* Prices may differ from that shown
Like most young children, my three year old loves dressing up and role play so was delighted to discover a Power Ranger costume amongst his selection of birthday presents recently. This costume is based on the Blue Ranger, a super hero from the latest series of children's TV show, Power Rangers. Fortunately (from a parent's perspective), the series doesn't appear to be showing on any of the major children's TV channels currently but that doesn't appear to have diminished the range and availability of merchandise from the show. My son instantly recognised the Ranger costume for what it was and began tugging down his regular clothes immediately so that he could try this on! This particular costume is recommended for ages 3-4 years and is the smallest size available. As my son has only just turned three and is relatively small for his age, it is still on the large size for him and fits better if it is worn over the top of his regular clothing. It consists of an all-in-one jumpsuit affair complete with a hard plastic mask. The suit is relatively easy for a little one to get on and off with only minimal adult help as it is just a slip-on design with a few strips of velcro at the back to secure it into place. The 'belt' is securely attached to the costume by strong velcro pads and comes complete with a shiny pretend buckle. This doesn't need adjusting or tying at all, making it practical for independent youngsters wanting to transform themselves into a super hero in a hurry. My son just needs to have the sleeves and legs rolled up slightly for a better fit and to avoid tripping himself up. Having said that, it is not as long on his legs as I expected, (based on our experience with most children's clothing) so this set could be a little on the small side for a larger than average child at the opposite end of the age spectrum and you might want to consider going for the next size up to maximise wear. Our little Power Ranger loves wearing the mask to complete the overall look but, sadly, this is far too big for him and doesn't feature any means of altering the sizing of the elasticated strap that goes round the back of the head. We've managed to improvise and tie up some of the excess elastic at the back so the mask does now stay on his face, but it could be better designed so that mask coul be adjusted for a secure fit. The mask itself seems reasonably sturdy but the plastic used feels quite rigid, rather than being a flexible variety, so if the mask was accidentally trodden on or placed under a lot of pressure it could crack or split quite easily. We've had similar costumes in the past which have featured foam based masks. They might sound quite flimsy but are surprisingly resilient and tend to outlast these sorts of hard plastic versions. I haven't needed to wash this costume yet but am a little disappointed to realise that the washing instructions recommend 'sponge clean only' rather than machine washing. This isn't always a practical option with outfits like this that kids want to wear for long periods and are likely to get very mucky! The costume is 100% polyester but I suspect machine washing isn't recommended because of the foam padding that is used to create a muscular effect on the chest. The shoulders also have some sort of cotton wool type padding to mimic muscles too. When he is dressed up in this outfit, my little one looks and feels like a real super hero and is able to let his imagination run riot as he saves the world from disaster (or, alternatively, tries to pummel his older brother, which is admittedly not quite so good!) Generally speaking, this is a great outfit for imaginative role playing, although it is a shame that it can't be machine washed for practical reasons. This set was picked up from Toys R Us for £14.99, so isn't bad value for money considering the play value and enjoyment it provides for our little hero.