Recently, the crew over at Toy State had an assortment of their vehicles delivered to HQ in hopes that we'd give them a spin in The Rock Father's State-of-the-Art Toy Testing Facility (our house, backyard and neighborhood). Being big fans of all things with wheels (and treads), the girls and I have been having quite a bit of fun over the past month, making adventures and exploring new worlds through imaginative play. Toy State makes a diverse array of vehicles for all-ages, and today we're discussing two selections from their ever-growing CAT collection - based on the iconic, yellow Caterpillar Construction Vehicles of the real world.
I have some fond memories of playing with tractors and construction vehicles as a kid - outside, in the Midwestern Dirt, Sand, and Clay, with my cousins. In fact, I'd just been discussing the prospect of buying the girls some tractors when these arrived, and having spent a month with them, I think our fleet is ready for expansion...
CAT Mini-Playsets are scaled to fit with the line of CAT Mini Machines (sold separately in 1, 2, and 5-pack sets). There's three Mini Playsets available, and ours is the Rock Mover set. These are no-frills, manual-play toys, that the old-school part of me really digs. Complete with a Crane (with working winch), Forklift, and a block that sorta looks like a crushed car, Addie quickly took her set outside for some down-and-dirty construction action... in the flower bed I was working on.
Plastic construction with minimal metal parts (mainly axels and joints) makes these easy-to-clean, which is a bonus since ours have become a regular fixture in the Turtle Sandbox. Dirt and Sand are no problem, as the playset and vehicle are easily hosed-off.
Bottom Line: Addie's been enjoying her CAT Mini Playset for about a month now, and the play value and durability are there. Another bonus? The MSRP on these is under $10, which makes them easy to recommend.
The Rock Father Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
CAT Preschool Bump & Go Machines bring construction fun to some of the smallest members of a family - in our case, little Finley. That's not to say that older kids won't like these as well (Addie does), but with their "chunky" styling, this assortment (3 vehicles available) is perfect for those little hands. Motorized with the classic "bump-and-go" action (vehicle runs forward, hits an obstacle, then backs up while turning, then goes forward once more), our Dump Truck also features some fairly loud sounds - a variety of job site noises and engines roaring. Thankfully, there's a mute switch on the bottom - and I have used it.
While this vehicle is a big hit here at HQ, there are a couple of things that I feel should be pointed out. First, while the headlights do light up, there's what looks to be a red light made of translucent plastic on the cab of the dump truck. It does not light. Second, the "bump & go" action seems a little touchy - that if it doesn't hit something square on the grill, it won't always activate properly. Neither of these are deal-breakers (the kids still like the truck), but they are quirks.
Bottom Line: Play value and durability are there, but the actions are touchy. Loud noises might be a turn-off for some grownups, but they're easily muted. A fun toy, albeit not 100% perfect.
The Rock Father Rating: 3/5 Stars
FTC Disclosure: As noted above, these vehicles were provided to The Rock Father by Toy State for the purpose of possible review consideration. All opinions are that of James Zahn, with input from his children.
About James: A work-from-home Dad with a pair of daughters (Released in 2009 and 2012) - James Zahn is The Rock Father™.
Bringing over two decades of experience in the entertainment industry into the parent blogging landscape, Zahn is a regular contributor to Chicago Parent, serves as a PBS KIDS VIP (Very Involved Parent), and has guest blogged as a member of the Sprout Kindness Crew.
Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for the likes of FEAR FACTORY, DIRGE WITHIN, PRODUCT OF HATE, ARCANIUM and others, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands.
James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Blogcritics, Fangoria, Starlog, The River Cities' Reader. Slowfish, Oil, and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360, and in 2013 he's been quoted on CNN, Babble, The Huffington Post, and The Good Men Project, in addition to making appearances on ABC News and WGN.
Learn more here.
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