Friday, 19 December 2014

Board Game review : Bugs In The Kitchen

As soon as I saw the name of the latest Ravensburger board game that we had received to review, I knew it would be a hit with the Madhouse Mini-testers. "Bugs In The Kitchen." I could already hear them crying "eurgghhh" delightedly !

And that was before we even had a look inside the box and discovered that it has a Hex bug in it. The Madhouse Mini-testers had seen these before in a toy shop and thought they were very cool. They're little robotic bugs that scuttle about in a very fast, erratic and quite random manner. They give me the creeps a bit which just makes them love them even more !

The game is very simple to play. The board is made up of a maze of pivoting knives, forks and spoons. You roll the dice to know which piece of cutlery you can turn to try to guide the Hex bug through the maze to your designated trap.

It's more down to luck than judgement really because you can set up the perfect path to your corner then twiddle your thumbs helplessly when the bug scuttles off in the wrong direction. This evens up the odds for younger players but can be a bit frustrating for older players who want to use skill and strategy rather than sheer luck.

It's great fun and is a quick game to play if you're short on time (about 20 minutes usually). The kids invariably end up playing with the Hexbug on the table when the game is over though. The suggested age range on the box is 6+ but 4-year-old Pierre manages to play (and sometimes even win) quite successfully.

star rating : 4/5

Review by Madhouse Family Reviews 

RRP : £19.99 available on Amazon 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The Red Box - By Colin Thompson

the red box puzzle

The Puzzle

We like having opportunity to review Ravensburger jigsaw puzzles. We like to research the artists and we enjoy compiling the jigsaws, of course! This is another premium puzzle made up of 1000 engineered cardboard and precision cut pieces. For those who have come to know Ravensburger and have enjoyed their products over the years will know that Ravensburger puzzles are always top quality. Included inside The Red Box, box, is a leaflet with the Artist’s biography and a further picture for reference (which is really useful when more than one person is working on it). This jigsaw is rectangular on completion, and measures 69.9 x 49.7 cm approx. From 12 years to adult. RRP £11.99

The Artist

We have come up nice and close to photograph the many compartments which appears in this beautiful illustration by artist, Colin Thompson (born Colin Willment 1942). The impression is that the picture has been hand drawn and painted using pen and watercolour, but it has been produced digitally in fact with some clever editing techniques used; using computer software. Thompson says that he is able to express his creativity just as effectively as he can when drawing in 2D, by combining digital painting and photographic image manipulation techniques. Thompson’s working background in design and print, and in theatre, will explain his keen eye as his detailing is exquisite and his use of colour makes this a top decision by Ravensburger to produce it in a puzzle format.


The Theme

The picture is made up of lots of red coloured compartments. Within each compartment Thompson has produced a little work of art in itself. Images of the Far East features. A dark silhouette fronts a fiery sky. Designs include China Blue and other oriental patterns; bright coloured parasols and Chinese lanterns; various water holding vessels; old bounded books and ancient time pieces. As you slowly build the picture piece by piece you will spot the creatures here and there (great and small), acknowledge the symbolism depicted and enjoy it when you discover those pieces that are more identifiable such as the dragon mask and the golden, Koi Carp.

Available from Amazon 

Monday, 15 December 2014

Scotland Yard by Ravensburger

I love board games and we always make time to play games and spend quality time together. Big J is at an age now where he enjoys more challenging games such as Monopoly, Cluedo, Destination and our new favourite Scotland Yard by Ravensburger.

When we first opened it and I saw all the pieces I thought it may be too complicated but it was quite easy to understand.

Inside the box is
1 game board
 6 playing pieces 
29 start tickets 
130 tickets for different means of transportation 
1 travel log for Mr. X 
1 visor for Mr. X 
2 inserts 
2 rings for bobbies

First off I read the instructions and we decided who was going to be detectives (Mummy and Daddy) and who was going to be the naughty and mysterious Mister X (Big J)

The object of the game is for the detectives to find Mister X. It is almost like a chasing game similar to cops and robbers, cat and mouse and also hide and seek
So Big J was Mister X and he has been a little naughty so it was up to Daddy and I, London's top detectives to stop him.

Big J enjoyed playing Mister X, he did need to plan where and when he was moving to so he could outwit us. He found it easy to understand the rules of moving his way around the board.

The game features around Central London and Mister X has to escape from the detectives by moving around the 199 locations on the game board. He needs to use his transport tokens to move and not be seen.
Playing the detectives, Daddy and I had to become super sleuths and find out just where Mister X is hiding. I found it quite challenging and really enjoyed trying to work out just where Mister X was hiding.

