Toys and Games
Showing posts with label Toys and Games. Show all posts

Back To School With Smiggle

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Last Updated August '23 

Smiggle is our go to place when little J needs new school essentials, stationary, quirky squashies or fidget toys. Little J will be back at school soon after his Summer break. When he returns he will be wearing his new Winter uniform and this is the perfect time to upgrade his lunch box, water bottle and stationary.

Smiggle back to school essentials

We are lucky we have a Smiggle store in town however we also looked online to purchase little J's back to school essentials. The website is really easy to use with labels and categories to make your browsing experience easier. There is usually a sale section too which is perfect to pick up a bargain. 

Little J has a packed lunch for school and he prefers the Smiggle Double Decker lunch bag. If you want a bag with lots of space then I would definitely recommend a double decker. The top can be opened using the zip to reveal a shallow compartment. This is ideal for snacks or even an ice pack if needed. The bottom is spacious and could fit a large lunch in and/or a water bottle.

Smiggle Game Over Lunch Bag

Smiggle Game Over Lunch Bag

Little J chose the Gamer double decker lunchbox. The base is designed like a video console controller and has a retro feel to it with the top layer similar to an arcade game. 

It's a hand held lunchbox and doesn't come with an over the shoulder strap. 

Smiggle Kick water bottle

We go through so many water bottles with little J. He either loses them or breaks them but we have always found the Smiggle bottles last the longest. Little J chose the Kick drink bottle which has a flip top spout and a classic football design. 

Both the Gamer and Kick design have other items in their ranges including backpacks and pencil cases. 

Dinosaur pencil case

Dinosaur pencil case

There is a huge range of pencil cases available at Smiggle but little J really liked a pencil case that he has already had in the past which he uses at home so wanted the same for his desk in school. It is the Dino Character Pocket Pencil Case. He likes this case as it has two compartments which he uses to separate his felt tips and pencils. It has dinosaur spike detail and a squishy feel which little J loves. 

For store locator, opening times or to browse the back to school selection visit Smiggle


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Epic Escapes - Escape Room in A Box

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Disclosure - We were sent Escape Room In A Box for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own. This post contains affiliate links. 

We have mentioned it before but one of our favourite nights out as a couple is visiting an Escape Room. We have quite a few different venues close to where we live so we have completed so many over the years and very proud of ourselves that we hold a 100% escape rate. We have also hosted Escape Rooms at home too which are extremely fun and we have just completed the first escape from our Escape Room in a Box. 

escape room in a box contents

Escape Room in A Box
If like us you love a games night at home with friends or family then Escape Room in a Box is ideal. The box contains 3 epic escape rooms ranging in difficulty from easy to hard. Each escape room has its own back story and is fully interactive. You will have to search the room for clues and solve puzzles in order to escape. We all need a little help at times so the self help cards will give you little hints along the way if needed. 

escape room in a box contents

Inside The Box

CRIME - Easy
You’re house-sitting for a friend who has gone away to Italy. All was going well, until some people started angrily banging on the door in the middle of the night. It turns out your friend is part of some kind of crime syndicate and owes these people money.

Fortunately, you’ve found your way into your friend’s panic room. However, you’ve now locked yourself in and cannot get out or make contact with the police. The gangsters have left, but you only have one hour of oxygen left in the secured panic room. You need to figure out how to escape the room and get help!

You must work out what’s going on and why your friend has a panic room in order to figure out how to escape the room to save yourselves…

PIRACY - Intermediate 
You’re working in the merchant navy on an oil tanker. Your usual captain of 10 years mysteriously went missing on your last voyage. You have been appointed a new captain temporarily to bring the ship back from Hong Kong to its home port of Bremen.

You are in the Indian Ocean headed for the Suez canal, part way through your voyage. Your new captain has called the crew into his quarters for a meeting. Upon your arrival in his quarters, the captain has locked you all in and diverted the ship’s course!

You remember that the former captain, a hardy old sea dog, had built an emergency escape mechanism into his quarters. However, you don’t know exactly how it works and must figure out his clues in order to open the special locking mechanism.

You and the rest of the crew suspect that something fishy is afoot! You have one hour until you reach port. You must figure out the captain’s plan and figure out how to escape the room in order to save the ship and yourselves…

Somewhere in the world, a plane is going to be hijacked. No one knows that it’s happening or which plane is the target.

You’ve broken into the hijacker’s house, but accidentally triggered the security system. You’re now trapped in the room where the hijacker has secretly stashed the details of their plan.

