When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. My goal was to be the first female commander of the space shuttle. I even went to Space Camp in seventh grade. Turns out, though, I'm scared of flying, which kind of put a damper on my astronaut dreams. But that love for space and exploring the unknown never left, and I still enjoy watching every shuttle lift-off and landing.
It seems my love of space has been passed on to Cordy. Some of her favorite toys are space-themed, including rockets and aliens. So when the Parent Bloggers Network asked for volunteers to try out the Discovery Store Ready Set Learn! Paz's Lift Off Rocket, I practically begged. OK, I did beg.
When this rocket arrived, it stayed in the box for all of 1.6 seconds. Cordy took one look and demanded we release it from the packaging right away. She played with it for the remainder of the afternoon, lining up the astronauts, exploring the crew quarters inside the rocket, and driving the moon buggy around the living room.
The rocket has a button on the side which produces lights and sound. When it's pointed in a lift-off position, pushing the button results in a voice counting down to lift-off, along with the boosters lighting up red. When the rocket is sideways and the button is pushed, only sounds of the engines are heard, as if it is flying through space. A handle on the side makes it easy for small hands to fly their rocket up, down, and all around.
There are three compartments inside the rocket. A cockpit holds two of the astronauts, and the crew quarters has a pull-down bed for them to sleep on. Below that, the cargo hold stores the moon buggy and the door becomes a ramp to drive the buggy down. Four astronauts are included - all are characters from the Discovery Kids Ready Set Learn! series, including Paz, Dog, Pig, and Rabbit.
Cordy is familiar with Paz, and she knew all of them by name right away. I was happy to see her so interested in the rocket, but expected that her interest would wane, like it does with so many toys. But she still loves this rocket. The first night, she insisted the rocket come to bed with her. And while she doesn't want it every night now, it's still not uncommon to see it in her bed, like last night:
The size of the rocket makes it useful for other toys to "take a ride" on the rocket, too. Her Little People sometimes hitch a ride in the cargo hold, and her Mickey Mouse figure has been known to pilot the rocket on a few missions, while Donald Duck takes a nap on the bed and Minny Mouse mixes up Cosmopolitans in the kitchen. (OK, I was the one playing Minny.)
This is a well-made toy, holding up to some pretty rough play and a few tosses down the stairs. Best of all, the rocket has helped Cordy practice imaginative play. One aspect of her autism is that she has a lot of trouble with imaginative play - she'd rather line things up or stack blocks than put together play scenarios with her toys. But when she plays with rocket, she'll put an astronaut on the bed and saying, "Astronaut Pig is taking a nap!" or drive them around in their moon buggy.
It's awesome to see her making such progress, partially thanks to this toy. Give her a doll house, and she wouldn't know what to do with it - apparently all she needed was a toy that was geared to her interests, and this rocket fits perfectly. When she does engage in imaginative play, the rocket is involved 75% of the time.
Obviously, I highly recommend Paz's Lift-Off Rocket. The price is appropriate for the quality of this toy, and the design encourages repeat play. It is recommended for ages three and up, but I think two year olds would appreciate it, too - the pieces are all big enough to not be dangerous to a toddler.
For us, I have a feeling this rocket will have a place of honor in Cordy's toybox (and her bed) for a long time.