Spin Mania – the Speeding, Spinning, Time-Trial Challenge!

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We were really thrilled to be asked to review a new game from Drumond Park. Released in September 2012, Spin Mania is an action game for children which combines the skill of plate spinning and the intensity of an against the clock challenge! 

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For 2 or more players, Spin Mania is aimed at children aged 6+ and has an RRP of £22.99. In the box you get the Spinning Machine which has a built in timer (this needs 2 ‘C’ batteries which are not included) 3 stands for the spinning plates, a ‘spin-spike’ and three orange rotary plates. 

My first observation was that, although well packaged, the box is really oversized for all the bits that are included! It could almost be a third of the size which would not only save on storage space, but also would be better for the environment! 

Getting set up was quick and easy (apart from finding the batteries in our kitchen draw!), so we were ready to play in no time.

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The concept is simple. You have to ‘spin-up’ the spinning plates on the Spinning Machine, one at a time, and then use your ‘spin-spike’ to transfer them to the three separate stands. All three plates have to be spinning to then get back to the timer and stop the clock. You can then use a tiny peg to mark your time. Then the next player or players take on the challenge, trying to beat your recorded time! 

To make it simple, we kept the stands next to the spinning machine – the boys are only 5 and 7 and for the first times of playing we knew they would have to master the skill of actually transferring the plate to the stands! 

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Of course, to develop the game and make it more difficult, your opponents can make it more tricky for you. Once you have agreed a ‘play-area’ (a specific room or space inside or outside) the other players can hide your plate stands before your turn so the challenge then extends to not only having to transfer the spinning plates, but you have to find the stands to transfer them to, check the plates are all still spinning AND race back to the timer to get the best time! When I say hide though, they have to be reasonably easy to spot and not in a tricky place to get to (we don’t want any cheating!).

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The hubby and I find the game quite easy, managing to transfer the plates with no trouble and of course, the plates for us were next to the machine, so we didn’t get to experience the thrill of racing round the room (though I am sure this will be on the cards soon!)

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The boys on the other hand found it a bit more tricky! My eldest managed to transfer 2 of the plates within the timer, but ended up throwing the last plate across the room! A bit more practice needed here I think until we can introduce the hiding element! 

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My youngest, on the other hand, couldn’t manage at all. He couldn’t get the angle of his hand right and managed to knock the spinning plates off the machine each time he went to take one off! It is a case of practise make perfect… and that is just what they boys attempted to do, for a while at least! I think because they found it a challenge and seemed to not be succeeding too well, they got bored fairly quickly, mostly through frustration, so it will be interesting to see how many times it comes out for them to skill up in order to develop the game further! 

So what do we think?

Well, there is a mixed review from Me and the Boys…

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A thumbs up and an 7/10 from my 7 year old who thought it was quite good but a bit hard to do!

A thumbs down and a 1/10 from my 5 year old who said it was not good because it was too hard and not really fun.

And a 5/10 from Mummy and Daddy who think whilst it may be a good game to play with the family, you would lose interest in it fairly quickly! 

It is, however, interesting to see that the price has been dropped in a few places recently to as low as £9.99, which to me is a good price to snap up for those rainy days! It seems a lot better than paying over £20! 

1 Week on: 

And I have to admit that much to Mummy’s surprise, Spin Mania has been out of its box EVERY morning, with both boys keen to up skill and practice their plate spinning techniques… and my eldest son has even added his own challenge by travelling around the room with the spinning plates! So on an offer, I would DEFINITELY recommend this game…. 

We were kindly send Spin Mania free of charge from Drumond Park for the purposes of this review.

Pump, pump, pump with Pumpazing – a fun family game!

We LOVE family games in our house – in fact, we always buy a new one every year for Christmas so we can spend some family time playing on the big day! 

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This year there a quite a few that have caught my eye, and though not a traditional board game, Pumpazing by Drummond Park had certainly caught my eye! 

Pumpazing offers a ‘Pass the Parcel’ style game.

Pass the loveable “Zingy” character from player to player, taking it in turns to pump his arms in and out. Pump enough and one of the Zingers will fly off with a “zing” or a “boing” sound!

But watch out that Zingy doesn’t say “uh-oh!” during your turn, or you’ll lose a Zingy Card!

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Suitable for children aged 4+, Pumpazing was perfect for my family of 4, and in fact can be played by any number of players as long as you are not on your own! It is worth noting, however, that it does require 3 AAA batteries which are not included with the game, and though these were quick, easy and simple enough to put in, could put a dampner on things if you don’t have any spare and want to get going straight away! 

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Pumpazing was really easy to remove from the packaging – not over-packed, but it was all sealed with plastic bags inside so was not really eco-friendly! ‘Zingy’ himself is built well – he looks sturdy to last and keep ‘pulling’on, and it was easy to put together by the boys too (well, it has to be as this forms part of the game!)

