Monday, 30 September 2013

Creativity for Kids - Paper Petals Photo Mobile

After looking at a couple of other items from the Faber-Castell Creativity for Kids range here on the Cuthberts blog, this week we're reviewing their Paper Petals Photo Mobile.

Much as the name suggests the aim of the Paper Petals Photo Mobile is to create a hanging mobile of flowers, where you can include photographs of friends or family members in the centre of them. You can make the flowers as pretty and decorative as you like and this really does allow children (or adults) to use their creativity to decide how they want to do it. 

Once it comes to putting all the flowers together to form the mobile it's a little bit fiddly and not much room for error - making it the ideal gift for perfectionist crafters! A completed mobile would make a lovely gift for a child or new baby, with the flowers all containing photographs of family members. As the flowers are only one-sided it might be that you decide to do something else with them rather than a mobile. Our reviewers thought that they'd also make a very pretty garland, or even personalised bunting.

This definitely isn't a quick craft project, so across the suggested age range of 7 to 97 years it would probably work best for patient younger crafters or someone a little older with some time they can set aside to make the mobile (or garland, or bunting...) The fact that it's flowers means it might not appeal to all young boys, but it's definitely not something exclusively for girls either.

The Creativity for Kids range is available in the Cuthberts Letchworth store and also in our online shop here.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Introducing the Cuthberts Open 2013

How many of you have tried to solve a Rubik's Cube? The iconic 3x3 cube has had people scratching their heads since it's invention in 1974, but for some people just solving it isn't enough. They instead start trying to see how quickly they can solve it. Start trying to solve 2x2, 4x4, 5x5, 6x6 and even 7x7 cubes. Even start trying to solve the standard 3x3 cube with just one hand, or blind-folded, or with their feet. Welcome to the crazy world of speedcubing!

Cuthberts is delighted to announce that you'll soon be able to see all this for yourself as speedcubing is coming to the Hatfield Galleria for the Cuthberts Open 2013. On the 5 and 6 October 2013 the Galleria will be hosting this two day competition for speedcubers from around the world. Competitors are already registered from Belgium, China, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Poland and South Africa, as well as some home-grown cubing talent from the United Kingdom. If you or your children want to see how it's done then come on down and join us.

Russia hosted a winter open earlier this year and this video should give you a good feel for the excitement of speedcubing.

The full schedule of events in the Cuthberts Open 2013 is available here and the competition will be taking place on the upper level of the Galleria. The competition is organised by the UK Cube Association (UKCA) who in turn are part of the World Cube Association. If there's anything you ever wanted or needed to know about Rubik's Cubes then these are the people to talk to!

If you come along and are inspired to have a go yourself then the Cuthberts store in the Galleria will have a full range of Rubik's products for you to take home to try.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

VTech Toot Toot Drivers Airport

Every since the VTech Toot Toot Drivers range was introduced a couple of years ago it has proved to be a huge hit with pre-school children, boys and girls alike. The range started off with a garage and range of little vehicles to go with it. Since then it's been expanded to also include extra road pieces, a fire station, a car transporter and most recently an airport.

The unique thing about the Toot Toot range is that each of the vehicles plays its own little tune, singing about what it does. This can mean that if you have several vehicles and have them all switched on at one you can end up with quite a cacophony of noise. It's not a mistake you make often!

On a one by one basis though it is a really nice touch and one which children seem to love. VTech have also made the cars to be a perfect size to fit in a little hands and they don't have any fiddly bits to cause problems for really young children. The build quality is high enough to withstand a toddler throwing them across the room whilst having a tantrum - and our little reviewer seemed very keen to test this particular feature exhaustively.
The VTech Drivers Toot Toot Airport contains a control tower, refuelling point, a weather vane, lift up barrier and several road pieces, and it also comes with an aeroplane. Attached to the control tower is a "cloud" platform which you can sit the aeroplane on and when you turn the antenna on the control tower this makes the cloud travel around the tower, making the aeroplane fly.

The cloud platform may sound like a bit of a silly feature when it's described here, but all the children I've seen play with the airport seem to find it their favourite part. Also just running round the room with the aeroplane itself also seems to be incredibly popular.

The airport also contains six SmartPoint "sensors" which make the aeroplane play certain phrases and sounds when it passes over them. These aren't really "sensors" in the true meaning of the word as what they actually do is cause a combination of small buttons on the underside of the aeroplane to be depressed as it passes over it. Depending on what combination is triggered determines the message played.

With the track that comes with it you can physically connect the Airport to other pieces of the Toot Toot Drivers range. The slight complication comes with the SmartPoint technology which was only introduced to the Toot Toot Drivers more recently. If you have non-SmartPoint vehicles then they will obviously not be triggered by these sensors. There is more of a problem though which is that the original non-SmartPoint vehicles are actually a couple of mm wider than the newer SmartPoint vehicles. This means that the older vehicles physically do not fit over the SmartPoint sensors in the track - causing a degree of frustration to little hands trying to push them round the track. The newer SmartPoint vehicles work without any problems on the old track, but if your children already have older vehicles it's something to be aware of if you plan to buy them part of the Toot Toot range that includes SmartPoint. All new Toot Toot Drivers range elements now feature SmartPoint, but be aware that some retailers may still hold non-SmartPoint stock and not yet realise incompatibility problems. 

The Toot Toot Drivers Airport is perfect for any pre-schooler who loves vehicles and aeroplanes in particular and provides it an excellent starting point for hours and hours of imaginative role play. The suggested age range for the Toot Toot Drivers range is 1 - 5 years and they really do work very well for children as young as one, making them ideal as a first birthday present.

The VTech Toot Toot Drivers range is available in all three Cuthberts stores (St Albans, Letchworth and Hatfield Galleria) as well as from our online store. 
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