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Risk board game box.

Price: £20.

  • Gameboard.
  • Deck of 44 Risk cards. (Newer versions have Secret Mission cards as well.)
  • Six differently coloured sets of playing pieces. (Newer versions have pieces shaped in the form of infantry, cavalry and artillery to represent different sizes of army.)
  • 5 dice.
Gameplay: Players have an initial supply of armies and take it in turns to place an army on the board, claiming one of the forty-two territories. Once all the board is taken, the players continue placing armies on their own territories to strengthen their position until their stock is gone.

After this set up is complete, the first player receives reinforcements and can attack neighbouring territories from any of their own territories containing two or more armies. The attacking player gets one less dice than the number of attacking armies (maximum of three); the defending player gets one dice for every defending army (maximum of two). The highest dice roll of each player is compared. If the attacker has a higher number, then the defender loses an army; otherwise the attacker loses an army. If applicable, the second highest dice roll of each player is compared in the same way.

A player can attack as many times as they like from as many territories as they like in their turn. At the end of their go, they can move one group of armies one space. They also receive a card if they managed to capture a territory.

Reinforcements are gained at a rate of one for every three territories held (minimum of three). Controlling all territories on a continent at the start of their go, gives players bonus reinforcements. Trading in sets of three cards also means extra armies.

Risk board game contents.
I must have had this set twenty-five years...

  • Basic game: Capture every territory on the board.
  • Variant: Each player chooses a territory as their headquarters. The winner is the first person to capture all the headquarters.
  • Some versions also have Secret Missions. Each player is dealt four hidden objectives to complete in order to win, such as capture a certain number of territories or particular continents.
Game length: Anywhere between an hour and forever. Generally, the more players there are, the longer it takes.

Number of players: 2-6.

Age: Officially 10+ but an eight-year-old can pick it up. A six-year-old will need plenty of advice on what to do every turn. A three-year-old will gleefully roll dice and scream, 'Don't attack my pink ones!' Bear in mind, however, that the game involves a large number of little plastic pieces which can be easily swallowed or sent flying - you'll want to keep hungry, boisterous pets and toddlers well out of the way.

Risk board game board.

Comments: When Sprog1 came back from a friend's house and told me excitedly about how the friend's brother had been playing a cool game requiring rolling different coloured dice and moving armies around the world, I had conflicting reactions. On the one hand, I rejoiced. 'Hooray! He's taking an interest in strategy games!' On the other, I sighed. 'Oh. I've got to play Risk.'

Don't get me wrong, Risk is a good game. With a few friends, a couple of drinks and plenty of time to kill it can turn into a complex game of planning and betrayal. It's definitely not perfect, though. It's slow, long, isn't as much fun with two players and always ends with one player wiping the floor with the others. These features aren't too handy when introducing a child to strategy games.

At least the rules are relatively simple and there's a strong element of luck. Balancing the possibility of success and failure is part of the game but even the best plans can be thwarted by disastrous dice rolls. This gives inexperienced players a chance.

The main problem is that, as with Monopoly, it's generally pretty clear who's going to win half an hour before they actually manage it. If there are more than two players, some of them can be knocked out well before the end. Coupled with a lengthy set up phase, the game can really drag.

Conclusion: This is a good entry to strategy board games... but maybe not for children.

  • Simple rules.
  • Surprising depth.
  • Easily understood concept. (Conquer the world!)
  • Plenty of opportunity for alliances and betrayal.
  • Games can drag on a little too long.
  • Works best with lots of players.
  • You need to allow at least a couple of hours.
  • The score always ends 42-0 which is never much fun for those who get zero. This can lead to tears.
  • One swipe from a passing two-year-old and it's Game Over.
Rating: 3/5.

Beowulf (DVD)

Starring: Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich, Brendan Gleeson, Robin Wright Penn and... Angelina Jolie wearing nothing but a thick coat of gold paint and a tail.

Rated: 12.

Story: Long ago in Scandinavia, a hero takes on all-comers in the pursuit of honour, glory and inappropriate women. He becomes seduced by his own publicity. Disaster ensues. He takes his frustration out on a passing dragon.

Comments: Just when I'd given up hope of ever getting to watch a proper superhero, one pops out of the Dark Ages to yell loudly in my ear, swim faster than a speeding sea-serpent and leap tall monsters with a single bound... sometimes naked, simply for the hell of it.

