I had no doubt that the Pop On Pals Amusement Park Deluxe Playset would be a hit. After all, it’s colorful, musical and has moving parts. In fact, I tucked it away to bring with us to our vacation house, hoping that it would keep the kids entertained for a few days in the event of bad weather. And it turned out I was right. LadyBug, in particular, enjoyed sending her Pop On Pal down the roller coaster and turning the ferris wheel. Of course, she most enjoyed trying to drop the Pop On Pal into the middle of the roller coaster supports and swinging the ferris wheel wildly, but who’s keeping track? Each Pop On Pal comes with removable rings that allow you to customize the person. In this case, there was a set of arms with a hammer (for playing the strong man game) and another set of arms holding nothing. Kids can change their character by changing the rings and, if you happen to own a few sets of Pop On Pals, end up with varied options for play. Some of the Pals seem like they have hats that can be placed on other characters as well.
What I like about Pop On Pals overall is that they are a great option for free and creative play. The people aren’t tied to any commercial characters and the interchangeable rings allow them to create the type of scene they’d like. All of the toys in the line seem to be bright and colorful and open to exploration and imagination. There is a lot of potential here. But there is one drawback to the entire line that I simply can’t overlook. Extra Pop On Pals (this set comes with just one) are available in 2-in-1 sets. Each set has a Pal, plus rings/hats to create two separate identities. Cute, right? Except that the boy Pals can be a Handy Man/Fireman (ahem, Firefighter), Baseball Player/Policeman (once again, Police Officer) or Farmer/Doctor. The girls can be a Pet Doctor/Gardener, Ballerina/Musician or Princess/Chef. Really? Why not pair up the Ballerina with the Baseball Player or Firefighter? The Princess with the Police Officer? Sure, you can mix and match them, but you have to buy enough sets to do that. I don’t want to buy an extra set just so my daughter (and son) can have less gender bias in their lives.
And I have just one real complaint about the Amusement Park Deluxe Playset. Despite the claim on the box that it promotes “social play,” it only comes with one Pop On Pal. I expect a starter set to come with one character, but when I buy a $34.99 “deluxe” set, I expect two. I mean, who wants to go to a carnival alone anyway?
Despite my complaints, this playset was an engaging activity for both of my kids, but certainly more so for my 3-year-old. It’s the type of toy that I can see being used regularly over time, although probably not in ways the manufacturer envisioned. It comes with a roller coaster car which can double as a regular car, making it all that much more open to interpretation from my kids. I hope Spin Master (the manufacturer) will rethink the 2-in-1 sets in the future. In the meantime, our one Pop On Pal will have to play by himself.
- Several areas of play
- Plenty of moving parts
- No commercial tie-in
- Pop On Pals are a nice size for little hands
- Only comes with one Pop On Pal
- Music can be a bit annoying
Disclosure: I received the Pop On Pals Amusement Park Deluxe Playset as part of my relationship with with Team Mom and ChildsPlayPR. There was no promise of a positive review and the opinions in this post are my own.