Sunday 15 May 2011

Have you been to a Build A Bear Workshop?

Build A Bear Workshops, what can I tell you?  We have been twice now and the kids just adore it there.  Before Christmas JJ kept going on about wanting a Build A Bear and we had no idea what he was on about.  Being the right little teddy monster that he is, he just needed one more to add to his collection.  So off he went and logged onto Build A Bearville (the virtual world) and showed daddy and I what it was all about. Cue a nice Christmas present of some money from Nanny and Granddad and off we go to the Westfield Centre in London and try out the experience for ourselves. Roll forward an hour, we walk out of the shop with 3 little cardboard house and 3 very happy children with their new mates!

It was knowing how much our kids already love these bears that made me say an instant YES when asked if we would like to write a review to share with you all about the Build A Bear experience.

So what is it? 
Well the Build  A Bear Workshops are shops in many shopping malls around the country. There are always loads of assistants in the shop to help you ensure that your child's experience is just perfect.  When we visited after Christmas my hubbie and I led the kds around and this time we visited the shop in High Wycombe, Bucks and we had a lovely Build A Bear worker to guide us round.

First you choose a teddy outer, there are literally dozens of different ones.  Not just teddies, but all sorts of animals and branded goods like Hello Kitty. Once you have your teddy you can choose to put a noise inside, a basic heartbeat, an animal noise, a celebratory noise like happy birthday or record something personal and special.  Once the teddy is complete you would then hear the noise by squeezing its tummy.

The next important step is to choose a little fabric heart to go inside the teddy and to bring your ted to life.  Our experience at High Wycombe was really magical at this point (I know that sounds corny but you know how it is, if the kids are happy then you are too).  The children were instructed to do all sorts with their hearts, like rub it on their cheeks to make their bears cheeky, rub it on their ears so their bears can hear bedtime stories..... you get the picture.

At this point the bear is stuffed using a foot operated machine which the kids control but don't worry there is always actually a professional operating this machine and you are not left to your own devices.  The teddies all have a clever closing mechanism on the back so they can be stitched up but without a needle! I had worried that this part might takes ages but when we visited Westfield on 28th December and it was really busy we only waited 5 mins for the stuffing as the staff are very efficient.

Once your ted is stuffed you can fluff them up on the brushing table.  Miss E thought this was fab.  Miss M was much more interested in choosing an outfit for Miss Wolf, who actually turned out to be the worlds least scary wolf in her pink tutu!

The final step is to register your teddy online and gain a birth certificate for them.  On this is the special code which JJ was after, allowing him to access new functionality on the virtual world (think Club Penguin). The teddies are sent home in a cupboard home which the children can carry.  These are still being played with now, over a week later!

Miss M with Miss Wolf, JJ with Army Bear and Miss E with Cutie the bunny!

So whats the cost?
It is one of those things where it can be as expensive as you allow.  A basic bear starts from £9.  The ones my kids chose were £15 and £18.  A noise is from £2 - £4.  The outfits start at £4 and can go up and up, depending how many little accessories you want - golf clubs, sunglasses, a cosy seat, tent? etc etc  In all my kids teddies all came to about £25 a piece on this visit.  Thus they are not the cheapest of teddies but they are certainly worth it in this house as they really enjoy them.

What did we think?
It is excellent, we had a great time on both occasions.  I would say that age 4 upwards is perfect for a visit as the child then really understands and appreciates the toy.

Quality of items                5/5
Value for money              4/5  Just because there are cheaper toys out there
Choice and variety           5/5
Lay out of stores              5/5
Shop Assistants/ Service  5/5

JJ could not resist filming you a short vlog too, here is what he thought....  from the mouth of a 7 year old!

This is a review post: We were lucky enough to be provided with 3 bears to the value of £25 each for the purposes of this review. I was not told what to write and I remain honest.