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To play you put the 4 Zingers (balls between you and me) into ‘Zingy’s’ back, then share the zingy cards out between the players. You then take turns to pump the arms in and out. You do have to pump for a while, and then eventually one of the Zingers flies out – they go in all directions!!! If it makes a ‘zing’ or a ‘boing’ you pass it to the next player and they have their turn. If he says ‘Uh-Oh!’ you loose one of your zingy cards. Once all 4 Zingers have popped off you need to reset ‘Zingy’, put them back into the holes and carry on. The winner is the last person to still have zingy cards remaining! 

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Initially, for the first time, it was played only the once as it took a long time, but ‘Zingy’ was out the next day to teach a friend and then kept coming out several times a day for a quick play! I know it will be out lots of times, even if it’s just for one game at a time!

The boys absolutely LOVED it – there were lots of smiles and giggles, especially at the silly noises ‘Zingy’ made, and at times the boys couldn’t contain their laughter when the Zingers flew off into a silly place in the room! You do need a bit of space to play – and I wouldn’t play next to your best china! 

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Pumpazing is a simple concept. It is quite limiting as there aren’t really different ways to play BUT the boys did like it and found the noises really funny. I think it will be a good game to play with a group as a ‘knock out’ and know it will be a popular Christmas game! With an RRP of £19.99 it is a  little bit expensive – I think it would be better at more like £15 (it is on offer at the moment online at ToysRUs for £14.99) as you don’t really get much in the box for the money, but nonetheless I know the boys love it and it is being played with, so that gets a thumbs up from a Mummy perspective!

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The boys gave Pumpazing an 8/10 and a thumbs up too! 

 

 

 

 

 

Elite CommandAR – turning your world into a digital battlefield!

We have computers and consoles at home – plenty to play with and keep us entertained – but the latest gaming rage seems to be coming straight from your iPod, iPhone or Android device with the help of the App store. Elite CommandAR is a new release from AppGear… which has all the ease of an App, combined with an accessory which brings just a little something different to the App gaming market! 

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Needing an iPhone 4, iPod touch 4th generation, or a selected google Android phone, Elite CommandAR uses ‘Amplified Reality’ to turn your world into a digital battlefield. Your mission? To save the planet from total destruction by alien forces on a last ditch elite space commander mission. Containing an alien interactive pistol, iPod mount and 2 x AR markers, the pack retails with an RRP of £19.99. You need 2 AA batteries too! 

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With an age 9+ rating on it, I decided this was one best for the hubby to take a look at, with just a little help from my eldest. Not just because of the fact the device is in basic terms a ‘gun’, but I felt my son was still a little young at 7 for the context of the game… and quite possibly this would be one for older children!

The pistol, mount and markers were well packaged and easy to get to. The instructions were clear too making it easy to put together and use!

To get going you firstly need to download the game/app from the app store, which is of course free as it is included in the pack price! It didn’t take long to download and, once it is ready, you simply attach the mount to the gun and then attach you iPod (or iPhone) to the mount.

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To play you load the app with the gun attached – and then the gameplay begins, with the alien pistol giving you immersive controls.In basic terms this means you simply move the gun round the room and, as you do, the viewpoint reacts to your movement, panning and tilting as you do! The graphic are pretty good and it does look rather realistic, which makes it easy to search and aim the gun to shoot the aliens.

The  2 AR cards work when the pistol is pointed at them, turning into a portal or instead you may accept a mission. The game has multiple modes including training, AR battle and campaign.You can play on your own, or there is also the option to play in 2-player co-op mode too… so if you wanted to battle with a friend you could defeat the aliens together! 

The hubby has had fun with this one… and has enjoyed playing the game. My eldest has had a go too, and although I still do feel he is a bit young to be playing, he managed to control it well… and was keen to play again! I managed to get my hands on it too (well, sometimes you have to get in on the action).. and i did quite well! In fact, I think the world may have been safer in my hands… and I am certainly more ready for those aliens! 

We had a few problems with the App crashing at certain points, but I think that seems to happen with all things computer techie, and it was just a case of restarting to play again! 

On the whole though I think its a great and different idea… and I do think it seems to be a good development for apps, giving them an extra dimension for the gameplay!

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It got a thumbs up from ‘the boys’… who even went to check out some of the other titles available!!! 

 

Introducing Redakai – the BRAND NEW trading card game!

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The boys were THRILLED to be chosen to try out a brand new trading card game called Redakai. Promoted as being ‘revolutionary’, Redakai is a game which uses Blast3D technology (basically the cards appear to have 3D images on them) and the cards stack and combine together to play. 

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The boys were sent the Starter Pack to play with, which has an RRP of £9.99. For this you get 2 packs of the trading cards (which together compromise of 16 X-Drives plus 7 bonus X-Drives) and a 2-in-1 Battlefield/Storage Case. 

