Monday, July 28, 2014

7/28/14: SmartMax House With Car Review

I love construction toys and so do my kids.  I knew they would enjoy playing with the SmartMax "House With Car" Set which was introduced at Toy Fair this year and just released in June.  The fact that a vehicle is involved made my son love it even more.  I like that Evan immediately turned it in to a train and started driving it around.  I love when kids use their imaginations.
All of the pieces are magnetic so there is no frustration with kids trying to get them put together.
This set has a cute little four wheel vehicle.  With this piece the cockpit and the wheel pieces snap on to the bar.
With the remaining pieces the possibilities are endless.  You could build a house, a garage, and more.
Evan building his creation.
Here you can see some of the pieces up close.  As you can see these are easy for little ones to maneuver and entirely safe for them.  You can read more here about the safety of SmartMax here.  The parts are extremely durable.  Plus they learn a little bit about magnetism.
There is also a little window piece that Lauren was having fun with.
Evan building with the window piece.
Lauren pondering what to build next.
Can you see the Choo Choo sounds coming out of his mouth?
Lauren enjoying playing and giving me a pose with her creation.
Evan making his creation come full circle.
This toy is for ages 3 and up, but as you can see my 7 and 9 year old were loving it and even fighting over playing with it.  The older the child the more complex the structure they could build.  It is also a good geometry lesson.  Here is an example of something a child 5-10 could build, plus there are more examples on the SmartMax Website.
If you have other SmartMax sets all of the pieces work together.  Plus there are add on packs.  Here it is as packaged and can be purchased at Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Target.com, www.SmartToysAndGames.com, and quality toy stores everywhere. 
Brain-building fun for both children and adults can also be had online at www.SmartGamesLive.com, where Smart Toys and Games has made fourteen of their single-player puzzle games available virtually at levels, including Starter, Junior, Expert, or Master.
Find them online:  www.SmartToysAndGames.com
Twitter:  @SmartMax_eu
Disclosure:  I received this SmartMax set for review purposes.  No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

7/27/14: Laser Craze Fun

Today we went to Laser Craze in Woburn, MA for some family fun.  It was a rainy summer day so we were trying to think of some fun things to do inside and Laser Tag, the Adrenaline Zone kids space and Arcade fit the bill.  
Laser Tag is very popular there, especially on weekends and rainy days.  They run games every hour.  I called earlier in the day and reserved us a spot in the 2:15 game.  You can see all pricing here, but basically it was $14 for one game.  After we checked in at the front desk we received cards that we then took over to the Log In area.
Everyone logs in individually with their card.  You type in some basic information including your name, address, age, and you get to pick a code name for the game.  My kids really liked that they got to pick a nickname that could be anything they wanted.  Lauren chose Hello Kitty and Evan chose Blaster W.  I really wish you could enter a whole family at once and not have to do them one at a time with duplicate information but I will give them props for doing this online and not through paper waivers.
We then were called for our game.  You enter a room where they de-brief you.  There is a short 2 minute video to watch.  I love the first rule and most important one, no running!
A maximum of 48 players can play in a round.  We had 41 when we played.  To make the laser gun fire you must hold one of the buttons on the front of the gun and then use the trigger.  It is very easy to use and my 7 year old and 9 year old had no problems.
We played as a family.  When we got in to the de-briefing room they revealed the teams - half on Blue and half on Red.  Unfortunately they put both kids together and both parents together.  We made an adjustment and I became Hello Kitty and Lauren took my name of Ghostbuster so that we could have one parent with each kid.  This was mostly for Lauren as she can sometimes get a bit scared playing Laser Tag.  I asked after and they said if we had requested it they would have put an adult with each child.
When you start out the game you are at your home base.  You play 4 five minute rounds and they make an announcement to return to your home base.  This is where you return to so you can start the next round.  It is also where you return if you get hit a number of times and need to get recharged.  I felt like I had to keep going there.  I wish that you had to go there less during the game.
There is also a place where you can go on the opposing teams side and get 500 points per hit.  Randomly they give a player Deflector Power which basically gives you about 30 seconds of time where anyone who shoots at you gets deflected back.  When I got this power I went for this spot and kept shooting at the 500 points as no one could get me.
They also randomly give a player rapid fire.  When you get that you can shoot very quickly.  You can get other players on their chest, back, and two shoulders.  If you hit someone on your own team you and that player lose points.  You can see the laser beam when you are shooting.  I like that you can see it and see where you are shooting but it does give away where you are.  When you return to your home base each time you see where you ranked and if your team won.  I am happy to say that our Red Team won all four rounds.
Evan was on my team and did awesome!
There is an upper and lower level.  I kept going up to the upper level to get across to the other team's 500 point spot.  It does look pretty cool in there.  You can see the Laser Tag Arena online here.
Here you can see some of the Laser Tag arena.  When you come out you see the final rankings.  I came in 7th out of 41!  They also give you a print out at the front desk of all four rounds and how you did.  It tells you how many hits you got, how many hits you took, how many times you got the 500 marker, your overall ranking and which team won.  On Friday nights they offer all you can play Laser Tag in Woburn for $22.
Overall we liked the Laser Tag game.  Even Lauren who sometimes gets afraid in these areas had a good time.  I personally had a blast!
There is also the Adrenaline Zone.  There are three obstacle type inflatable structures for kids to play in.  When you check in you are given a wrist band for the kids to go in this area.   I had a few complaints about this area.  There were no storage area for shoes so the kids were just taking their shoes off and leaving them as you walked in to the area.  It was quite dangerous.  Also there was no employees monitoring this area.  I saw several kids in there without socks.  
The maximum age for this are is 10 years old and socks are required.  It is $9.50 for kids 3-10 and $6 for 2 and under.  
Kids can spend an unlimited amount of time in there.
The funny thing is we were just watching American Ninja Warrior so the kids were pretending that is what they were doing as they were climbing.  Here they are racing each other.
They loved sliding down the slides.
Evan having fun.
Lauren being silly.
Their favorite was the first one as you enter the area.
Here is Lauren inside.
Here is a view inside.
Here are the kids in the top area of this one.
Here is inside of another one.  
They also have an arcade area.  You can buy 100 tokens for $20.  A lot of the games were 3 tokens to play.  Some are just one token.
Here is the prize area.
They also have many birthday party options and some tables especially for parties.  You can see more information here on special events at Laser Craze.
 I like their sign in this area.  It sounds like my house.
 There is also a cafe with pizza, slushy drinks, and drinks.  The prices were reasonable with a whole pizza for $13 and a slice of cheese pizza for only $2.  Water was only $1.50.  You are not allowed to bring in outside food.  There is also free Wi-Fi.  Just look for the sign with the password in the little seating area next to the cafe.
 It is in a location that you would not pass by easily.  It is in an office park on the back side of a building but worth the trip.  They also have a site in North Andover.
What a ton of fun for the whole family!  The best part, this is what your kids look like when they are done, tired!
Check them out online:  http://www.lasercraze.us/
Disclosure:  I received passes for my family to play Laser Tag and go to the Adrenaline Zone.  No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

