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Due to time constraints, I am unlikely to be able to find the time to rate members that have received 3 times as many rates as they have given, apologies.

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since 27/02/2011


Giorgio Armani Wallet 23/09/2017

Armani Jeans Wallet

Giorgio Armani Wallet First impressions A lot of people just buy a cheap and cheerful wallet when they need to replace a tatty or worn one. I have done this in the past, but it can pay to buy something of a better quality, especially if you just want to get it for Sunday best. Pulling a tatty old sheet of leather from your pocket when it comes to settling a bill is not going to leave a good impression. The Armani Jeans brand is widely known in the fashion industry, and along with the designer price tag we know we are going to get a designer quality product. If you are into your designer gear then the chances are you might have a pair of Armani jeans. What better way to compliment these than with the same brand of wallet? If you aren’t into your designer names then you might want to give this one a miss, especially once you consider the price. My experience The product we have here is one of their wallets, and this is called the Safiano. This particular design is made from 100% finest….polyester. This is admittedly going to put some people off, but once you handle the wallet you honestly will understand how good it feels. We might all see the ‘100% Genuine Leather’ stamp as a sign of quality, but even though this is missing here, there is no mistaking the quality. The first thing I notice is the simple design. I don’t like a fussy wallet, and provided it serves its purpose then it can just be plain and boring. One thing I noticed straight away was the stitching. It is so very neat and ...

Lego Duplo 10833 Preschool Set 22/09/2017

Duplo - Nursery Set

Lego Duplo 10833 Preschool Set First impressions I am sure I am not the only person that can remember playing with Lego as a child, though I cannot recall the large Duplo pieces, probably as I were too young to do so! Duplo is known for its bold colours and larger pieces than Lego, and this is a range designed specifically for very young children between the ages of 2 and 5 years. This is a range to introduce youngsters to the world of building, with so many skills taught and gained from connecting one piece to another in order to build the end product. The set we have here is called Nursery School, though looking online it is known as Preschool. I suppose some of the confusion comes from the fact there isn’t a large headline name on the packaging, just the Lego and Duplo logos. What is clear from the brightly coloured box is what this set consists of. We have a nursery along with a number of children, a nursery assistant and teddy bear! My experience This is definitely one of the smaller Duplo sets in their range, and I draw this conclusion from the fact we have just 39 pieces in the set. This doesn’t mean it will be an easy build for every child, and a 2 year old may struggle at first. One of my nephews is 2 years of age and can put these pieces together to build the various items in the set. He does need a helping hand with building the nursery building, but this is easy enough for an adult, of course. A child may not always enjoy going to nursery, but on the whole they will love the ...

Melissa & Doug Wooden Latches 21/09/2017

Melissa & Doug - locks and latches

Melissa & Doug Wooden Latches First impressions A lot of people will have heard of the Melissa & Doug brand, but for those that haven’t this is an American company well-known for its high quality wooden toys and puzzles. The product we have here is called ‘Locks & Latches’, and it does exactly as it says on the tin. The Melissa & Doug range is obviously full of wooden toys and puzzles, each one brightly coloured to catch the attention of a young child. Animals are often involved, and this one is no exception. First impressions mean so much, but when you can touch and feel the product it means so much more. The chances are you will buy this product online, but if you do find the Melissa & Doug toys and puzzles on the highstreet you will instantly be drawn to the bright colours. This is a basically a wooden board with half a dozen doors to it. These are held shut by locks and latches- hence the name! My experience This puzzle is a lot of fun for the right child, and for someone ages 3 years and over it is going to keep them busy, at least to begin with. My 2 year old nephew is kept busy with this one, and he is picking it up well. He is always supervised, but often the age guides are put in place for difficulty reasons and not safety ones. The board is covered in doors, and behind each set of doors is a group of animals. The first door reveals a single horse. We then have 2 dog, 3 cats, 4 rabbits, 5 frogs and 6 fish. Each door is numbered to be opened in order, and along with the difficulty and ...

