- User Rating: Excellent
Pros:Colorful, slim profile, easy to use
Cons:Sounds can get annoying quickly
The Bottom Line: This is an innovative take on the traditional wooden puzzle, incorporating sound to entertain a toddler as well.
On Christmas morning, my daughter awoke with several new toys. This one in particular had an unexpected surprise since I hadn't realized technology had advanced to this state yet!
Like other Melissa and Doug wooden puzzles, this one is crafted by hand in China. Each full-color animal piece (there are 8) lift off the main puzzle board via tiny red pegs. They are TINY pegs, no more than a couple millimeters or so. Thus, I find it challenging to pick up and am sure younger toddlers would lack the finger dexterity to pick up the pieces. This is marked for ages 2 and up.
My daughter is 19 months but she can easily pick up the pieces and match the piece with its slot onto the board. It's very simple to match the piece to the right slot as the identical color picture is underneath as well. The animals are a horse, a parakeet, a puppy, a kitten, a hamster, a goldfish, a frog, and a mouse.
What I found unusual is that when you lift the piece and then replace it, the animal sound plays. Thus, it's an auditory confirmation that your child has correctly matched the right piece to its slot. The sounds are realistic, though I'm unsure if they are all actual recordings. FYI, the goldfish one just blows bubbles.
In the interest of full disclosure for all other parents squeamish about rodents, I have to say that I cannot stand the hamster or the mouse. Both are high-pitched and squeaky, so they're altogether too realistic for me!
This puzzle requires 2 AAA batteries but still has a very slim profile (maybe 3/4" or so?). My daughter has already misplaced the horse piece (it's somewhere around here!) and the puppy piece never worked, so I'm not sure how long this toy will last around here. However, she seems to get a kick out of making the animals "speak." The one minor frustration is that you have to place the pieces at exactly the right angle, otherwise they don't fit. The mouse one, in particular, is an odd ovoid type shape so it's more difficult for my daughter to place just right as there isn't much "clearance" around each piece.
Finally, I just noticed (now that it's dark), that the sounds will go off when the light is turned off in the room. Thus, I really need to go find that missing horse piece!
All in all, it's a nice gift and appropriate given her current obsession with animal sounds.
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Amount Paid (US$): gift - $10?
Type of Toy: Puzzle
Age Range of Child: 12 to 36 Months