Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Toyologist Review: Count N Crunch Cookie Monster

£29.99 from Toys R Us.

A little while ago we tried out the new Elmo. The general conclusion was that it was ridiculously overpriced for what you got (thankfully the price has plummeted almost everywhere since). We've now received Count N Crunch Cookie Monster, a simpler toy which is priced much, much lower. What did we think of this one?


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Toyologist Review: Chuggington Championship Deluxe

£29.99 from Toys R Us.

The Trial of Chuggington Championship Deluxe

The Chuggington Championship Deluxe is accused of raising hopes, dashing dreams and generally being a not very good toy. It is hereby sentenced to--

Defence: Hang on a minute, we haven't had the trial part yet! Chuggington Champ... Can we just call it CCD? The full name is a bit of a moutful.

Prosecution: Agreed. It'd be impossible to fit the full title on a letter to Santa. Yet another crime it is guilty of!

D: Well, if we're going to get that petty...

P: Hey, I was perfectly happy to sit back and skip straight to the sentencing. If you're going to insist I do work... Look, I don't need to 'get that petty' to ensure this toy remains on the shop shelves of Toys R Us and not in the trolleys of the good hard-working people of this land. CCD's crimes are numerous and severe. Is it really necessary to highlight them all?

D: That would generally be what trials are for. That way the defendant gets a chance to, you know, defend himself.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Toyologist Review: Lightning McQueen Feature Plush

£24.99 from Toys R Us.

Lightning McQueen Feature Plush Review Crossword!

7. The manufacturer of this toy.
10. Noises are activated when you place a ____ key on Lightning McQueen.
11. The length of the car in cm (6,4).
14. Lightning is recommended for ages ___ and up.
15. One of the directors of Cars 2 (4, 8).
16. Lightning has a 'walking' action, which it does very, very ___
17. Lightning McQueen's catchphrase in the film and said by the toy!

1. The sound is extremely ___
2. Batteries are ___ !
3. The number of AA batteries Lightning takes.
4. Lightning has problems walking on this.
5. One of the production companies that made Cars 2.
6. Lightning's nickname in the films.
8. The other director of Cars 2 (4,5).
9. The voice of Lightning in the film, and probably the toy, but it's a bit hard to tell for sure (4,6).
12. The fictional make of tyres Lightning uses.
13. The other production company that made Cars 2.
15. The month Cars 2 was released in cinemas in the UK.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Review: Memorabilia, Nov 2011

For those not in the know, Memorabilia is 'the ultimate movie, comic and sports show'. Since this will mean absolutely nothing to most people, I shall explain further. A big hall at the NEC is filled with famous people signing autographs and a bunch of stalls selling various 'collector' things. The 'collector' bit varies from vintage toys (usually action figures and related), trading cards, comics, posters... In recent years, in order to reinvigorate what was a dying show, there has been added a few 'extras' such as live wrestling matches and Robot Wars fights.

There is a rule regarding Memorabilia, which we (ie those people who I first started going with over ten years ago) soon discovered: no matter how much money you take, you will always spend it all. There have been some really crappy Memorabilias in recent times, the show having been hit hard by the rise of ebay and internet shopping, but the rule has always held true.

Apparently these people are from Doc Martin. I only really know the
couple who have been in that other series about a GP.

I could go on about the history of Memorabilia, tell you how I once gave Brian Blessed a haircut there, but really this post is to show you some of the stuff I bought, then got home and wondered where the hell I was going to keep it.

As always, as soon as I got there I get a quick initial sweep (yes, it is a bit like a military operation) to see what stalls were where, who was selling what, and taking note of their prices. No purchasing at this stage unless there is a complete bargain.

Second pass, and I thought I was going home with nothing. I didn't really see anything that caught my attention. A bit annoying when you've paid £15 to get in.

Third pass and I start paying more attention to the stuff displayed under tables, or hidden beneath other things. Now things start to get interesting and I finally spot something I'd quite like. And once the first purchase is made...

Review: Hexbug Nano Habitat Set

Let me start by saying that MacGyver isn't a show made up by the writers of The Simpsons. Despite what my uncle (and probably loads of other people) thinks they didn't just make up something to be Patty and Selma's favourite TV show. Richard Dean Anderson is a real person, not a fictional character created for the Bouvier sisters to kidnap.

Not convinced? I have 4 pieces of evidence for this.

1. There's an entry on wikipedia for it. Since wikipedia is the source of all knowledge in the universe, it's a reasonable assumption that whatever's there is indeed true. Okay, so occasionally there's a mistake on wikipedia, which is why I am providing further evidence...

