Monday, 25 March 2013

Big Jigs Farm House Sorter Review

As you may have seen, last week, I posted HERE that we've been lucky enough to be chosen to be in the final for becoming part of BigJigs' Play Patrol. I'm still so so pleased and excited that we've even been lucky enough to get this far, it really makes me feel fantastic about our lovely blog and how things have come along so well in the time I've been really focused on it.

The final phase of decision making for the BigJigs team is going to be based upon reviews that we, the final 12 bloggers, write about a toy that they've sent us for this purpose. I'd like to think it goes without saying, but it's important to get this stuff said - Yes, we were sent this product by BigJigs, but no that does not affect the way in which I'm going to be writing about it. This review is based entirely on how well my boy has played with the toy, how much he's enjoyed it and what I feel about it too - We've not been paid by BigJigs and this is completely based our opinions.

Before I get on to the product that we received I'd like to talk, a little bit, about BigJigs as a brand. They've popped up a few times in posts I've done in the past, in fact one of the first posts I did back before the blog took off, was a review of one of their toys (see HERE). But we've had a lot more experience with them as a brand, now, as we own quite a lot of bits from them, so I feel like I can give my opinions of them in a more overall way.

I can, in all honesty, say that BigJigs are one of my favourite brands for toys; this is the reason that I took the opportunity to apply for the Play Patrol in the first place. We live in a world where children play with things which are loud, plastic, battery or mains operated and disposable. Now I'm not against those things as a whole, The Boy has plenty of things like that, but BigJigs are a company that make toys which fulfill my longing for the more traditional; the toys are wooden, they're wholesome and they are basic without losing excitement for the child. In the world we live in it'd be near on impossible for a child to not have toys which fit my first description, but to balance that out, I want my boy to have some things which are the absolute opposite, and that's exactly what BigJigs toys are. They have a whole range of toys which are utterly charming, they're just so beautifully made and, I know I said it before, but wholesome - It's my favourite word to describe this company's products.

If you'd like to check them out, click HERE for their website or HERE for their facebook. I'd really recommend having a look - We have a lot of their wooden train track and accessories, plus we have some bits from their food range and now, of course, the toy featured here; but they do a lot lot more, I'm pretty sure there'll be plenty of things that most children would love.

And now, on to the product review.

One of our favourite delivery men arrived with the package on Wednesday morning and it couldn't have come at a better time. The Boy had been quite poorly on Tuesday and was still feeling quite miserable on Wednesday so was in real need of something to cheer him up, and goodness this really did!


Even opening this was a real joy, they have distinctive packaging which is both simple but exciting, bright colours without being overwhelming. There was a really clear picture on the front to show what the toy was like and that was more than enough to have my boy running off to the living room with it and opening the box before I even had a chance to get the camera out - Luckily I had it to hand and it wasn't long before I was snapping away. 

                                   
More on the packaging; I was really pleased that the toy wasn't over-packaged. There was no excessive piles of plastic or anything like that that you often get; the toy came in a cardboard box which was big enough for the toy and nothing else, the individual pieces that came with it were wrapped in thin, plastic wrapping to keep them from being damaged but, again, not excessively so - They were so simply wrapped that even my boy was able to unwrap them himself. which even added to the experience for him, he loves being able to do things like that for himself.

As the photos above show, The Boy's initial reactions were good, he was so excited to be opening this new toy and every step was just a bit more exciting for him. For me, though, at first I was a little unsure as to how well we'd be able to review this toy. As it's a shape sorter, and it's aimed at 12 months plus, I wasn't sure how well it'd be played with considering the boy is almost 3 and has been doing shape sorters so easily for a long time.

But, as ever, I needn't have worried!



The fact that the shapes are farm animals rather than basic shapes mean that this wasn't anywhere near as simple for The Boy as I had initially worried. He was able to do them all, but he did have to think about it, and have a good look at the shapes, and the holes, in order to see which one went with which - See his concentratng face above!

Despite the fact that the shapes are a lot more complicated than a standard sorter, I think that this toy could, easily, still be played with by a younger child, as the recommendation states. Rather than just giving them all of the shapes you'd be able to give them one, show them the relavent hole and then it'd become more of a dexterity exercise rather than reasoning and recognising one; as it is when they're trying to work out the shapes for themselves.



