Lego Duplo My First Zoo (6136) Review

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Review:

My First Zoo is my son’s second favorite Lego Duplo set after his My First Train set. It includes a giraffe, tiger, elephant, polar bear, and fish, so it was also a big hit with my animal-loving seven year old daughter, and the two of them like to combine it with their Lego Duplo Green Building Plate and free bricks from a brick box to make more elaborate fences and exhibits.

My rating:4 Stars (4 / 5)

Lego Duplo Green Building Plate Review

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Review:

If you have Lego Duplo, this 15 inch by 15 inch building plate is a must-own, in my opinion. As far as I know, none of the Duplo sets come with a full-sized building plate, but building Duplo sets on the plate rather than free-standing makes them much more stable and less frustrating for little builders. The building plate is also a good base for building towers, houses, and other stuff. My kids particularly like to use it with their My First Zoo set to enable more fences and exhibits.

If you have regular-size Lego, you’ll want this 10×10 building plate instead.

My rating:4 Stars (4 / 5)

LEGO Friends Heartlake High (41005) Review

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Review:

I was really impressed by the design of this Lego Friends set. The final build was smaller than I expected, but really packed a lot of cool stuff into a compact space. Heartlake High comes with science and fine arts classrooms, a cafeteria, and bathrooms, and has tons of useful accessories like art supplies, a laptop, an owl, a telescope, and more that give it good play value.

Despite this, my daughter has never shown as much interest in playing with it as she does some of her other sets, like Olivia’s House, the Summer Riding Camp, and King’s Castle. I think it may just be that she can’t relate to it yet – she’s only seven, so she certainly hasn’t been to high school and hasn’t even watched that many high school movies. I’ve been thinking about bringing it back out now that she’s read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series – they might help her come up with more scenarios to play out in the school. Meanwhile, though, I’d probably recommend this set for slightly older girls, say 10 or 11.

My rating:4 Stars (4 / 5)

Lego Castle King’s Castle (70404) Review

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Review:

I nearly bought this set on the spot when I saw it in Target for the first time. Lego Castle was my favorite theme as a child and King’s Castle reminded me so much of the great classic sets like Black Knight’s Castle that I grew up with.

As it was, I held out until, er, the next day. But near-impulse purchase or not, it’s not one I’ve regretted. It took my daughter a couple days of working on and off to finish and it’s one of her favorite sets to play with (along with her Lego Friends sets Olivia’s House, Summer Riding Camp, and Adventure Camper.)

King’s Castle comes with seven minifigs, plus a horse, and a bunch of cool features reminiscent of the classic Castle sets, like a working drawbridge, portcullis, and catapult. It’s a large set with plenty of room to add minifigs from other sets (and even themes – the Lego Friends girls and their horses spend a lot of time hanging around, as does the Golden Dragon) for more elaborate scenarios, and it also makes an attractive display piece.

Eventually, I’m hoping to get a whole medieval theme going with Medieval Market Village and Kingdom’s Joust, and this castle will be the centerpiece.

My rating:5 Stars (5 / 5)

Lego Friends Summer Riding Camp (3185)

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Review:

My daughter isn’t as horsey as I was as a girl, but she loves animals in general, so this set ties with Olivia’s House as her favorite Lego Friends set. Like Olivia’s House, the compact design packs in a lot of cool details and she really enjoyed both building it and playing with it. Our only complaint is that a couple of the shutters were missing in the package (and I haven’t gotten around to requesting replacements from the Lego company).

Note: This set will soon be discontinued, so if you want it, now’s the time to snag it before the price goes up! Otherwise, check out Sunshine Ranch (41039)  as an alternative.

My rating:5 Stars (5 / 5)

Lego Friends Jungle Rescue Base (41038)

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Review:

On our daughter’s wishlist

She loves animals, so she really likes the look of the new Lego Friends jungle theme. We haven’t bought her any yet, but this is the one she says she likes best so far, because it has the most animals and different parts.

 

Melissa & Doug Wooden Sandwich-Making Set

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Review:

We have a number of Melissa & Doug play food sets, as my kids love them and play with them frequently. This is the one they play with least. My daughter likes the hamburger fixings, but seems less interested in everything else, and my son mostly ignores it entirely in favor of his Melissa & Doug Cutting Food Set. It is sturdy and well made, but spends most of its time on the shelf.

My rating:2.5 Stars (2.5 / 5)

Melissa & Doug Grill Set

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Review:

We purchased this years ago as a gift for a young nephew, who played with it for several years before passing it back to our children when he outgrew it. The set has changed slightly in the intervening time – our set has cherry tomatoes, whereas the current set appears to have tomato slices.

My feelings about this set are a little more mixed than most Melissa & Doug products. The kids have a great time cutting up the onion and pepper and skewering the meat and vegetables. They are high quality and have stood up well to frequent play by several children of various ages over several years. They can also be used to help teach basic skills such as colors and patterns.

However, my kids barely play with the grill itself, which is kind of poor quality by Melissa & Doug standards. It consists of a wooden box (no complaints there) with a sheet of sturdy plastic with lines drawn on it to represent the “grill”. The coals are painted on the bottom of the box. I think it would feel more realistic if there were either some play coals to rearrange with the tongs or real bars on the grill (or, preferably, both). As it is, the grill gets used mainly to store everything when not in use.

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My rating:3 Stars (3 / 5)

Melissa & Doug Ice Cream Sets – Help Us Choose!

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I’ve been starting to thing about Christmas presents for my kids and am trying to choose between two Melissa & Doug ice cream sets. My kids both love play food and they had a ball with the Melissa & Doug Ice Cream Scoop Set (right) when they got to play with it at a relative’s house. I was planning to get that set for them when I noticed a similar one, the Melissa & Doug Slice and Scoop Sundae Set (below left), and now I’m wondering if the Sundae Set might be even better.

I like that the Ice Cream Scoop Set has two scoops, two cones, and four flavors of ice cream, making my two children (hopefully) able to play with it together without fighting too much about who does what, whereas the Sundae Set has only one scoop and one bowl, so one child has to serve and the other to eat. On the other hand, if they do squabble while playing with the Ice Cream Scoop Set, the 2 year old might clonk the 7 year old with the wooden cones, which were pretty heavy and solid and might be more painful than the bowl from the Sundae Set.

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I also like that the Ice Cream Scoop Set comes with an ice cream carton to store everything in. On the other hand, I love that the Sundae Set has a banana and strawberry that you can cut up. (The two year old in particular absolutely loves their Melissa & Doug Cutting Food Set.) The Sundae Set also has sundae toppings, which I think they’ll both like as well.

Decisions, decisions… Which set do you think I should choose?

Lego Duplo Deluxe Train Set (10508)

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Review:

With 20 pieces of curved track, 5 pieces of straight track, a bridge, a working crane, and more, this was a great addition to our son’s first Duplo train set that substantially improved its play value (which was already more than enough to keep him happy for a couple hours a day). While his first set included just enough track to make a circle, this set allows him to build much larger and more diverse tracks, including much larger circles, ovals, figure eights, and more. It also has a different style engine, and different cars, including a coal car, which adds more variety to the train itself. He likes to give his Duplo zoo animals rides in the coal car.

My rating:5 Stars (5 / 5)