Beowulf revels in his own heroics. He jumps around smiting things. On a good day, he uses his momentum from smacking one creature about to vault straight onto another. There's no dilemma over who he really is; no quandaries over a secret identity. "I am Beowulf!" he roars at every available opportunity.

He is flawed and ultimately miserable but he doesn't let this get in the way of whacking enormous monsters with sharp, pointy things... or ripping them apart with his bare hands.

They don't tell stories about heroes like this any more.

Not that they ever did, actually. Beowulf the computer-animated movie takes plenty of liberties with Beowulf the Old English epic poem. Most notably, it works on the premise that Beowulf's own uncorroborated account of his battle with Grendel's Mother is somewhat embroidered. (Translation: He's lying through his teeth.) This brings a tragic element to events and paints Beowulf far more darkly. Personally, I think the concept works well, producing a modern structure while preserving the fantastical nature of events. I suspect some people will be annoyed, though.

Sadly, a few bizarre design choices and technical difficulties stop the film from meeting its full potential.

The rendering of inanimate objects is spectacular but, as ever, the people appear less impressive. It's simply much harder to make pictures of people look real than it is to make a castle look convincing. This isn't helped by some wooden animation in places. Suspension of disbelief is easier, however, where the characters in the film closely resemble the real life actors doing the voices. Unfortunately, Beowulf looks nothing like Ray Winstone. I found the disparity between face and voice jarring for most of the film.

There are some occasional Old English words to add a touch of historical colour but often they make the dialogue hard to follow. The accent of the monster Grendel is such that his speech is difficult to make out at all. It's also off-putting that one of the characters has been made overtly Christian for no particular reason and yet his motivation varies unsympathetically between dubious and unfathomable.

The weirdest moment, though, is where Beowulf removes all his armour to make his fight fair with the unarmed Grendel. You would have thought a loincloth or something wouldn't have been too much of an advantage. But no... There follows an unintentionally hilarious sequence of discretely placed elbows and swords to protect Beowulf's modesty. I can only imagine what the giggle factor was like in the IMAX 3D version...

Still, the tale is well told and enthralling. The plentiful action sequences are superb. If you can forgive the rough edges and don't mind the alterations from the original, it's an epic adventure.

Beowulf makes short work of beating Spider-Man to a pulp before pulling its legs off.

Conclusion: At last! A proper superhero movie!

Explosions: None (unless you count fiery dragon breath).
Silly costumes involving wearing underpants on the outside: None.
Underpants in general: Not quite enough.
Tedious angst: Mercifully brief.
Monster smiting: Plenty.

Rating: 4/5.

Spider-Man 3 (DVD)

Starring: Tobey Maguire & Kirsten Dunst.

Rated: 12.

Story: Peter Parker tries to balance the adoration he receives as Spider-Man with various crises in his day-to-day existence. He's broke, his job's at risk, his best friend hates him and he's pushing his girlfriend away. In the middle of it all, he has to deal with a supervillain bitten by some radioactive sand, wrestle his own costume (which has been taken over by an alien) and survive a nasty outbreak of romantic comedy...

Comments: I saw a trailer for Superhero Movie the other day. Its attempt to parody the superhero genre seemed to mainly involve taking the original Spider-Man film and adding lots of extra falling over. On first sight, this seemed a little lame, considering the number of overblown superhero films we've had in recent years. Maybe, though, it's a dig at the fact that Spider-Man is the template from which the others have been created. Batman started the whole miserable, conflicted superhero thing but that has plenty of gadgets, action and Jack Nicholson. It's Spider-Man that made the angst as central as the action and then upped the spectacle with vast amounts of computer-generated mayhem to compensate for the tedium. This has infected everything from Hulk to The Fantastic Four. Even the new Superman and Batman have angst. Take the mick out of Spider-Man and you take the mick out of them all.

I want to sit the makers of superhero movies down and force them to watch a dozen episodes of Ben 10. It's a cartoon about Ben Tennyson, a ten-year-old boy who discovers a watch that can turn him into various superpowered aliens, allowing him to save the world. The episodes are full of explosions and adventure but, because Ben is ten, he doesn't have angst - when he's not fighting villains he uses his powers to play pranks on his cousin. He actually likes being a superhero. It's refreshing.

Interestingly, the live-action Ben 10: Race against Time movie features Ben returning home from his summer-long villain fighting vacation. He has to deal with fitting back into school, concealing his powers and not being popular. He even has to come up with an act for the school variety show. In short, he gets lumbered with a whole load of angst. In compensation for this tedium, there's some very impressive computer-generated mayhem.