Lego Creator 31015 Emerald Express 20/09/2017

Lego Creator - Emerald Express

Lego Creator 31015 Emerald Express First impressions If you have read any number of my Lego reviews you will understand how much I favour the Lego Creator range over most others. The reason for this is that a child is encouraged to break their builds down after use, in order to create the other models that the set can transform into. What we have here is a locomotive themed set, with 3 very different track-based vehicles. If you have a child that likes their trains then this set could be ideal for them. With an age guide of 6 to 12 years this could be seen as confusing because it is so broad, but Lego do this in order to give their sets wider appeal. One of my nephew’s absolutely loves trains, but he is still a little young to be left unsupervised with sets like this, containing so many tiny pieces. For the time being he sticks to his wooden trains, but one day he would love to move on to something like this. My experience The idea of the Lego Creator range is to give a child the versatility to build a number of different things from one set of Lego. The sets of Lego pieces may be small, but they are versatile enough to be transformed into a number of different models, and here we have a set that allows you to build a steam locomotive, a rocket train and a carriage – albeit not all at once. These sets are designed to offer good value for money as a child will not easily be bored of creating just one item, and they will be encouraged to dismantle one design in order to build another. This particular ...

Lego City 60086 Police Starter Set 19/09/2017

Lego City - Police Starter Set

Lego City 60086 Police Starter Set First impressions Out of all of the Lego ranges I would say that the most common to buy is the City one. The Lego City range is huge, containing a whole host of vehicles you would expect to see in (and out of) the city environment. The set we have here is a City Starter Set, and this is basically the equivalent to 4 small Lego City sets that are pocket money purchases. We have 4 different boats and vehicles in the set, and this will give a youngster a boost with their Lego City collection. In this set we have a small dinghy, a fire boat complete with water cannon, a helicopter and a Police jetski and buggy. With 5 different minifigures in the set a child will be keen to set up different scenes, probably involving the guy in the dinghy being rescued by the various emergency services in the set. My experience Buying one of these larger starter sets is a good idea. If you just buy a small pocket money set from the Lego City range you wont get a great deal of enjoyment from it, with other minifigures and vehicles required to make a play scene. The starter set we have consists of the 4 vehicles I have mentioned, and the 5 minifigures beefs up this set. There are a total of 242 pieces in this set, but with a 5 to 12 year age guide this will prove to be much harder for some kids to complete it than others. The glossy instructions are easy to follow, and I like the bright colours and interesting pictures that keep a child focused on following the instructions. Due to the ...

Lego City 60010 Fire Helicopter 17/09/2017

Lego City - Fire Helicopter

Lego City 60010 Fire Helicopter First impressions Buying Lego sets can be a minefield, especially if it is for someone else’s child. Children can be easily pleased with the right sets, and providing they like the flight and helicopter theme they will love this one. What we have here is a set from the Lego City range, and this is simply titled ‘Fire Helicopter’. This fire engine red helicopter is certainly an eye-catching piece of kit, and with a fire scene included it is sure to provide many hours of fun to a young child. The Lego City range is vast, and it includes all the types of vehicle you would expect to find in a city environment. I would say that there are many questionable sets in the range, and these include vehicles you would expect to see out of town more than in the major cities. The Lego City range is one with a wide appeal, and it is a safe bet as far as buying for a child is concerned. My experience This set could be described as mid-range and medium in size. It contains 232 pieces, so it isn’t a large set, but it beats the pocket money sets on size, and gives a child a good challenge. The age guide for the Fire Helicopter set is 5to 12 years, and Lego typically give broad age guides so that their products appeal to as wide an audience as possible. This set contains 2 minifigures, and each one is a firefighter. They have their protective clothing on, and one has more of a fire suit on, with the protective face helmet and visor. The minifigures often make a set, but with these ...

Michelin Energy Saver 16/09/2017

Michelin Energy Saver, a tough decision.

