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Sweet Confection Falls Just Short Of Perfection
on November 4, 2003
In general I applaud the Melissa & Doug company for its dedication to simple, classic, durable wooden toys that are genuinely educational in that they invite imaginative play rather than recite facts to a passive child at the push of a button. The birthday cake toy is no exception. Since my daughter received this toy for her third birthday, we have baked and decorated dozens of cakes in her play kitchen, and thrown birthday parties for each family member, as well as all the dolls and all the stuffed animals.
However, I can't help feeling that this toy could have been a bit better. Basically it consists of a red wooden serving platter, and a cake comprised of six sections that velcro together to form a circle. Each piece is quite large -- almost as big as a real slice of cake. The set includes a cake server that can be used to cut the slices apart, which provides that satisfying velcro-ripping sound. The cake is painted white with blue icing swirls, and has velcro spots in concentric circles on top for the decorations. The decorations are painted on wooden discs that velcro to the top of the cake. The set comes with seven candles that can be velcroed to the top as well. There are only three different decorations -- strawberries, jellybeans, and gumdrops. I would have included icing flowers, so that the cake could be decorated like a "real" cake that a child might have for his or her birthday. Also, I would have made the candle flames detachable so that the candles could be "lit" and "blown out" by the child. Also, it is very difficult to cut out and serve the first piece of cake, as it tends to refasten itself to the pieces adjacent to it before it can be lifted out and served.
Still, this is a neat toy and a good addition to a child's imaginary kitchen. Two months after our daughter's birthday, she still plays with this toy quite regularly. It's constructed so durably that I'm sure my grandchildren will be playing with it, too!