventure. My Wife and I had been camping a few times before and had enjoyed it but this would be the first time that we had braved outdoor living with our two boys, aged 11 months and nearly 4 years old.

Camping with a baby - crawling

The Great Outdoors

We had no doubts that our eldest would love the camping experience, being outdoors all day, playing with other children, roasting marshmallows and sleeping in a tent, what is not to like?! Our concerns were about taking a baby camping, especially when it is often tough enough at home with all the comforts around us, could he/we make it through two nights away from them?!

Family camping with a baby - cooking

The Masterchef

The iDad tips for camping with a baby:

1. Location, Location, Location…

When we arrived at the campsite we were lucky enough to bag a corner plot and consciously positioned ourselves as far away from other tents as possible. The walls of a tent offer no privacy so the sounds of a crying baby at 3am will be heard by all, and if they aren’t then the moans and groans of an exhausted parent definitely will!

2. Pack for every eventuality

When going away with kids the amount of stuff you need or think you need to take away with you is phenomenal and even going away for just two nights saw us packed in the car like sardines. To maximise space in the car why not wear all your clothes for the entire trip, that way you save on suitcase space, however be prepared for some prolonged stares if you decide to wear your partners clothes too.

Remember to pack a small first aid kit, not just for the kids but trying to erect a tent with your partner can be quite stressful and one misplaced word of ‘advice’ could lead to taking a flung peg to the eye!

Family camping with a baby - ride-along

The Campmobile

3. Wrap up warm

Although we went away during a warm summer’s weekend we made sure we took plenty of warm clothes and blankets for the evening as the temperature can really drop in the night. Even if the thought of sleeping in a chilled tent is appealing it probably isn’t for a baby.

Having said that we accidentally left all our blankets at home and had to improvise, lets just say everyone in the tent was warm, other than me.

4. Go wild…

Don’t forget to let loose and enjoy the wild way of living. Routines go out of the window, if it can’t be BBQ’d it isn’t on the menu and so what if your child overdoses on marshmallows and your baby crawls around grazing on grass. What happens at the campsite stays at the campsite!

Family camping with a baby - brotherly love

Brotherly Love

I can honestly say that both our boys had such an amazing time, they lived each day to the full with no digital distractions or TV, just good old fashioned outdoors fun. My eldest son got the most out of it as he made so many friends on the campsite which meant full on playtime and laughs from sunrise till long after sunset.

I am not sure if we are ready to brave a whole week yet but will definitely try and get in another weekend camping session before the end of summer, just hope the sunshine comes back soon.

Family camping with a baby - bathtime

Back to basics bathtime

If anyone has any good recommendations of family friendly campsites in the South East of England then please share.

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Dad-tivities, Days Out, So you're gonna be a Dad, now what?, The Blog, The Trouble With Toddlers

Win! Family Ticket to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not – London

ripleys-london-logo-purple-md

Last week I teased you all with the details of our weird and wonderful visit to Ripley’s Believe It or Not in London and now you could have the chance to enjoy a fantastic family day out for free. Courtesy of the lovely team at Ripley’s – London I have a family ticket to give away [2 adults, 2 children or 1 adult, 3 children] and all you have to do is answer a simple question for a chance to win it!

“At Ripley’s Believe It or Not! London visitors can marvel at an unbelievable collection of jaw dropping artefacts from across the globe – many of which were collected by the ultimate explorer Robert Ripley himself.

With over 700 astonishing exhibits, galleries and interactive experiences spanning across 6 floors, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! London celebrates the weird, wonderful and bizarre in all its forms, which are sure to excite, delight and thrill the whole family.”

For more information about Ripley’s Believe It or Not! London check our review.

For your chance to win the family ticket simply complete the form below with the answer to the following question in the message section:

Q: What was the first name of the ultimate explorer Mr. Ripley?

For a second entry for a chance to win follow me on twitter and RT the competition tweet. @The_iDad 

The competition closes on Friday 29th August 2014 at 5pm BST.

A winner will be selected at random and will be contacted directly.

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Days Out, Reviews, The Blog

Family Day Out in London: Ripley’s Believe it or Not!

Ripley's Believe it or not - London - Swarovski Mini Cooper

As I listen to the rain rattle off our windows it seems as though the sun may be setting on our summer already. Even though the sun may be fading there is no reason why the fun has to, especially when there are so many incredibly fun and family friendly places to visit in London.

Last Sunday my son and I were lucky enough to be invited to Ripley’s Believe or Not situated in London’s Piccadilly Circus. I was really excited about visiting Ripley’s as I had been to one in Florida about 16 years ago and remember being in awe of the weird and wonderful things on show. This time I got to share that experience with my 4 year old son, and I was sure he would love everything they had on offer.

