LEGO Harry Potter Years 5-7 PS3 review

Based on the last three Harry Potter books and final four films, LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 takes players through Harry Potter’s heroic adventures in the Muggle and wizarding worlds. From Privet Drive in Little Whinging to Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade and Hogwarts – plus new locations including Grimmauld Place, the Ministry of Magic, and Godric’s Hollow – players will encounter new faces, new challenges and new magic, preparing them for the ultimate face-off against Lord Voldemort.

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 builds upon the magical gameplay, lessons and potion-making skills learned in LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 to equip gamers with the tools necessary to challenge a host of new foes and some familiar ones (including He Who Must Not Be Named). The upcoming title is action-packed from start to finish, including loads of new lessons, spells, and bonus content for hours of family friendly gaming.

My son Jordan is mad about LEGO, and rather likes Harry Potter too! So the combination of the two together is perfect for him!
Starting the game up, it was easy to navigate and get into game play. It is a platform game where you play as a LEGO character. You go straight into the game as one of two characters, which you can change between easily to use different skills. As you move along in the game it gives you explanations about how to use different tools, and how to get about.

The idea is that you navigate through the levels, collecting the coins as you go. You need to use different equipment you may find on your way, as well as other characters. Jordan found this really fun to play, it was easy enough that he didn’t get frustrated, but also wasn’t too easy that he got bored, it got his mind working about how to best go about completing tasks.
The detail that has gone into this game is amazing, right down to the background which are made out of LEGO!

This is a brilliant game that Harry Potter and LEGO fans will both love, and of course if they like both, this is bound to be a hit!

You can buy LEGO Harry Potter Years 5-7 from shops such as Amazon, Play.com and other retailers.

Garden Games – Mega Hi Tower In A Bag – Giant wooden jenga

Big Game Hunters have been producing and selling garden toys for over 11 years, as a result they have become the leading retailer in giant outdoor garden games. They are so confident in their company that they have a Big Game Hunters promise

Our products go through comprehensive testing processes before they are even considered for production, as well as being individually tested by the Big Game Hunters team. As well as being fun to use our products are also ergonomically designed giving the user maximum durability and safety. . We have exceeded all of the relevant safety standards and regulations and to give you peace of mind all of our products come with a manufacturers guarantee.

We were sent a Mega Hi Tower In A Bag to review for our blog. I was pleased to be kept updated with the progress if my parcel at all times. From the dispatch email when it left the warehouse, to the courier collecting it, through to me being emailed to advise it was out for delivery. It was an easy process throughout.

The Mega Hi Tower In A Bag was packaged well, and opening it up I loved the strong canvas bag that contains all the wooden blocks. There is 58 wooden blocks included. The canvas bag has two strong handles, which makes the game easy to carry. The bag means I can store it anywhere and it’s easy to transport too!

The kids couldn’t wait to give it a go, although the weather is a bit poor outside, we set it up inside! We only used half of the blocks that came inside the bag, just in case it topples! If you use all the blocks it makes the tower a whopping 1.25 metres high!! This is a hit inside our house, and I can see this continuing when the weather gets better too for those outdoor bbq’s!

The Mega Hi Tower In A Bag costs just £49.99 and is available now!

Big Game Hunters have an amazing range of other garden games available on their site, check out http://www.gardengames.co.uk

LEGO Star Wars The Padawan Menace

You all know by now how much LEGO is loved in our house, especially by my 9 year old son Jordan. When we were sent LEGO Star Wars The Padawan Menace DVD to review, Jordan was jumping up and down in excitement.
As you can see by the cover, the characters included in the film are the traditional Star Wars Characters which have been made into LEGO characters. We have reviewed LEGO Star Wars previously on the blog, so Jordan was keen to get his LEGO  figures out to sit with him while he watched the DVD. You can read our review of the LEGO Star Wars toys here.

After the Cartoon Network debut of their first-ever original television special, The LEGO Group and Lucasfilm have joined forces once again to bring LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace to Blu-ray Disc and DVD. Launching on 7 November, the 22-minute original standalone special will feature the charm, action and irreverent humor that have become the signature style of LEGO Star Wars animation collaborations and will include five LEGO Star Wars shorts, as well as an exclusive, collectible minifigure. Featuring situations, characters and locations from throughout the entire Star Wars Saga, the original adventure is written by Emmy Award winner Michael Price (The Simpsons) and produced by Oscar-winning Animal Logic, the production company behind Happy Feet. To date, Star Wars is the first and most successful LEGO licensed product collection in the company’s history, generating more than 200 LEGO models and approximately 275 LEGO minifigures inspired by the Saga, which has also spurred a blockbuster collection of videogames, selling 25 million units to date worldwide. In addition to its popularity among younger fans, a significant portion of the LEGO Star Wars consumer fan base is made up of adult fans and franchise collectors.

