A few weeks ago, we were lucky enough to be invited along to a launch event with children’s toy company Little Tikes to check out their new Lil’ Ocean Explorers range. Armed with a youthful exuberance, a bag full of baby stuff and, of course, the sprog, we got on the train and headed to Maggie & Rose in Kensington.
We were greeted on arrival and allowed to dive straight into the chaos caused by a room full of parent bloggers trying to take photos of their kids playing with new toys. At times, it was difficult to distinguish whether it was the adults or children who were having the most fun!
After having a bit of a play with the toys, we were told about the brand new Lil’ Ocean Explorers range, which is designed to discover and celebrate your baby’s milestones. In total, there are eight different toys available – all based around different sea creatures – which help develop motor skills, coordination and confidence, whilst providing endless fun.
Toddler L particularly enjoyed the 3-in-1 Adventure Course which was a large play set consisting of three separate sections – a tunnel, a submarine and an octopus with balls. Just to clarify, that’s an octopus with balls, not octopus balls. She also enjoyed pushing the Crawl n’ Pop Turtle and Push n’ Glow Fish along the floor when out-muscled off the Adventure Course by bigger kids.
After trying to steal food off someone else’s plate, I decided it was probably time to check out the nice looking and even better tasting buffet that had been provided for us. As always, Toddler L tucked in and ended up eating everything on her plate and a good 75% of what was on mine. We then played with a few other toys that we’d not had chance to check out yet, before it was time to head off. As a leaving gift, we were given a cool goodie bag which contained a couple of the new toys for us to take home.
In our goodie bag, we received the Crawl ‘n Pop! Turtle, the Catch Me Crabbie and the Pull ‘n Chatter Lobster. We were then also sent the 3-in-1 Adventure Course to review after the event. Therefore, below is my review of these four toys from the Little Tikes Lil’ Ocean Explorers range:
The products are described as:
Dive into adventure! The Lil’ Ocean Explorers 3-in-1 Adventure Course stimulates and entertains your baby throughout 3 key developmental milestones: sitting, crawling and standing. When sitting, baby gets tactile with features like the submarine Peek-A-Boo door, the marine wall, ball drop periscope and multiple clicker knobs. When crawling, watch as your baby explores and discovers new ways to play with the different features of the adventure course. When standing, your baby will hear sounds and phrases from their new octopus friend and will be encouraged to play and run when the octopus throws balls! Each play station on the Lil’ Ocean Explorers Adventure Course is interchangeable and removable – the adventures are endless!
With the Lil’ Ocean Explorers Crawl ‘n Pop Turtle, babies will learn about shapes and colours as they match and place the shapes into the turtle’s shell. Press the button on the turtle’s back to make it walk and play music which encourages your baby to crawl after it. Once the turtle stops moving, the shapes will pop-out so they can play all over again!
The Lil’ Ocean Explorers Catch Me Crabbie is an interactive toy that will get children moving! Babies will have lots of fun chasing after the Little Tikes Lil’ Ocean Explorers Catch Me Crabbie. There is a motion sensor inside so, when baby approaches, Crabbie moves side to side clapping his claws and playing music!
Wobble, wiggle, smile and giggle! Lil’ Ocean Explorers Pull ‘n Chatter Lobster encourages baby to practice first steps. Adorable tail-bobbing and claw-clacking action rewards baby for pulling lobster along, teaching baby about cause & effect, and encouraging baby to walk.
3-in-1 Adventure Course
The delivery of the adventure course was probably one of the most exciting deliveries I’ve seen since the missus gave birth to Toddler L 15 months ago. Considering how much the sprog loved it at the launch event, I knew that it was going to be a massive winner in our house.
It arrived in a big box and required assembly – it took me about 45 minutes to put together, but it could be done within 30 minutes if you don’t have a toddler ‘helping’ you out. The instructions were very clear and explained how to put together the three different ‘play stations’ which make up the adventure course. Assembly was pretty simple – the only part which was a little fiddly was attaching the legs to the octopus as you need to ensure that they move up and down with the lever prior to affixing with the screws.
