Review: Little Playzone with Electronic Sounds & Lights

A play yard has gobbled our living room, and I couldn’t be happier. We’ve used the “Little Playzone” for at least six months. I wanted to get a play yard before Little Miss began crawling and sometimes you just need a safe place to set a baby down.

Thumbnail of two Playzones combined. Click to see enlarged version.When researching child containment facilities I quickly ruled out play pens and port-a-cribs. They’re pretty much the same thing — a 3 by 5 foot jail cell for my child. Port-a-cages are mobile, but we already had a very useful portable Exersaucer [froogle.com] for Little Miss.

After briefly trying the Superyard XT child enclosure, I discovered the Little Playzone with Electronic Sounds & Lights by Friendly Toys.

The core Playzone kit comes with four plastic wall segments and four
corner joints. One of the walls is a gate and another has built-in toys
and music. The walls plug into each other in seconds with male-female
pegs, no additional parts needed.

The official dimensions are 23″H x 46″L by x46″ W, or roughly 3.8
feet on all sides when configured as a square. That was still small, so we bought two Playzones and combined them. We have hard floors, so I bought foam mats to soften falls.

If you live in a cramped apartment, I am so sorry for you because a mega-monster-playzone simply rocks.

The real, useable interior space as I measured it is 45.6 square
feet, or 6.75 feet on each side. There is room for Mom, Dad, Little
Miss and our cat “Brown” to be inside and still have room to play –
shuffling around on our knees in a circle, or even laying down. This is
no cage. With the gate door now open, it is clear that Miss perceives
the zone as a play area, not a confinement tool, and she happily will
enter it on her own.

Coolness Factors:

  1. Kid-friendly look and feel in red, yellow and blue colors.
  2. Easily assembles and disassembles with light-weight interlocking pegs.
  3. Parents can easily step over a wall to get into the Playzone.
  4. Has a locking gate. Now that Miss is walking, we let her use the doorway. She loves opening and closing the door.
  5. Has suction cups for hard floors (though I haven’t used them)
  6. Has a game wall with seven buttons that light up and play nursery
    rhyme tunes, and other toys that you flip, move or push. Batteries come
    preinstalled. It was the wall’s music that first got Miss “dancing” and
    clapping. It was fun to see her develop favorite tunes and be able to
    play them on her own.
  7. Visitors comment on how great the Playzone is, or how they wish they’d had one for their kids when they were young.
  8. Our cat easily enters and exits by jumping from a nearby couch.

Drawbacks:

  1. A single Playzone is small. For my configuration it was cheaper
    to buy two complete kits, rather than pay the same shipping charges on
    one kit and four separate extensions.
  2. No volume control or power switch for the battery-operated music.
  3. The gate entrance has a trippable lip a child must step over. Little Miss has learned to carefully navigate the lip.
  4. Now that Miss is bigger and stronger, she occasionally pushes a
    wall segment. After some fussing our square Playzone can look more like
    a pentagon.
  5. It’s regrettable that the game wall isn’t sold as a separate expansion to cut the core product’s cost.

Playzone at One Step Ahead (I found One Step cheaper on shipping for two complete kits.)

Playzone at Amazon.com

Note: the foam interlocking mats shown in the photo were separately purchased.

Comments

14 Responses to “Review: Little Playzone with Electronic Sounds & Lights”

  1. keith Smith says:

    Little Playzone with Electronic Sounds & Lights, do you know how I can get it in the UK. or how will ship it to the UK

    Many Thanks
    Keith

    August 11th, 2005 at 8:05 am

  2. AJ says:

    One Step Ahead does international orders. There is a link for a shipping quote on its FAQ page:

    http://www.onestepahead.com/custserv/faqtemplatemain.jsp?change=117#page19

    August 11th, 2005 at 8:28 am

  3. Sylvia Galen says:

    This may sound a little strange…. we have turned our basement into our son’s playroom (he’s 2 1/2). Now we need to move some of my husband’s exercise equipment down there and we are looking at gates. I’m intrigued by the kid-friendlyness of this gate, but wondering if you think the panels could be turned “inside out.” My husband’s equipment would be on the inside and the kids could play with the toys on the outside. I’m thinking that as a result the kids may be less inclined to try and climb inside for the equipment. Thanks for any input!!