Michelin Energy Saver First impressions When you are looking to replace the tyres on your car you might just have to specify to the garage whether you want budget, mid-range or premium branded tyres. The garage will select tyres for your vehicle, and along with the brand they must also make sure they use the correct sized tyres. When I bought tyres for the second vehicle I owned I ordered them online, and ever since I have done my research and replaced tyres as and when required, and not waited until MOT time and purchase them directly from the garage. Finding the right tyres for your style of driving and the miles you do can be a tough decision, but it also depends on your budget. If funds are tight then the chances are you will be buying ‘budget’ tyres. The quality varies a lot, though there are some gems out there. For the ‘branded’ and ‘premium branded’ tyres you can have more confidence in their performance, and in this Michelin branded tyre I expected the performance would be strong. The tyre we have here is called the Michelin Energy Saver. With fuel efficiency, noise and performance in adverse conditions all key factors in deciding on which tyres to buy, could the name of these tyres persuade consumers to choose them? My experience The tread pattern is symmetrical, though there is an outer and inner part to the tyre, so this must be observed when fitting the tyres to your car. I would always advise having at least matching pairs (front and/or back) but ideally all 4 tyres should ...

Lego Bricks & More 5930 Road Construction 15/09/2017

Lego Road Construction

Lego Bricks & More 5930 Road Construction First impressions If you have read my previous Lego reviews you will probably be aware that one of my favoured Lego ranges has to be the Creator range. This is full of sets that can be transformed into different things, and each set generally has 3 models to build. With the set we have here things are slightly different, but flexibility is something we still have. The Lego Construction Building Set 5930 is a set that appealed to us because the set can be built into a total of 4 different designs! I will explain these shortly, but parents will be pleased that they can buy 1 set of Lego that will give a child hours of fun, and encourage them to dismantle and reconstruct their favourite designs. The packaging is typically vibrant, and we have a number of vehicles and designs on the box, indicating what you can make from this set of Lego. The information is pretty standard, with age guides and designs clear to see, along with how many pieces are in the set and the minifigure that is included. My experience This particular set is designed for children from the age of 4 years. I think this is fair, but a slightly older child would perhaps find things easier and therefore a little more fun to enjoy! The instructions you receive will guide you to put 2 of the designs together. Obviously these cannot be built all at once, but this gives you 2 options as to what you build from the set. We then have 2 other designs which can be found online through the Lego website. These ...

Lego Super Heroes 76038 Attack on Avengers Tower 15/09/2017

Lego Superheroes - Avengers!

Lego Super Heroes 76038 Attack on Avengers Tower First impressions The choice of Lego sets is vast, though they are split down into ranges for us, and one range that I like at the moment is the Superheroes one. This is full of all the major superheroes – Spiderman, Batman, Avengers. You name it, this range contains it. The set we have here is an Avengers set, and it is larger than your average set. This is a substantial set, and although it is pricey it is also vast. We have minifigures galore, and the Avengers’ Tower is getting on for 40cm in height, so it isn’t just a small set that needs to be incorporated into other Lego sets to create a scene. My experience Some sets are tiny, but with as many as 5 minifigures in this particular set a child will not be disappointed. They will also find creating scenes much easier with a range of characters to play with. We have Iron Man, Ultron MK1, Thor and then 2 Iron Legion figures. Each character is just a simple minifigure, with Iron Man and the Iron Legion characters having masks on. Thor has a bright red soft cape which is hooked over his neck. The variety of characters is good to see, and this large number of minfigures fit in well with the large Avengers’ Tower. The Avengers’ Tower is clearly the major component to this set, and out of the 511 pieces in this set I would say around 400 of these are used for the tower. We have large, clear windows, and the set is complex enough to keep a child entertained for some time during the build. We have a glossy set of ...

Lego Super Heroes 76058 Spider-Man Ghost Rider Team-up 14/09/2017

Lego Superheroes - Spiderman!