The specifics of the plan are hidden within this room. However, it is all encoded to stop the authorities from thwarting the hijacking. You need to find out which plane has been hijacked in order to save the passengers and yourselves.

Certain pieces of information will be needed in order to identify the targeted plane, save the passengers, and escape the room.

escape room in a box contents

escape room in a box contents

Each game is designed for 3-6 players however the escape rooms need to be set up so you will have to choose someone to set the game up for you. Unfortunately that person can not take part in the escape room as they will know where and what the clues are. They can however help you along the way by giving out hints and tips or they can just leave you to it. Big J set ours up and just left us as we tried to escape before our 60 minutes was up!

escape room in a box contents

escape room in a box contents

escape room in a box contents
Each Escape Room is neatly packaged and the attention to detail is amazing. We actually felt like we were in a real Escape Room. 

Now that we have completed Crime (easy), we have found out that it is reusable. Obviously we wouldn't be able to do it again as we would know the answers but it can be passed to family or friends. It also makes it ideal for team building sessions as you can host it for many groups. 

epic escapes

For more information, to purchase or to consider the print at home Escape Rooms visit Epic Escapes

Looking forward to trying Piracy over the next few weeks. Wish us luck at maintaining our 100% escape rate!


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- If you have visited any of the attractions mentioned in this post share photos with us on our socials. 

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7 Must Have Toys This Christmas From Very

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Disclosure - This is a collaborative post. The idea for this post, thoughts, opinions and photographs are my own. 

The boys have been talking about Christmas and have already started to talk about what they would like for Christmas. I usually try and make little J wait until at least the middle of November before he can write his list to Father Christmas but it has been getting earlier and earlier each year. His list is already on it's way to Santa and he's got everything crossed that he gets everything on his list and a few surprises too. I  like to browse the internet and catalogues myself to see what this years must have toys and games are. I always like to see what the new crazes are and also what classics make it into the must have toys list for Christmas. Whilst browsing I came across Very and they have a huge selection of toys and games perfect for Christmas. Here are 7 of our favourite must have toys and games this year.

Dear Santa letter
boy playing with an ice cream truck
I do like toys that are not only bright, colourful and fun but are educational too. Leapfrog Scoop and Learn Ice Cream Cart encourages the child to use their creativity as they use 8 flavoured scoops of ice cream and 3 different toppings to feed 1 of the 6 hungry character cards. The ice cream cart is a great addition to role play as the child can use their imagination either playing alone or with their family or friends.  With sounds and speech, the cart talks to the child and thanks them for their work!

The ice cream cart also encourages children to learn and discover colours, counting, flavours and numbers.  Children also need to match the ice cream they make to the character card and stacking the ice cream helps develop hand eye co-ordination.

child playing with Fortnite figures

Fortnite has been making it on to Christmas wish lists for the last few years with its popularity growing each year. You can now take Fortnite from the screen in to your play with their range of toys and figures. Children can play with their favourite characters using their imagination to bring Fortnite adventures to life. 

Each 6 inch scale model has posable legs and arms so you can bend them in to any poses and have them ready for battle with harvesting tools, back bling and weapons. 

boy playing the operation game

A little friendly competition and turn taking is healthy for children's development and Operation is a great way to spend time with family and friends. We have owned many versions of Operation over the years but the original is a classic and definitely our favourite. 

When it is your turn to be the doctor all you need to do is turn over the next surgery card, pick up the tweezers and operate on cavity Sam removing the pieces without setting the buzzer off. 

It takes a lot of skill and patience but it is so much fun and Operation is the perfect choice for a family games night. 

boy playing with a Pokemon Go Box

Gotta catch them all! Pokémon has been so popular even since I was little and it looks like it will continue to be a 'must have' for years to come with new collections being released every year. This year is the year of Pokémon GO and the Pokémon GO TCG Elite Trainer Box is the perfect choice to start your collection. 

The box comes complete with a variety of booster packs, foil promo card, 65 card sleeves, 45 energy cards, player guide, 6 counter damage dice, 1 competition legal coin flip die, markers and box. 

All that is left to do is assemble a deck and develop your strategy!

boy playing on the Meta quest 2

Virtual Reality is definitely the future of gaming with VR experiences opening up in cities across the UK. You can have the excitement of Virtual Reality in your own home with the Meta Quest 2. We use our Meta Quest 2 all the time and the one thing that still shocks me is that it does not need a PC or console to connect to. 

