Age Range: 3+
Manufacturer’s Description: The wearable Sofia Backpack contains a pop-up magical Micro World based on the Princess Royal Prep Academy. When the backpack is opened, different play areas are revealed: library, classroom, dance floor, art room, stable and courtyard. Assortment of 4 Micro Dolls included – Sofia, Fauna, Minimus & Prince Zandar.
Rating: (2/5 stars)
Review: Following on from our review of the Sofia the First Micro World playsets, we were offered the Royal Backpack playset to test out. When the box arrived, Georgie and I thought it looked great. The backpack looks attractive and the way the Royal Academy folds out it very clever, but there were just too many problems with this to make it something we want to play with often.
The backpack itself is made from tough plastic in Sofia’s signature purple colours and can either be worn as a rucksack or as a shoulder bag. The straps seem too long for a preschooler; the bag hung down really low in both configurations and as a result she doesn’t like wearing it.
Once opened, the Royal Academy unfolds out very cleverly. It does sort of spring out of the backpack as soon as it’s opened, which made us both jump the first time we opened it, and Georgie continues to be a bit unnerved every time! A few of the smaller bits need to be unfolded as well, once the main structure has opened out.
It comes with 4 teeny tiny figurines, including Sofia’s flying horse Minimus. A nice touch is you can lift up a flap in his back and pop Sofia inside so it looks like she is riding her horse. This is really tricky to do though; I can barely do it with my fingernail and Georgie cannot do it at all.
Each of the figurines has a hole in the bottom which allows them to be fitted onto little pegs around the academy, although Georgie finds this tricky to do. Some of these character points move around in various ways, and there are quite a few other nice bits on the set like a revolving door, a wardrobe which opens & closes, and desk lids that move. The horse character does this thing where it flies around the clock tower but Georgie found it too fiddly to do and wasn’t interested when I showed it to her.
With the addition of two AAA batteries, you get two light up bits on the playset; a dance studio light that has a small on/off switch, and a light above the blackboard that activates when the figurine standing on the stage’s sliding character point is slid all the way over to one side.
The box boasts “70 stickers!” like this is a good thing, and I assumed that it meant there were some sticker sheets inside for the kids to enjoy, as a fun bonus. In reality, it meant that it includes loads of fiddly little stickers for parents to try to stick as straight as possible onto the tiniest spaces possible on the Royal Academy. Having to complete the toy by adding stickers is not something that should be boasted about on the box! Georgie got quite impatient to play as it took so long for me to stick them all on.
To make matters worse, by the time we got the playset out a week or so later to play with it again a large number of the stickers were peeling off, and one or two had come off completely. Having to spend time resticking them down every time we play with it is not good.
Another problem with this toy is that it is tricky to open and close. Georgie can’t get it open herself at all, and I have to use my fingernail underneath the clips to get it open. Closing it is a 14 step process that is way too hard for Georgie to do; you have to fold everything up in the right order and then hold a bit down while you close it up.
Having said all this, Georgie does really enjoy playing with this toy, despite getting occasionally frustrated with it. She really enjoys moving the characters around the academy and playing lots of make believe games with it, and it has a lot of different areas and things for the figurines to interact with. The idea is great, but it has been very poorly executed, and I think is overpriced at £34.99 given the quality issues.
We give it 2 stars. To be honest, it’s quite disappointing, and not something I would recommend for a young child.