7/26/14: Win Tickets to King Richard's Faire

For the last few years we have gone to King Richard's Faire in Carver, MA and had a fantastic time.  There is so much to see and do and I am giving you a chance to win 2 tickets!  Read on to win.  

This Faire is the longest running Renaissance Festival and runs August 30th to October 19th on weekends plus Labor Day and Columbus Day.  They are located on 80 acres of beautiful, enchanted forest off Rt. 58 in Carver, MA.  
King Richard’s Faire has lots of fun entertainment running on 8 stages plus roaming entertainers and a live joust!  Here is King Richard himself from the live show we saw him in last year. 
One of my favorite things was the Jousting.  
I like to map our day of shows before we go.  Right now everything is listed as TBA but closer to the Faire this schedule will be full with show information and times.
 
At the end of the day there is a final joust that you must go to.

The shows are really impressive and there is even a Tiger Show.

Make sure to get a spot early for this show as it will fill up.  I suggest 30 minutes in advance.

The show at King Richard's Faire is put on by T.I.G.E.R.S. (The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species) and the R.S.F. (Rare Species Fund), based out of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  We visited them when we were in Myrtle Beach.

Look at how cute this guy is.

Amazing animals.

They also had a lot for the kids.  There will be a Prince and Princess Contest on Saturday, September 20th with a Prince and Princess Contest.  

There is even a Princess Academy that Lauren took part in.

Evan enjoyed archery which was $4 for 12 arrows.

Lauren had fun too.

There were rides - for an additional fee.  Usually around $2-$4.  Cash only.
There were meet and greets.  Here are the kids with a Cyclops.  Pretty weird looking huh?
Tickets are $29 for adults and $16 for children and you can buy tickets online here.  Enter the Rafflecopter below to win 2 tickets good for an adult (or child) that are good on August 30th and 31st, September 6th, 7th, 13th, 14th, 20th, 21st, and 27th, and October 4th, 11th, 13th, 18th and 19th.
You must pay cash so make sure you have cash with you.  Check out how cool the stores look!  There are tons of shops with really cool stuff.
 This is the food area.  Note that you need to buy tickets to buy food.  All tickets cost $1.00 and are used to buy food and drink.  First scope out what you want and then purchase your tickets.
 So pretty.
So don't get locked out of this fun event!  Win tickets now!  Enter below!
Disclosure:  I received the two tickets for giveaway and also a family pack of four tickets in exchange for review.  No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.