You have access to purchase hundreds of games with a small selection of free games too. It will change the way you 'game' as you are leave reality behind and become part of the game. 

The games range from the ever popular Beat Saber rhythm game to the up and coming Among Us. 

As well as gaming you can also use your Meta Quest 2 to have front row views of concerts, movies and entertainment events. 

boy playing with a hot wheels ultimate garage

Another timeless classic is Hot Wheels. Hot Wheels have been selling cars since 1968 so there will always be someone in your family or friends who have owned a Hot Wheels car or play set. As time has gone on the cars have evolved and play sets have got bigger and better with interactive features allowing endless hours of play. 

Our favourite is the Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage which allows children to use their imagination to race cars, beat the challenges and avoid the hungry Robo T-Rex. 

With space for over 100 cars, elevators and the chance to connect to other play sets, the Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage is definitely a must have for any fan. 

boy hugging an among us soft toy

Christmas in our house wouldn't be the same without a teddy bear or soft toy on the boys Christmas lists. This year we are collecting the Among Us Huggable Buddies from the popular mobile, console and VR game. 

Standing 25-30cm tall they are perfect for bedtime cuddles. 

I really do enjoy browsing all the must have toys and I do like to see a variety of toys and games suitable for all ages and budgets. 

Have your children made their Christmas list yet? I would love to know if any of our choices are on their list.
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Best Family Halloween Board Games

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Disclosure - we received the games below for the purpose of this post. Any thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own. This post contains affiliate links. 

October is finally here and I am now allowed to get in spooky mode as I start to decorate the house for Halloween. October is one of my favourite months as it starts the countdown to Halloween, Fireworks and then Christmas. We are always so busy filled with days out around this time of year so it's nice to have time at home chilling watching movies and playing board games together. We have a lovely collection of board games and these are our best family Halloween board games that are perfect for perfect for the spooky season including Disney's Villainous, Hocus Pocus and Ghosted. 

a selection of best family halloween board games

Disney Villainous

Disney's Villainous

Disney's Villainous is a great choice of board game to get you in a spooky mood. The game has six main characters to choose from Captain Hook, Maleficent, Jafar, Ursula, Queen of Hearts and Prince John. 

Each character comes with their own guide. You need to use your characters guide to to learn their objectives and goals.and the guide will help you come up with strategies and tips to come up with an evil plan to win. 

We found the instructions really easy to understand. So far I have played with 3 characters Ursula, Queen of Hearts and Jafar. As each character is completely different they each have their own strategies on how to win making it different for the player each time. 

In the box you’ll find 6 Boards, 6 Villain Movers, 180 Villain Cards, 90 Fate Cards, 84 Tokens, 1 Cauldron, 6 Reference Cards, 6 Villain Guides, and Instructions. 

Although this is a Disney branded game you don't have to be a Disney fan to enjoy the game. It is suitable for 2-6 players and recommend age is 10+.

disney hocus pocus board game

Disney's Hocus Pocus

You must play together during this game to protect Salem’s children and stop the Sanderson sisters from completing their wicked potion before the sun rises.  

Follow the step by step rule book to learn how to play potion ingredients, match all the colors or ingredients. Binx will offer a helping hand, while Winifred, Mary, and Sarah cast spells to thwart your plans. Use tricks like Burning Rain of Death and Billy Butcherson to help you along the way!

Halloween is definitely the perfect time to play Hocus Pocus especially with the release of Hocus Pocus 2 on Disney+. We did have to play this game a few times before we fully understood the rules. 

Each game comes with one cauldron board, 50 Ingredient cards, a Witch board, 13 Spell cards, a Sun token, 4 trick tokens, a rulebook, and one black cat Binx.

Hocus Pocus Board Game is suitable for those aged 8+ and for 2-6 players. 

zombie kittens card game

Zombie Kittens

This pack is perfect for fans of exploding kittens card game. Zombie Kittens gives the game an undead twist on the original Exploding Kittens. Zombie Kittens will keep every player involved in the game, dead or alive, until the very end. The last player alive wins.

Once each player has their cards play continues clockwise giving each player the chance to play cards from their hand to determine their next move. Once completed they must then pick up a card from the deck and hopefully avoid the exploding kitten card. Don't worry if you do as you may not be dead for long, you can use a zombie kittens card or hope another player resurrects you from the grave. 

There are so many ways to play Zombie Kittens. Depending how confident you are with the game you can start off basic and build up so you're playing a more complex game. You can also combine this with Exploding Kittens card packs to increase the number of players and fun.