2. The opening titles are on youtube:

'That could have been made by anyone!' you cry, but there's more...

3. The complete Macgyver DVD boxset sits on my shelf. Actually, it doesn't sit on my shelf, it sits on the shelf with all the children's DVDs because my shelf(/shelves) are packed full and there's no where else for it to go.

4. I have a vague memory of watching it in my childhood. The memory is of an episode where someone gets eaten alive by killer ants. A bit like what happens in Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, but with less CGI.

With Hexbug Nanos you can recreate this scene in MacGyver! I've since learned (thanks to my boxset) that the scene in question was in an episode called 'Trumbo's World' and the person who was eaten was Peter Jurasik, who later went on to play Londo in Babylon 5 (and some other stuff, but according to the Word of Me, that's his most famous role).

Monday, 21 November 2011

Toyologist Review: Moshi Monsters Mosh N Chat

£21.99 from Toys R Us.

For the past 6 boxes (aka '6 months' - we toyologists measure time in boxes), James Spence has been doing his reviews in the form of comics. For the final box, and my continuing series of 'experimental' format reviews, I thought I'd have a go too. The toy in question: the caramel-coloured Moshi Monster Katsuma!

I have just read on the Toys R Us product page that there's a manufacturer warning about this: 'Warning. Contains fragrances that may cause allergies', which is strange since Katsuma doesn't appear to be in any way fragrant.

If your child loves Moshi Monsters, or just slightly evil-looking toys (I notice he's been made a lot more evil-looking since the photos were taken for the box - check out the difference between the one I took for the comic & those on the TRU page), then this would be a great buy.

Other Toyology reviews can by found in the Toys R Us Toy Box on Facebook.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Toyologist Review: Playmobil Agents Car

£17.99 from Toys R Us

Choose Your Own Review

Reviews usually flow logically from A to B, but sometimes it's fun to shake things up a little. What if the reader controlled where the review went? What if instead of going from A to B, it went from A to H via G S D and M? Welcome to Choose Your Own Review: Playmobil Agents Car. Read it once, read it twice, read it many times to get the full review!

Hopefully I've got everything set correctly and a wonderful adventure awaits you. If not then, um, this isn't entirely expected and you'll have to try and make the best of it!


You are the newest recruit to the Top Agents, an organisation determined to bring down the sinister Robo Gangsters and their nefarious schemes.

In their latest sinister plot the Gangsters have been hard at work in their secret laboratories, creating an army of robots to TAKE OVER THE WORLD! It’s your mission to locate the factory and destroy the robots. If you could bring down the whole Gangster organisation too, that’d be great, though we would lack a plot were there ever to be a sequel.

Agent codename M.U.M., your superior and head of the Top Agents, has offered you a choice between two modes of transport for the mission.  Which do you choose?

18 – Panthor

Other Toyology reviews can by found in the Toys R Us Toy Box on Facebook. I have absolutely no idea how I'm going to stick this review in there! 

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Review: Star Trek Monopoly

There can be only one.


Yes, once upon a time there was only one version of Monopoly, the game which...well, pretty much everyone has played at some point in their lives. Be it a rainy day, a Thursday afternoon at school, or family gathering [spoilers!]

The game was created in America, then very quickly (before the game went into production in the US) brought to the UK in 1935, where the 'outside the USA' license was bought and the locations changed to those of British streets.

Roll on a few years and some genius decided that it'd be a good idea to start selling more versions of Monopoly. When you sat down and thought about it, there are loads of other things that can be adapted to fit a Monopoly board. The problem with a lot (actually, all) of them is that the designers didn't change the game board much at all. The picture in the middle of the board changed, sure, but the bit where the game pieces went round looked almost identical. The corner pieces were exactly the same and ruined the whole experience.

My home-made Monopoly board looked a bit like this.
I thought of one in the mid-90s. It wasn't licensed, obviously, but it was pretty darn cool. It was based on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The board was a circle (predicting what would actually happen many years later in the official 'Monopoly Revolution'), based on the space station in the TV show. Instead of buying streets you bought up bits of the stations - the infirmary, docking pylons, holding cells, etc.  The most expensive bits were Quark's bar & the Ops (or was it Ops & Sisko's office? It's been quite a while since I made it).

Monopoly Revolution. Again very similar-looking to my board.

