Disney Tsum Tsum Vinyls from JAKKS Pacific - Review

14:36 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We're a house full of Tsum Tsum fans and have amassed a good collection of both the plush and squishy varieties over the past few months, so we were all rather excited to see a brand new range of Tsum Tsums arrive from JAKKs Pacific - Vinyl Tsum Tsums!
Disney Tsum Tsum Vinyls from JAKKS Pacific - Blog Review

The toy market has gone a bit mad with blind bags and collectible ranges recently and both Bud and LM are big fans. Whether watching videos of blind bags on YouTube, or asking to spend their pocket money on them the surprise element is a huge hit in our house. The Vinyl Tsum Tsums are available in different sized packets, ranging from small blind bags upwards but have added the surprise element to their packs with a mystery Tsum inside each nine pack of the range.
Disney Tsum Tsum Vinyls from JAKKS Pacific - Review blog

Recently LM and Bud were sent a three pack and a nine pack of the new range and they were absolutely delighted. They spent time looking closely at each of the Tsum Tsums and were super excited to spot that there was a mystery Tsum inside!
Disney Tsum Tsum Vinyls from JAKKS Pacific - Review

Find out what our mystery Tsum Tsum was below!

This was our first experience of the Vinyl Tsum Tsums and I was pleasantly surprised by them. They are in three different sizes which can be stacked easily and you get one of each size in the three pack. It's great to be able to see which characters you are purchasing, especially when you have children who want a specific one, but equally, the mystery element in the larger packs is very popular with my children too.
Disney Tsum Tsum Vinyls from JAKKS Pacific - Review blog

The Tsum Tsums themselves are very good quality and I think they will stand up to play well. Ever since they arrived LM has claimed them and carries them around in a small bag. I can often find her acting out some of her favourite Disney movies with the Tsum Tsums and snippets of the dialogue can often be heard. Some of them have found themselves becoming the pets of her larger dolls! The three sizes work well together, although the smallest are very little and need to be kept well away from her little brother.
Disney Tsum Tsum Vinyls from JAKKS Pacific - Review

The collectors guide is really informative about the range and it shows which characters are available in which size, and when others will be launched. LM and Bud had great fun ticking off those Tsums they had received and working out which ones they would like to add to their collection.
Disney Tsum Tsum Vinyls from JAKKS Pacific - Review collectors guide

Vinyl Tsum Tsums are available in all usual stockists now with an RRP of £4:99 for the 3 pack (21 different sets to collect), and £14:99 for the 9 pack (includes 2 exclusive to this size pack and 1 mystery Tsum Tsum).

Sofia the First Toys from JAKKS Pacific - #SofiaAdventures - Review

13:55 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

LM has been a Sofia the First fan for some time and the adventures of the little girl who suddenly becomes a princess when her mother marries the King are familiar to all of us in our house. She already has some of the lovely Sofia the First toys available but she was delighted to receive a wonderful parcel of the new range from JAKKS Pacific recently.
Sofia the First Toys from JAKKS Pacific - #SofiasAdventures - Review

A big box filled with tissue paper and toys is always so exciting, and this was a fantastic delivery. Find out what was in the box here:

Once unboxed it was time to get started with the toys. First up we had three of the Sofia the First with Royal Friend 3" figure sets. LM has quite a few of these figures from past collections and we both really like them. As Sofia and her friends are little girls it is appropriate that these are small figures and that each comes with an animal friend. They aren't a fashion doll like some of the other Disney princess dolls, instead they have moving arms and and are simply  hinged at the waist which allows them to sit and stand.
Sofia the First Toys from JAKKS Pacific - #SofiasAdventures - Blog  Review

LM received Sofia with Clover, Jade with Crackle and Ruby with Mia. The animal friends are a really nice addition and one that has really enhanced the way LM plays with the figures, especially as Clover and Crackle are two of her favourite characters in the show. Amber and Sofia in two other outfits complete the range. These are lovely little sets which I can see making their way into a few Christmas stockings this year. RRP £5:99.
Sofia the First Toys from JAKKS Pacific - #SofiasAdventures - Blog  Review

Next up we have two Sofia the First Mini Playsets (RRP £9:99). First is the Royal Prep Art Class which sees Sofia dressed for painting with a big easel on a stand and paintbrush. The painting canvas rotates between one side with an outline of Minimus to colour in, and the other having a blank side. This is easy to turn to the side you require by simply pushing it around. What isn't immediately apparent is that the paintbrush actually works! Simply dip the sponge end in water and apply it to the canvas on either side to reveal a surprise! LM loved this interactive element to this playset, I think it's been her favourite element of any of the toys.
Sofia the First Toys from JAKKS Pacific - #SofiasAdventures - Review

The second Mini Playset is Princess Amber's Closet. All Sofia the First fans will know how much Princess Amber loves her clothes and this set really reflects that. The closet part of the playset rotates like the easel in Sofia's art set, with a row of beautiful gowns on one side and a mirror on the other. The playset has an Amber figure wearing her trademark yellow dress. In addition there is a feather headdress, necklace and skirt to customise her look further. Both LM and I really liked this element as, with the nature of the small dolls, they can't be changed, so having items to add was a very good idea. There are other playsets available in the range, including a Princess Sofia Magical Lab and I think that they work really nicely together, especially with the addition of the 3" figures and their animal friends. LM has been playing really imaginatively and using the sets and the figures to tell stories from some of her favourite Sofia episodes.
Sofia the First Toys from JAKKS Pacific - #SofiasAdventures - Review

