I’ve posted before about how, even though plastic toys are useful when you have two small children, I sometimes feel as though our house is being taken over by the shiny, bright, hard stuff. So, I was pleased when Asda asked me to review some of their toys….made of wood.
It tickled me to see that one of the items was a princess castle. The other day, Gwen spotted a plastic version of one of these in our local pound shop, when we were stocking up on craft materials. The only way I could drag her away from that garish model – without a major screaming incident – was through the promise of a ride in the shopping centre’s new Peppa Pig rocket, and some muttering about how Father Christmas might think about bringing her one (with a heavy emphasis on might).
I have mixed feelings about giving a pink princess castle to my daughter. I’m sure there are some very strong-minded parents out there who would give this to their sons, but on the whole it’s a cliched ‘girl’s toy’. Groups like Let Toys be Toys are doing a fantastic job of encouraging parents and manufacturers to promote more toys that are gender-neutral.
But, on the other hand, I know that Gwen will love this castle when she sees it on Christmas Day. She’s still finding her place in the world, and her own personal style; we usually encourage her to play with toys that are designed for neither boys nor girls but, as I’ve written before, if my two year old chooses a pink toy, I’m not going to tell her that choice is a bad one.
As for the castle, it arrived after clear communication from the delivery company about which day to expect the parcel. They couldn’t be specific about exact time of day, but then, how many companies can? The castle was self-assembly, and as there were so many similar-looking parts it did take a while to put together, but the instructions were clear, and the self-assembly was reflected in the cost (a very reasonable £30).
We were also given some wooden dolls’ house furniture. Although not everything will fit in the castle (it’s really designed to go in the Asda dolls’ house), it is sturdy, cute, and looks hard-wearing enough to be played with over and over. Again, it’s a bargain at £15 – which is especially good considering there’s no need for assembly.
I do like this range of toys from Asda, mainly because they prove that inexpensive doesn’t have to mean cheap and nasty. The best-value toy we were sent, in my opinion, was the wooden play shop and cafe.
The shop/cafe was straightforward to assemble, because there weren’t too many components. As with the castle, the job was made easier by our electric screwdriver, and I managed to get it up within 40 minutes. This is a toy that will be used a LOT in our house – it’s perfect for imaginative play, which both Austin and Gwen enjoy at the moment. The details, like the shelves, canopy and chalkboard (there’s one at the front of the shop too, where the children could write down the special of the day) turn this item from a remarkably inexpensive (£35) plaything into something quite special.
Asda seem to have really hit the mark with this range of toys – quality AND affordability. Judging by their website and the number of times the toys go in and out of stock, they’re flying off the shelves as soon as they arrive. It’s worth putting an order in, as these look like the sorts of toys that will withstand the test of time.
Disclosure: we were sent wooden toys for the purpose of this review. However, all views expressed are my own.