Disney Pixar TOY STORY 3 – Toy Reviews

Even though Disney PIxar  Toy Story 3 does not open until June 18th, if you watch any type of TV you know the full court press has already begun.  And we know from our testers, that they want their Toy Story 3 toys!  So we have been super busy this week taking a look at a range of toys–with more promised to arrive next week.

Here’s what we’ve found so far:

1. Crayola Toy Story 3D Chalk – this is a deluxe set with stencils of the characters. Fun, but if you’re a four year old boy, this isn’t the toy you want. Read our full reviewI wrote about this product before as a great product for outside play.

Woody and Buzz from the LEGO DUPLO set

2. LEGO DUPLO Toy Story 3 The Great Train Chaise Duplo Play Set – Love this set. The pieces are big and chunky and there’s something very satisfying about having small versions of your favorite characters–great for on the go play or to incorporate into your block play. This set comes with a train, blocks and four characters. Marked 2 & up–this set will most appeal to 3s and 4s. Your preschooler will need help putting the train together–making this a parent/child toy–but once put together this can be used for independent playtime as well.  This would be a fun addition to a basic bucket set of DUPLO.  Sometimes bringing home a new novelty set can renew your child’s interest in building– something you definitely want to encourage.

Comparison of LEGO and LEGO DUPLO train sets

LEGO Toy Story 3 Western Train Chase Set

3. LEGO Toy Story 3 Western Train Chase-  Super set. This set is designed for kids 8 and up…the pieces in it are not for kids under 3–so even if you think it’s cooler, it really is meant for older kids.  Take a look at the size difference in the characters.

Size difference between DUPLO and LEGO Buzz Lightyears


Toy Story 3 Action Links Buzz Saves the Train Stunt Set

4. Toy Story 3 Action Links Buzz Saves the Train Stunt Set - Really a one trick pony–actually there are a couple of ways to set this tracks up but the toy is still pretty limited.  Not a lot to do here passed the first three minutes. Your child will probably play with the Buzz figure that comes with the set longer than the train and tracks. Watch our demo.

Buzz's motorized wings in the open position

5. Toy Story Basic Buzz Wing Pack- Here’s a really neat toy that makes us send out a big warning.  The toy itself is super cool–you strap on the wings to your back and then there’s a control panel that makes the wings go up and down AND you can also hear Buzz  say his favorite lines.  All fun and the toy itself does work really well.  BUT here’s our serious concern–the toy is design for kids 4 & up – at this stage children are working out the difference between fantasy and reality. While you may poo poo our warning-remember these are the same kids that take the Tooth Fairy as a real magical reality.   If you can’t resist this toy–we would high recommend you have many a conversation about this toy with your child. The toy itself has a safety warning on the packaging–not really a deterrent to your preschooler.  I also have a sense that this toy will be purchased for even younger kids.  Ok, you get our point. Watch our video demo.

6. Fisher-Price Toy Story 3 Character Flash Lights.    Pure novelty and great fun for kids that like noise. There’s Rex, Bullseye and Dr. Evil Porkchop. When you squeeze their tails–the flashlight comes on (their mouths open) and you’ll hear a sound or a phrase (they each say one thing and make one sound). Watch our video.

Toy Story 3 Rex Light

Fisher-Price Spiral Speedway

7. Fisher Price Toy Story 3 Spiral Speedway Perfect toy for your two year old.  Older toddlers LOVE making something happen over and over again–and this easy to activate spiral raceway gets it right. This toy has been in the Fisher-Price line before, but now it has Toy Story 3 characters racing (Buzz vs. Lotso)…and sound effects (it is a little noisy).  This toy will have a limited time frame–but it will be a true hit when your child is in the zone of “again, again!”  Watch our video demo.

Heavily Promoted: Fisher-Price's Trio Building Set

I got to catch a lot of tv this holiday weekend–and started to see the waves of toy tv commercials. Some reminded me of toys that did not win awards from us…and that we needed to post more reviews!!

When we first saw TRIO at toy fair we were all excited.  We love open-ended building sets and really get psyched when a large toy company gets behind a new system–making the access to it more affordable.  Unfortunately TRIO did not fare well with our testers.  The product is marked for kids 3 and up – so we enlisted one of our hard core DUPLO builders–thinking this would be the most likely audience.  He had the same trouble we did manipulating the pieces. Unlike DUPLO, it’s hard to pull the pieces apart.  We then tried them with a four year old builder–and had the same reaction.  We hope the folks at Fisher-Price work on the “pull” factor.  The pieces are pleasing–but too frustrating for the intended audience. Our recommendation is to stick with a basic DUPLO bucket at this age.

Toy Safety: Small Parts in Toys Still a Concern

LEGO has been a consistent winner of our top Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award each year–often with multiple winners.  This year will be no exception–except in one category.

When we were at Toy Fair in February we were really excited to see a renewed commitment to the DUPLO line–designed for kids 2 & up. There were Fire Stations,  Trucks, Zoos…all great fun and we knew our preschool testers would love giving them a try.

Each set has arrived and while they are wonderful for 3s & up, we are concerned about the size of some of the pieces in these sets for kids under three. While most of the pieces are big and chunky, we found one or two pieces that caused concern. Let us be clear, all of the pieces meet current government guidelines.  Each of the pieces in question (see images below) extend outside of the “choke tube” and therefore are completely legal.  We wondered though–why make these pieces so close?  The CPSC recommends that parents use a toilet paper roller as a home test…all of these pieces fail under this test.

So we asked the team at LEGO whether there was a design or developmental advantage to having two year olds handle such small pieces and why the pieces were so close to the edge. Here is their response:

Thanks for your question about the DUPLO Zoo* item and some of the accessories it includes.  As you know, all LEGO products are rigorously tested and meet or exceed all safety regulations in the more than 130 countries where the products are sold.  Because the safety of children is our primary concern, we also have our own safety and testing standards that we layer on top of the regulated requirements.

We always make effort to have play imitate life, so the size of the suitcase is proportionate to the DUPLO figure.  We would not include an accessory that could potentially cause harm to a child or that does not pass the CPSC standard for small parts and age grading as regulated by the official choke tube test.  The accessory does not fit completely into the choke tube and use and abuse testing reveals that it also does not break into small parts that will fit completely in the tube.  While we understand the “home” test potential of the toilet paper tube, it is not a regulated means by which to measure safety as it has no bottom to mimic a real-life scenario.

*Since we asked this question about the DUPLO Zoo, we have received several other set that raise similar issues for us.

While we appreciate that the idea of scale is important–we’d side on the up-scaling or eliminating these items for this age range.  The working light piece on the top of the  truck (one of the coolest aspects of the garbage truck–and also in the fire station set) could have been attached to a bigger piece, the fireman’s ax could be attached to his  hand, the same with the pitchfork…you get the idea. The flower and the fish…just look so inviting.

All of these products would have been Platinum Award contenders if not for these small pieces.  We do recommend them for preschoolers–but unfortunately we don’t feel comfortable with the existing age label.  If you buy one of these sets and you have a child under three or a child who still mouths his toys…remove those pieces that concern you and you’ll be left with a engaging product.

We hope LEGO will remodel these “close” pieces.  Last year, after our concern over STEP 2′s hot dogs (that came with some of their kitchens)…the hot dogs were redesigned…so that the  hot dog is now encased  in a bun–making it a much wider and safer prop for play.

Below are some of the pieces, in our opinion, that are unnecessarily too close for comfort.  Again–completely within the law, but we see no reason for them to be this size.

legolightlegoshovellegosuitcaselegoflowerlegoaxlegofish