It's all just too upsetting...

Predictably, Spider-Man 3 doesn't mess with the formula and continues where the other two left off. Yep, excellent computer-animated action sequences are padded out with a little romance, a touch of slapstick and a large amount of angst as Peter Parker tries to work out who he is as his 9 to 5 life goes down the tubes. (Again.)

The script is somehow both stuffed full of plot and quite plodding. This results in lots going on but poor character development. Half an hour of cringe-worthy comedy and heart-to-heart conversations could be lost without making the motivations of most of the characters seem any less plausible than they already are.

All in all, Spider-Man 3 will do. The cast manage OK with what they're given and the action (particularly with Sandman) is great but this is getting tired. If there's going to be another Spider-Man movie, it really needs to take itself less seriously, spread out the action and cut down on the soul-searching. I've said it before and I'll no doubt have to say it again:

Less angst, more smashing.

Thank you.

Conclusion: A bit more falling over and the franchise would be a parody of itself.

Explosions: Some.
Wise-cracking: Almost none.
Swinging from roof tops: Not enough.
Main characters being slapped about for stupidity: Definitely not enough.
Villains: A small puddle of tar, big pile of sand and a large dose of self-absorbed idiocy.

Rating: 3/5.

DadsDinner partnership with LOVEFiLM game and movie reviews are now brought to you in association with LOVEFiLM - the UK's largest online DVD rental service.

This will, of course, make no difference to the forthright, irreverent and occasionally incoherent nature of the reviews. LOVEFiLM has no say in (nor takes any responsibility for) the content of DadsDinner. All this means for you is different ads.

In celebration of the link up, I've updated my review of LOVEFiLM itself. Highlights include:
  • A new pay-as-you-go package. (Handy if you don't watch many movies.)
  • DS game rentals. (Hooray!)
  • Blu-ray rentals. (Hooray!)
  • The end of Sunday collections by the Royal Mail. (B00!)
  • An even bigger conflict of interest warning. (Yawn...)
I've also created a DadsDinner User Collection containing the films and games I've enjoyed most over the last year. Have fun!

Right, now that's sorted, I'm away to see if I can blag a PS3 off Sony.

(I may be gone some time...)

LOVEFiLM Review Updated 14/05/08 features reviews of films and videogames of particular interest to fathers of young children, alongside useful tips on how to survive everything from potty training to zombie invasion. A dad's freetime is precious, limited and liable to be cut short in an extremely messy fashion at any moment -- why waste it on a game that won't let you save when you need to or a movie with substandard explosions? Providing guidance and entertainment, proves that leaving a man in charge of children doesn't always mean a dog's breakfast.
What is LOVEFiLM? An online rental service for games and DVDs.

Price: Subscription plans include:

  • £7.99 - 2 DVDs at a time, up to 4 rentals a month
  • £12.99 - 2 DVDs at a time, unlimited rentals
  • £15.99 - 3 DVDs at a time, unlimited rentals
  • £14.99 - 2 DVDs/games at a time, unlimited rentals
  • £18.99 - 3 DVDs/games at a time, unlimited rentals
Subscriptions are paid monthly. If you sign up for six months in advance, however, there is a discount equivalent to one month free.

How does it work?

  1. You pay a monthly subscription based on the number of discs you can have on loan at a time.

  2. Via LOVEFiLM's website, you create a list of films/games you'd like to rent. You look through the online catalogue, click on the ones you want and give them a high, medium or low priority according to how desperate you are to receive them. You can choose any game from any console that they stock.

  3. LOVEFiLM sends the discs nearest to the top of your list that they have available.

  4. You watch/play them and then send them back in individual, pre-paid envelopes when you're done. You can keep discs as long as you like.

  5. When LOVEFiLM gets a disc back, they send another from your list.
A new pay-as-you-go service allows you to buy a block of rental credits that are valid for six months. Everything works as normal but each time a disc is sent out, it costs you a credit (around £2). You still get to keep discs as long as you like (provided you keep your credits topped up). It's a good way to rent movies if you're only going to be watching them every so often. There's no pressure to watch things as soon as they arrive in order to get your money's worth as there is with a subscription.

Items stocked: LOVEFiLM's DVD collection is vast and comprehensive. Their range of Blu-ray discs is growing rapidly as more are released. An HD DVD selection remains for the time being.

Along with films and TV series, LOVEFiLM also stocks PS2, PS3, PSP, DS, GameCube, Wii, Xbox and Xbox 360 games. Older games may not be available and certain games which require extra controllers, like Guitar Hero, can't be rented.