Each pack contains 61 cards and an instruction manual. Suitable for 2-5 players aged 7+.

ghosted board game


You’ve come to an untimely end, been offed, put to rest, kicked the bucket, fatally finished. You've been GHOSTED! Your restless spirit won’t be calm until you solve your own demise from the great beyond. Identify which suspect had it in for you, what wacky weapon they used, and why they wanted you out of the picture. Be the first to figure it out in this spirited game of Boo-Dunnit!

Roll the dice to find out what question you can ask any other player to help you use the power of elimination and find out who killed you and why. You can use your dry wipe marker and board to help you log the answers and when you're confident and you know who done it then you can go in for a guess. If you're right you won the game but if you're wrong you will be eliminated. 

Ghosted is similar to other 'Who Done It?' games however each player has their own killer, motive and weapon. 

6 x evidence boards, 36 x cards, 1 x die, 6 x markers, 6 x tokens and 1 x instructions guide. Instructions were really easy to follow and the game is suitable for those aged 10+ and ideally 3-6 players.

These are just a few of our best family halloween board games and we can't wait to add to our collection this year. Do you have any recommendations?

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Cheatwell Games Topix and Family Quiz Night Review and Giveaway

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Disclosure - We were sent the products below for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own unless stated. This post contains affiliate links. 

family quiz night and topix games

Last weekend our plans were cancelled and we ended up staying at home. It's very rare that we have a whole weekend at home but it was a a good opportunity to try out two new board games we had been sent from Cheatwell Games

family quiz night

Family Quiz Night 
Family Quiz Night from Cheatwell Games is a quiz game that is suitable for all the family. Family Quiz Night is easy to set up with just a board, counters, die and quiz questions which are already set up in the box. 

Each player rolls the die and moves around the board answering questions on the topic they land on. There’s a wide range of categories such as People, History, Geography, TV, Movies and Pot Luck. 

quiz questions

When you roll the dice you move the number of spaces that is shown on the die. The die allows you to move 1,2 or 3 spaces. Another player reads out your quiz question and you have no time limit to answer. There are two questions per card, the top question is aimed at younger players as it gives a multi choice option of 3 possible answers and the bottom question is aimed at adults.

We played as a family of 4, 3 adults and 1 child. Family Quiz Night is easy to understand and Little J enjoyed trying to figure out the answer to the children’s questions. The option of multi choice really helped him and he actually ended up winning the game.

family quiz night board game

As you move around the board you’re competing to get to the finish square. If you answer your question correctly you get to roll the die again. You continue on your turn until you get a quiz question wrong. Once you reach the finish that’s if the game is over and you’ve won.

Playing time was approx 30-40 minutes. We found some of the adult questions really hard however you can use the children's questions if you wish using the multi choice option.

topix board game

Topix is another game that is lots of fun and gets you to use your brain. It is easy to set up with just a board, counters, blue and red topic cards and answer sheets.

The idea of the game is that you have a topic, a letter of the alphabet and you have to write down as many answers as possible relating to your topic beginning with your letter. For example your letter may be S and your topic may be 'things you find in the Ocean' You then write as many things as you can beginning with S such as Seaweed, Ship Wreck, Starfish, Shark... You have to do this before the egg timer runs out. You move around the board you would on a normal board game however your move is determined by how many you answered correctly. Each time you land on a circle this will determine what colour topic card you need to choose and what letter you need to begin with.

category questions

category questions

We played a made up version of the game that suited our family. As we were playing with a younger player we decided that each correct answer was worth two points and therefore if someone scored five correct answers they could move ten spaces. 

topix game

The first player to reach the end is the winner and our playing time was again around 30-40 minutes. 

Little J found this game particularly hard and didn't enjoy it as much as Family Quiz Night. He really struggled to think of answers in the allotted time. We will definitely play it again with him and I’m hoping as we continue to play this over the next couple of months his brain will start working a bit quicker and he will start to enjoy it more.

Both games are really good fun and we do love board games so they will definitely be ones to play with our family and friends. 

I have teamed up with Cheatwell Games to give Family Quiz Night and Topix away to two winners. The first winner drawn will will Family Quiz Night and the second winner will win a copy fo Topix.

If you would like to enter all you need to do is enter the giveaway below and remember to pop back for bonus chances to win each day. 


