Monday, May 27, 2013

Take a Trip to the Rainforest

Fisher-Price Rainforest Melodies & Lights Deluxe Gym
I had a request recently to review this playmat, so I decided I better get on it.  For those who want the quick of it, it's awesome, go buy it!  For those who want the details before making a decision, well here goes...

As many of you know, there are literally hundreds of playmats out there to choose from.  Deciding on one can take a bit of time, and damn it if they all don't look like fun!  I went through pages of mats before deciding on this one, and it was really the theme that drew me in.  I love the jungle theme, as I spent a couple of years as an undergrad working with the great apes at our local zoo.  The fact that this sucker had a monkey on it...sold!

I love primates!!!
You can't really tell from the above pic, but the monkey has a curly tail that you can wrap around the bars of the playmat.  I have him sitting on top of the mat for the pic.  Isn't he the happiest monkey ever?  Piper also likes to play with this monkey while in her swing or high chair, so it's a very nice removable/portable toy.

Besides the monkey addiction I have, I'm an animal lover at heart.  The rainforest theme has many different animals to enjoy and the colors are bright and vibrant.  It's a very happy mat, as they all should be, and the variety of things to look at and engage with should keep any little explorer busy discovering new things with each developmental stage.  Here is a close-up look at the various items and other features that make this mat so enjoyable.

Giraffe and Elephant
I'll note here that the giraffe is part of one of the playmat's arch supports and is also where the battery pack is hidden.  By the way, this mat takes 2 C batteries, not included.  The elephant has a little ball-filled rotating noise-making spinning thing that Piper is very enamored with right now.  It also has shiny purple silk ears to engage the little one in textile exploration.  Piper's exploration of these is yet to develop, as she is just now beginning to get some control over her arms, but I'm sure she will love to yum on these.  Yum is a term we use in this household of rubbing one's fingertips along a item in a self-soothing manner.  Just a little tidbit in case I use the term again.  The elephant, as you can probably tell from the pic, is not dedicated to the giraffe.  It hangs on a carabiner type plastic hook which can be adjusted to at least 7 hanging and 3 floor positions.

Notice purple fabric hook at bottom of pic
When I say the elephant can be adjusted to 10 different locations, I mean via fabric hooks.  There are seven of these along the supporting arches; two on each arch quarter except the giraffe one, which only has the one shown in the elephant pic.  There are also three alongside the floor edges.  These are very handy in that you can mix up the locations of toys for variety to keep your little one intrigued.  You can also add additional toys if you like.  The product warning states to only use the toys that come with the mat, but I've already added some others that Piper enjoys.  The warning I'm sure is strictly to cover Fisher-Price's ass if by chance something goes awry with an added toy not sold with the mat...understandable but totally ignorable!

Parrot numero uno

Parrot, numero dos
There are two different parrot toys that come with this mat.  Technically one is a parrot and one is a Toucan, but let's not split hairs here.  The first one, numero uno, has a fun little spinning thing at it's base.  Piper has a fun time catching this one with her toes.  The second is a fabric parrot (Toucan).  I have temporarily moved this one and hooked it to the tray on her swing.  It's a good one to yum on, and it was just the right size to sit where she could reach it on her swing tray.  You just have to love toys that can be used in multiple play areas.  She really likes the nose of the Toucan as it is colorful and silky.  

Nothing is complete without a mirror!
All babies are totally vain, so of course a mirror is an absolute necessity for any playmat!  This one has a frog up top and is once again adjustable to various play stations.  Remember my obsession with primates?  Notice my camera case reflected in the mirror has a monkey on it!  It also has a dangly banana not visible in the pic.  I should mention that this mirror is very clear and there is no distortion or warping going on.  So many "toy" mirrors on baby items are more like fun-house mirrors because they are so warped.  I don't want Piper growing up thinking her head is all misshapen, so I was very pleased with the quality of this particular mirror.  I've caught her checking herself out quite a few times even though she is not quite to that self recognition stage yet.

The view from below!
This pic is of the butterflies that are on a twirly plastic thing in the middle of the mat arches at their crossing point.  Right above them is the light show box which has four colored lights, much like the old Simon game.  Although these butterflies are hanging on an arched plastic thing that can spin in a circle, it is not motorized.  This mat would be that much better if they did spin on their own, but alas nothing is perfect!  The light box above them blinks in various patterns to keep the variety interesting.  Piper seems to like staring directly up at all that is going on, so obviously someone did a good job on this design concept.  You may have also noticed the four leaves in this pic, they are strictly aesthetic to give that rainforest look, but they don't do anything.  I guess they could block out overhead light to make the light show that much more vibrant, so there's that.
The textile sun is cool...oxymoron?
Here is a pic of a piece of the floor mat.  The whole mat is very colorful with lots of interesting things to look at, but some objects also have a textile function.  The sun here has floating ribbons for rays, once again giving your little one something to manipulate with their hands.

Hello zebra and hidden bug under your crinkly leaf!
The pic above is another portion of the mat located in the corner opposite the giraffe.  The textile objects here include the tail of the zebra and the leaf.  The leaf, I'm raising it in the pic, is crinkly to the touch adding a bit of noise to the textile experience, and underneath is a hidden bug...brilliant!  I cannot wait until Piper discovers that bug, I imagine the surprised grin will be one for the ages!

Well, that about covers all the major aspects of this playmat.  Piper is discovering new things on it every play session, but right now her favorite thing is the elephant.  Here is a video of her contemplating it's existence.

She just loves that damn elephant!

That video reminded me that I need to talk about the awesome music this playmat plays!  For those of you can't see the video, sorry iPhone and iPad users, the music is done calypso style, which just plain rocks!  Giving the music an island flare not only fits with the rainforest theme, it also makes it enjoyable to listen to as an adult.  There is nothing worse than a child's toy playing repetitive music that sounds like crap and makes you want to jab ice picks into your ears.  This mat's music is not like that.  I actually find myself dancing around and singing to it, so there you go.  I'm not sure what all tunes are on it, but there are four different songs.  Frere a Jacques and Skip to My Lou are two of them, I'm not sure of the other two.  There is also a jungle night-sounds setting which is very soothing.  You can set the mat to play either the music or the night sounds, but the night sounds come on every other song for a few seconds on the music setting.  There are two different music settings, too.  One is continuous play which can last up to 20 minutes.  The other is intermittent which stops every few seconds and requires movement to reactivate.  There are also two different volume levels, which is a very nice bonus.

For those of you unable to see the video, here are a couple of pics of Piper enjoying that elephant.  If you cannot watch my videos via the blog due to your operating system, please feel free to jump over to my Youtube page and watch them there.

She really likes talking to it!

And it makes her smile!
Well, that about covers everything regarding this playmat.  I really do like it a lot and so does Piper.  It's a bit on the pricey side at $70 at Babies-R-Us, but it's totally worth it.  I actually received two of these at my baby shower, so I took one to the office for her to enjoy there.  I guess I could have exchanged one for something else, but I'm glad I didn't.  This way she'll have a little piece of home away from home, and she might not have liked another one as much, who knows!

I hope this review was helpful.  If you have any specific questions please comment below and I'll be glad to answer them.  In the meantime, please drop me a vote at Top Baby Blogs by clicking the button below.  Also feel free to join me on my other social media pages, which are linkable on the homepage under the Join Me tab or by clicking on the buttons below.  Hope you all have had a wonderful Memorial Day!

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