I had ten children in my house again yesterday - on purpose, mind you. We had received a giant box filled with Toy Story 3 Action Links Stunt Sets, and we were having a party! And today? The wee ones are still playing with the pieces we didn't give away to attendees.
I had a feeling the Toy Story 3 party was going to be a success. The wee ones love Toy Story. The two Toy Story rides at Disney are their favorites. We go on them over and over again. And when they got to choose a nightly movie when we were in Florida in August? Every. Single. Night. They chose Toy Story.
I'll be honest that I haven't seen Toy Story 3 yet, but of course my parents bought the movie the day it came out, so they've seen it ... a few times. I actually know a fair amount about the movie from all that I've heard, and the Action Links Stunt sets are based on scenes from the movie, which is pretty cool.
As I started putting the toys together before the party, the wee ones brought the boxes to me "in order" - because they knew exactly what happened first, second, third, etc. Needless to say, I put together the very massive junkyard set first. The instructions have no words, just pictures and arrows pointing. I personally could have used some words. That or some more sleep. My biggest pet peeve with the stunt sets was the boxes. They are pyramidal, which means there's no way to open them and get the insides out without destroying the box. I hate having to work hard to open toys.
(Note, this is not a funky angled shot - the box is shaped this way)
It took me awhile to get the hang of putting the sets together, but I did get all five that we were sent together within about forty-five minutes. They were put in order of the movie, but the cool thing about the Action Links Stunt sets is that you can set them up in any order and with one set or with all of them. That means you can invest as little or as much money - and effort - in playing with the toys, as you want.
Once I got it all set up, it was actually pretty impressive. Fortunately, the connecting parts for each piece of the set allows you to turn it in almost a complete circle, so you can set up the set(s) to fit just about any space or room configuration.
The stunt sets come with the figures that were key in that part of the movie, so there is plenty to play with, something I appreciate. All too often, you have to buy separate figures for the toys. There are also supplemental Buddy Packs with two figures from Toy Story 3 - and there is just about every combination you can think of available. The wee ones would probably have been happy just playing with the Buddy Packs, but ohhhh did the Action Links Stunt sets add to the fun!
With ten children playing, it was hard to get the full domino effect totally set up before someone would accidentally (or on purpose) set off one piece of it or another. That was ... mildly frustrating to some of the children because we never did get it to go from start to finish. Had there only been two or three children (which there are now!), it would have worked far better.
That said, everyone at the party had a blast, I think. I'd made cardboard sheriff stars to decorate once the kids got bored with the Toy Story 3 figures. We never did more than pass them out when the kids walked in (Mister Man proudly ran to the table and handed one to each child as they arrived). I did manage to feed a few of them snacks, but I think that's more because of the time and the fact that they were so hyped up!
The end result? I wish that the triggers were less sensitive so that setup were easier. And it would be nice if the instructions were more clear. And there were a couple elements that were a little touchy - the conveyor belt on the junkyard didn't always wind well, and the claw from the junkyard sometimes dropped early so that it missed the next trigger point. But the wee ones? This is the only toy they want to play with now. They played with it after the party until they went to bed, and it's the only thing they've touched today.
I think I know what Santa might be bringing!
In the interest of full disclosure, I was provided with the toys for the Toy Story 3 Action Links Stunt set party by MomSelect and Mattel for ten children, of which the vast majority were given to away to party attendees. I received no compensation, and all opionions expressed are my own.