Mine looked a 1,000 times better than any of the 'official' versions out there because I'd altered the board and pieces to make it into a game of Monopoly set in the Star Trek universe, instead of a game of Monopoly with a couple of Star Trek pictures.

At around the same time, Star Trek was popular. Hard as it is to believe, but around the 30th Anniversary (1996) Trek was in a golden age. Next Gen was finishing, DS9 three quarters of the way through its run, Voyager just beginning...

So of course someone else thought Trek would be a good idea for a Monopoly version too. Someone who had the ability to get it manufactured and into the shops.

News: 20% off at ELC & Mothercare until midnight

The Christmas (shopping) season is definitely here (if you believe the shops) and so there's almost a new offer every day from someone trying to sell you their toys. There's currently 20% off all toys online at Mothercare & ELC. Haven't looked to see if there are any particular bargains there to take note of, but worth a look if you're after something.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

News: ThunderCats 6"

Bandai have announced that the next two figures in their modern 6" ThunderCats line are to be Tygra & Cheetara. This is nice, but no where near as interesting as the announcement of their new 6" Classics line. We already knew the previous 8" line was dead after only the first two figures (which have yet to be released in Britain - will they ever be now?) due to complaints from collectors that they were two large. In an interview with MTV Geek, Bandai have released pictures of the new Lion-O and Mumm-Ra figures.

Two questions: where are Mumm-Ra's cape and sword? And who on Third Earth decided that having a 'roaring' face on Lion-O was a good idea?

Full news & more images at MTV Geek

News: MattyCollector November items on sale today

The list includes Swiftwind & Snout Spout from the Masters of the Universe Classics line and a host of DC figures. Also included is Bubble Power She-Ra (aka She-Ra 2.0) which is not included in the 2011 MOTUC subscription and is the only version of She-Ra that will sit on Swiftwind. Expect the White Screen of Death to be present as everyone attempts to get this figure!

The items go on sale today at 5pm GMT.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Review: Blobimals

Currently on offer at £4.99 at Find Me a Gift.

Sunday mornings were peaceful in my house in the mid 90s. I used to use the time to do my homework. This was a great time of the week to do homework due in on Monday morning as the library was shut and the internet hadn't been invented yet*.

*may not be quite true.

But enough of my creative Fact Invention. Why was the house peaceful, you ask? Because my sister was busy beating people up at her karate lesson. As well as Peace For Homework, her absence meant I had free reign of the TV. This may possibly have taken priority over homework.

Anyway, it was during these Sunday mornings that I was introduced to two all-time classic TV shows: Rugrats and Bump in the Night. The first, I suspect everyone knows about, the other, however, is more of a cult classic. A bit like The Evil Dead...but less scary, or Pi but, it's pretty much as crazy as Pi. A different type of crazy, but equally mad.

Its insanity is key to its brilliance.

It's about the adventures of Mr Bumpy, a 'wild green guy' who lives under the bed eating socks; his best friend Squishington, the toilet monster; and Molly, a ragged comfort doll. They run around the house having wild adventures, escaping the clutches of the Closet Monster and Destructo the robot. The best bits were always the Karaoke Cafe sections, where one of the gang grabbed a mic and burst into song...

Take my love of Bump in the Night, my childhood enjoyment of making blu-tac models, my lifelong enjoyment of fiddling with stuff with I'm doing something else (watching TV, sat thinking while at work, ...) and combine it with an offer from Find Me A Gift to send something for us to test and...

Blobimals are possibly the best thing I have ever received in the post. It's essentially a pot of something very similar to Silly Putty, with added feet/eyes/tails. The idea is you sit and make a monster. Then you make another. And another. And another.


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Toyologist Review: Chou Chou Magic Pacifier

£44.99 from Toys R Us

Granted, they're not aimed at me but I've always wondered about dolls.  Specifically, how many does one child need?  One, I understand.  Little girl wants to play 'mummy' (yes, I'm generalising with the genders, forgive me!), put baby in pushchair, take her for a walk etc etc.

But does a little girl want 2 dolls?  Gets harder to transport then.  What about 3?  You're a bit stuffed then, right?  Normally by the time an adult has 3 children the first is one is big enough to do a bunch of stuff (like walking) by himself (okay, on rare occasions there are triplets etc).

But, like dads, dolls never grow up.

What I'm getting at is if you're going to only have one you need to make make sure it's a good one.

Do you go for a straight-forward static doll? Or something that takes a handful of AAs and does something? And then does what in particular? None of them can do everything, after all a doll is a model of a baby, not a real one. As George Box said, 'all models are wrong, but some are useful.'

