16 June 2015

FEATURE: Summer Garden Fun

Three outdoor toys for the summer.

Summer is awesome. We can happily say that, not just because of the longer days, the warmer weather, and the fact that you can look appropriately dressed in just a t-shirt most days, but also because it gives us a lot of chances to test some outdoor toys. Winter can be a bit frustrating when you have a crap load of stuff to test from Super Soaker, which is why we're very happy to welcome the sun once again and charge outside to get good and wet. Here are some summer essential suggestions.

Super Soaker Double Drench

By 'eck, Super Soakers have changed since out day in't early 90s! We were there when the pressurised water pistol craze kicked off, with the classic pump-action blaster in day-glow colours. But it seems during the past 20 years Super Soakers have gone through something of a transformation. Gone has the screw-on water canister, the rickety design, and also the trigger! Instead what kids have to play with these days is a far more refined and effective water pistol.

The Double Drench is so called because it has two 'barrels'. Because of this, your intended target gets soaked twice in one shot - although thanks to the sprinkler-like nozzles on the gun, they actually get hit with about six separate streams of water. In place of the pump-and-shoot mechanism we were used to, you simply pump the grip and the water shoots with each pull - and reaches an impressive distance.

We found that (while doing some serious testing which is very much a grown-up's job, no matter what our mums or bank managers say) the Super Soaker Double Drench can douse things up to 30 feet away - quite impressive considering you're only giving it one quick pump. However, this doesn't shoot as far as other Super Soakers, but what it loses in range, it makes up for in spread. Shoot someone ten feet away, and you'll also be hitting those stood a few feet to either side as well.

Around £14.99

Nerf Rebelle Agent Bow

Let's be honest, it's pretty stupid that Nerf have a dedicated range of blasters designed for girls, as if the range "for boys" is just too uncouth and silly. That said, despite the pointlessly girly origins, and the fact that feminism just got kicked in the crotch, one of their latest toys ain't half fun.

The Nerf Rebelle Agent Bow is the first Nerf bow that we know of to actually be a bow; no fake string (like with this one), and no complicated string activated mechanism (like the one reviewed here). The arrows are launched by pulling back on the string (which is actually a length of rubber) and then released. And unlike the main range of Nerf blasters (or, the penis blasters as we'll call them) the Agent Bow uses proper arrows with flights and everything,

Those arrows are tipped with soft foam and feature specially encoded messages on the flights which can only be read by way of a secret (and thankfully included) reader gadget. The Bow also has a pretty nifty sight system which, once activated, presents the shooter with a red-dot style target. And by Christ did those arrows fly! In range tests we averaged around 70 feet,  putting the Rebelle Agent Bow up there with the big boys.


Playmobil Star Flyer

Playmobil outside? Surely you'd lose all the little bits? Not with the Playmobil Star Flyer, a throwable glider that comes complete with its own pilot figure. Whereas most playtimes involving Playmobil would be limited to the living room (or the pond), with the Star Flyer kids can take the action outside and lob this thing around.

Made from a very light kind of foam (similar to that used by the Hubsan Spyhawk FPV), the Star Flyer can be thrown just to watch it glide, or used in a game of catch. As the glider itself is pretty robust and take sustain a few knocks (thrust us!), it is great for some outdoor play. And yes, it actually does glide very well, especially when launched into a light breeze on a warm day.

Included is a pretty nifty pilot figure who certainly looks the part, but any similar sized Playmobil figure could fit in the cockpit, opening up a world of funny scenarios (for example, a Pirate: "Arrr, I be taking to the skies, me hearties!"). The design of the plane is very well done and could kick-start a wee one's mind into thinking about aerodynamics and why some shapes fly better than others. Certainly we had a plenty of questions from out little testers, but they were about why the neighbours don't like us very much. It's because we had to go 'round on three separate occasions to ask for the Star Flyer back.


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