LM also received the Sofia the First Royal Camera, this is a really fun toy which has been found in her bag wherever she's gone since it arrived. If only because having her own camera means she can 'be like mummy'. The camera is beautifully decorated including Mia, Sofia's blue bird friend. As you hold the camera to your eye you can press the shutter button to cycle through the various different iimages from the show. This is really fun and reminds me of the Viewfinder toys that I used to play with. This is the perfect accessory for little Sofia fans and LM is very pleased with it (RRP £9:99)
Sofia the First Toys from JAKKS Pacific - #SofiasAdventures - Review

The other perfect accessory in LM's parcel was this super cute Sofia the First Royal Tiara. This is decorated with lots of gems and really sparkles. It can be a little tricky as we find that the front of the tiara detached from the band quite easily so we need to make sure it's attached properly before LM wears it. She insists on it and it looks so pretty in her hair and it looks just like Sofia's own tiara. I think she may well be asking Father Christmas for a Sofia dress to wear to complete her look. (RRP £4:99).
Sofia the First Toys from JAKKS Pacific - #SofiasAdventures - Review Tiara

The parcel was rounded out by a fantastic Sofia the First backpack. LM loves a backpack, especially when it features one of her favourite characters. This is a really roomy bag with the addition of a second pocket which is perfect for smaller bits and pieces. She's actually been using it to keep all of her Sofia the First toys in since it arrived and she was super excited when Grandma bought her a Sofia the First keyring to attach to it. The straps are fully adjustable which means it will grow with your child. We both love the watercolour-style view of the kingdom design on the bag.
Sofia the First Toys from JAKKS Pacific - #SofiasAdventures - Review backpack

LM's final item was a copy of the Sofia the First magazine. We love magazines in our house and it is one of Bud and LM's favourite treats. We've never bought the Sofia the First magazine before but LM and I really enjoyed looking at it together. It has a good mix of fun, educational activities and stories and LM loved the alphabet poster in the centre of the magaizine.
Sofia the First Toys from JAKKS Pacific - #SofiasAdventures - Review Magazine

We really rate the new range of Sofia the First toys and I think they will delight a lot of children. The figures are age appropriate and really reflect the style of the TV show well, this makes them great for imaginative play and LM has really got on board with that element of play with these toys. They are really good quality and well priced.

The Sofia the First range from JAKKS Pacific is available from Smyths Toys now.

To Kill a Mockingbird - Octagon Theatre, Bolton - Review

20:08 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

The Octagon Theatre in Bolton is a familiar haunt of mine, going back many, many years but it's been a while since I last had the opportunity to take in one of their productions. I had the pleasure of being invited to the press night for their brand new production, To Kill a Mockingbird, this week and decided to take my Dad along with me to check out the launch play for the Octagon's 2016-17 season.
To Kill a Mockingbird - Octagon Theatre, Bolton - Review Blog

To Kill a Mockingbird is a very familiar story for many. A feature on the GCSE syllabus for a number of years, and a modern American classic, it's part of the literary fabric of the 20th Century and has been interpreted many times on both stage and screen. The Octagon's staging marks the start of the first season under new Creative Director Elizabeth Newman, a winning start in my opinion.

The story is set in Alabama against a background of racial tension in small town America. The oppressive Summer heat is echoed in the simple, but effective set design which worked well in the Octagon's round, with a combination of red dust floor and effective lighting transporting you to Maycomb. Harper Lee's story sees the town lawyer, Atticus Finch defending a black man, Tom Robinson, against rape and assault charges, not simply against a jury but also against the closed minds of the community that both live in.
To Kill a Mockingbird - Octagon Theatre, Bolton - Review

Narrative is driven by Jean Louise 'Scout' Finch, both as the young girl on the scene and an older version of herself, thirty years on, appearing on stage as both observer and narrator. This device works very well and both Scouts put in excellent performances. We saw Jasmine de Goede (the children's roles will be alternated between two actors) as the young Scout and she was ably supported by Che Tugui as her brother Jem, and Adam Crompton as their young friend Dill. The older Scout was played Barbara Drennen and her emotional and sorrowful performance is well countered by the energy and vibrancy of the young actors.
To Kill a Mockingbird - Octagon Theatre, Bolton - Review

The other stand out performance for me was that of Rob Edwards as Atticus Finch. His world-weary portrayal of the lawyer who is struggling to raise two children alone sees a magical transformation when he takes to the floor of the courtroom to defend Tom Robinson and during his final summing up in the trial you could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium. Three other noteworthy performances  were those of Tom himself (Marc Small) in a quiet but powerful performance, Remmie Millner as Helen Robinson, and Leila Mimmack as Mayella Ewell, who manages to portray raw emotion through her body language whenever she is on stage before beginning her witness statement during the trial.
To Kill a Mockingbird - Octagon Theatre, Bolton - Review

In essence the production reminded me that the tensions explored in To Kill a Mockingbird don't go away, set against a post-Brexit UK, and a Trump nomination in the US, there are still many lessons to be learned from Scout Finch and her family and friends.

To Kill a Mockingbird runs until 15th October, to book tickets and explore forthcoming shows visit octagonbolton.co.uk/.