One thing I wanted to make sure of, when reviewing this, was that I got a really representative view of how my little guy would play with this. So this is him playing with it the second day that we had it (of his choice, no need to be suggested by me) - One thing he really likes to do with it, as you can see if you click the picture to see in more detail, is that he likes to put the animals in the shape but leave them in the hole rather than pushing them all the way through. This turns it into a game of how careful he can be, he has to be so gentle with any subsequent shape because if he's not all of them fall out and he has to start again - This game was devised entirely by him and I think it shows how this toy really can be played with in more ways than the obvious, and it shows how it can grow with the child; utterly destroying my concerns that it'd be too young for my boy.


As you can see in the picture above, he quite likes just playing with the animals on their own sometimes. He's really going through an animal phase at the moment so this really appeals to him. The choice of animals included is great as it's all the obvious ones, but there's also a goose which he's not encountered as much before - Admittedly, at the moment he does keep calling it a 'ghost' but I'm sure we'll get there.

Another thing, which I'm really really happy with, is the fact that on the back of each animal the name is written in really clear letters (click on the picture above to see this in more detail). My boy is really into letters at the moment and can read almost the whole alphabet, so for him this is just perfect; we're just at the point where I'm trying to show him how letters string together, so the shorter names are perfect for this and then as he learns more and becomes more confident we can move on to some of the longer names. This is yet another way that I think the toy will be suitable for older children rather than just youngters - I see this being a great little tool in helping The Boy develop his letter skills, and I'm constantly on the look out for things to do this.




Considering that this is sich a simple toy, I'm so pleased with the ways in which the boy has played with it. The picture above shows The Fiance showing him how his trains on his wooden track can stop at the farm and deliver food for the animals. Due to the way that this toy has been thought up, and designed, it's much much more than a basic shape sorter; as your child gets older it can be used as a more interactive farm as well as it's original, intended use.

Other ways he's found to play with it have been to just, simply, use the animals as stacking blocks and see how high a tower he could build on the arm of Grandma's chair, plus he's even taken to involving some of his other toys in his games, it seems that 'Baby Bear' really likes the toy horse. In compelte honesty, this was done by The Boy, it had nothing to do with me.


Despite my initial concerns, this toy has, already, become a firm favourite in this house. It's been played with every day since we got it, and whenever someone comes to visit us it gets taken out so that The Boy can show it to them. Sometimes he just likes to take all of the animals out and put them in again, he's always been a bit of an 'eeyore' child, putting things in and out, in and out, of some container or another (If you don't get this reference you need educating in the ways of Winnie the Pooh!) He also, just, quite likes carrying it around the house; again this is a pretty long standing thing with him, he loves carrying things around and the handle on the top makes that so easy.



The quality of the toy is exactly as I've come to expect from BigJigs, it's strong and sturdy, it's well painted and it's quite obviously had a lot of thought put in to it. The roof comes off in two halves, which makes it easier to take on and off for littler hands, and the animal shapes come in a different range of sizes so they're not all too samey for the child.

The Boy has one, single, quibble with the toy though. And that is that the tree shape which is included has a rounded base, and so it doesn't stand up on its own like all of the animals do. He's quite a particular child (possibly could be read as peculiar ;) ) and he tries, time and time again, to make it stand up, but it simply will not - But as far as quibbles go I think that's the smallest one possible, the playability he's had from this in what's not even been a full week is just fantastic.

I'd really recommend this as a toy for your little ones, or as a gift for someone elses child - Maybe as a first birthday gift, I think this is a toy that could really grow with a child and become a solid favourite. My only regret is that my boy hasn't had it from younger as I think  he'd have loved it when he was littler just as much as he does now.

This was on the first day, when he was poorly still, he insisted on having it
on the sofa with us as we sat for cuddles.

4 comments:

  1. I think we sometimes give toys to children when they are too young to appreciate them. If he was given this at one he might not have got so much out it and would probably have lost interest well before he was 3.

    ReplyDelete