My mum's side of the family is rather big and at least once a year we'd all get together for the day on the August Bank Holiday Monday.
The agenda was always the same: meet at a pub, go to the beach (regardless of weather), eat sand-filled sandwiches, get cold, move on to a park somewhere for phase two. I dreaded 'phase two' - it involved catching of balls and throwing of frisbies; I am, to this day, RUUUUBISH at both!
I thought those days of torture would be over when I got older and started doing trendy things like going to festivals or camping at motorcircuits for Formula One or MotoGP race weekends.
But OH NO! It would seem that throwing round bits of plastic and funny shaped foam things at each other at these events is THE thing to do! It's COOL!
On 6 July I wrote about the Rangs Magic Boomerang. During that little deal post I mused over whether my total ineptitude with anything like this would be a challenge too far for it, and thwart Rangs' claims that they have THE 'World's Best Boomerang' which is guaranteed to come back to you (if you throw it correctly).
By sheer coincidence some lovely people from WickedVision were, at the very same time, sending us an outdoor and INDOOR Rangs Magic boomerang to play with (yep, an INDOOR boomerang) along with a Duncan pro yo-yo (another thing I still don't have adequate skill for!).
Fortunately for me, my name wasn't top of the list for this one and so it was Tamsin who went forth to make a show of herself show off her festival-fun and playing-in-the-park boomerang skills in public in the name of the PlayPennies review.
Along with her four-year-old daughter, Tamsin decided to try the Rangs Outdoor Magic Boomerang first...
"The packaging is genius! The boomerang is simple to remove and all the instructions are written on the back," Tamsin told us, "this made life so much easier as we ambled into the park; I had to take the packaging with me so we could see what we had to do as there was no way I was going to memorise everything!"
She continues, "To start with you are shown how to hold the boomerang, you have to throw it at a 45-degree angle into the wind and all sorts. If you don’t, your boomerang won’t come back!"
Oh this could be fun, you remember how good Tamsin was at following the cookie-making instructions, right? 45-degree angles into the wind!
"How much is 45 degrees anyway? Maths is not my strong point!" lamented Tamsin, and it was at this point that our intrepid mother-daughter duo enlisted the help of a nearby family enjoying the sunshine.
"I have to tell you that this boomerang was a huge icebreaker because soon everybody was getting in on the action, trying to find the exact angle, the direction of the wind, and who could get their boomerang to come back," she told us, grinning like a Cheshire Cat.
They never quite managed to get it to actually land in their hands (or even return faintly in their direction) nor catch it using the clever moves shown in the instructions, but they did, by all accounts have a lot of fun.
Tamsin's little girl utterly ADORED playing outside with this little toy and just to make sure they gave it a thorough testing, they took it off for a throw-around on the beach.
"At first I was a bit worried that we would decaptitate someone but actually this just served to make us friends and engage the rescue services of a shaggy dog. The latter galloped into the sea to catch the boomerang when we accidentally threw it the wrong way!"
This is all very well and good when you're in the wide open spaces of a park, but I have to say the INDOOR boomerang intrigues me!
"I eyeballed this chap with suspicion. I had visions of smashed TVs, broken lampshades and grumpy husbands," reveals Tamsin.
Like his outdoor cousin, you can do things to the wings of the Rangs Indoor Magic Boomerang that will wow your friends and make you look like a pro boomerang-chucker - turn the wings down for lower flight, up for hovering (yep, these dudes can hover!) and twist them for a tight flight circle!
Having had so much fun with the outdoor version, Tamsin reluctantly handed over the Indoor Magic boomerang to a friend, saying, "We don’t have a lot of space to work with so we found a friend who does. She was also pretty flexible on the whole “boomerang indoors” thing on condition we left the boomerang with her."
Indoor boomeranging just does't sound as much fun as hurling one as far as you can outdoors, I was rather amused (and pleased) to read what Tamsin's friend had to say about their indoor throwing experiences.
"Toby loved it! In fact, I couldn’t get him to stop playing with it. Even hubby got in on the action and soon it was really a competition to see who could get their boomerang to come back and catch it using the trick catches on the back of the instructions."
Is this just a boy thing? There must be girls out there who can throw these things and get ultra competitive in the process? Toby's mum, like me and Tamsin, is not one of them...
"I am terrible at it," she said, "and mostly knock things down but Toby and Hubby both managed to get the boomerang to fly back to them and did some spectacular saves. I would recommend removing all bric-a-brac and covering your TV with a blanket though.” Sounds like it might be an idea to put your priceless Ming vases away!
Yo-yo's! Another toy of torture from my childhood (you can see why my name wasn't on the list for this review can't you!) and one which my brother was annoyingly good at!
Along with the boomerangs, WickedVision sent Tamsin a Duncan ProYo yo-yo to bounce up and down and flick over her wrist.
"Offering competition grade performance, this yo-yo is a complete charmer. In fact it’s a little intimidating!" admits Tamsin.
"It wasn’t great for tiny tots so hubby and I had a go and really enjoyed it. Talk about being taken back to the good old days of being a kid and doing yo-yo tricks in lunch breaks. The coolest tricks meant the coolest kids!"
This was and is, I'm reliably informed by my Teenagers, still the case - if you can't 'Walk the Dog' then you're a nobody in the yo-yo world.
Luckily the Duncan ProYo comes with full instructions on how to perform all of these amazing tricks.
So did the instructions turn Tamsin into a yo-yo-flinging-over-the-wrist-and-down-along-the-ground-to-walk-the-dog pro?
"To be honest I spent most of the review time trying to remember how to yo-yo in the first place, much less Walk the Dog. Still, I only got tangled up in string once and only had one grumbling untangling incident," she finally confessed, after we threatened her with all sorts of unmentionable torture and torment!
She did conclude, however, that whilst she and her daughter aren't going to be entering any yo-yo or boomerang contests any time soon, they did have the most ridiculous amount of fun.
All of these things that WickedVision sent us are perfect for messing around with at festivals, and all the other Parties in the Parks that are happening around the country. Also, with the school summer holidays coming up they would definitely keep your kids entertained both outdoors AND in.
I think we have to face facts that these toys are going to be with us for the rest of eternity and if you can't beat 'em...you might as well join 'em and engage in some family festival and party-in-the-park fun!