History Heroes Card Game And Jnr Astronaut Costume Review

28 November 2012

There's a few events that seem to be an entrenched part of the school year no matter where you are in the UK. Book week, International week, History week. And somewhere in there, your child will get to go to school dressed in a costume for the day.

Fun for them but a huge pain the behind for parents. So, we thought here at PlayPennies towers, what about having a look at something that can kill two birds with one stone. Christmas gifts that can fit in with the curriculum. Sorted! This is also the sort of thing that is an ideal present for grandparents or doting aunts/uncles/godparents to buy too. Something they can enjoy, and educational.

We chose history, because that's one we've found the one theme hardest to fit a costume or activity into.  You can get away with Batman or a Fairy costume for book week, but somehow it is hard to pitch Spiderman as a historical figure.

Maps Toys were kind enough to provide us with one of their new range of costumes to try out. This is the Get Real Gear Astronaut Costume in orange. We also received a sample of the card game History Heroes How Well Do You Know Your Monarchs from History Heroes. A fun way for children to learn their monarchs, or at least get a bit familiar with them.

Get Real Gear Astronaut Costume in orange

My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw the RRP for the Get Real Gear Astronaut Costume. At £39.99 it would definitely be the most expensive costume I've bought. But, I have a little boy who loves dressing up. He likes to put his 'persona' on for the day, and whether that is a pirate, dinosaur, cowboy, penguin or NASA astronaut, I know he is going to wear it all day.

Everywhere. On the bus, to the supermarket, in the playground. He's seven years old now, and still loves it but prefers to wear costumes that are more realistic. Like this one. Cheaper dress up costumes just don't hold up to everyday wear and tear, and are in the long run a false economy. All the more expensive ones, and £25 is the most I've paid before, have not only stood up to wear but have remained in good enough condition to sell on for at least half their original cost afterwards. There's not many boys clothes you can say that about!

Covering roughly a two to three year age range, such as 2 to 4, you should be able to get good value out of it. The bottom are elasticated so can be tightened in if the legs are too long. It also comes in at the cuffs, so there's plenty of growing room in the sleeves but it won't annoy by being too long.

The quality of the sewing is good, and the material. There's lots of zip pockets, something all girls and boys like. I also, as a parent, really appreciated the baseball cap. He loves this and it is something I can get him to wear in the summer too with everyday clothes.

The patches on there are real, embroidered patches adding to the authentic feel of this costume. It is easy enough for a small child to pull down to go to the loo - always a bonus. Just make sure you don't adjust the waist too tightly!

Incidentally, my god daughter was perplexed as to why the photos all showed boys. She wants one for her own history week as she's mad about space and astronomy. It made me realise how wonderful it is for her - she is growing up seeing women and men wearing NASA uniforms and heading into space. While there were no women going into space when I was a child (except for Lt Uhura on the Enterprise).

Pros: well made, authentic, hard wearing, should last

Cons: a little pricey

Overall verdict: 9/10

History Heroes

So you've got your costume sorted. What about some history fun? Never thought you'd use those two words together? Well if my memory of doing history is anything to go by, making it fun is the only way to get all those facts to stick.

My god-daughter is 8 years old, and mad keen on cards. She even make her own trumps cards when there's none available. For that type of child, History Heroes is perfect.

There are three card games available - athletes, explorers and monarchs. We received the How Well Do You Know Your Monarchs game to try out. This is priced at £7.99.

The website describes it as "an educational and competitive card game designed to encourage learning historical facts." There are 42 cards in the pack depicting monarchs from 1066 to our own Queen. Win by having the most cards after a set period of time, or by winning all the cards in the game. There are six ways to play this game.

You can just look at the cartoons on the cards and see if you can guess who the monarch is. Games two and three are basically the same - you answer questions on the card but in one game you can choose to answer a question from one of three 'flags'.  Green flag questions are the easiest and given the young age of our players, we stuck with those. For example, a green flag question for Henry the VIII is "Reing filled with marriages, divorces and executions."

Although the recommended age for this is 8 and upwards, many of the easy questions stumped the grown ups. Would you get William II from "Nicknamed Rufus because of his red face and red hair"? Still a lot of fun and all in a good way to learn these facts!

With game four you have to name the monarch based solely on the dates of their reign. A good one for older players, like the grown ups.

I keep saying questions but in fact they are Harry's Hints. In  game five you roll a dice, and then you read out as many hints as there are on the dice - all six if you roll a six.

And finally, the game our youngest players liked the most. Probably because it was something they could do without help. Trumps. The cards with the longest reigns trumps the other cards.

Pros: great way to get familiar with the huge number of British monarchs, and a long lasting game with such a wide variety of ways to play

Cons: really tough for the youngest players (and grown ups too!)

Overall verdict: 10/10 because there's absolutely no other way I can imagine making something so boring so much fun!

What do you think?

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