The film is 22 minutes long which is a good length for my son who has ADHD and Autism, it kept him engaged the whole time and he wanted to watch it again straight after!
So what happens in the film?

A routine Jedi Academy field trip is turned into a rip-roaring comic adventure in LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace. Tour guide Master Yoda leads a group of rambunctious Jedi Younglings through Senate chambers when he senses a disturbance in the Force. Summoned to help save the Republic, he discovers that one of the Younglings secretly boarded his ship…and has a taste for adventure! Meanwhile, C-3PO and R2-D2 are put in charge of the boisterous group and find themselves in over their heads. As the evil Sith prepare to wreak havoc, it’s up to Yoda and the Droids to ensure that their young charges aren’t torn to bricks!

This is my sons favourite DVD at the minute, and I can’t see that changing any time soon. He is role playing out scenes from the DVD with his own LEGO characters, which is fantastic to watch and get involved with when he lets me be R2-D2!

When you buy the Blu-Ray version, you get an exclusive Minifigure included, as well as bonus features too, all for just £8.00! You can buy online here.
The DVD is also available but it doesn’t include the Minifigure, this is £5.00 and is available to buy online here.
LEGO Star Wars The Padawan Menace is available on Blu-Ray and DVD and is available now exclusively at TESCO stores and online at www.tescoentertainment.com

ECOTanka – Stainless Steel bottles and discount code!

I recently attended The Baby Show for Trade and was pleased to be working within the ‘Innovation Zone’. There was some amazing products on show, and one of them was the ECOTanka. They have an amazing range of Stainless Steel water bottles. But what makes ECOTanka so different from your everyday metal water bottle?

Here ECOTanka tell us why they are different:

ECOtanka is a New Zealand company and their products are manufactured in China. One of our concerns is that the products we handle are fair and ethically sourced. We were both assured and impressed when we discovered that a co-founder for ECOtanka lives in China and monitors the factory for both work conditions and manufacturing standards. He has installed ECOtankas own independent quality control section within the factory to ensure not only is ECOtanka a premium product designed to last but that it is also having a positive impact on the workers who produce it

ECOtankas are made from 18/8 food grade stainless steel so they are a clean and hygienic bottle which will not taint the contents in any way. So many bottles are made of plastics or have liners that break down and contaminate their contents. This can have health implications and taint the taste of the drinks. ECOtanka are designed to offer a product that can be used with confidence by anyone without fear of contamination.

ECOtankas are designed as both a health product and to be kind to the environment. So many other bottles look great to start with but do not stand the test of time and within 6 months, they are in landfill as they are made of inferior or thinner grade stainless steel which can rust or buckle. ECOtanka are made to be robust and resilient, yet being a steel product can easily be recycled if needed. We are confident that ECOtanka is the best product of its kind available in the UK and Ireland. We are passionate about reducing waste, which is why we offer a bottle designed to last a lifetime. ECOtanka International Limited is constantly seeking innovative ways to make their bottles even better. Thus the sipper or cap part of the new Sports lid can be replaced if it gets chewed or broken without the need to replace the entire lid.

We were sent a TeenyTanka to try out for ourselves. The TeenyTanka is perfect for babies. I can see your shocked faces right now, but let me tell you why. They come with a special adapter which allows you to use an Avent Magic Toddler spout. Therefore you can keep your babies juice or milk cool, and then allow them to drink it straight from the TeenyTanka. As with all the ECOTanka’s, they are all solid 304 high quality Stainless steel food grade, but of course there is no BPA involved. They come with a 1 year guarantee against faulty manufacturing so you can rest assured it is an item that won’t be binned with a few months.
Of course as your child grows up, you can use it with the standard spout, it really is an item that grows with you child. Mark took to his TeenyTanka instantly, and it has been great for taking with us when out and about as it doesn’t leak like a lot of the bottles we have experienced!
The price of a TeenyTanka is just £9.99, which is a really good price considering this is a product that will last.

ECOTanka have provided us with an exclusive code for our readers to give you 15% discount on ANY product from the ECOTanka range. Simply quote ‘thefamilyexpress’ to recieve your discount when ordering online at http://evolutionlife.co.uk/

LEGOLAND Hotel at LEGOLAND Windsor opening 2012

A couple of weeks ago I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to have a sneak peek at the LEGOLAND hotel which is currently being built at the Windsor park.
As you all know, my 9 year old son is LEGO mad, so I jumped at the chance, and it also meant another trip to the theme park that my kids were happy to go along with
I arrived for my tour after dropping the rest of the family off at the park, I was bit shocked to see there was so much mud! Luckily the builders provided us with builders boots and hard hats, so we were well protected.

