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on June 24, 2014
I am torn in reviewing this toy. Here's why: The toy is definitely well-made, will not come apart, will not break unless subjected to massive violence. It definitely builds motor skills, hand-eye-coordination, and even thinking skills--as deciding which colors should be up or down or evenly matched in height requires some intricate choice and physical application. So, the toy is a great toy!

But . . .

You are basically giving your child a miniature of Thor's hammer. Not a hollow plastic hammer, mind you. No, no. This is a toddler weapon the great god of thunder would approve of. Two solid wooden pieces held together very well. The head of the hammer is sculpted to allow attacks from many interesting angles. Great for the toy. Not so great if your little one might decide to go "a-viking" during a playgroup, family get-together, or school function.

Like the mighty Mjolner, this hammer throws well, flies fast and far, and can kill the mightiest of trolls. Or televisions. Or PC's. Or Grandma.

So . . . the only reason I take a star off is because of the deadly weapon that comes with this awesome toy. Maybe it should have been fastened by a cable to the toy, Melissa & Doug? It's not cool that parents have to do this thinking for you. But we love Grandma. Having our toddler turned Thor send her to the hospital is not our idea of fun.

If your child is meek and kind and dependably non-violent, go for it. GREAT TOY! If your little one may just be a conqueror of lands reincarnated into this tiny body, please beware the hammer!
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The manufacturer commented on the review below
on December 14, 2014
I was excited to buy this for my 9 month old boy, should have realised something was wrong when I saw fine sawdust in the package. Was beyond shocked when I opened it up and saw holes drilled all over by wood-borers/wood-worms or whatever creepy-crawlies. And they were alive! Peeping out of the holes now and then to take in their new neighbourhood. Trashed them almost immediately but still can't get over it, and to think my boy loves chomping on almost anything he gets his hand on.

I'm usually empathetic towards the typical difficulties companies have putting out products in the marketplace and getting everything right, competing isn't easy. But this is unacceptable and should never have happened. Just poor, poor, quality controls.
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My 20 mo old sits and plays with this thing often. He doesn't like the hammer too much, so instead he pushes the pieces down one by one with his hands. He laughs when the opposite side pieces pop up.
I'm glad the pieces don't come out of the little wood table, so no pieces to pick up at the end of the day. It looks sturdy enough to last even though the pieces are plastic. My son has dropped the table so many times and it still looks new. This is one of the toys I use to teach my son colors and counting. Since my son is happy with this toy, I am happy too.
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on August 2, 2016
This was a gift for my 16 month old nephew. He loves his tool bench and banging things, so I knew this would be right up his alley. The mallet has helped his fine motor skills and he liked that it was light enough for him to carry around. He did use the mallet to bang on other things but that wasn't an issue for his parents. He's almost 2 now and still goes back to this toy from time to time, so it's not something he's used at one age and hasn't touched again which is nice. It's great quality and has lasted through his rough stages!
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on January 9, 2018
Bought this toy for my 2 year old nephew. It is not what I expected it to be. It looks like & has the same basic concept of the classic toy I use to play with when I was a child. It is good wood but it has one terrible flaw. The pegs don't fit snugly into the board! Which is the whole point of this item! It can be pushed down with a finger without any effort at all (by a child) & it is so loose that it does not stay the level you hit it at. Also, now that i think of it, having the pieces fall out was also half the fun of the toy.

A bit disappointing but i guess it is still fun for coordination skills & energy release.
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on March 21, 2013
I love melissa and doug products but this one didnt live up to their name. It fell apart after we had it for about 2 weeks. I tried to put it back together but had no luck.
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on December 21, 2016
I originally gave this 5 stars within a month of gifting this to our son for Christmas. A year later it is barely holding up (despite lack of play!) and the colored pegs don't stay in the up position. Key word here is despite the lack of our son playing with this toy, it has deteriorated. I would definitely not purchase this item again, nor would I recommend it to others with children 9months and up.

PS-Yes, the wooden hammer that came with the toy is a pretty solid weapon when wielded by the hands of a 1 or 2 year old! It has been used to smash several things (& people!) thanks to our little dude's lightning fast reflexes. I should have never bought this toy.
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on January 22, 2016
My 2 yr old got this for X-mas, and he LOVES it! The "gears" that pop the pegs up on the other side is an EXCELLENT feature. This pounding bench can take a beating and it entertains him for a decent amount of time before he's off to some other toy. It's solid wood and very sturdy. It can take all the abuse a rough and tough toddler can dish out. It's been beat on, tossed around, and thrown to the ground and it's still in one peice. Melissa and Doug make some of the best toys available. Their toys are simple but still fun for kids, and they are always well made and high quality. I'm very pleased with this toy and would recommend it to anyone with a little one that likes to bang on things. TIP: The hammer will leave marks on wooden surfaces, little half moon rivets. It's best if used on a mat or non wooden hard surface. We learned this the hard way...
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on May 22, 2017
We bought this for our 1 year old and he loves it. It comes with the bench and a mallet. The bench has a teeter-totter like system, when one side of the bench is pounded down, it elevates the other side. It's a great way to teach your child fine motor skills. The reason I didn't give it five stars is because the wood used for the bench is very soft. After the first few minutes it was already showing the dents from the mallet. In the end its a children's toy so we aren't too concerned about the aesthetics after use, but to some that may be an issue.
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on April 2, 2018
Grandson not impressed. He hammered the pegs a couple of times. Tossed the hammer aside and flipped the bench over to see how the pegs worked with up and down motion. Once he figured that out, he turned the bench back over used his fingers to punch the pegs down (the easily push down) to check out his "hypothesis". After that, he was done with this toy ... total time 10 minutes. My recommendation, the old-fashioned pounding bench without any gimmicks, not this one. Be aware that returning the item costs almost as much as the purchase price!
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