Pros: Simple toy that grows with the child. Audio is cute rather than annoying.
Cons: No storage option for bat
Little M (the boy I care for as a nanny) has a fascination with things that roll. By the time he was 8 months old, he would grab any elongated nearby item to use as a bat or hockey stick to hit balls across the floor. Truly believing that he is a sports star in the making, I bought Fisher Price's Batter Up! Baseball as an early birthday gift for him when he was 10 months old. He immediately took the chubby bat and soft, fist-sized ball and began banging them together.
Besides the plastic bat and ball, this toy contains a t-ball post on a firm spring set into a 1' by 1' baseball stadium themed diamond-shaped base.
The soft vinyl ball has an indent of the bottom so it can fit onto a peg on the t-ball post and stay firmly in place. This gives a solid target for baby or toddler to bat at if he/she chooses.
With or without the ball, the post can be pulled or pushed like a simple stick shift in any direction. This action prompts one of two sounds: the crack of a bat with the cheer of a crowd or a snippet of an instrumental version of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." Both audio sounds are considerably low-key compared to many of the electronic toys on the market today. I found them to be cute and nostalgic rather than annoying. Besides an off position, the volume can be switched to two different sound levels.
One final feature of the post is the option to pull it upward to lengthen the post as the child grows or stands independently. It roughly doubles in length.
Besides the t-ball post, there are two pop-up heads (a boy and a girl). When you push one down, the other pops up, which is one of those fun, repetitive activities that babies seem to like. With each push, children's voices say phrases like "batter up" and "home run". Again, I found them cute rather than annoying.
Little M has had this toy a little more than four months and plays with it in some form on a daily basis. He uses the bat to not only hit the ball off the post, but to roll different balls around the floor. He also uses the bat as a hammer for another toy that requires hammering three balls into tubes to roll out a chute. He loves to pull the post and hear the "ball game" song and crowd cheering. He only occasionally pushes the boy/girl pegs down, but this would probably be more appealing to a younger baby. He also enjoys trying to fit the ball onto the peg. His father is looking forward to using it in the backyard for actual t-ball practice when M is fully walking independently.
The only small issue I found has to do with storage. Other than the ball and bat, the unit has no other removable parts. While the ball can be perched on the peg during clean up time, there is no logical place to store the bat, although there is a useless section in the back that looks like it would be a place for the bat to stand, but it isn't.
Overall, there are three great things about this toy:
Simplicity -- no difficult buttons, gadgets, whizzing parts or lights
Versatility -- appropriate for a stationary sitting child (6-months old) and an active toddler. The toy offers important hand-eye coordination practice and beginning t-ball skills.
Audio -- the children's voices are low-key, cute and not annyoing. The ball game music is reminiscent of time spent at any baseball park in America as a kid.
I think any baseball-fan families would think this is a perfect toy for their little t-ball player.