I still have flat packed shelving I bought when my son was born six years ago that I haven't put together. This doesn't bode well for a flat packed toy! Which is what the playsets from Kroom Toys are. I really did have to try these out though, as they are absolutely everything I have ever wanted in a toy. Joy of joys, they're not made of plastic.
Kroom make products that are eco-friendly. Everything is made from 60% recycled card and all the products are also fully recyclable.
There's a whole range of stuff for children, including storage boxes, play sets and toys. Importantly, the toys look like they're a lot of fun. The toys are distributed in the UK by Little Helper, and you can also buy them directly from their website.
I received the Noah's Ark and Dylan Fire Station to try out. The Noah's Ark playset has an RRP of £24.99. The Dylan Fire Station also has an RRP of £24.99. Delivery on the site costs from £1.99, depending on the size and weight of the items.
The toys are made of cardboard, but there's nothing flimsy about them. I empty out the boxes one at a time, slipping the contents out onto the rug in the living room. My son is beside himself with excitement; far too excited to focus or concentrate properly. We started with the Noah's Ark toy, and he immediately launches himself into the bits of cardboard, shovelling them aside to grab a couple of colourful pieces and tell me to start with those.
I try to explain how we have to follow the instructions, and show him the back of the box. Here all the steps you need to take to build the toy are laid out in pictorial form. He's not listening, and seems more determined to do it all in his own way and by himself.
Leaving him to it, I start following the steps on the box. I wish there were some words as I'm not at all good at this sort of thing. It is easy enough, and there's nothing complicated here, but even so I still manage to find the first few steps hard. Getting the deck in to the boat proved to be quite difficult, and I was regretting trying to do this first thing on a Sunday morning. I took a break to have another coffee.
I decide to do the fire station on my own, which is a good thing as it is more fiddly. However, this sort of goes against what I think is the point of the design of these toys. I think that a good part of the fun for the kids is the actual making it, and the feel you get from doing something yourself. Perhaps if you've got a child who is more able to focus, or maybe is a bit older.
The cardboard pieces are held together with a sort of plastic bolt and screw. There's even a spare one just in case. At least I hope there is, otherwise I've done something horribly wrong ...
The play value though is immense. My son is really good with his toys, more so than most of his friends. So far the toys are holding up well. As a parent, I really like the sturdy, robust feel of them.
Noah's Ark comes with what the box describes as a playmat. It is in fact made of the same sturdy cardboard, and is more a part of the playset itself, showing the water for the ark to float on, and the beach where the animals can board.
I explained the story of Noah's Ark to my son, although I don't know how successful I was. He wanted to know why the crocodiles had to go on the ark (they're two of the included animals) as they can swim.
One issue I have with the ark is that the door does not open to the 'house' part. My son desperately wants to play inside there, and keeps asking why it isn't open like the side of the ark. I am going to have a look into cutting around the door so it opens, will let you know how it goes!
The Fire House is fairly large, as is the ark. I suggested to my son that we put one of them away for a while. We're in the process of re-doing his room and when we're done he'll have more floor and desk space. He'll be able to comfortably put both up, along with his car garage and his Playmobil dragon castle.
He chose the ark, so I can also say that these toys are very easy to dis-assemble as well having now taken down the fire station and put it back into storage. I would suggest not over tightening the screws though. You don't need to tighten them too much really, and they can get a bit stiff.
The Good. They're not plastic. There that says it all doesn't it? You want more? Well they're made of really nice cardboard that's strong, sturdy, and seems durable. The detail is excellent.
The Bad. This isn't an inexpensive toy at £24.99. And you do have to assemble the toys. Sure there are other toys that you have to put together, but this requires actual building. That said, they're easy to make.
Overall. You can look back over my reviews and see I don't often hand out top ratings. This one meets everything. It is a fun toy, is really well built, good quality, eco-friendly, made by a company with an ethics policy (such as overseeing conditions in its Chinese factory) and recyclable. I've knocked a point off purely because of the price.
Overall Verdict: 9/10