I've been encouraging my kids to like them, too, and so far it's going well - though they think the old cartoons are hilarious because they're SO OLD as much as because of the characters!
So when we were offered the chance to review a TMNT (as those in the know call them) Z line ninjas deluxe zipline playset (oosh, what a mouthful) I jumped at it.
The set arrived with two turtles (phew, one each for the kids, no fighting!) and I immediately set about reading the instructions while the kids had an epic turtle battle on the stairs.
I picked the space below the stairs to set ours up because it meant they could zip from wall to wall - and then got totally confused by the instructions, before realising they're actually much simpler than they made it sound.
Actually setting the toy up is fairly easy - but the instructions are a bit baffling. Top tip - make sure the main water tower piece is at chest height for your kids, not head height, as the dragon piece has to be higher and I ended up having to get their little stool from the bathroom to play with the set. Not a huge problem, as it can be removed and replaced, but you'd need to buy replacement wall mounting stickers to do that (they're those magic ones that stick like cement but can be pulled down and removed without damaging the wall; I have to admit I've never managed not to damage the wall but we've only had them once before and the kids ripped the toy off the wall, along with paint and patches of plaster, so be strict and use them properly!)
Anyway - it took about twenty minutes to totally set up, and has been up for a few days now, and they've not pulled it off the wall, or broken anything, despite playing almost constantly with the set.
The strings pull off really easily, so your kids can't accidentally hang themselves on the toy - which is a good safety feature, but once my boys figured out they came off they just kept pulling them off and tying their turtles to the stairs, or the door handles, or each other, which has meant I'm doing lots of untangling, and it's frustrating because it's not how the toy is meant to be used, but at the same time great because the turtle figurines have really been involved in some serious imaginative play, with story lines, and other characters, and adventures - and it's been fantastic watching the kids come up with all the details and create a new world to play in, using the set as inspiration.
This morning the turtles had to rescue some hot wheels cars from the water tower - they brought in the hot wheels track (the one that was the set they damaged our walls with, actually!) and used the strings as a pulley system to get the track to the tower so the cars could escape before the bad guy (Ben Ten) caught them to take them to the crusher man (a giant stuffed elephant) it's been exciting to watch.
I was worried that the set might be damaged, because it has some pretty dainty looking parts, but it's actually really well made and sturdier than it looked - and it hasn't pulled off the wall, which was another concern. It's survived a lot of hard play in the last few days.
On the dragon base there's a pull string that opens and closes the grabbing arms that hold the turtle in place - the string on that did break at one point because Midget Gem tried to swing off it - but the base stayed on the wall and that was preferable. We had words about not swinging your entire body weight on something held to the walls WITH A STICKER and tied it back on and it's been used more appropriately since.
The turtle figurines all come with their own individual range of weapons, and there's two zip wire methods included in the kit so both can play at once. One has a harness that fastens around a turtle, the other has handles for a turtle to hang on - these have been a huge hit, and Spiderman has had a go, and the harness has held all manner of cars, Lego machines, other characters and even a banana.
The set retails at an RRP of £34.99 and is currently available on Amazon for £26.53 which is a great saving and well worth picking up if you have any TMNT fans at home. You can get the brilliant, very pose-able figurines we were sent for £5.99 each.
(These images link to the Amazon pages where you can buy the toys)
Overall this toy has been a huge hit - probably one of the most popular the kids have ever been sent. I take the strings off at night so the kids can't get up to unsupervised mischief if they wake and go straight downstairs to play, so they can't hurt themselves, and they clip right back into place when we're ready to play again. This has also not limited the play with the set, because the kids use the water tower itself as a play set even if the strings aren't attached.
I don't think it's suited to younger kids - my boys are three and five and if Midget Gem didn't have Jellybean to help him set the zip wires up I'm not sure he'd get much out of it - but for five year olds and up this is a brilliant, brilliant set that we've all had a lot of fun with.