Throughout the game Mister X (Big J) gave us clues to exactly where he may be at that point in the game - he did this and even then it was hard to figure it out. So we had to guess where he was and race there before he moved again.
Unfortunately we didn't find Mister X he was too smart for us this time so he won the game.
We absolutely loved this and it really was lots of fun. It took about 50 minutes from start to finish but that was including reading the instructions.
Next time we play I think I will go Mister X and try and beat the boys :)
Aimed at ages 8+
2-6 players

Review by Mummy 2 Monkeys

Available from Amazon 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Gruffalo Paw Shaped Giant Floor Puzzle

This big, bright and colourful high quality floor puzzle is shaped like The Gruffalo's paw. Measuring approximately 69 x 49cm, the puzzle features a big image of The Gruffalo in the centre, together with little pictures of his distinguishing features (orange eyes, black tongue, purple prickles etc...) around the edges. Fox, Owl, Mouse and Snake are also featured, along with excerpts of Julia Donaldson's much-loved text. 

The combination of colourful images, wonderful text and the big paw shape make this an interesting and rewarding puzzle for children to enjoy. The jigsaw is cut to 24 large fully-interlocking pieces and great gift for Gruffalo fans.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Prehistoric Fun with Science X


Ravensburger have bought out a fabulous Science kit aimed at young scientists aged 8 and over. This big piece of kit is the Science X Prehistoric Excavation Kit and contains lots of fun experiments and projects all to do with dinosaurs. It’s sure to get young ones asking “how do I get to be a palaeontologist”

Inside the box is all the gear they need for lots of amazing projects. For some of them we found we do need a few odd household items too such as a box, tape or some glue.


The science kit comes with a very useful manual which not only tells you how to do each experiment but also explains lots of facts about the dinosaur age.


Inside the box is 1 ammonite, 1 Excavation Block, 1 Excavation Tool. 1 Thermometer, 1 Magnifying Glass, Plaster Powder, Triops Eggs, Triops Food, Triops sand, 1 Meganeura Model, 1 time line, 5 Plaster forms, 1 triops basin, 1 T-Rex model and instructions. There are 15 different things to do so the kit will last a while.
Some of f experiments involve putting together a giant dragonfly and a deadly T-Rex using the included parts.


The models can then be proudly kept on display.
A few experiments involve making plaster creations from a Trilobite mould and plaster of Paris. Once the plaster moulds are made, further experiments can be done using these.
In Ryan’s kit was a piece of Ammonite.
Ammonite is an invertebrate with spiral chambers on it’s shell. It started during the Carboniferous (360 million years ago) and is therefore certainly an old slice of history.


Using the included magnifying glass, Ryan is able to look at the ammonite in detail.
Ryan enjoyed doing the Excavation block. Using the excavation tool he quickly dug away at the block to reveal his buried dinosaur.


Inside the block was a mini Stegosaurus.
The biggest experiment in the kit is Triops. Ryan had Triops last year and enjoyed growing them and watching them get bigger. It’s amazing how they come to life and quite surprising how big they can grow.


Inside this set is a plastic tank plus triop eggs, food, sand and a thermometer. We find the best water to use for Triops is cooled boiled from the kettle and find they are best placed near the window for sun light. They generally last about a month or so and usually end up with maybe 3 big ones surviving longest.

The Prehistoric Expedition provides hours of fun whilst learning. Even I learnt a few fun dinosaur facts whilst helping Ryan.

The kit can be purchased from Amazon at a reduced price of £26.72.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Thomas Night Work - Glow in the Dark puzzle

Thomas is busy at work in the quarry on this atmospheric 60 piece glow-in-the-dark puzzle. The design depicts Thomas working alongside Skarloey and Sir Handel. It looks like they are all going to have some heavy crates to move, before the night is through! Puzzle has a finished size of 36.2 x 26.2cm and is a perfect gift for any Thomas fan this Christmas 

Monday, 8 December 2014

What If? Christmas

Christmas Eve is a very busy night for Santa, as he drives the sleigh, scrambles down chimneys and delivers presents across the world. Rudolph reckons Santa has an easy time of it, eating mince pies and drinking sherry, whilst all he gets is a raw carrot. So WHAT IF Rudolph and Santa swapped jobs? And WHAT IF Rudolph really got stuck into his new role? The picture on this pack shows Rudolph's usual situation. the puzzle inside the box shows what COULD HAPPEN if he changed jobs.

The Christmas edition of this popular range of comedy puzzles with a twist. The twist is that the puzzle image isn't shown on the box. Using the little clues puzzlers must imagine what the finished puzzle scene will show. 

This has to be one of the best puzzles we have ever tried. There are similar versions already out there from different puzzle manufactures but this is simply a joy to do. The main reason for this is that with a Ravensburger 1000 piece puzzle none of the pieces are the same and so there is no confusion about where a piece may fit. 

The finished puzzle is really bright and colourful and as with any Ravensburger puzzle the image is of the highest quality.

For any puzzle fan out there I would recommend you having a go at one of these excellent What iF? Puzzles.