Lego Super Heroes 76058 Spider-Man Ghost Rider Team-up First impressions Not only does the Lego brand have competition in other toy manufacturers, they also have a range that is very competitive with itself. Choosing a set from their range can be tough, but if a child is into superheroes then you cannot really go wrong with looking at the Lego Superheroes range, right?! What we have here is one of the most famous of all superheroes – Spiderman! This set is sure to get your pulse racing, and each of these sets is action-packed and just dying to be built and played with by a young child. The packaging is very eye-catching, and the bright colours and action scenes on the box are all designed to catch the attention of the target audience – a child! The age guide for this particular set is 7 to 14 years, and this is something that typically features on the front of each Lego boxed product. My experience What I love about these superheroes sets is that they are all designed to allow you to create action scenes. This set contains Spiderman, Ghost Rider and the Hobgoblin. Each one will be instrumental in any scene you create, and the ‘Ghost Rider Team-Up’ is one set that could easily ensure your child gets the Lego building bug. This set has a total of 217 pieces in it. This doesn’t seem a lot, but I would say it is a medium-sized set considering the rest of the Lego range. The 7 to 14 year age guide is very wide, and I think by the time a child reaches the age of 14 years they will perhaps have moved on from Lego, but they ...

Diesel Bad Eau de Toilette 13/09/2017

Diesel - Michael Jackson inspired?!

Diesel Bad Eau de Toilette First impressions There are a few designer clothing brands that I love, and Diesel is most certainly one of these. I love their footwear because I find them extremely comfortable, and I own a few pairs of their trainers for this very reason. It goes without saying that this is one stylish brand that I love, and this very much a modern brand as far as I am concerned. What you find with the fashion labels is that they are out to make money just like any other business, and as they take so many risks on the way to the top, they have to be rewarded handsomely. To achieve this they often charge the earth for their designing clothing, but another area they seem to enjoy is the fragrance market. It can be an expensive game creating a worthy brand in this market, and so having a well respected brand already established you could say it is easy money for these fashion brands. The product Diesel have produced is called ‘Bad’, and this is an eau de toilette. The bottle has a typical Diesel look to it. The textured finish to the bottle has a black leather finish to it. The Diesel brand is remembered by me for their distressed look on things, and this leather has real character. The packaging is very masculine in appearance, and the rectangular bottle is simple enough to let the rest of the deign do the talking. We have a rose gold coloured neck to the bottle with a textured black cap, and the ‘BAD’ lettering is also in this rose gold colour. The box that the bottle comes in carries ...

Lego Batman Movie 70901 Mr. Freeze Ice Attack 13/09/2017

Lego Batman - Mr Freeze Ice Attack

Lego Batman Movie 70901 Mr. Freeze Ice Attack First impressions Although the most successful partnership for Lego must be the one with Star Wars, it would be fair to say that another popular range is the one involving Batman. The set we have here is called Mr Freeze Ice Attack and is a mid-range set. The aim of the game is to assist batman in defending Gotham City and its energy facility from Mr Freeze. Although I will describe the set in more detail shortly, I would say that the Mr Freeze Exosuit is very unique in its appearance, and in this set we have a couple of minifigures that are exclusive to this particular set. Desirability is sure to increase over time, though this is not a range that has proved to be quite as popular as the Star Wars sets. My experience In the set we have 3 minifigures, and these are Batman, Mr Freeze in his Shoulder Ice Armour and the Security Guard. Each character is given their own weapons, and this ensures a child will engage in the assault of the energy facility that you are about to build. Mr Freeze has his Exosuit, but he also has a stud-shooting freeze gun. This is a fierce looking piece of kit, and the Exosuit houses the minifigure. Batman has his Batarang and Flamethrower, and the security guard is given a gun, which is assumed will not be enough to stop the assault on the energy facility from Mr Freeze, hence the need for Batman’s intervention. In addition to the minifigures and their accessories we obviously have the power plant. This looks small but is actually ...

