At Play In The White House - Test of the Super Toys

by Sarah White

What happens when you set loose two thirty something year olds and a four year old in a toy shop with £50 (just under US$99) to spend on superhero/comic book related items? Will the budget be blown? Will Callum (that's the four-year-old) go toy crazy? Will Daz (he's the thirty-something-year-old) be able to carry everything home? More importantly though will the items purchased be able to keep the three of us entertained for a weekend and stand up to the vigorous testing conditions? Wanna find out?

First of all we had to locate our toy shop of choice, this was easy due to proximity and we chose Smyths. Before setting out we set our first challenge - stock availability. We liked the look of an Indiana Jones Lego set and we checked online to see if the product would be in our store and whether there were any price differences. Smyth's website informed us it was in store and priced £8.99, accordingly we set out to see if this was true or not!

Indiana Jones Motorcycle Chase Lego Set
As mentioned this was our online vs instore check item. We had decided that due to the new Indy film being out it would be interesting to see how the shop had taken into consideration that there'd be more kids wanting toys. Although there wasn't a huge amount to choose from, they did have some cool stuff. We settled on this item because we hadn't really bought any Lego stuff for Callum yet and wanted to see how he liked it. We did wonder if, given the age limit of 6 years, it would be advanced for him, but we thought it a risk worth taking. We were pleased to find the toy easily in the shop and at the price quoted online. Advantages: Good attention to detail, extras for the smaller easily losable items (ie the goggles and guns), grabbed Callum's attention and imagination, and you don't have to necessarily stick to building the Lego up as the book says. As for assembly, it was very easy and the instructions booklet had clear and concise drawings to follow. For £8.99 we considered it good value for money, as most Lego is extremely expensive. They also have a whole range which typical to Lego is interchangeable. Disadvantages Some of the pieces were a little small and did easily come off - Dr Henry Jones' head for example. Total Rating: B

Superhero Squad Action Figures
We already own several of these and were happy to add to our collection with Spider-Man, Sandman and Green Goblin. They were priced at £1.99 each. Advantages: These are awesome fun to play with. So far to date we have had no casualties, and they have had rigorous testing of battles against dinosaurs, the Star Wars Galactic Heroes, tanks... you name it they've stayed strong throughout. Our testing this time round consisted of garden play, including rides down the slide, slide bowling, road rampage and many more tests of strength, durability, and heroism. All passed with flying colours. As well as having unlimited playability, they can also sit nice and pretty/cool looking on your shelf. We had mixed opinions about value for money, I personally thought they were very good value at just £1.99 each but Daz wasn't so sure. Disadvantages: None! Total Rating: A

Hot Wheels The Batman Arkham Asylum Escape
Having a four-year-old son who is car crazy means we have plenty of experience with the Hot Wheels range. Add to that car crazy four-year-old a superhero craziness and this is a good mix of a toy. Advantages: Good value for money, free Batman car included, other Hot Wheels cars are usable on the track, the impossible car jump does work, and with all other Hot Wheels track you can mix and match and come up with your own tracks. Disadvantages: The first time setting up took Daz about 40 minutes, which when you have an eager kid next to you trying to help does not bode well. However, it does get quicker with practice but still hard for a child of the age recommendation they have to set up. Also it's a real pig to get all the pieces back in the box. Total Rating: B

Ben 10 100 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle Ben 10 seems to be the new current toy craze (well here in the UK at least) in Callum's age group. The comic link is that it was created by a group consisting of Duncan Rouleau, Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, and Steven T. Seagle called Man of Action. Advantages: Sadly not many, the price (£2.99)isn't too bad considering it's a 100 piece jigsaw puzzle and it did keep the three of us entertained while attempting to build it but sadly that isn't enough. Disadvantages: Where do we start? Firstly (and this is really important!) don't let your child rip open the box without you knowing, then throw away said box without telling you and then when you ask where the box is denies all knowledge of said box. The box is important guys and gals! The picture has a lot of generic colouring which makes it very hard to decide which piece should go where, also the pieces weren't cut out very well, in fact they were so bad that we couldn't actually fully finish the puzzle as the last two pieces just would not fit it. It was very frustrating. A big thumbs down from this household. Total Rating: F

