This is the toy:
This is the toy’s description:
Imagine… a showdown between Batman and The Joker! There are plenty of traps and surprises around every corner of The Joker’s Fun House—Batman better watch out! The giant hammer slams down, the cannon fires, and there’s even a secret jail behind the moving hand! Will Batman end up The Joker’s captive, or will he be able to have it the other way around? Includes The Joker figure and getaway car; Batman figure not included.
Seems simple enough? Agreed. We’ll keep going. This is the toy’s suggested age range:
Age Scale: 3-8 years.
Whoa! Back up a second. THIS is where we need to spend a moment or two. Because if you’re like me, you’ve often wondered how toy manufacturers can attribute a suggested age range that spans five (5) years. I mean, really? Are you honestly telling me that a 3-year-old will love this playset just as much as an 8-year-old? And, that they’d both find amusement and enjoyment… even though they’re eons apart – maturity and skill-wise?
Fisher-Price’s Answer: YES.
So, I decided to test that theory. Of course, I don’t actually have an 8-year-old on hand, but I do have a very meticulous, calculating and curious 5-year-old, who has been playing with toys out of his age range since he was born. In fact, we only had a handful of toys to pass down to Reid, because Ryder has been taking toys apart to understand their underlying mechanisms since he was born.
First, I gave Reid some alone time with the Fun House. Not having been previously exposed to Batman (I think he’s a little young for the violence and mature themes), he immediately identified The Joker as a “Boogeyman” whose “Mouth is dirty. Clean his mouth.”
Then, he proceeded to bang away at the playset; laughing like a maniac when the giant hammer slammed down, speeding the getaway car back and forth, and having a conversation with the toy when its voicebox was activated and The Joker cackled with delight. (It was a struggle to put the toy away after play time as Reid insisted on bringing it to bed with him – a good sign that it was thoroughly enjoyed. Did you spot the “Peek-a-Boo” moment above?)
Later in the morning, Ryder was given a chance to experience the Fun House. He took much more care in discovering the ins and outs of the toy; he immediately discovered the hidden jail, took the time to understand the hammer mechanism, and built “stories” into his play time, allowing his imagination to soar. Although the pictures below may look similar in terms of how he was introduced to the playset, it was an eerily incredible difference from the way his 3-year-old brother interpreted the toy.
Hence, I get it, Fisher-Price, I really do. Two boys, one toy – and yet, each managed to discover unique and fresh ways to enjoy the playset. The suggested age scales (while seemingly, quite variable) really do allow for a broad range of learning, discovering and playing.
Do you have children of different ages that interpret the same toy in different ways? What is the toy? How old are your children?
I am part of the Fisher-Price Play Ambassador program and I receive perks as part of my affiliation.
The opinions on this blog are my own.