    May 27th, 2006 at 4:05 pm

  4. KATHRYN GLENN says:

    This play pen seems too good to be true, however I am fascinated. Is there any danger of the walls being pushed down by the child. No one is addressing the stability of walls and what prevents their movement. Am considering buying, would like to hear from someone on this topic.

    Thanks

    September 12th, 2006 at 5:22 am

  5. Elee says:

    We LOVE the Little Playzone!

    When we researched child enclosures for our crawling 8-month-old, we found that most are quite unattractive. Some were even exactly the same as dog pens and sold for a lower price at pet stores! I couldn’t imagine locking our dear boy up in a little cage! Then we read this review (THANKS!!).

    We too purchased 2 playzones and combined them to create a huge safe play area. After comparing, we found the best deal at Target.com by waiting for a free shipping promo, which happens fairly often. (The shipping charges at some places, like One Step Ahead, are just OUTRAGEOUS!)

    We put many toys, books, as well as a pad for napping inside our 2-playzone combo. It’s big enough for our son to crawl around and practice walking, as well as for my husband and me to be in it with him comfortably. He doesn’t see it as an enclosure. Rather, it’s the “FUN-est” place in the house for him. And I can finally relax when I run off to make dinner, do the laundry, shower, etc, without worrying about him getting bored (in his crib) or getting into trouble (everywhere else)!

    November 28th, 2006 at 11:42 am

  6. Latina says:

    Excellent review!! Thanks to it I also bought two of these. I found them cheaper on ebay (even more than Target’s free shipping). Just my two cents.

    September 17th, 2007 at 3:07 pm

  7. Elaine F. says:

    DO NOT buy this. My daughter slipped her arm between the bars, and then got it stuck. It was difficult getting her out. The first time we put it down to bad luck, the second time we returned it to Target and I’m dismayed to find it’s still on sale. She was nine months at the time. Maybe if she’d been older it wouldn’t have happened but she’s a big baby so I”m sure a lot of babies older than her would still be at risk.

    October 29th, 2007 at 5:27 pm

  8. dan says:

    Does anyone know who retails the extensions for $20.?

    February 11th, 2008 at 5:56 pm

  9. karen says:

    i;m looking for a used one, i already have one i bought at a yard sale for $12.00. i was very lucky

    April 22nd, 2008 at 10:37 pm

  10. Nancy says:

    I lost a piece for the door that helps the door stay in place it’s a little blue insert. Does anyone know where I can get that little piece it looks like a rubber little blue plug.

    September 1st, 2008 at 11:11 am

  11. Elizabeth says:

    After reading the above review, we purchased two of these and have used them in a variety of ways and configurations over the past 1.5 years since we bought them. Originally we used it as a safe enclosure for our baby/young toddler (first just one and then as she grew we bought the second to make a super big enclosure). Currently, we are using one reversed so that it goes it around a few things in the room and she has the run of the rest of the area. Although not advocated by the manufacturer and not childproof (so I would not do this to enclose anything really dangerous), it has created a clear boundary for her to understand not to mess with the enclosed items. Soon we will get the second one out again for our new baby. We have found it to be very stable and have never had it fall down (even reversed), nor have we had anyone get stuck in it. However, we have found it to scoot/slide a little when leaned on (as mentioned in the review). They are made of durable plastic and much nicer than the other enclosures I have seen (e.g. super yard). The one thing we did not like is the electronic part of the play wall because there is no power or volume switch and we have low tolerance for noisy electronic toys. We tried to make it work, but in the end we ended up removing the batteries and found our daughter still enjoyed playing with the non-electronic toys. With two sets, we have found it to be useful and flexible enough for our changing needs.

    December 8th, 2008 at 11:35 pm

  12. Elizabeth says:

    Nancy, try contacting the company for replacement parts. I’ve found manufacturers of baby/children’s products to be very helpful with that. Good luck!

    December 8th, 2008 at 11:38 pm

  13. Apryl says:

    I love my play zone. It is the only that keeps my child entertained long enough for me to get things done around the house. Lately, my son has figured out how to walk around the house while actually in the play zone! He just pushes on one side and drags the whole thing with him! Today, however, he knocked the whole thing over and was sandwiched inside! I couldn’t even see his little body in between the parts! He was not injured, but I will never put him in there again!

    January 16th, 2009 at 9:44 pm

  14. Marcie says:

    hi keith, I also live from the UK, and the only place I got the playzone from was playzonedirect.com, seems like other retailers won’t ship out from the us. also have decent prices too!

    April 15th, 2010 at 9:52 pm