Once built, the adventure course can be arranged in three different ways. You can have each of the ‘play stations’ separate and disconnected, you can connect them in a row to create a linear structure, or you can put them together in a perpendicular layout (top right above). I quite liked this as it means you can get the best layout for the space you have available, plus I imagine that it means that your kid will get less bored as you can continually change it.
The tunnel part of the adventure course allows your little one to crawl back, then forth, then back, then forth – you get the idea. The tunnel is made from a stretchy, colourful fabric which, surprisingly, does well to hold the weight of a toddler who tries to sit and climb on it. Hanging from the entrance is a jellyfish that rattles which Baby L has enjoyed smacking around. As an added bonus, if you have a small pet – like Dax, our sausage dog – you can practice agility training by getting him to go through the tunnel too!
The ‘submarine’ part of the adventure course is the most interactive in terms of different things to do, with around ten different activities to engage in. The way it is designed means that your little one can play with it from the outside or by being in it, either from a sitting or standing position. Toddler L particularly enjoys turning the submarine door, spinning the propellers and putting the four balls down the periscope.
She’s now at an age where she copies and mimics things really quickly, so I’ve found the submarine great for teaching her. It took hardly any time at all before she was putting the balls down the periscope on her own accord or prodding the marine wall with her finger to create an indent.
The final part of the adventure course is the octopus. This allows your little one – or you, should you wish – to drop the four balls – which are a great size for small hands – into a hole in each leg and then retrieve from slots at the bottom. This can be done by either putting them into the holes or pushing down on the bar at the front, which lifts the legs and allows the balls to drop through gravity (*sniggers*).
This has provided Toddler L with endless fun and helped to improve her balance as she stands. She has loved making the balls disappear down the legs, before bending down to retrieve them and repeating the process again. And again. And again. The octopus also works as a handy place for her to store other stuff – we’ve found one of her socks, the TV remote and a bit of cake in the legs!
The octopus can be fitted with batteries which allows 20 tunes to be played and balls to be randomly flipped for your little one to chase. The thing I like though is that batteries aren’t essential – your kid can still have plenty of fun and develop their skills just using the toy manually.
Crawl ‘n Pop! Turtle
The turtle is basically a shape sorter on steroids. Let me explain why…
Most shape sorters I’ve seen don’t move. They just allow your little one to put a shape in or through a hole, then get it out again. The turtle is different though as it can either be pushed manually using the wheels or fitted with batteries. If you use batteries, pressing the large, blue button on top makes the turtle move and play different tunes. When the turtle stops, it automatically fires out the shapes from the holes in its shell to allow your kid to put them back in again. Like the adventure course though, you can play even without batteries.
The turtle helps to teach your little one about shapes and colours as it features an orange triangle, blue square, red star and yellow circle. Not only this, but the task of putting shapes into holes helps to improve their fine motor skills. Having never used anything like this before, I was totally amazed that it took hardly any time at all before Toddler L was trying to push a shape into the right hole. Even more, if she finds one of the shapes laying around on the floor, she picks it up and actively makes her way over to the turtle to put it in its ‘correct’ place.
Catch Me Crabbie
I really like this crab and have a genuine soft spot for his cute little face – maybe it’s because his big eyes remind me of my own? If that’s not a good enough reason, it comes with batteries already included, which is even more of a win win.
The functionality of the crab is very simple – all you need to do is turn it on with a switch at the back, press the button on its head, then watch it move side-to-side in a crab-like motion whilst it plays tunes. I didn’t realise until reading the description, but the crab has a motion sensor in one of its eyes, which explains why it moves on its own accord when me, the baby or the dog approach.
Toddler L has really enjoyed playing with the crab. It’s funny though, as she doesn’t really watch or chase it, she presses the button then picks it up and holds it close. Almost like she’s exerting her dominance over the little crabby!
