If you follow me on any social media, you’ll probably know that poor Sausage has been off school all week with tonsillitis. Every time we think she’s on the mend and ready to go back to school, she seems to get all run-down again, like today when she woke up with a stinking cold on top of it all. She’s feeling pretty droopy, so when a parcel arrived just for her yesterday, the timing couldn’t have been better. She’s had the Disney Princess Palace Pets app on Daddy’s iPad for a while now and she adores the game, which is basically a virtual grooming shop for all of the pets belonging to the various Disney Princesses, and the toys we were sent to review accompany the app.
The main Disney Princess Palace Pets Pamper and Beauty Salon Play Set retails for around £33 and contains one Palace Pet (in this case it was Summer, a cat belonging to Rapunzel), and gives you a place to sit your animals while they’re being preened and pampered, as well as coming with various hair clips and brushes which can be used on tails and manes. We were also sent Blossom, Mulan’s Panda, Bloom, Aurora’s pony, and Treasure, a singing pussy cat who belongs to Ariel.
Sausage was absolutely over the moon with all of the toys, which seemed really true to the animations within the app (she immediately recognised Blossom as we pulled her out of the box!) and she’s been playing with it all pretty much ever since. All of the toys feel high quality and well made, although some of the parts are absolutely tiny, so I wouldn’t give them to smaller kids or those prone to putting things in mouths or up noses!
I like the fact that there are lots of different pets available, so if your child has a favourite princess you can buy the corresponding animal. The talking and singing cat is slightly larger than the other pets and as such retails for a slightly higher price (around £12.99, compared with around £5.99 for the smaller, non-talking pets) but I think all of the prices seem quite fair, given that it all feels sturdy and like it would last a while. This is definitely the sort of playset that I can see us putting away when Sausage has outgrown it, and passing it onto the baby shen she’s old enough for such toys.
This would make a great gift for any child who loves their Disney Princesses and it’s genuinely cheered my little lady up in a week which has been pretty miserable for her.
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A few weeks back, Sausage was sent a Sky Dancers doll to review. She’d been seeing the adverts all over Christmas, but silly Santa forgot to bring her one, so she was chuffed to get her hands on something she’d been coveting for a while. Sky Dancers are winged dolls which slot into a base and are supposed to fly majestically around when a string on the base is pulled. They’re apparently based on an ’90’s TV show, although we’re not familiar with the show ourselves.
I have to admit, the toy itself was a little underwhelming. I wasn’t impressed at all with the quality of the doll. It felt pretty cheap and the finish looked quite poor; it reminded me of the cheap dolls I used to buy from the market with my pocket money when I was little. The handheld base felt a little sturdier, but made an odd rattling noise when you pull the draw cord and some of the joins in the plastic were so poorly finished as to actually be a bit sharp from certain angles.
As for the actual ‘flying’…well, I’m not sure what I expected, but it was all a bit disappointing. Sausage’s strength wasn’t adequate to lift the doll more than a couple of inches out of the base, which given that she’s in the target market seems a bit short-sighted, although Husband and I were able apply more force, which sent the doll shooting high enough to hit the ceiling. Once she’s up, she comes back down pretty rapidly and doesn’t float quite nearly as magically as the adverts appear to show. It’s a bit like a bedazzled lead balloon.
I think the prevailing factor for me is the price – had this toy been under £10, I may have been inclined to be a bit more forgiving about its obvious shortcomings, but it’s actually priced between £15 and £20 (the one we were sent is called Jasmine and retails for £19.99 on Amazon). If I’d paid 20 quid for this doll, I’d have been seriously unimpressed. I’d also have been more inclined to be subjective if it was something that I wasn’t impressed by but something which Sausage really liked, but it failed to hold Sausage’s attention for more than about 30 seconds, and this is the kid who can role-play her butt off for hours with her other dolls.
I hate being so negative about things as I’m well aware that these things are totally subjective and that some kids may love Sky Dancers, but for us the massive disparity between the quality and the price was far too glaring for us to give the doll a positive review.
If you’re roughly the same age as me, I’d bet actual money that you had a Troll doll, with brightly coloured hair and cute features – or possibly even a whole collection of them. I had one when I was about 7 and I remember being taken on holiday to Hastings, where I proceeded to use the whole roll of film that had been bought for my camera to take photos of my troll, sitting on a fence. Anyway, I digress!
