Product Type: ELC baby toys
Newest Review: ... recommended age is 18 months plus. PRODUCT The picture that accompanies this product is a little misleading as the Log Dino Car is no... more
Happyland meets The Flintstones
ELC HappyLand Dino Playset
Member Name: sandemp
ELC HappyLand Dino Playset
Advantages: Durable, Fun, Lots of pieces, The sounds, encourages imagination
Disadvantages: Caves aren't very stable when stacked
==Let's Get Prehistoric==
This set came very securely packaged in a cardboard box, which had an opening to allow the dinosaur sounds to be tested. As always with this kind of toy, if buying from the High Street store, I would suggest ensuring that the set you buy has the 'Try Me' tab still in place so as to get the maximum life from the batteries. On a scale of one to ten, I would put the difficulty of removing this from the packaging at about seven, there are a number of plastic ties to untwist and quite a few of the smaller pieces are in plastic bags. I would suggest that if this is meant as a gift that it would be a good idea to either set it up the night before, or ensure that the child is distracted before attempting to open it.
There are a fair few pieces in this set, but the most impressive has to be the dinosaur. This bright red T-Rex is made of durable plastic and stands approximately 30cm high. His large feet mean that he is very stable and can stand on his own without any need for a stand. Both of the dinosaur's arms move, with on of them making a satisfying clicking sound, while pushing on the other will make the dinosaur's mouth open and close. The dinosaur's legs are also poseable, meaning that he can be made to walk. There's a seat on the dinosaur's back that can firmly hold a Happyland character, but I've still not covered the best bit of the dinosaur.
On the dinosaur's belly is an enclosed battery compartment (securely closed with a tiny screw) and an on/off switch. After switching the dinosaur on, he makes a variety of different sounds. Firstly when his arm is pushed down, he makes one of two different roars as he opens and closes his mouth. This roar is actually pretty realistic and very similar to the roars that dinosaurs make in documentaries. Another sound this dinosaur makes is a 'clumping' as it's foot hit's the floor, although I must say it does need to be stamped quite hard to make the noise. The final set of sounds are triggered by placing a character into the seat and then pressing down, this will set off one of three different caveman 'ugs' all of which sound quite comical. While all of the sounds are fairly loud, they're not too annoying unless one particular sound is repeated over and over again and I particularly like that I can switch the sounds off. Although we've only had this set a couple of weeks now, so far we've not had to change the batteries from the supplied demonstration set, with regular daily play.
As well as the actual dinosaur there are a good number of other pieces in this set, all of which add to the play value. There are two caves and a tree that can either be played with side by side or stacked one on top of the other. The larger of the two caves is cut out at the back, meaning it's easy for little hands to reach inside, and has a swing at the front. By climbing the stairs, the characters can either sit on the top to sunbathe, or if the smaller cave is stacked on top, then they can make their way into the smaller cave via the 'curtain' door. The tree can then fit on top to complete a mountain. Although it's easy to stack these pieces, I must say that when they are one on top of the other, it's not the most stable of constructions.
So we have the dinosaur and the caves, so what else is there in the set? Well there's an easy to open egg, which when the top is removed reveals a baby dinosaur. There's also a log car, which in common with all Happyland vehicles is well-made, easy to push and sturdy enough to survive a toddler's rather rough play. This car can hold not one but two characters, so it's a good job that there are three different characters supplied. As with all Happyland characters, these people are well made with a good level of detail, even if they're not poseable. There's a Mummy, Daddy and baby, all complete with animal skin clothes.
As with all the Happyland toys, I'm really impressed with the thought that's gone into this set. It's really well-made, with lots of play potential, even for children far younger than the recommended minimum age. In fact as with all the Happyland sets that we've bought, there's nothing in this set that would cause a problem for younger children. Freddy is only eleven months old, I've no concerns about allowing him to play with this. From a parent's point of view, I would give this set four out of five, at the price I paid for it. I don't actually think it's worth the full asking price of £35, but at £17.50 you more than get your money's worth. But it's not just my opinion that counts.
==The Modern Stone Age Family==
When we first showed this set to Freddy, we started with just the dinosaur. After we pushed down on the dinosaur's arm for a few times to make it roar, Freddy's face lit up with a big grin, he started clapping and made it very clear that he wanted a go. So we sat him on the floor and immediately started investigating. To be totally truthful, Freddy can't actually make the dinosaur roar by pressing on the arm, it's just a little to stiff for him to operate, but the roar also works by opening and closing the mouth. Which is something Freddy worked out quite quickly and is the way he makes it work even now a couple of weeks later. Freddy actually gets pretty chuffed with himself, whenever the dinosaur roars and usually follows it up with clapping and roaring himself. Freddy does find it easy to move the other arm and make it click though, which he also finds quite funny, as does he banging the dinosaur's feet on the floor to make it stomp.
The car is a good size for Freddy to hold, and he has no trouble putting the people in and out of it and pushing it along the floor. It does, perhaps, scoot along a little too easily, as Freddy does have trouble keeping up with it. Freddy also likes to hide the baby dinosaur in the egg and finds it fairly easy to line the cracked shell up to close it. In fact it's not just the baby dinosaur that gets hidden in there, the baby fits quite nicely too.
At the moment the caves and tree get used more as a stacking toy, than as actual caves. But this can only be a good thing, as it just proves how adaptable the toy is. Freddy has no real problem stacking the pieces together and loves to knock them back down again. As with all the Happyland characters, the people are all a good size for Freddy to hold and they've survived a good chew with no ill effects.
As well as Freddy, visiting children have also played with this set, with older children making up their own little stories. With these older children, the fact that when stacked the caves don't form the most stable of structures has occasionally been a little frustrating. But they do react it the most brilliant way to a pretend volcanic eruption. At first thought this is pretty much a standalone set, that can't be used with the rest of the Happyland range. But believe me, children's imagination has no bounds, with one three year old visitor managing to create a time machine to take the other characters back in time to the age of the dinosaurs.
==A Caveman's Education==
As with all the Happyland range, this set gives plenty of opportunity for your child to develop their imagination and role playing skills. The prehistoric setting also brings another dimension into this role play and allows parents to talk about dinosaurs and 'cavemen'. But along with imagination this set also encourages many, many other skills, from problem solving (stacking the caves in the correct order), to fine motor (pressing the dinosaur's arm) to gross motor (chasing after the car). This is actually one of the best of the Happyland sets for helping your child learn new skills.
As for the recommended age range, well Freddy is eleven months and even though he's not getting the most from the set, he does love to play with it and is able to make most of it work. The dinosaur is perhaps a little heavy for much younger children, but even babies from about six months would be able to play with some of the parts. None of the pieces are small enough to cause a choking hazard and it's all really well made. And, the upper age, well although visiting children aged five and over have had a sneaky play, I'd really say that by the age of four they would start to lose interest and find it a little too babyish.
This is yet another great set from the Happyland range, that Freddy loves to play with. Although I do think that the full asking price is perhaps a tad high, there are plenty of pieces in this set and they all add to the play value. And at half price it really is a steal, especially as it's a toy that will in all probability be played with for the next two to three years. So I have no hesitation in giving the Happyland Dino Playset set five stars out of five and recommending it for all children aged from about ten months to three years.