With over 700 astonishing exhibits, galleries and interactive experiences spanning across 6 floors, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! London celebrates the weird, wonderful and bizarre in all its forms, which are sure to excite, delight and thrill the whole family.

The day we visited Ripley’s the weather could not have been worse, by the time we raced through a monsoon shower my son and I were absolutely soaked through. The welcome shelter of the lobby area of Ripley’s Believe it or Not soon distracted us from the cold and wet rain. Our eyes were immediately drawn to the latest addition to Ripley’s collection, the sparkling swarovski crystal covered Mini Cooper, it is incredible, the photo above really doesn’t do it justice.

Ripley's Believe it or not - London - Optimus Prime Transformer

Robots in…. Ripley’s

There are so many visual treats before you even get to the entrance, with a staggering replica of Transformer – Optimus Prime, he looks majestically over the queue ensuring order is kept.

On entering Ripley’s the journey starts with a psychedelic lift ride to the top floor where we were greeted by two of Ripley’s finest tour guides who not only adorned a classic style explorers outfit but provided an enthusiastic and insightful commentary.

Ripley's Believe it or not - London - Olympic Torch

… and the winner is…

I must admit I was a little bit skeptical as to whether Ripley’s would be suitable for a four year old but the open layout is peppered with enough interactive attractions to keep my ‘hands-on’ son entertained. From the moment we walked out on to the top floor the lure of weird and wonderful exhibits were intoxicating. Within seconds we had seen a life size knitted Ferarri made from 12 miles of yarn, the world’s smallest car, the world’s largest rocking chair and a roaring T-Rex! That was all before we enjoyed a holographic presentation from the legend that is Robert Ripley himself.

Ripley's Believe it or not - London - Tall Man

Better start eating your greens!

With 6 floors to explore you could immerse yourself in Ripley’s world for a good few hours without experiencing a minute of boredom. Even if you are visiting with younger children that like to drag you around at break neck speed, it would still take a couple of hours.

When it came to the interactive exhibits my son’s favourites were definitely the mirror maze, the spinning tunnel and the laserace. I recommend you take a survival pack for the mirror maze, as you could be in there for a few days, a sick bag for the spinning tunnel and a lycra outfit for the laserace. The spinning tunnel isn’t that bad, my tip is to look straight ahead, avoid eye contact with the spinning walls and don’t go through it 5 times in  a row!

Ripley's Believe it or not - London - Spinning Tunnel

“You spin me right round…”

You may feel a bit parched by the time you get half way around from the constant jaw dropping that occurs but don’t worry you can grab a refreshment at the ‘remarkable cafe’. However you may think twice about buying that chocolate brownie as the cafe is sandwiched between the world’s fattest man and woman.

Ripley's Believe it or not - London - Overweight

Tipping the scales!

With 700 exhibits my review and photos cannot possibly do justice to such an eclectic mix of artifacts. There was so much to take in that I would like to go back again without my son just so I can have a chance to digest everything in a bit more detail. I found myself being dragged around until we got to the spinning tunnel, as soon as my son heard about it that is all he wanted to do.

Ripley's Believe it or not - London - Funny Face

With prices currently at £67.96 for an online family ticket [2 adults, 2 children or 1 adult, 3 children] it works out to £16.99 per person. I appreciate that there are a number of free museums in London, excellent ones at that, but Ripley’s offers a unique experience that allows you to “take your imagination into uncharted territory”.

When you consider that for £16.99 you can enjoy and have an experience that you wouldn’t get anywhere else, and one that will keep the family entertained for a good few hours, I think it is a fair price. With some truly unbelievable sights on offer it will keep the family talking about what they have seen long after you exit the building.

Ripley's Believe it or not - London - LEGO Anakin Star Wars

LEGO Anakin… or is it?!

If you are travelling into London to visit Ripley’s Believe it or Not then you may want to make a whole day of it, we certainly did. Before going to Ripley’s we were lucky enough to have a private tour of Hamleys Toy Store which was incredible, especially for a big kid like me. The experience of Hamleys is one that I would recommend for every child to enjoy, it may be ridiculously busy and you won’t find many bargains, but the enthusiastic staff bring the story alive with a sprinkling of imagination. It is very rare that you visit a store these days and encounter staff that are genuinely pleased and excited to be at work.

Planet Hollywood London - Burger Bite

Hasta la vista, burger!

If you want somewhere to eat in London and you want to keep the magic alive, then there is no better place than Planet Hollywood London.

There is nowhere else that you can tuck in to your burger and take in the memorabilia of some the biggest Hollywood films. My favourite was the life size replica of Hans Solo cemented in carbonite from Star Wars Empire Strikes Back.

