7 June 2013

REVIEW: Toy Round-up

Throwing, flicking and fighting

As summer draws in and actually promises not to be disappointing this year, we thought we'd look at some cool toys to get you out into the great outdoors. Then we realised that the summer sun is fickle and likely to be traitorous and sod off behind clouds for three months. So we looked at other things to play with inside as well.

Its a tough job, but some unemployable lout has to do it.

Wicked Boomas.

If the thought of the humble boomerang brings to mind sweaty Australians lobbing bent sticks at each other while wearing hats with dangling corks, think again. During the testing of the Booma range we never once put a shrimp on “the barbie”, nor did we did wish passers-by a “g'day”. That is because the three pronged boomerang from Wicked was far too much fun to stop and pretend to be Ozzies.

We happily received both the indoor and outdoor versions of the Booma; the prior promising up to 15-20 metres of flight radius, while the other offered just four-six (any more and it would be a pretty terrible indoor toy. Unless you lived in a mansion). The packaging on both guarantees that if you chuck the boomerang you will get it to return. We weren't so sure as we tore the larger and sturdier outdoor version from its simple plastic backing (we've been burnt by toys like this before – oh, the wasted hours of our youth!). After following the easy-to-understand instructions on how best to throw the Booma, we ensured the cat was safely clear of the back garden and launched it. And, much to our amazed surprise, it did indeed return – albeit to smack into our stunned foreheads.

There have been may different makes of modern boomerang over the years – disks, triangles, square ones with fins – but the Booma range is refreshing in that it offers a smaller, softer indoor option which, to be honest, we had slightly more fun with. It was small enough - and had a return flight circle short enough – to work well in tight backyards and cramped living rooms. Plus, when you miss it and it wallops you in the face it doesn't hurt. Unlike its solely outdoor cousin.

Great fun and a great price.

£8 (Outdoor) and £6 (Indoor)

Finger Whips.

Do your hands ever watch those sprightly young chaps whiz by on their scooters and dream of doing the same; popping ollies, grinding curbs, hitting the half-pipe? Well tell you hands to get out of your pants and stop dreaming – because Finger Whips are here!

Essentially what we have here are miniature scooters designed cleverly to accommodate even the stubbiest of digits. If you think your fingers need 'whipping' into shape then get them one of these – along with optional accessories like ramps and obstacles – and in no time at all you hands will be rake thin, fit as a fiddle and all the fingers will refer to each other as “dude”. Its like having a your own skate park in microcosm, only one from which you won't be laughed out because you're not cool enough or because you cried for your mum when you fell off your scooter.

The toys themselves are very sturdily built in die-cast metal and we found that even the thinnest looking scooter handle bars stood up to quite a bit of punishment. All this was very reassuring given that we were grinding away and popping jumps outside on tarmac and concrete - to add to the gritty urban mise en scene. We enjoyed fiddling with the Finger Whips Ramps pack, which came with metal scooter, extra wheels, tools for getting technical and also a nicely solid ramp with grinding rail.

There are lots of differently designed scooters available, and a host of packs with extras and little fiddly bits. We found that they were indeed fun, but not so to keep us keen for long. Great for younger kids maybe, and those already into extreme sports to keep as model souvenirs.

£ 9.99

The Hobbit Action Figures.

We really enjoyed building a scene from the recent Hobbit movie in LEGO a couple of months ago, so we jumped at the chance to get our filthy mits on more toy merchandise from Middle Earth. We were happy to get in the post a version of Thorin Oakensheild, legendary leader of the rag-tag band of dwarves, quite different than the teeny tiny one we saw in the LEGO set.

Thorin comes as part of a new and highly detailed range of action figures from toy maker Vivid. Although also featured in the line-up are the likes of Gandalf, Bilbo Baggins and Legolas, we were very glad to receive Thhorin, the miserable bastard himself, complete with shaggy fur coat, dour dwarf expression and superbly detailed weapons.

Six inches of grim determination (and points of pleasing articulation) the most striking thing about thorin is that the action figure actually looks like the character it is supposed to be – a refreshing thing these days. Highly posable and with a good centre of gravity for standing him up on your shelf (maybe to guard your rings?) we like Thorin very much and look forward to seeing more releases from Vivid's Hobbit line.

£3-6 (shop around)

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