Walking up to the entrance to the hotel you can see just how grand it will be, it is going to be every childs dream come true! There will be a massive LEGO dragon which breathes ‘smoke’.
Inside the hotel there is going to be a a brilliant interactive reception, with play areas and lots for children to do. The reception area will feature a wall made from 5000 LEGO minifigures.

Inside the hotel there is three types of themed rooms, pirate, kingdom or adventure. The room we looked at was the pirate, and I can honestly say you are in for a real treat! There is 1600 LEGO models inside the hotel, with over 80 million LEGO bricks used which is worth more than £375,000! Every one has been handmade and each room will feature some. There is life sized parrots, spiders, scorpions and lots more too.
The detail that has gone into creating the rooms is amazing, they have really thought of everything! Arriving at the door we were greeted with this….note the two spyholes, one appropriatly at child height.

Walking inside, it had the wow factor! The carpet is pirate themed carpet, which my son is adamant he needs in his bedroom. The walls have large graphics all over them, and there is even LEGO models adoring the walls.

Parents will love how each family room is seperated, the children have their very own cubby hole inside the room. I just know my children are not going to want to get out of bed in the morning with this!!

The bathroom even has special toilet roll holder at child height, as well as a shower at their height too, of course adult ones are included too, but I love how LEGOLAND have really thought of everything!

Walking out of the room we spied a LEGO chest. We were told how each family will get a special treasure hunt, they have to hunt for the codes, to help open the chest! Inside is LEGO goodies for them to enjoy. This is sure to be a hit.

Downstairs there is plenty of activity too. It is set to be open planned. There is a buffet style restaurant that will serve up quality fresh produce and even LEGO shaped chips! Speaking to the brains behind the hotel, we asked them if it would be healthy food, and they reassured us that there will be plenty of healthy options but with some treats too, after all this is a holiday and a massive treat for anyone who attends!
There is a massive LEGO play area, which is set to be the centre piece for children. It will incorporate some amazing activities such as storytime that will be put on by LEGOLAND staff.

As all this was exciting enough for the whole family, but there is also a Pirates themed splash pool. Use of this is included in your stay. This is set to be amazing fun for all the family too.

Outside the rear of the hotel, there will be gates that open onto the park, allowing you to exclusively use the park before it opens for early bird access which is included in the price of a stay in the hotel.

The LEGOLAND hotel is set to be the ultimate treat for all the family, I love that they have really put an amazing amount of detail into even the smallest things to make it so interactive with children, it really will be amazing!
The price of a stay is really reasonably priced in my opinion, prices from £247 low season or £385 high season for a themed family room (2 adults and 2 children), this price includes hotel stay, park tickets for two days and breakfast as well.
You can book online now www.legoland.co.uk

itsyourstory Personalised E-book Review

Itsyourstory have an amazing range of products available for you to create a unique story that your children will adore.
My little bookworm Brooke is 7, and loves reading. I created an E-story which costs just £4.99. It was simple to navigate, all I had to do was add in all the details they asked. This was just a simple list of details, such as name and address. I then uploaded a picture of Brooke, which I could then crop to create the perfect face for our story.

It was a really simple process and my E-story was delivered to my inbox almost immediately.
Here is a sneak peek at the results!

Brooke was in awe at thr story when I showed her, she couldn’t actually believe her photo was on it!
Inside the story all the details that I had put in were included at appropriate places, including our address. The look of shock on Brookes face was priceless when she read it.

Itsyourstory E-story would be the perfect gift for a child to have Christmas Eve to really get them in the Christmas spirit, with a price of just £4.99, it’s a bargain!

You can check out www.itsyourstory.co.uk for all their fantastic personalised products available.

Bananagrams Blogger Challenge and Competition!

Over the next few weeks you may see some strange things going on here at The Family Express, and it will be including a banana….now don’t worry, this is a family blog, so clear your dirty mind out. We are taking part in the Bananagrams Blogger Battle for as chance to be crowned Bananagrams Blogger of the Year!
This includes us being set different challenges, and our first one is in! But for those of you not familiar with Bananagrams and are wondering what I am even talking about here is an explanation.

 Bananagrams is a fast and fun word game that requires no pencil, paper or board. All you need is a table.