The reason I mentioned Trolls is because we were recently sent a Zelfs Venus Flytrap Spin Salon Playset and the Zelfs themselves remind me of trolls, if a little more colourful and definitely better quality! They have a huge peak of brightly coloured hair and adorable faces, and the Spin Salon Playset allows you to do their hair and give your Zelfs a good old fashioned primping. The set we received comes with an exclusive Zelf, ‘Tressa’, but it can all be used with any Zelfs you already own, which means your whole Zelf family can be beautified!
Sausage really liked this set – it’s great for fulfilling the ‘makeover’ urge that 5 year-olds seem to all posses, without being overly girlie. It’s easy to use and comes with a brush and a couple of hair accessories, giving you different options of how to preen your Zelf.
This would be a great present to add to Christmas lists, as well as an Halloween treat for little ones, and I’m confident that most kids of around Sausage’s age would love it too. We’re planning to add to Sausage’s Zelf collection at Christmas and already have a few of the medium-sized dolls stashed to give to her. You can even get the miniature ones which also act as a pencil topper and I’m seriously close to treating myself to a couple as a throwback to my childhood! Children of the 80’s and 90’s, I defy you to not feel nostalgic when you see them in the flesh!
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If you’re anything like me, you’ll have been thinking about Christmas for a while. I’ve had a list running for Sausage for about a month and every time I hear her mention a toy she wants, it goes on the list. One of the things she mentioned a while ago was the Disney Doc McStuffins Interactive Talking Doll, which was actually out around the time of her birthday but didn’t get bought for her back then, so when we were asked to review it, she was thrilled.
The doll comes with a soft Lamby doll, as well as a doctors bag, comb and a couple of medical instruments. Doc sings the ‘Time For Your Check-Up’ song when you press her tummy and Lamby interacts with Doc when she presses the thermometer and ear thingy (yes, that’s the medical term!), to give her a check-up. She also says a couple of phrases and you can hear her heart beating.
One of the really good things about these dolls is that they both have a proper ‘off switch’, which means that Sausage can take Doc or Lamby to bed with her (who’s really soft and cuddly, despite having a battery pack inside her) and doesn’t get woken up by talking when she rolls over on her!
Sausage has been a huge fan of Doc McStuffins ever since it started and she’s been waiting for what seems like ages for the official toys to be launched in the UK, so she’s been practically inseparable from the doll since it arrived. It really piques her imagination and she does a medical check-up on just about anyone or anything who’ll allow her to!
On a practical level, the doll and accessories are really sturdy and well made; in our experience, official Disney toys tend to be very high quality, so even though it may seem pricey at around £39.99, depending on where you buy, the Doc McStuffins Interactive Talking Doll really is worth every penny. I’ve no doubt at all that once Sausage has grown out of the toy, we’ll be able to put it away for when the baby is older and wants to play with it, which provides even better value for money.
We’re really impressed with the Doc McStuffins Interactive talking Doll and can highly recommend it for any fans of the show as a brilliant addition to the Christmas list.
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I liked the animals when they spoke to Sofia and her amulet and her hair and dress are beautiful! – Sausage, aged 5
I must admit, in the run-up to Sausage’s birthday, two weeks ago, I was struggling to think of things to buy for her. We bought her a couple of ‘big’ presents (a Chromebook and a Nook), but I wanted to get her a few little bits to open on the day, so that it didn’t seem like she only had a couple of pressies. As luck would have it, Argos got in touch and asked if we’d like to have a look at their most popular dolls and choose one for the birthday girl, and I noticed this fab Sofia the First Talking Doll, which I knew she’d love.
When the doll arrived, it looked lovely in the box, but I didn’t realise just how cool it is until Sausage actually got it out to play with it. Each animal prompts Sofia to say a different set of phrases when you hold them up to her magical amulet, which is a really nice touch and you can actually get a proper conversation going between them!
The doll, animals and accessories all feel as though they’re very high quality and the doll itself is fairly weighty, not flimsy like some merchandise can be.
Sausage was absolutely thrilled with her talking Sofia the First; she’s been watching the show religiously since it first aired and she’d been checking our nearest Disney shop for Sofia dolls for ages, so Argosreally came through for us, giving us a great 5th birthday gift for our special princess, and providing her with hours of fun in the process!
For other great ideas and all of the best Argos toys, take a look at their website.