Saturday 19 June 2010

Brio Classic - Ant With Rolling Egg Pull-Along Toy

Whenever you buy a toy made by Brio, you know you'll get something that is top quality. Their toys - especially the wooden train sets - have been playgroup staples for generations of kids (even back when I was kneehigh to a grasshopper !) and have really withstood the test of time. As they explain on the Hello Baby website, Brio started out in 1884 so they've had plenty of time to become experts in producing quality goods for children. They explain their values clearly on their website : "BRIO’s toys are characterised by quality and durability, and are often handed down from generation to generation. BRIO has also accumulated extensive expertise on how toys stimulate a child’s development. A BRIO toy is not only educational, it’s also a joy to play with. As all good toys should be."

I already have the Brio stacking clown and I must admit, it's out on show in the bedroom as a decorative object as much as a toy. The same will be true of this wooden pull-along ant - at least until Pierre gets mobile and drags it around the house with him all day long !

I actually had to have a good feel to believe it's made of wood ! It's so shiny and smooth that, if it wasn't so solid and hardwearing and stamped with the Brio name, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's made of plastic instead of wood. The colours are really vibrant and appealing to small children and if you're worried about teething babies getting splinters from wooden toys, you can stop right now - the finish is exceptionally smooth, not to mention tough.

The concept is really simple - it's a wooden ant on wheels that you pull along on a string - but it has a little extra ! When you pull it along, the bright yellow egg that you can load on his back magically spins round. Now, call me stupid but I've looked really closely and I'm really impressed - it was some engineering genius that came up with that one ! Who needs flashing lights and sound effects when you can have a magic twirling egg ?! And I'm pleased to say, it's not just me that's impressed and a little mystified by the egg - the kids are too ! The wobbly head, antenna (umm what's the plural of antenna ?!) and tail on springs also go down well.

I only have two very slight gripes and they are easily overcome. The first is that you need a PhD to get the toy out of the box because they've twisted and knotted the little wires that hold it in place so much that trying to untangle them is like trying to do a Rubik's cube ! I've only got a degree so I had a few problems !! The second is that the pull-along cord seems too long to me - but that is possibly because I'm paranoid because my doctor is always telling me to make sure the cords are kept short to prevent the kids from wrapping it around their necks and strangling themselves. I've tightly knotted my string in half to make a loop which is plenty long enough for a small child and is actually easier for baby fingers to hold on to than a single string. They've been around for so long though that I'm sure they've taken the safety aspect into consideration when manufacturing the toys.

Those two slight niggles aside, it is the perfect toy for toddlers. It's beautifully made, fun to play with and will last forever. I bet Pierre will end up handing it down to his kids, just as I've passed on my little wooden Fisher Price woofing pullalong dog with the yellow shoe in his mouth ! OK hand's up - who had one of those when they were a kid ?!

star rating : 5/5

RRP: £12.99

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