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Unsolved Case Files Avery Gardner Game Review

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Disclaimer - this is a collaborative post 

We are huge fans of crime shows and we love a good murder mystery or a visit to an escape room. Last year we came across Unsolved Case Files and have been working our way through the range and we have just cracked the case of Avery Gardner. Unsolved Case Files are nothing like I've seen before. The game layout and attention to detail make you feel like you are the detective on the case.

Unsolved case file evidence wallet

The case of Avery Gardner starts at 4:23am when a man broke into a remote lake house where 19 year old twins Avery and Zoey Gardner were asleep. An unidentified man murdered Avery and abducted Zoey before first responders could arrive. 

Police departments across two states are currently hunting for Avery's killer and her twin sister Zoey, but neither have been found. 

Homicide detective, Angie Cullen, made a breakthrough in the case but then mysteriously disappeared. She left her detectives notebook behind but authorities are not sure what to make of it. 

The killer is on the loose with two lives in his hands. Can you solve the case and get to Zoey and the detective before it's too late?

Unsolved case file evidence

Unsolved case file objective

Each Unsolved Case File comes in an 'evidence' wallet that is sealed and only to be opened by authorised personnel. Once opened you are now the lead detective on the case and have to look through all the evidence given to try and solve three objectives. 

In the case of Avery Gardner your three objectives are 
  • Identify the Accomplice
  • Identify the Killer
  • Find the Detective
The wallet is filled with evidence that you really do need to take the time to read. The instructions ask you to start with Angie's Detective Notebook and then you can pick and choose what evidence to look at next including photographs, newspaper clipping, autopsy report, CSI reports, witness statements, maps.

Unsolved case file evidence

We usually work in a pair and either read each piece together or split the evidence in two and feedback to each other what we think may be important to the case. 

Unsolved case file evidence
Unsolved case file evidence
Once you are confident you have solved the first objective you need to go online. Head to the website address and answer a few questions. If you answer correctly you are then told to open an envelope with further evidence inside and your next objective. If you are wrong then you need to go back and check the evidence again as you may have missed an important detail. Once you have solved all three objectives you have cracked the case.

I would definitely recommend Unsolved Case Files for teens and above. You do need to have patience and enjoy solving puzzles and mysteries. The estimated playing time for each Unsolved Case File is at least 2-3 hours however our first case took us almost double that time. If you are playing in groups it may not take as long as you work together. Once played it is unlikely you will play again as you will have already cracked the case so it is a 'one time' game only. Having said that you can pop all the evidence back in the wallet and pass to family and friends who may enjoy trying to crack the case. 

For more information on Unsolved Case Files and to purchase you can visit their Amazon store. If you would like to be in with the chance to win your own Unsolved Case File then you can enter our giveaway below. All you need to do is visit Unsolved Case Files and leave me a comment saying.. I would like to win the Unsolved Case File of ....

Good Luck

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Blaze and The Monster Machines - Axle City Racers Video Game

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Blaze is ready to race with his monster machine friends and wants to bring you along too. Race around Axle City’s colourful streets and the awesome Monster Dome stunt track, the world of Blaze is yours to explore. It's time to buckle your seatbelts and take control of Blaze, Pickle, Darington, Zeg, Starla, Stripes and even Crusher! Prepare to race at blazing speed and go for the championship or compete with up to 4 players in split-screen mode! 

Blaze axle city racers
The fun doesn't stop as you boost, drift, jump and pull off stunts around amazing tracks like Race to Eagle Rock, Stuntmania, and more! 

Collect the wrench to power-up and activate your character’s unique skill and outsmart the competition. You can even customise Blaze and his friends in the garage. 

STEM education features, plus accessible control options like Auto-Drive Helper, younger players will have a blast discovering as they race for glory!

BE BLAZE and 6 more heroes including Starla, Pickle, and Crusher 
RACE WITH FRIENDS in 4-player split-screen mode 
POWER UP with speed boosts, upgrades, and unique character abilities 
WIN THE CUP at the Axle City Grand Prix, the Monster Dome, and more 
AUTO DRIVE with optional simple controls for younger players 

Blaze toys

Blaze toys

Blaze toys
To celebrate the launch of Blaze and The Monster Machines - Axle City Racers Video Games I have teamed up with outright games to offer one lucky Playdays and Runways follower the chance to win Blaze and The Monster Machines - Axle City Racers Video Game (on the console of your choice) and a Blaze Toy Bundle. 

All you need to do is complete the entry form below and pop back daily for bonus chances to win.

Good Luck

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