One hand can be played in as little as 5 minutes making Bananagrams a great family fun as well as being educational! Bananagrams portability makes it perfect for travel. The whole game is contained within a fun yellow banana shaped pouch that’s just the right size to throw in your handbag… So just grab the pouch and go!

The rules are pretty straight forward. Depending on how many players you have, put all the tiles face down and take a certain number of letter for yourself from the bunch. One player shouts ‘Split’ and everyone turns their tiles over. Then it’s up to you… more » to try and connect all your letter into intersecting words. You can re-arrange them as many times as you like until you have used all your tiles. Then you shout ‘Peel’. This means all players have to take one more tile from the centre bunch. This continues until all the tiles are gone. The player to connect the last tile is the winner. If you are the lucky one you shout ‘Bananas’ and the game is over… But be careful, a single spelling mistake will make you a ‘Rotten Banana!

So our first challenge was to use out special magnet Bananagrams to create a crossword based on me and my family. The only rule was that it had to be started by using the word BANANAGRAM.

I am afraid to say that I am not very creatively minded, and came up with this…

Now Brooke, Jordan and Mark are my children, I am Danielle, and my husband is Stu.

Cuthbert is our Blue Maccaw, and Tia is my Black Cat, together we are THE PARKERS.

You can buy your very own Bananagrams game from Play.com for just £9.99! 

Bananagrams are giving our readers a chance to join in the fun! We have a competition to win a Bananagrams game for your family. 


To be in with a chance of winning a Bananagrams game, simply pop over and like Banangrams Games Facebook Page and post the following: 


‘Go Bananagrams and win with The Family Express!’


Then simply leave us a comment here to we can add you to the draw! 

Good Luck!

This competition will run until 6th December 2011. UK entrants only.

Mini Lalaloopsy Bea’s School Bus Review

Lalaloopsy were once rag dolls that magically came to life when their very last stitch was sewn. Each doll has its own charming personality inspired by the fabric used to make it. Lalaloopsy live in a whimsical world full of silly surprises. With love and a little bit of imagination, you’ll see why Lalaloopsy are sew magical… and sew cute!

Now your little ones can get involved and act out their very own Lalaloopsy games with Mini Lalaloopsy toy range!
There is loads of different products available in the Mini Lalaloopsy range, we were sent the Mini Lalaloopsy Bea’s school bus to try out with my lalaloopsy fan Brooke!

Included in the box is the School Bus, MiniBea Spells-a-lot figure, her luncbox and pet owl, as well as a traffic cone.

The bus is very cute, it has ‘button’ wheels, and I particularly like the pencils on the side of the bus! It has a STOP sign on the side of the bus, which swings out for when all the Lalaloopsys need to get on, or off the bus.

My youngest son took a shine to the bus, much to Brookes annoyance she has had to share it!
The favourite feature of the bus with both Brooke and Mark was the slide which folds down, its a wavey slide and Brooke and Mark loved whizzing Bea down it, along with the lunchbox, the pet owl, and the traffic cone too!
Brooke is now adamant she needs more Mini Lalaloopsys to take for a ride in the bus. Extra Mini Lalaloopsy dolls are just £5.99, which is not a bad price considering how well made they are. They have moveable arms, legs and head, plenty of scope for imaginations to take them on some Lalaloopsy adventures!

Little girls, and boys too if they are like Mark, will love this Mini Lalaloopsy set, there is hours of fun to be had role playing with it, it is sure to get little ones imaginations going!

You can buy Mini Lalaloopsy School Bus from Amazon and other great toy retailers, the RRP is £14.99

Join in more Lalaloopsy fun at www.lalaloopsy.com and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/lalaloopsy

Hexbug Crab review

We were kindly asked to review the HEXBUG Crab for Izziwizzikids.co.uk.
When the package arrived with our Crab inside, it looked quite small, but as soon as we started it up, we realised it has a massive personality!

The HEXBUG Crab uses autonomous light and sound sensors, which really impressed the hubby! You start the Crab up and it starts walking. It then stops, and will start moving if it is alerted by a loud sound, such as someone clapping their hands. It hides in the dark, which provided Jordan with plenty of hours of fun interacting with it. When the Crab is scurrying along, you simply clap your hands to make it change direction! The HEXBUG Crab comes with batteries included, and despite being used for a good 10 hours, they are still working!

Here is a video review of the HEXBUG Crab in action with Jordan.

The HEXBUG Crab has provided hours of fun for both my 9 year old son, and my 37 year old husband! My husband really admired the engineering that has been used to create it, and Jordan just loved playing with it.
This would make a brilliant Christmas present, and you can guarantee it would not be left in the bottom of the toybox, because there is far too much to be had with it!