If you have been to Ripley’s Believe it or Not or thinking about going I would love to hear what your thoughts are or if you have any questions.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Dad-tivities, Days Out, Reviews, The Blog

Review: LEGO Technic Black Champion Racer

Imagine the scene, we open our new shiny box of the LEGO Technic Black Champion Racer in a rush of excitement and I blurt out in my best american accent  ”I feel the need… the need for….” then there was a long pause as I looked at my 4 year old son in expectation to be the Goose to my Maverick and finish off the sentence. Instead he softly whispers in dismay “LEGO?!”

The smooth lines of the LEGO® Technic Black Champion Racer can only mean one thing… speed! Pull the super-sleek car back, release and watch it shoot forwards!

It was ridiculous of me to expect him to know what to say as he has never seen the film, but the whole theme of our play session with the LEGO Technic Black Champion Racer was all about speed and I had a need!

LEGO Technic Black Champion Racer

Preparing for the big race [Minifigure not included]

I have to confess that despite being a big LEGO fan as a child and now as a man-child I have never had the pleasure of building a LEGO Technic set. There has been no reason for it except other sets have appealed to me more, or maybe subconsciously I thought Technic was for more expert builders. Either way I have definitely been missing out!

The Black Champion Racer is a relatively small set compared to some of the products in the LEGO Technic range, but they say good things come in small packages and that is definitely the case with this product. With just 138 pieces and a recommended builder age of 8 – 14 the build was challenging enough to take about 20 – 30 minutes, maybe quicker if you don’t have to chase down a crawling baby and wrestle a car tyre off him!

LEGO Technic Black Champion Racer-6

The Champion [Minifigure not included]

I really love the choice of colours of the racer, the mix of bright orange and midnight black provide a modern twist to a classic type race car design. The showpiece of this set is the pull back and release feature that really brings the car alive and brings a whole new dimension to the play experience.

LEGO Technic Black Champion Racer Ready to Race

Ready to race!

Although my 4 year old really wanted to help with the build he wasn’t really able to do much apart from put the wheels on, which was fine as he knew it would be too difficult for him. However, once the car was built the playability of this product is suitable for all.

It was only the other week that we were planning to build a ridonculous ramp for my son’s toy cars and the appeal of testing out the pull back and release feature of the racer was too good to resist, so out came the ramp. Now I may have falsely built the image of this ramp to be something stupendous, well it will be, but it isn’t at the moment, currently it is just a sheet of MDF.

LEGO Technic Black Champion Racer go

Get set, go!

Before we went and made any adjustments to the ramp we tested out how the LEGO Technic Black Champion Racer’s pull back motor performed on an incline. It did surprisingly well and with a bit of tinkering to the trajectory of the ramp we were ready to race.

There were squeals of glee when the racer flew off the edge of the ramp and landed with such elegance, my son then requested I stop the shrieking and help him build something “even cooler”. What came next was a building session of unadulterated creativity, the ‘ring of doom’ was about to be born.

LEGO Technic Black Champion Racer the ring of doom

The ring of doom [aka DUPLO]


10 minutes later and the ‘ring of doom’ stood proudly at the edge of our ramp. Not only did this intimidating DUPLO creation add a new element of skill and danger to the jump but we had also lined up a wide range of blood thirsty DUPLO animals at the base of it, waiting to pounce on any mistakes.

LEGO Technic Black Champion Racer the launch

Here we go!

I really had my doubts as to whether the Black Champion Racer had the guile to make it through. It did, just, but not without clattering into an elephant and a cow. We couldn’t afford a repeat of that horror so it was back to the drawing board.

The great thing about LEGO is the instructed model is just a guide, you build it, you enjoy then you can modify it. Although tempting to do a complete re-design of the racer I could hear the bath running and time was running out on our play session. A really quick fix of bringing the front wheels closer to the back wheels by two holes surprisingly gave us the an extra inch lift which squeezed the racer past the giraffe, elephant and cow with ease. There were cheers all round!

LEGO Technic Black Champion Racer - The Jump

Air Time!

At £17.99 the LEGO Technic Black Champion Racer is a bit more than a pocket money buy but it offers so much value, not just in the build but with all the fun that can be had with the pull back and release function. A big plus with this set is the ability to mix it with the Desert Racer to create a Race Truck with two pull back motors!

As a newbie to Technic I am worried that I enjoyed this product so much that it will act as a gateway to bigger and better Technic products… well have you seen the Cargo Plane?!!

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Boys Toys, Love LEGO, Reviews, The Blog

Subscribe to my Blog

Subscribe

Follow @The_iDad

The Archive

dadzclub - the dad network

TOTS 100 - UK Parent Blogs