Wednesday, March 11, 2009

TOS Review: One2Believe Noah's Ark

((sigh)) Don't you hate it when something comes thisclose to being exactly what you want ... and yet somehow manages to botch the landing? Like that perfect-looking recipe you pull from your favorite site, only to find in the execution that your family doesn't love garlic nearly as much as the author of the recipe? Or the book you relish up until the final chapter, when all of a sudden it seems clear that tying up loose ends is more important than really letting the story play itself out?

Well, that was me and the One2Believe Noah's Ark. So close ... and yet, so far.

First, the good points. The animal in this little playset are numerous, unique and adorable. Until you've seen your 2 year-old dance around with an ostrich in each hand, well ... you're just not really living, folks. There are lions, sheep, camels and elephants as well. Also included is a very cute set of monkeys who somehow have managed to infiltrate Oliver's consciousness to the point of having to be in his pants pockets at all times. Thankfully, I usually rescue them before they hit the washer, but they've been run through a couple of times and still look new. Durability? Check!

I think that the One2Believe human figures are among the best Bible "action guys" I've seen for the preschool set. They're slightly cartoonish, friendly-looking, and the perfect size for lining up on coffee tables and creating vignettes. We like them so much that when I spotted a display at our local dollar store, I bought the whole selection: Jesus, David, Goliath and Moses. True, true ... it's a little disconcerting at times to have Jesus usurping Noah in the herding of animals into the ark, but hey ... at least it's not Hannah Montana, right?

Unfortunately, where this whole set falls flat for me is in the actual ark. Made of hard, rigid plastic, this ark is by no means as child-friendly as the "guys" (as we all all plastic figures) who nest inside. Figuring out how to open it was a trick; it was Jo who finally wrenched the lid off of the ark and revealed the plank hidden inside. Needless to say, opening the ark is strictly the territory of anyone over the age of 10 in our house. Not even Atticus the Engineer can figure out why they made a flat lid that essentially only fits in one direction, with no handle, and a tight fit. It's just plain silly in a toy rated for ages 3 and up.

Since I thought perhaps it was just my brood who was ark deficient, I handed the fully loaded playset to Benny's sons Finny and Goose (5 and 2.5). They couldn't figure it out, either. They were similarly delighted when the lid came off ("Ook! Ani-maws!") but what if they hadn't had an able (and initiated) adult sitting right there to open the thing?

All of the kids--but Oliver especially--love playing with this set. Our rule has been to never, ever put the lid on all the way. The last thing I need is to burn the lasagna simply because I hear an agonized howl of frustration in the living room as Oli tries to bash the lid off against the coffee table so that he can get to his precious moneys. Not that that's actually happened or anything ... ;-)

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