Chou Chou does perform a baby function. Bizarrely, it's actually an improvement on real babies; an evolutionary jump. It hasn't sprouted wings, or able to fire optic blasts from its eyes but it does something every parent desires more than anything. More, even, than getting a good night's sleep. This baby tells you what's wrong when it cries.

More than once in my parenting career I've been faced with a screaming baby and no idea what's wrong with it. Hungry? No, just been fed.  Nappy? Clean. Wind?  Nope.  Then what?  What's wrong, Baby?  It's 3am and you've woken me and won't stop screaming and I'm tired and irritable and... WHY WON'T YOU TELL ME???!!!!!!

And breathe.

Chou Chou comes with a dummy (definitely not a pacifier, despite what the box says), a Magic Dummy, for indeed only magic could reveal the inner workings of a child's mind! Place the dummy in Chou Chou's mouth and her desire is revealed!

Friday, 11 November 2011

News: 3 for 2 at TRU

They say an image is worth a 1000 words, and I think that's more than enough to describe this piece of news.

News: Star Wars 2012 figures have a whole host of pictures of the latest Star Wars figures, due for release early next year. The packaging very clearly inspired by the 3D release of A Phantom Menace.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Review: Robot Heroes

I'm going to cover Kreons in a few days, but before I do I thought I'd look at the previous Clone line which featured Transformers: Robot Heroes.

Robot Heroes was a line of cute 'kid-friendly' PVC Transformers, featuring robots from all eras of the franchise. G1, Beast Wars, Bayformers - all were present here. They didn't transform and articulation (which varied by robot) was generally limited to shoulders and head.

Their main selling point was that they were cute and you could stuff a load of them in your pocket.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Toyologist Review: Handz-On Creativity Table

Available in store at Toys R Us.

Before Mister Maker there was Neil Bucannon. Before Neil there was Tony Hart. My old art teacher once said that she didn't agree with some of the things Tony put in his shows, but she did think he was one of the greatest ambassadors for art in the country. In his time Tony Hart must have encouraged thousands and thousands of kids to pick up a pencil and draw something, so I guess my teacher was right (for once).

It was a tragedy that two strokes left him with the inability to draw. In a weird way, I was kind of happy when he died, as he no longer had to suffer being deprived of his greatest love.

Which is all a little depressing, so we'll move swiftly on to the table review.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Toyologist Review: Leapfrog Learning Table

£34.99 from Toys R Us.

For the purpose of this review (for reasons that will become clear shortly) I attempted to think up the most famous Frenchperson I could.

Obviously, this was Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise.

Now I know he doesn't sound very French, but this is probably because he's spent a lot of time warping about the galaxy, having his body upgraded and asked about room illumination.

I'm almost certain that for when he was a young Picard, his parents, Maurice and Yvette, almost certainly bought him something along the lines of the Leapfrog Learning Table. Why? Well, every Starfleet captain needs to begin his learning somewhere and it will certainly help to know both your native French language and also - since Starfleet Academy is in San Francisco - English.

News: 10% off toys at's deal of the day is 10% off all toys with the code TOYS10OFF.

My bargain pick is the Doctor Who Junk Tardis, which you can pick up for £8.09 using the code. I know it's not the most exciting toy in the world, but it does give your Idris figure somewhere to stand.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

News: £500 trolley dash at TRU to be won!

My name is Damian and I like the new Toys R Us advert. Yes, I think I like it even more than the old one. I will admit that the repetition of 'kid, kid, kid, kid' at the beginning is a bit annoying, but otherwise I think it's great.

To celebrate its arrival, Toys R Us are holding a competition to win a £500 trolley dash. To enter all you have to do is post a video of the children and/or you singing and/or dancing to the new song on their Facebook page. 'But my filming skills are non-existent!' you cry. Well, that doesn't matter. The idea is to have a bit of fun, not win an Oscar for Best Director. The winner will be chosen at random from all the entries.

What's even better is that so far there has only been a single entrant. This means if you entered now you'd have a 50-50 chance of winning!

Hang on, if you do enter then you'll be making my upcoming entry slightly less likely to win.


Yeah, don't enter. Don't go here and read all the detailsDon't download the mp3. Don't get your mobile and film your kids for 30 seconds singing & dancing (or sitting staring at the camera, like my 2yo). Don't post it on Facebook. Don't make my entry less likely to win!

News: 20% off at TRU

Until Thursday, there's 20% off a number of brands at Toys R Us if you use this voucher.