Lego Friends 3939 Mia's Bedroom 12/09/2017

Lego Friends - Mia's Bedroom

Lego Friends 3939 Mia's Bedroom First impressions Although Ciao have decided to give us the obligatory Hobbit image on their site it would be safe to say that this particular Lego range is designed with girls in mind. The reason I say this is that the packaging and product itself is mainly pink and purple in colour, and the whole Friends range is geared towards the girls, with boys catered for with pretty much every other Lego range by the brand. What we have here is a set called ‘Mia’s Bedroom’. The set is exactly what it says on the box, and we have all the things you would apparently find in the bedroom of Mia! This whole Friends range has changed over the years, and it is regularly updated. There must therefore be demand for the range, and although it is a shame that Lego decided girls needed their own range, I suppose they are admitting this is the case, and that too many of the main ranges are about the boys. My experience This set isn’t particularly large with just 85 pieces in it, so the 5 to 12 year age guide surprised me. I suppose this is appropriate because it suits a younger girl, but the 12 year old upper age is pushing it a bit in my opinion. This is not a complicated set to build by any means, and the glossy full-colour instructions are simple to follow. They are the same as you find in the main Lego ranges, so no special treatment is afforded to the girls, which is a positive. In this set we have Mia in a kind of minifigure form. We then have her bed and bedside lamp and table. ...

Lego Creator 31043 Chopper Transporter 11/09/2017

Lego Creator - lets create a helicopter AND transporter!

Lego Creator 31043 Chopper Transporter First impressions Out of all of the Lego ranges I would have to say that the Lego Creator range is by far the most interesting. Lego sets in general are designed to be built to build one thing. This could be a scene from a Star Wars movie to a truck, a house or the like. What we have in the Creator range is sets of Lego that can be built into a few things, and this is often 3 completely different vehicles. These 3-in-1 sets offer terrific value for money, but in addition to giving you value for money as you do not need to buy 3 sets of Lego, the clever part is that your child will be encouraged to dismantle their creations in order to build the next model. The set we have here is called ‘Chopper Transporter’ and this is a fairly small set considering the size of the box. We have the feature model of the Chopper Transporter, the Tractor and the Off-Roader. Each one has its merits, but I am sure any child would find their favourite design quickly, as soon as they had built them all. My experience I have mentioned that this isn’t a large set, and the fact it contains 124 pieces confirms this. The set is designed with an age guide of 6 to 12 years in mind, so I suppose it is fair to say this covers a broad range of abilities. I wouldn’t say there are any particularly tough parts to any of the builds, and the glossy and colourful instructions are easy to understand and follow. I do like the Creator series as I have already mentioned, and the fact it almost forces a ...

Melissa&Doug Safari Chunky Puzzle 10/09/2017

Melissa & Doug Chunky Safari Puzzle

Melissa&Doug Safari Chunky Puzzle First impressions I am sure not everyone is aware of the Melissa & Doug brand, though this American company is known for its high quality wooden toys, and one product in the range is this chunky Jungle Puzzle. As always, the Melissa & Doug brand has brought us this brightly coloured wooden toy, and this puzzle is sure to challenge young minds. The pieces are designed to be easily held by small hands, and each jungle animal is brightly coloured and has a reasonable level of detail – at leats enough to allow you to work out what it is meant to be! There is a total of 8 pieces on this puzzle, and although the looks and idea are basic, this is a fun gift for a young child. My experience My nephew is learning new things every day. He surprises us with his speech and then kind of things he comes out with, and he is ahead of most children his age in terms of his development. Each time we visit my eldest nephew he expects something to open, and we have resorted to wrapping anything and everything, purely because he just likes opening parcels! Play time has to be fun, but it also has to be educational. I suppose you could claim that all toys are educational to some extent, but some moreso than others. What we have here is a wooden puzzle, and the aim of the game is to put the jungle animals into their rightful place, but it isn’t all that difficult if you ask me! The chunky wooden jungle animals are brightly coloured, and the slots that they take up in the wooden board ...
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