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I first came across the Imaginext space rocket set when we visited a friend who's little boy owned it. My two boys seemed to play non stop with this toy during the majority of our visit that day, and after mentioning this to my sister she decided it would make a great Christmas present for them.
Imaginext is a part of the Fisher Price and Mattel branding, so comes from a history of successful toy manufacture both in terms of making toys built to last, and also the toys are very popular with children. Some of my favourite toys as a child had this branding. Imaginext first appeared in 2002, and after tweaking, the current format of toys was introduced in 2006.
I find i can instantly recognise toys from this range as they have places on the toy that have a blue piece with two footprints indented on them. These points are moveable, and if the child stands a figure from the range in the slot, then the circle can be turned and the child can interact with the toy and make something happen. The rocket set has 5 of these interactive points on it.
The age range on the imaginext range is 3-8 years old, although i have found my two year old has played with this perfectly fine from 2 and a half years old. It is a little bit finer than some toys, but robust enough for him to play with and get a lot of fun out of.
The set consists of the space shuttle, a launch tower and crane, two astronauts and an alien. The space shuttle can sit on the base of the launch tower so it will stand upright for play on its burners.
The launch tower has 2 platforms, and there is a lift that you can stand an astronaut in, and then the lift slides up with a lever on the outside of the tower. On the ground floor there is a yellow computer control panel so you can follow the launch. The 1st platform (level 2) has a crane arm which you can use to load the rocket. This lines up with the storage compartment on the rocket when it sits on the base, and the claw can be opened and closed by pushing a slide switch. The top platform (level 3) has a set of stairs. By standing your figure in the blue disc you can rotate the steps so they line up with the access hatch at the top of the rocket and sit your astronauts in ready for take off. The way these features line up so well shows me how well planned this toy has been.
The rocket itself is as tall as the launch tower. There are 2 black fuel hoses on the base of the tower which can be attached to the storage tanks on the rocket so you can refuel before launch. The rocket has an on/off slide switch on the rear of the rocket. When switched on, if you press a button on the front of the rocket you get countdown beeps and a whooshing engine noise, alongside flashing blue lights at the bottom like a real rocket.
Twisting a blue disc on the front of the rocket makes the doors to the storage compartment open. There are also 2 more blue discs on the side, and you need to move both of them round before you can make the solar panels appear out of the wings of the rocket. This bit is a little tricky to do with having to do 2 actions, and i often get boys telling me they need mummy to do it. The top part of the rocket is where the astronauts sit. It has a hinged blue plastic door, and there is room for both astronauts to take a seat in this area in the chair moulded space provided for them.
The rocket is best left switched off when not in play, as every time you knock into it then it makes engine noises. I found i was walking into the boys room at night, bumping into it, and then setting it off. Although not particularly loud, you don't want to wake them up like that, so the off button is useful in this respect.
I find this is one of the smaller playsets in the range. We also have the fire station and the Toy story 3 garbage dump set, and they are a lot bulkier and harder to stow away after play. This set is 35cm (14inches) wide, 16cm (6.5inches) deep, and 40cm (16inches) tall.
Overall, a well made and much loved toy that provides a good opportunity for imaginative play. I can see my two playing with it for years to come, and it is as much loved at the upper end of the age scale if my nephew is anything to go by. As a science teacher myself, i can see me boring my boys to death with how solar panels work and getting a bit too technical for them. I'll have to restrain myself. You can't really go wrong with Imaginext.
The Imaginext Space Shuttle was bought for my three year old son this Christmas. It has proven to be a good value, sturdy toy that has endless possibilites for imaginative play. The packaging states that this toy is suitable for children of three to eight, which seems appropriate to me. My son and his friends have had hours of fun playing with this toy already. As it is so strightforward to operate, he does not become frustrated with it.
The shuttle comes with two figures that have removable helmets (easy for a three year old to fit back on to the figures!), green alien figures, and a console. The rocket has lights and sounds features and as such, it requires 3 AA batteries to operate. The Shuttle is well designed with easy to activate doors and a cockpit which opens too.
There are additional toys that can be purchased to go with this set such as a space station and space spider vehicle. We will certainly be adding those to our collection.
At approximately £40, this may seem expensive but the quality is faultless. Nothing has broken or needed to be repaired so far. It is worth the money and will not lose appeal quickly as so many toys seem to.