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The idea of the game is quite simple, but did take a little time for me to get my head round to be able to teach the boys how to play. Basically you start with a character card each, then select a card from the pile in turn. If it is a monster card you use it to ‘power up’ your character by stacking it on top. If it is an attack card you use it to attack your opponent, placing it on top of their pile. If the attack amount is greater than their character amount, the attack wins and the card stays – this knocks some power from their character. If the attack amount is less, the card is discarded. You play until one person has lost all 3 of their power bars! Phew!!!

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As a game designed for boys aged 6 -10, the concept of the game is actually quick to grasp, and my 4 and 6 year old managed to play happily by themselves once I had played the first few games with them. The bit that made it more tricky was the value of the cards, and the adding up and calculating needed, which meant my 6 year old could play happily whilst my 4 year old needed help (surprisingly my 6 year old managed to win each time when helping his brother!!!).

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The stacking action in the game makes it different to all the other ones I have played with the boys… and it actually makes it really good, as you can redeem yourself and save your character if you pick the right card! The boys also LOVED the 3D effect of the cards… and the designs of the monsters and characters. They are really appealing to boys, with boy-friendly names and colours!

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We have had lots of these kind of games that have been played once or twice with adult help, then left on the shelf, but Redakai has already been played 3 or 4 times off the boys’ own backs… and Granddad has even been shown how to play too… so I think this is going to be a success in our household!

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For £9.99, the starter pack gives you all you need to play – but of course adding new packs of cards will make the game more exciting in the long run!

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The boys give Redakai 10/10 – their favourite part being that you can battle and attack your opponent! 

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Old Amsterdam Cheese – A Mummy News Review!

When I heard I had been chosen to review some ‘Old Amsterdam’ cheese for Mummy News I was looking forward to tasting something different. Made in Holland, I knew the type of cheese it was likely to be, seeing as Edam and Gouda are so infamous from that area, but I wasn’t expecting the Old Amsterdam to offer such flavour and depth as it did.

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Old Amsterdam is an aged gouda, meaning it is a very mature cheese. Made as a round, it is presented with a distinctive black wax rind, which does need to be removed before eating.

The piece I was sent to test was an 150g slice with an RRP of around £2.49.  The pack was very easy to open, thanks to an easy peel style corner.

On opening the pack it was immediately clear that the cheese was like no gouda I had tasted before. The mature aroma wafted out – not a big ‘stinky feet’ rating, but you could tell that this was going to be a cheese with some oomph behind it and I knew that I was in for something tasty.

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The cheese itself is quite hard and had a slightly granular texture, but was full of flavour. It is has a distinctively nutty taste with a sharpness to it, whilst at the same time being smooth and rich. The cheese has added ripening crystals which, whilst I am not sure exactly what they are, certainly seem to have done their job to age and mature the it beautifully.

Because of the depth of the taste, the children were not too keen on it. They do prefer mild and mellow cheeses so in my opinion this is definitely a more sophisticated adult cheese, that would be perfect on a cheeseboard!

I did want to give it a test though (as any Mum would) so I undertook my own ‘Old Amsterdam Cheese Challenge’.

Challenge 1: The opening

I hate cheeses which are difficult to open. I often have to get a knife to open the sealed plastic, which isn’t really great! So how easy would the Old Amsterdam be to open? In one word – simple! The easy peel corner opened the pack with minimum effort… and it also meant the pack remained in one piece so I could just cover the whole thing with cling film to keep the rest in the fridge.

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Challenge 1 complete – 10/10

Challenge 2: The cutting

Some cheeses may taste delicious… but can end up as a pile of crumbs on your plate or stick to the knife. Would the Old Amsterdam cut well? Yes, it did! The knife went straight through and a slice stayed as a slice in one piece. It came off the knife with ease too!

Challenge 2 complete – 10/10

Challenge 3: The grating

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Now this may not be as important if the cheese is destined for the cheeseboard, but for a sandwich or for melting then grating is essential. So how did Old Amsterdam fair? It grated easily, without breaking. A nice easy job!

Challenge 3 complete – 10/10

Challenge 4: The melting

So, to test this one I decided to make cheese on toast. I thought that Old Amsterdam would make a fuller flavoured version of the classic dish… and it didn’t fail to impress. The cheese melted slightly faster than Edam, and just like you would expect, bubbled beautifully. On eating it had a really nice texture and just the right amount of melted cheese elasticity! Old Amsterdam provided the beauty and deliciousness of cheese on toast, with a more adult edge!

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Challenge 4 complete – 10/10

 

For me, Old Amsterdam will definitely be a future purchase. I think it will be great on a special cheeseboard and I am going to have to try it on a home-made pizza too! I think the price is more than fair for such a full-bodied and mature cheese. We were very impressed!