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My 5 year old daughter received this Zoobles set for Christmas. Zoobles are something which I had never heard of, and neither had my daughter, so it stayed in the box for a few days before we finally got around to opening it up to have a look.
Well as far as I can tell, Zoobles are another phenomenon whereby children can collect hundreds of these toys, and also create an online community with them if they so wish. I could not find much information about them on the official website, that was basically just an interactive site where you can look at the different lands and creatures and play games, but I did find some information on a Facebook page, of all places! And apparently Zoobles live in a faraway land, and they have the magical ability to transform from tiny balls into cute creatures. The way they transform from a ball into a creature is through ‘popping’ open to surprise you, but they only way they can pop open is by being placed onto their magnetized ‘Happitat’ which activates something on the ball and it flicks open like a series of petals to reveal a cute character underneath. There are hundreds of these characters to collect, and also numerous playsets.
Zoobles Blossoming Garden Playset
The set that my daughter received was this garden/shower playset, and in it you get one Zooble (Iris), and a plastic habitat which has a slide, a shower and two ‘Happitat’ locations where the character can be activated from ball to creature. Also with the set you received a few accessories such as something which looks like a bumblebee (Poppy), and some showering items.
The set is quite small and feels quite flimsy. My husband was the one to set it all up for my daughter, and when I finally set my eyes on it I was unsure about the purpose of it all, but my daughter seemed to be enjoying herself so I was pleased about that. The idea of this set is that you can position your Zooble at the top of the slide, then it slides down and is supposed to land on the Happitat at the bottom of the shower and spring open. And the flower petals that form the top of the shower also spring open. However, this does not always work properly, the shower always springs open because the Zooble hits a latch as it reaches the bottom of the slide that activates the shower, but the Zooble itself does not always end up in the exact location required for her to spring open from ball to creature. But all it requires is a quick nudge in the right direction and out she pops. It’s quite impressive if it all works correctly, but my daughter doesn’t seem bothered either way, as long as she springs open eventually then she’s happy.
You can also position your Zooble in another area on the playset where she will spring open and this is in front of a mirror. I think the idea here is that she has just had a shower, and can now preen herself in front of the mirror, and use the accessories to make herself look pretty. But I have just tried to do this myself (for research purposes) and the springing open from ball to creature is not immediate here either, you kind of have to shuffle her about and give her a nudge before she springs open. I’m not sure why it’s like this because when my daughter first played with the set, the springing open was almost instant.
Both my daughters seem to like this set, but I have noticed the play possibilities are quite limited. I am sat watching my 3 year old play and she has fiddled about with it for about 5 minutes before moving onto something else. The toy is recommended for children aged 4 and upwards, and I think this is right because it’s actually quite a fiddly toy to use and my 3 year old is quite clumsy with her hands, and as she tries to retrieve the Zooble from somewhere in the playset, it can be quite difficult to do without knocking the whole thing over. And when the Zooble lands at the bottom and doesn’t spring open, then she flicks it about with such force that she almost propels it across the room. But my 5 year old is much more delicate and has more fun with it than her little sister, but again the play is limited and she frequently moves onto something else after just a few minutes of playing.
Because the set is quite small and difficult to get fingers in amongst the separate parts, then I feel that my children are limited in what they can do with it. Obviously the slide and the shower springing open has a massive novelty appeal for children, but it seems to be that that is all you can do with the set. And I know I have said before about imagination and it’s the child’s imagination which makes the toy really come to life, but I just feel that if the set was a bit bigger or perhaps not as fiddly then they might get more enjoyment from it.
I think the Zooble is very interesting to children though and I suppose quite mysterious because it’s a creature that more or less hides inside a ball, until you put her in her Happitat and wait for her to spring open. And I’m guessing that if my daughter had a few more Zoobles and a couple more playsets, then she would have a lot more fun with them because they are pretty cute. But as a standalone set, I think it’s a bit of a letdown.
Final Thoughts and Verdict
I think that the whole Zoobles idea is a good one, and it has a definite appeal to young children, but I do feel that this particular playset could be improved by being a bit bigger with more area for the Zooble to play for it to be worth the money. It looks pretty and the Zooble is very cute, but that’s about as far as it goes. Don’t get me wrong, both my daughters like it and enjoy playing with it, but as I said earlier, they only play with it for very short periods of time because I suppose they get bored of the limited play opportunities that the playset provides.
Despite my reservations I would still recommend the set, but I would advise buying a couple of the other playsets and perhaps a few extra Zoobles to give your kids more enjoyment. Although this might set you back a few pounds with single figures starting at £5.99, and playsets varying in prices with the Blossoming Garden Playset costing £19.99 from Toys R Us. But I think if you are planning on letting your kids become involved with Zoobles then it would be worth spending the extra money, as a single Zooble will not provide enough enjoyment, in my honest opinion.
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