Woolworths VTech My Laptop, Disney Princess Cinderella Doll, And Hello Kitty Skateboard Review
Not that I'm big on the whole gender divide thing. I think that for the most part, especially when they're younger, there's not a lot of difference between boys and girls in what they want to play with. Play kitchens and diggers seem to be just as much fun for both. And before they get taught that it's wrong, both boys and girls show a preference for pink.
However, there's still a slight difference and why not. Men and women aren't exactly the same either! So is it worth getting a girly toy for a little girl? We got a couple of toys for the girls from Woolworths to review, along with the VTech My Laptop, and gave them to the daughters of our PlayPennies parents. This is how they got on.
The VTech My Laptop Pink (£20) actually comes in two colours. Pink (and it is very pink) or yellow with orange trim. It comes with 30 educational activities that, according to the website, teach early computer techniques and age appropriate skills, including phonics, letters and maths. Activities include Forest Phonics, Number Order, Puzzle Pieces and Musical Fun.
PlayPennies mum Annette was excited to get the VTech My Laptop to test. "This is an excellent educational toy from Vtech and it took me completely by surprise." She had bought one of the older versions of the Vtech laptop for her daughter and had a less than brilliant experience. "It had a miniscule screen that you could barely see unless you angled it exactly to certain lights, and it broke within a week of my daughter using it. In short, it was rubbish."
She didn't hold out much hope for this particular version. "However, I was immediately struck by how light and portable it was as well as the clever mouse design."
The mouse clips into the base of the laptop quickly and easily, without a protuberance, for easy travel and storage. Annette found the laptop very light and small. "It can travel really well if you need something to entertain the kids while travelling on holiday."
It wasn't all good though. "The screen is still pitifully small which is a downside in my view."
She did think that the screen was good quality however, and that it copes well in low light. Also, that the laptop is very easy for kids to use and play with.
"I handed it over to my four year old and soon she was whizzing along without needing any help from me at all. She loves this toy and happily plays it for ages while I get essentials done. There are tons of educational activities on there and I heartily approve of that as they match her Reception year syllabus nicely and offer her lots of extra practise on subjects she may find tricky."
It isn't pink. That was a bit of a surprise for me. I guess I was expecting something that looked more like a Barbie doll. But to me the Disney Princess Cinderella Doll (£25) looks like a proper, age-appropriate, little girls doll. I found that quite refreshing.
The Woolworths website describes this toy as a 34cm fully bendable doll with a typical Disney Princess look and outfit with high quality nylon hair. It is recommended for ages 3 years and up.
It was a big hit with the daughter of our reviewer Amanda. "This doll has not left my child's side since it arrived. Cinders has gone everywhere with us and is a massive hit."
The head is made from solid plastic while the rest of her is soft, a combination Amanda found a little odd. She was less than impressed as a parent that the shoes kept fall off. "If you've ever spent 30 mins on your knees at Sainsburys, looking under the stalls for a thin silk shoe, then you know what I mean."
Luckily for Amanda, Cinders is one robust toy. "It has been kicked, sat on, dropped, travelled with, and anything else you can imagine and she is effortless to clean."
Her clothes come off so you can give everything a good polish, and little ones enjoy dressing her. "Actually, this is the first time my child hasn't instantly removed all the clothes from a toy and then left it to hang about naked."
Amanda was taken aback by the price though. "She isn't very big and for £25 I think you're paying for the Disney brand name here. But she will last for ages."
The Hello Kitty Skateboard (£15) is a full size skateboard measuring 31 x 8ins. It is made of chinese maplewood with PVC injected wheels and 608oz bearings. It is decorated in a Hello Kitty polka dot design and is recommended for ages from 5 years.
Our young p8 year old tester thought it looked pretty good. Abby comments that this "skate board looks really cool and jazzy, the colours are great because they are not too girly!"
She thought the board was quite big, about the same size as an adult's board, but this means "its great to sit on with friends".
However, as the board is quite big, it is also quite heavy. Abby thought the wheels were quite poor quality "as they are plastic. My dad says the trucks could be a little more sturdy."
Overall, she thought it was a great toy. "All my friends loved it, but I wouldn't go to the skate park on it, not built for ramps!"
And Finally ...
It is nice to know that you can get toys that are girly but not forcing too much of a gender stereotype. It is a fine line and Woolworths seems to have managed quite well.