Pull ‘n Chatter Lobster
This bright orange lobster is a pull along toy, designed to help little ones when it comes to walking. It has a yellow string attached to it, which allows your sprog to drag it along on the wheels underneath (N.B. I never realised lobsters had wheels – it’s funny how you can reach 30 years of age and still learn things like this). As the lobster moves, both the tail and claws move up and down to create a ‘clapping’ kind of sound.
Toddler L has only just started taking her first steps, so I’ve not yet seen her play with the toy as designed. Instead, she’ll just sort of push it around and throw it about, which I guess technically is still playing. I really like the look of the toy aesthetically, but it doesn’t really do anything different to what we already have. The sprog already has a sausage dog accordion pull along toy and another (undefined) dog pull along toy, which truth be told, she seems to prefer at the moment to the lobster. Still, when she’s walking properly, I can imagine she’ll want to pull all three along with her at the same time!
As mentioned, the Lil’ Ocean Explorers range consists of eight toys in total. In addition to the ones I’ve described above, there is also the Dunk ‘n Juggle Seal, Stand ‘n Dance Starfish, Ball Chase Octopus and Push n’ Glow Fish.
The 3-in-1 Adventure Course costs £79.99, the Crawl ‘n Pop Turtle is £16.99, the Catch Me Crabbie costs £14.99 and the Pull ‘n Chatter Lobster would set you back £9.99. Each of these can be bought from Little Tikes directly, or from other retailers such as Amazon, Argos and Tesco.
Personally, I reckon that this pricing is really reasonable and I’d have no qualms in buying any of these at this cost. I also like the fact that each item is priced differently according to how involved it is – for instance, the lobster is the least complicated at costs a tenner, whereas the turtle, which comes with shapes, movement and tunes, is more expensive at £16.99.
I’ve been massively impressed with the Little Tikes Lil’ Ocean Explorers range. Judging by the amount she’s played with the toys, so is the sprog! It is obvious that all aspects have been carefully considered and each toy does something slightly different to ensure maximum development and fun. In addition, I’ve been surprised at how reasonably priced they are.
Toddler L absolutely loves the Adventure Course and I’m so pleased that we have it. It provides her with 15+ different activities as part of the same playset, which are obviously helping to develop things like her gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination and balance. The Crawl ‘n Pop Turtle is also a favourite in our house – she often carries the turtle and/or shapes around as she moves and you can tell that she gets a massive satisfaction out of putting the shapes in the correct slots.
The Catch Me Crabbie and Pull ‘n Chatter Lobster are simpler toys, particularly the latter. The crab is a great size for Toddler L to carry and she enjoys pushing the button to make it move. As mentioned, she does play with the lobster, but as it doesn’t really do anything (until she learns to drag it), she loses interest more quickly.
Two things I really like about the range are the colours / design and the quality. Toddler L has made sure that she’s tested the toys thoroughly – they’ve been thrown, dragged and dropped, but are so well built that they still look good as new. I’m also a big fan of the aesthetics of the toys. The ocean theme is really different to other stuff I’ve seen, whilst the multiple colours are really appealing – it’s also great that any stupid gender stereotyping of blue for boys, pink for girls has been ignored.
My only two slight annoyances are around the size of the adventure course and that you need to keep an eye on the shapes / balls. The adventure course is obviously pretty big so takes up a reasonable amount of room, but it can be configured in different ways and does kind of stack on top of each other if you’re tidying. I know it sounds stupid, but you need to keep a close eye on the balls for the adventure course and the shapes from the turtle – they can easily get lost / misplaced. If you can’t put balls in the octopus or shapes in the turtle, they’re kind of a bit pointless.
All in all, we really love this range of toys and would definitely recommend for others.
The DADventurer Star Rating
3-in-1 Adventure Course – 5 out of 5 stars
Crawl ‘n Pop Turtle – 5 out of 5 stars
Catch Me Crabbie – 4.5 out of 5 stars
Pull ‘n Chatter Lobster – 4 out of 5 stars
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N.B. This review was written by me (Dave) and represents my honest opinion of the products. The Lil’ Ocean Explorers toys were provided to me by Little Tikes with the purpose of writing an honest product review in exchange for the products.
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