Green Goblin and Sandman Action Figures Originally Callum wanted a Black Cat Action Figure, he's decided (and quite rightly too) that he doesn't have enough female Superheroines. Sadly there was a complete lack of female characters so he opted for his next wish which was Green Goblin. We were foolishly led into thinking that they had a Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF) deal on these particular figures hence why we also bought Sandman, sadly like I said we were misled. Each figure cost £7.99. Advantages: Like the Superhero Squad we have various other Action Figures so it's nice to have ones that are similar size to others, they were fun to play with and held up to some of the testing we did in the garden. For once it wasn't a hardship to put Green Goblin on his glider and the body parts of Sandman were easily transferable. Disadvantages:The Goblin may have been good at staying on his glider but his secret ID was blown! His mask fell off at every opportunity and the pumpkin bombs were too big for the figure to hold in his hand (some genious he is!). Sandman lived up to his name, he fell apart upon minor prodding in so much as after an afternoon in the garden his limbs and head had been splatted to all four corners, unlike in the film though he didn’t pull himself back together; that was MY job!Total Rating: C

Dr Who
Doctor Who is a mysterious time traveler who fights through space and time against many menaces, below are two of his most deadly enemies!
Dalek Sec: Advantages: The Dalek was £1.75 so that was a bargain! This dastardly villain was also an awesome slider; he bowled down any other toys in his way, sped down the slide with satisfying speed and exterminated all the way! The Dalek was in the same league as the other action figures in that he was pretty fun to play with.Disadvantages: For a future ruler of the Universe, the Dalek falls apart quite easily! The various attachments (guns, whatever) can all be pulled out and whilst this makes for awesome battle damage, it also means these are easily lost and you can end up having a Dalek who is a bit of a Eunuch.
Cyberman Costume: Advantages: (Pictured above) This is so shiny that it renders most flash photography useless which was sort of funny! Otherwise, it was very cheap and Callum liked running around in it trying to conquer us and enslave us to his will. Disadvantages: Callum ran around and tried to enslave us to his will. Callum got into his role and I think had he been given the opportunity would have shot us into hyperspace - so it turns your children into tyrants (not that they weren’t anyway!) Also, the helmet is pretty lame, it fell apart and the eye holes were badly lined up…this did allow us to escape our doom though so maybe that was a plus!
Total Rating for both: C

Homersapien This looked pretty good fun, it's Homer Simpson after all and we wanted to try something non-superheroey. Advantages: If you had a kitten, this would probably keep it occupied for ten minutes at least beyond that, it's hard to see a bright side. Disadvantages: D'oh!!!! Homersapien's main thing is that he walks, Yep, in the walking department, he is king. In the playing and having fun department? Homersapien is about as much fun as watching the local bully smash up your new PSP that you got for your birthday and then gave you a wedgie. There are no phrases, no other movements, just a lump of plastic that shuffles forwards and then trips over slightly uneven ground. Total Rating: F

So in conclusion to what happens when you let loose two thirty something year olds and a four year old in a toy shop with £50 (just under US$99) to spend on superhero/comic book related items? What happens is that the budget gets blown (along with another item we purchased which we didn't have time to road test the cost of the shopping spree was around about £68), lots of fun is had, a little boy gets toy crazy and hyper-active and the superheroes and villains deservedly get to chill out with a Cider in the sun when the day is done.


Jon Quixote said...

I never buy action figures, but I saw a Cap/Hawkeye superhero squad combo the other day for $5. I couldn't resist!

I'm sure it'll wind up going out as a gift to a tyke soon enough, but in the meantime it'll sit on my mantle. They're just the cutest!

Vocal Minority said...

I'm shocked Anything survived Callum.

coolgirlsar said...

We have the Cap and Hawkeye figures they were some of our first ones we got Jon. Oh and once you start it's hard to resist more I bet you'll have more on that mantle soon.

LOL VM it's not all Hulk destruction at times with that boy of mine.

Matt said...

Best part about having kids? Aside from molding them into liking Banshee? Getting to buy them toys that YOU get to play with!

Brandon said...

I buy action figures sometimes, but I treat them with kindness and respect. Except for the wookies.

Yas said...

I used to buy a lot of Star Wars figures and the odd Spidey figure but I can't be bothered anymore. Mostly because I have nowhere to display them and also because Uzma will divorce me if I sleep with my Spidey figure in bed again.

Reading Sarah's account reinded me so much of when my dad used to take us shopping to buy toys. Best. Days. Ever.