Fast, Fun and Very Cute - The Best Ride-On Toy for Preschoolers?
As parent to an energetic two-year-old, our house is bursting to the brim with toys. A few are loved; most are rotting in a toy box, taken out only for the occasional play.
Out of all my two-year-old's toys, my favourite is definitely his Ladybird Wheely Bug. I think it is his favourite also - every day it comes out so that he can bombard back and forth through the house. It is, quite possibly, the best preschool toy I have ever bought for either of my children. And I would just like to add that it is pretty robust - even though it is a preschool toy, my nine-year-old and his friends have all had a go! What better excuse to be a little kid again?
My younger son, the boisterous toddler, likes all ride-on toys. Once a week, at playgroup, he spends a lot of time on plastic cars and plastic trikes. He is quite small for his age, so cannot reach the pedals on the trikes. The cars he can manage, yet they never seem to go as fast as his trusted Wheely Bug. Not even on the smooth floors of the church hall.
Another disadvantage of most other ride-on toys is the fact that, unlike the Wheely Bug, they are not on castors. Therefore, inferior ride-ons are more likely to get stuck when faced with an obstacle. Not so with the Wheely Bug. Aside from its cute, adorable image, the castors are its best feature. Wheely Bugs can move in any direction - forwards, backwards, sideways, round and round. They allow the Wheely Bug to spin at 360 degrees, making escape from a tight space easy.
Great for Wooden and Laminate Flooring
These days, many people have wooden and laminate flooring in their homes. It is on these types of surfaces that the Wheely Bug is in its element. It is also great on tiled floors. However, whilst it will still work on carpeted floors, the Wheely Bug will never reach its full potential. It is also an indoor toy - its wheel are simply not geared (nor are they meant to be) towards outdoor use.
The Wheely Bug screams quality. It is stylish and very well made. Unlike most other toys, the Wheely Bug looks good as it sits proudly in the corner of the room. In fact, it will quickly become part of the furniture. It is made from high quality components and has won multiple awards. The spongy seat is comfortable and made from pvc-free polyurethane leathroid. This means that it is very easy to wipe clean. The base is made from plantation grown poplar plywood and the handle is aluminium. The feelers are produced from stainless steel springs and are practically impossible to pull out. Younger children will enjoy watching them spring back and forth.
In fact, the Wheely Bug is so robust it is hard to imagine a child being able to break it at all. Our little one careers into doors and walls with no ill effect. He also has the rather unusual habit of 'bunny hopping' on his Ladybird. 'Bunny hopping' is a term used for small jumps on scooters or BMX bikes. This strange trick is copied from his big brother, who is the owner of a JD Bug Scooter. In other words, my son's Wheely Bug not only glides and spins, it jumps as well. Also, as previously mentioned, my nine-year-old and his friends are quite partial to a quick spin through the house - the trusted Wheely Bug can shoulder weights up to 50lbs, so does not care at all.
Even though the Wheely Bug may seem a little expensive for a ride-on toy, as the old saying goes, 'you get what you pay for'. Wheely Bugs have a long life span. When the plastic cars and trikes are cracked, worn and broken, the superior Wheely Bug will still be going strong. It will last and last for all your children and beyond.
As we were choosing our Wheely Bug, the main point we deliberated over was which size to buy. Wheely Bugs come in two sizes - small, which is designed for 1 - 2 1/2 year olds and large, for 2 1/2 - 5 year olds. At the time of purchase, our son was 21 months old and logic, plus almost all reviews, told me to go for the larger one so that it will last longer. Many of the reviews I read also advised purchasing the larger model if your child is over 18 months old. This is probably true if your child is tall or even of average height. The small size Wheely Bug is, indeed, small. One reviewer wrote that she couldn't imagine the small size being suitable for any child. However, our child, who will actually turn two next week, is still only 79 cm tall.
We solved our dilemma by taking him to a local department store which had Wheely Bugs on display. He loved the small one and absolutely hated the large one. The small one he could get on and off himself; the large one he couldn't. The small one he could whizz about on like nobody's business with his feet flat on the floor. On the large one he could touch the floor, but only on tiptoe. This meant that he could not push as hard and couldn't get going properly. I am sure that in a couple of months he will be just as efficient on the large one as he is right now on the small. However, this was his Christmas present and we wanted him to enjoy it right away. After all, there didn't seem a lot of point in seeing him open a wonderful gift and not even be able to use it.
The thing is, Wheely Bugs might not look all that big, but they have fat, round bodies. Your child has to be able to sit astride that round body and still touch the floor to push off. I do agree, however, that most other children of my son's age and even younger would be quite happy with the larger one - just take care when choosing if your child is on the small size.
I have also noted that the resale price for secondhand Wheely Bugs is quite high, so we may consider upgrading to the larger size at some point.
Points to Consider
Wheelybug states that its products are designed for children who are able to walk unassisted. Take note that the Wheely Bug does not have a back support so babies placed on Wheely Bugs could potentially fall backwards.
So Much Choice
We have the Wheely Bug Ladybird, with its fat, red body, black spots and springy feelers. There are several other models to choose from - the playful, mischievous tiger; the cute little mouse (pretty enough for a girl); the cheerful, buzzy bee and the cool cow. All are delightful and great fun. Whichever you choose, I am sure you will be as pleased with yours as we are with ours. Sometimes my little boy even kisses his Ladybird goodnight!
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daisyjae from Canada on March 18, 2010:
This is a great toy. It is one of the favorites at the playgroup i sometimes take the kids to.