Three Tested Toys

With constant requests from children for a new gadget, toy or latest fad, I found myself looking for alternative solutions rather than the very highly priced market leaders.

This pick of three alternatives have all conquered when it comes to value for money with none of the comprise on quality.

First up we have the alternative to the LAPTOP.

Kano: Computer Kit Complete

A build-it-yourself laptop that is a powerful learn-to-code tool designed to unlock potential and unleash creativity.

"It's more than a laptop.  From the moment you open the box and all its clever packaging, you're hooked. And that's not even the children!

Simple instructions talk you through the installation, which was set up and ready to go in under 30 minutes. From here you can start coding with their intro course, to then enter the popular void of Minecraft and get creating your new world. For my six year old, it was daunting at first, but we were amazed at how quick he picked it up. He has now gone on to other games within the computer and I was immediately put at ease when I came to set up the internet settings to work with his age and stages as he grows.

As our son is an avid DanTDM fan he now orchestrates his own fake YouTube channel whilst playing and coding on his Kano. However, the only gripe would be that it does not have an external headphone jack. The ultimate piece of equipment for a YouTube gamer."
Reviewed by Jo Leigh

Specifications are:

  • Build and code your own Raspberry Pi 3-powered portable computer, with a 10.1'" HD screen, speaker, wireless keyboard, sound sensor and battery.

  • 100 step-by-step challenges and tutorials guide people of all ages as they learn to code and begin to understand loops, variables, and logic

  • Get creative with your technology: hack Minecraft; create art with Javascript; code shapes and patterns; follow along with Story Mode to learn about hardware, software and code; solve a mystery and choose your own adventure using Linux commands

  • Share your creations on Kano World, and play and change the rules of games created by friends

  • Fully working computer featuring a web browser, YouTube, Google Docs, Wikipedia, WhatsApp, Google Maps and more apps access online

Available at: or Amazon for the complete kit or add on's and online tutorials.

Price: £179.99

Next we have the best in INFLATABLE fun, giving water parks and ninja warrior a run for their money.

Thumbs Up Roller Wheel

Thumbs Up Roller Wheel

Ideal for kids to roll about in the garden, park or beach. No longer will you dream of being a hamster, you can be one, for a while at least.

"We road tested this fabulously fun inflatable roller wheel at my daughter's birthday party where the age range was from 5 -10. Each child had a whale of a time as they rolled, bounced, jumped over and ran through the colourful and sizeable wheel all pretending to be giant hamsters! If only we had an undulating garden I think I may have joined in the fun! We plan on taking it to the local swimming pool too as it would be a great addition to your average lilo. My only gripe was that the pump was a bit flimsy and took a while so we resorted to using a car pump then it was up in no time. It feels robust and looks great with the added sensory bonus of balls inside which jump around in rotation. A really great outdoor toy for all ages and something you could use indoors if you have space."
Reviewed by Rachel Bisiker

£42.99 from Amazon

Lastly we took a look at an alternative for LEGO

Strictly Briks Stackable Base Plates

Strictly Bricks Base Plates LEGO

Brik by brik opportunity awaits allowing a childs imagination to run wild, aided by these plates and the Strictly Bricks extensive product range! 

"Reluctant to spend £7 on ONE LEGO base plate for my children to build worlds with, I recently discovered Strictly Briks base plates.

Not only do you get 4 primary coloured plates but you only pay £19.99 for four! Vast improvement on others out there.

Once opened we were surprised to see you also get a load of stackable tower pieces too. Our children were able to connect in height as well as width! Our vat of lego worked perfectly on the plates too! Very pleased and highly recommended!"
Reviewed by John Freeman

Specifications are:

The Premium Blue, Green, Red, and Yellow Stackable Base Plates - 4 Pack 10" x 10" Baseplate Bundle Tower Construction available to buy online from Amazon for £19.99. Suitable for 3 Years + the opportunity for building is limitless whether that’s a tower office, parking garage or castle the choice is yours, it can even doubles as the perfect toy display unit so that some of your child’s most prized possessions can be on show! This set comes with 4 base plates and 40 stackers.

Due to its versatility Strictly Briks® items are compatible with all major brands of large bricks, including LEGO® DUPLO® and Mega Bloks® brand sets.


Happy days, hope these help to keep young ones entertained during the holidays...