Comments: I've covered the basics of online games rental elsewhere. I even did a mini-review of LOVEFiLM. A couple of things have changed since then, however:

  1. LOVEFiLM's selection of games has vastly improved. Pretty much all new releases on current consoles are now available. Supply seems to be good, too. I've received popular titles like Crackdown, Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror and God of War II as soon as I've put them to the top of my list. Even Grand Theft Auto IV only took a couple of tries.

  2. Multiple lists are in operation. It's possible to have more than one rental list and specify which list your next rental is to be selected from. You could have lists for action films, comedy, TV series, etc, and closely manage what you get to watch. Personally, just being able to differentiate between games and films is all I need - it means I don't have to have a separate subscription with a games rental company any more.

    On my package, I can have three discs out on rental at once. I've got a list for games and a list for films. At the moment, I have two discs from the films list and one from the games list. If I send back a film, I get a film in return. If I send back a game, I get a game in return. A quick click on the website is all that's required, however, to make sure that the next time I return a film, I'll get a game back (or vice versa).
LOVEFiLM has always been a solid choice for DVD rental. Discs are sent out six days a week and turn-around time is speedy (although the end of Sunday collections by the Royal Mail is a real drag. If you watch a film on Saturday, you can't possibly get another one back before Wednesday now.) Customer service responds quickly to emails and deals with common problems effectively. (Geeky suggestions and queries may confuse them, though... (Don't ask.)) Prices are competitive, particularly if you sign up for six months at a time.

Combining this experience and competence with the new improvements means that LOVEFiLM is now also a serious consideration when looking for a games rental service. The choice of games is there and it's at last possible to guarantee the ratio of games to DVDs received, rather than just shoving games to the top of the queue and hoping.

Conclusion: Finally, a combined online DVD and game rental service which is both easy to use and at a reasonable price.


  • Very efficient.
  • Good customer service.
  • Decent price.
  • Excellent DVD selection.
  • Wide choice of games.
  • Combined game/DVD packages offer great flexibility.

  • No GBA games.
  • The usual online rental quibbles - you don't have exact control over what you're going to get and you're at the mercy of the Royal Mail.
Rating: 5/5.

(Also, check out my tips on how to get the most from online rental).

Conflict of interest warning!: Click through from the ad below and take up a free trial with LOVEFiLM and I'll earn some money, which doesn't make this an entirely disinterested review. On the flip side, however, LOVEFiLM is the rental service I use myself, the trial is free, so is this site, LOVEFiLM is actually good and I have overheads, you know. So don't complain too much. (You can always type the domain name into your browser just to spite me, if you really want.)

The Simpsons Movie (DVD)

Starring: The usual voice actors, the usual characters, the usual selection of decent jokes, the usual observations on life and... a pig walking on the ceiling.

Rated: PG.

Story: Stop me if this sounds familiar, but Homer acts thoughtlessly and does something stupid and selfish. He dooms the entire town and alienates his wife and children. As a result, he must discover himself, save the day and win back the hearts of his family. This involves slapstick, idiocy, social commentary and doughnuts.

Comments: It's a while since I watched The Simpsons on TV. I overdosed on re-runs when Sprog1 was small because it's the perfect distraction while feeding a baby. At the end of each show, everything goes back the way it was to begin with and so it's possible to watch the episodes in almost any order without missing much. (Bart's been ten for nearly twenty years now!) Channel-hopping onto an episode was always a safe bet for some mild amusement and beat enduring endless repeats of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Then I got a bit bored with it and the advent of TiVo meant I had a wider selection of stuff to watch. The Simpsons slipped off my radar until I saw the amusing trailers for the movie. These made me want to see the film but, when the disc arrived through the post, I found myself reluctant to actually devote time to viewing it. I couldn't help thinking it was just going to be an extra-long episode.

When I finally got round to putting the movie in the DVD player, I was pleasantly surprised. It's witty, clever and has several laugh-out-loud sections. I had a strong urge to go buy some DVD box-sets of the TV series.

I only had opportunity to watch the first half of the movie before bedtime, though. I returned the next night, prepared for comic genius, and found myself watching the second half of an extra-long episode of The Simpsons. It wasn't awful, simply a little tired and predictable.

Maybe this disappointment at the last half an hour or so was down to altered expectations. Then again, maybe watching Homer mess up is funnier than watching him put things right, particularly when dragged out to feature length. (It didn't help, either, that the best bit of the finale is in the trailer.)

