This is our third challenge as Tonka Tough ambassadors – our first being the Tonka Steel range, our second the Tonka Climb-Overs and now we’ve been playing with the Tonka Strong Arm Cement Mixer, which retails at £29.99.
The boys adore anything oversized to play with and were very keen to get the mixer out and start making their own concrete in the rough patch of our back garden. The mixer is big, solid and perfect for outdoor play.
We headed to the garden whilst I read the instructions – and discovered that there was no wet material to be placed into the barrel. As it’s wet weather time at the moment, playing outdoors with cars and trucks generally involves a lot of mud, which is something our boys love – and so they weren’t very impressed when I told them that they actually could not mix their own cement concoction in there, or get anything wet in there at all. So we came back indoors, in search of something they could mix.
I hate to sound like a downer with this, but other than popcorn kernels, rice and buttons which I didn’t particularly want mixed and shook all over the living room floor, their little toys got jammed in the barrel and I spent most of my time shaking it and trying to fit chopsticks down it to lever little bits free. Sadly they got bored of it and as there was no driver’s cab for little people or even Lego men to fit in, and as they couldn’t really mix anything, our poor Tonka Strong Arm Cement Mixer wasn’t very engaged with and they went back to their Tonka Steel toys.
If you live in a climate where you can play merrily in a dry sandpit outdoors, it’s a perfect toy – Gathering sand, transferring it to your imaginary building site and tipping it out would be super fun – but mixing sand and water or mud and water is even more fun, and that’s what they were expecting from a toy that is built to last and described as a cement mixer.
The size of the truck – it’s a good size for playing with and looks robust.
That this is another toy which does not need batteries to work!
The colours aren’t the usual red and blue or yellow for trucks – this one is orange, blue and white with a red handle which looks very smart.
That the arm made the barrel spin instead of just making a noise – little hands don’t spin the barrel very well, and they thought that the toy was broken because all it did was make a noise and not spin. Or if the level worked to tip the mixer, that would be brilliant too. A little button is all that’s needed for the noise – the “Strong Arm” part is a bit confusing when all it does is make a noise – we’re not sure what’s strong about it.
The barrel didn’t pop off quite so easily – if it gets knocked during play, it skitters across the floor and one of them has to chase it over the wooden floor.
That the barrel was hollow instead of spiral – little toys get poked and stuck easily, which puts the toy out of use until I’ve had time to wiggle and shake it out. To get anything out, it needs to be shook quite vigorously, which is nothing like a cement mixer.
The noise was a little less abrasive – it’s pretty loud, but that’s fine when it’s outdoors.
It was possible to split the barrel open in the event that wet substrate gets into it, swill it out and clip it back together like a cake tin or something. My boys are very fond of mixing mud and sand and water together when they’re playing outside in the tough spot. As this is a cement mixer it’s confusing to them that they can’t do just that with it.
There was a greater play value to this toy – because we can’t use anything that’s moist in case it gets stuck in there, it’s relegated to indoor play and there’s no driver’s cab to put little people in either for small world play. The small toys get stuck, so it’s not much fun to play with.
So, sadly we weren’t that fond of the Tonka Strong Arm Cement Mixer – our favourite so far remains the Tonka Steel range, which have seen nearly every element challenge them so far; they’re waiting to see how our trucks fare in the snow and ice!