Pros: stable wide base, scoops up blocks (and leaves!), no assembly, cute
Cons: no onboard toys
My husband and I bought our Fisher Price Peek-a-Blocks Gobble and Go Hippo from our local Target when our daughter was nine months old. She had been crawling for almost two months and was starting to show interest in standing and walking. We had already decided to buy the bagged set of Fisher Price Peek-a-Blocks Alphabet Blocks (http://www.epinions.com/content_209522757252) and started looking at the hippo as an accessory to that toy. It seemed a little too soon for a walker (in my mind) but I was easily convinced into spending the $25 for it when my husband exclaimed, "It picks up its own blocks!" A toy that cleaned up after itself? The image of me hunched over picking up 26 blocks off the floor instantly set my mind. We were buying the hippo. Granted, the hippo comes with its own set of five blocks and didn't appear to be able to pick up more than that. But I'll get to that later.
The Gobble & Go Hippo is a transitional walker/ride-on toy for toddlers that looks like a friendly blue hippo. It comes with five food-related Peek-a-Blocks that the hippo's mouth can scoop up as baby pushes the toy over them. The top of the hippo's mouth moves up and down and the inner "teeth" sweep the blocks (or whatever gets in its path) into a compartment in the center of the toy (when it's used as a ride-on, the blocks are concealed under the seat; as a walker, the blocks are visible since the seat becomes the handle).
Like other Peek-a-Blocks, these are a nice size for an infant or toddler to handle and are clear plastic with an item (in this case food) inside for baby to marvel at. Each of the five included blocks contain one of the following: a cereal bowl with a few Cheerios-like pieces that shake around (my daughter's favorite), a pie with a slice cut out, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a bunch of broccoli, and carrots. All are familiar foods and are easily recognizable.
Putting the hippo together was the easiest thing I've ever done. The hippo comes fully assembled except for the handle bar that snaps into place and the toe decals that stick right onto each hoof. Personally, I couldn't understand why the manufacturer even bothered with decals. Sure it made me feel like I actually did some work to get the toy going, but on an infant toy why would you have stickers? Painted on toes would've worked just fine. But that's just nit-picking.
Out of the box, the hippo is in ride-on mode. There's a large red button under the seat that is easy to find and press and allows for the transformation. Unlike some other walker/ride-on toys I've seen, this hippo is amazingly simple in its design. Once the button is pushed in, the seat pops out. The button is now on the outside and can be depressed to push down the seat and change the toy back into a ride on. That's it. There are no gadgets or weird plastic pieces for mom to catch her fingers in. This also means there aren't any onboard toys to amuse baby. This is just a hippo with one gimmick: it eats.
I think the Gobble and Go Hippo makes a much better walker than ride-on. Because most of the hippo is low to the ground and very wide, the toy is stable. When my daughter first started trying to walk with it, she would hold on to the handle and slide her knees on the floor. Once she became more comfortable standing up, we encouraged her more to walk with the hippo by placing it in front of her. After one or two hesitant attempts, the two became good friends. She's never toppled over. She's never slammed her face into the handle (as one other reviewer stated happened to her child). In fact, I've let her walk outside on our driveway with no disasters (FYI, she's only one now and not able to take more than one or two baby steps on her own without falling). Even after she got stuck in a crack in the pavement and had to push her hippo over it (and scared me to pieces), the two were bruiseless.
The handle bar on the hippo is narrow but it seems to be a comfortable fit for my daughter. It reaches her at about her abdomen and is rounded. She balances herself well with the Gobble and Go Hippo. Because the handle and the back wheels are almost flush, she's able to stand upright while walking. Another ride-on we received as a gift (http://www.epinions.com/content_213432241796) is designed in such a way that she ends up leaning forward into the toy with her legs spread out behind her. Not exactly the best design to teach a child to walk.
We haven't had much of a chance to use the hippo as a ride-on yet since Wendy is only one. But the few times when she has sat on it, she's had a hard time getting off. Although the hippo is low to the ground, its width makes it easier to climb over than step over. Perhaps this won't be such an issue as Wendy becomes more mobile. She was able to easily get off of the other walker/ride-on toy we have since it is narrower in the middle seat section.
AMAZING UNKNOWN FEATURE
So the hippo only holds about 6 or 7 blocks, tops, in its inner compartment. It still picks them up if (and when) my daughter pushes it over them. Within a week or two, the novelty of this ran out, especially since Wendy hasn't figured out how to do that and I was the only one picking up the blocks.
But then I took her and her hippo outside one day to bag leaves. She kept stopping and starting and I wondered if she had gotten something stuck in the hippo's mouth. Lo and behold, the hippo had picked up a pile of leaves. Really. Now if only I can think of a way to put a bag around the compartment to catch all of those leaves!
Wendy fell in love with the hippo's ears when we first showed it to her. They're kind of a slightly softer plastic than the rest of the toy and they stick out. She loved sitting next to the hippo and sucking on them. Boy, was this embarrassing for me, her nursing mom. Trust me, mine aren't blue and flat! For about the first month, her playtime with the hippo consisted of her playing with the ears and the blocks (she shakes them, eats them, and sometimes throws/rolls them). After that, she became more stable standing and has been pushing her hippo back and forth throughout our house ever since. Of course, she starts yelling "ma" when she hits something and then I have to run to turn her around. Turning isn't a problem. The wheels easily move over carpet, linoleum, and concrete and I usually just push it in the right direction rather than lifting the whole thing.
Despite the gimmick of "eating" blocks falling short of my expectations for never having to pick up a block off the floor, I'm very happy with our Gobble & Go Hippo. Wendy enjoys playing with it, it stores on the lowest shelf of our bookcase, and I don't worry about her getting hurt while walking with it. Besides, it's such a friendly looking hippo. Who couldn't love it?
I've seen the Gobble & Go Hippo at Toys R Us and Target. It's also available online.