Nonetheless, the film is solidly fun throughout.

Of course, I'm assuming in all this that you haven't been living under a rock for a couple of decades and have seen an episode or two of The Simpsons at some point in your life. The movie assumes the same. The basic set up of the show is very simple - a dysfunctional American family struggles through one crisis after another, taking pot-shots at everything from politics to popular culture as they go. The horde of secondary characters, though, is vast and almost all of them make an appearance of some kind in the movie. This succession of cameos means the film is less accessible to newcomers than most normal episodes. If you have recently crawled out, blinking, into the harsh sunlight, sign up for cable and watch some re-runs first. (Oh, and by the way, this is the internet.)

As for everyone else, The Simpsons Movie is a cunning effort to extract some cash from fans and remind the rest of us that Homer, Bart and co. are still going. It's nothing special but it works - I still have that urge to go buy some box-sets.

Conclusion: It's The Simpsons... only longer.

Explosions: A couple.
Hilarious situations: Some.
Number of characters: Huge.
Familiarity: High.
Mr Burns: Not enough.
Spider Pigs: One.

Rating: 3/5.

Frankie & Benny's children's meal

Price: £3.95 (service not included).

Age restriction: Available for children up to the age of 11.

  • Main course. Options available include: Margherita pizza, pasta, jacket potato or sausage and mash.
  • Small bowl of vegetables or side salad (without dressing or onion).
  • Dessert. (Ice-cream, fruit salad or banana & custard.)
  • Unlimited soft drinks (including milk!).
A Junior Meal is also available for £6.25 with similar contents but larger portions and a more grown up selection of main courses.

The full menus are available online, complete with pictures.

Comments: I've been to plenty of restaurants where the kid's menu has pretty much been a choice between burger, sausage or chicken nuggets, all with chips and beans, and the waiter has sighed deeply when I've tried requesting three glasses of milk. I've felt tolerated rather than welcomed.

I was thus very pleased when we wandered into Franky & Benny's at the weekend and got the impression that they're actively trying to attract families with young children. The kid's meals have plenty of healthy options and the food is presented in such a way that children will actually eat it. For instance, the fruit salad was simply some large bits of chopped up fruit without sauce or slime. The portions were also remarkably large - the pizzas were thin but the size of an adult plate.

Each of our kids was given a fun pack containing an activity book, a magnetic jigsaw and an eleven-in-one crayon where different colours can be cycled through by pulling out the current tip and shoving it in the other end to propel the next colour into place. The crayons alone kept them busy until the food arrived.

The service was good - I didn't even have to ask for straws. The design of the restaurant itself wasn't great, however. The walls were decorated drably with old photos. The kitchen was open to view, which was all very well, but extremely noisy.

As far as I was concerned, the adult food was tasty. I'm not much of a foodie, though. In my first term at university, everyone else in my hall of residence lost weight because they couldn't stomach the catering. I put on a stone. Still, everyone in our group at Frankie & Benny's enjoyed their meal, while the kids ate well and were kept entertained. This made me happy.

Conclusion: From now on, if I have the kids with me, my vote is going to be for Frankie & Benny's every time.

  • Exceptional value.
  • Excellent selection.
  • Relatively healthy.
  • Simple presentation.
  • Free refills.
  • It's like the whole concept was devised by someone with children or something freaky like that.
  • The high-chairs don't look fantastic.
  • Decor is dull.
  • Lots of background noise (but if your children have a tendency to scream embarrassingly, this might not be such a bad thing...)
Rating: 5/5.

In Bruges

Starring: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes & Fleur from Harry Potter.

Rated: 18.

Story: After a bungled job in London, two hitmen (Farrell & Gleeson) are sent to lie low for a while in Bruges. (It's in Belgium!) One of them hates the place, the other quite likes it. They sightsee, they go to the pub and they try not to get into trouble.

They get into trouble.

Their boss (Fiennes) turns up to sort things out. Violence ensues.

Comments: Yes, we went to the cinema and saw something that didn't involve cute, animated creatures or a boy wizard! We got to go straight in without having to apply for a second mortgage to buy some pick'n'mix or having to frog-march a posse of children to the toilet before the film started. It was fantastic! Then again, we did have to cough up full price for our tickets rather than the pound or two we normally pay for the kid's movie on a Saturday morning. The pick'n'mix might have been cheaper...

In Bruges is never going to be the Saturday morning kid's movie, however. It's full of swearing, gory death, drug use and talk of suicide. The characters are often racist, xenophobic and heightist. It's very funny in places but grim and distressing in others. I can't really see Pixar remaking it with rabbits.

I imagine the writer (Martin McDonagh) came up with the idea after a series of unfortunate events left him stranded in Bruges. Picture the scene: Doomed to several days of canal trips, Medieval churches and swans, he goes to the cinema and watches Mr & Mrs Smith to cheer himself up. This doesn't help. He has some beers. This does help... until he gets the bill and realises he's been ripped off. He decides to get even with Bruges and Hollywood in one fell swoop. He decides to write a film about hitmen that isn't all amoral action and excitement but explores the motivation and guilt... while poking fun at Belgium. Excellent.

The cast does a good job, managing to keep things going even in the few uncomfortable moments when the script shifts suddenly from witty banter to disturbing soul-searching. The whole film is bizarre and unlikely but if you've been to Bruges, you'll be too busy laughing and muttering, 'Hey! That's the bridge along from where we stayed!' to notice.

Since there are plenty of lovely shots of Bruges in the film but much of the humour comes from taking the rip out of the city, it's hard to know what the Belgian Tourist Board makes of it all. I think they may be gambling that if you haven't been to Bruges, you won't get the joke and will just think that it looks like a nice place to visit. They may be right.

Conclusion: Like a trip to Bruges with more laughs, added hitmen and less expense.

Explosions: None.
Political correctness: None.
Swing parks: One. (We went there; it's great.)
Swans: Loads. (We saw them; they didn't bite.)
Clock towers: One very tall one. (We didn't go up there; it was too much like effort.)
Cute, fluffy animated rabbits: None.

Rating: 4/5 if you've been to Bruges, else 3/5.

Sonic the Hedgehog soft toy

Sonic soft toy.

Price: £10

The box suggests that there are three other toys in the series. Tails is definitely widely available. Knuckles has been sighted. Dr Robotnik (or is it Eggman?) may or may not exist.

Comments: If a marketing firm were told to sit down and create a mascot for a videogame firm, it's highly unlikely they'd come up with Mario. Let's be honest, he's a fat plumber with a dodgy Italian accent and ill-advised facial hair. He's not really first choice as the face of a multi-billion dollar corporation. Nonetheless, he's probably the most bankable star in the world of interactive entertainment. Stick the name 'Mario' on the front of the box and any game will fly off the shelves. Thanks to his roots in the days of 8-bit technology, he looks weird and he has a bizarre life-story but he also has a portfolio of stunning work which goes back decades. There's hardly a duff game in his résumé. It doesn't matter that he's a reject from The Village People - Nintendo's quality control on his titles has ensured he's a videogame legend.

The marketing firm might well devise Sonic, though. They'd come up with Lara Croft first, for the obvious reasons, but Sonic would be next on the list. He's a spiky, blue hedgehog with attitude who runs really fast and wears trendy trainers. He's parent-friendly, he's cool and he understands where the kidz are at... or whatever. There must be something appealing about him anyway - he's barely starred in a good game in ten years and yet Sega still keep making them. Someone must be buying them.

About the only thing Sonic seems to be better than Mario at, is being a soft toy. This effort is more cuddly, higher quality and, quite frankly, vastly less hideous than the plush plumber that we got last year. As an added bonus, it's also vomit resistant and can withstand being machine-washed with anti-bacterial washing powder. (Hedgehogs that show attitude round here soon learn the error of their ways...)

The only downside is that it would have been nice if Sprog2 could have been obsessed with Mario:

A collection of Mario-related soft toys.

or Pokémon:

Pokemon piled high and wide.

like his older brother. Then we wouldn't be drowning in quite so many cuddly toys and I'd have to help out with fewer rubbish games. (Sigh.)

We've got the tails toy too:

Tails the Fox soft toy.

It's OK but does anyone care about Tails?

I thought not.

Still, if you have a Sega fan of your own, you can't go far wrong with one of the Sonic toys (even if he is an irritating human-hedgehog Frankenstein monster of a marketing creation).

Conclusion: If only Sonic's games were this good...

Height: 12 inches.
Fabric: Plush and shiny.
Stuffing: Quick-drying.
Likeness to the actual character: Passable.
Best feature: You get to kick Sonic down the stairs when the kids aren't looking.
What I have to do now: Put all these toys back exactly where I found them, or I'm a dead man.

Rating: 4/5.

Sonic soft toy.
Available from GAME.