* Prices may differ from that shown
We've had Rose Cottage for almost a year now - my daughter received this for her 2nd birthday off a close friend, and it's been a firm favourite ever since!
>> The Cottage
The actual cottage is a downstairs/upstairs set up - it has an actual front and sides with door (that opens) and several windows, whilst having an open accessible back. Through the back, you can access the indoors set-up.
The downstairs has a living space and kitchen area, with interactive sounds (door bell, on the mat; cooker; television).
The upstairs has a bathroom, a double bed (the parents area) and bunk beds for the children!
>> What you get
As well as the actual interactive house, you get a collection of 5 figures - a "typical" 2x parents, a boy and a girl, and a dog. I'm guessing this is to depict a regular family, but as we all know this isn't always the case now - lifestyles have changed and so have family set-ups! There is also a 1 person car too.
>> The particulars
This retailed for £30 in Early Learning Centre shops and online for a period. As with ELC though, Happyland is regularly on offer, and it wasn't usually necessary to pay full price. This isn't available anymore through the website though, which suggests it was discontinued at the time of the Happyland redesign (more rounded corners, more toddler friendly!).
>> What we think
Personally in our household, this is a major hit. My daughter loves making up little roleplay situations with the figures, which tend to fit around what's going on at home (potty training has equaled a lot of figures visiting the cottage bathroom!). She enjoys the car, but doesn't use it a huge amount and probably wouldn't miss it if it were to go missing. However, the dog is a firm favourite, and is involved in every scenario!
Because we have quite a compact house and two young children who have a four year age difference, we have become very choosy about the toys that we buy. Generally presents tend to be additions to pre-existing toys like Duplo or Brio and large items that take up lots of floor space are not welcome. One of the most popular toys with my children and visitors of all ages is our respectable collection of Happyland toys. Produced by Early Learning Centre for at least ten years, these imaginative toys encourage children to build their own little world with the shops and cars, planes, trains and houses. Made of very chunky, bright, durable plastic they have a lot of play value and appeal to a very wide age range- ours have had constant appeal for five years. This Happyland Cottage is something that we bought ourselves to add to the collection as a first dolls house.
***What you get***
The dolls house is about 30 cm x 30 cm x 15 cm which is smaller than I was expecting from looking at the picture. The front is set up to look like a country cottage and the back is cut away so you can see the rooms inside. The top floor is the bedroom and the bathroom- a double bed and two bunk beds are on one side; a small partition divides the room from a tiny bathroom with bath, sink and toilet. The bottom floor is the lounge and kitchen with a large chair and TV and a smaller kitchen. Everything is moulded plastic and is fixed in place. Underneath is the battery panel - you will need a screwdriver and two AA batteries to make all of the sounds work. Once powered up an eager child can press the front door bell, make the telephone downstairs work, get things sizzling in the kitchen and sit a figure in the armchair to turn the TV on.
In addition to the cottage you get a car, four little figures (the nuclear Barley family) and the family pet -in our case a dog (newer and older versions sometimes have slightly different extras).
RRP is £30 but you can get it cheaper in Early Learning Centres regular deals and sales.
Early Learning Centre state this is from 18 months plus, but both of my children have been playing with Happyland stuff since they were 12 - 15 months.
As I said above, this is a great toy that appeals to a wide age range, certainly it has gone down well with my two children. It has been dropped regularly and repeatedly on to a range of surfaces and has not sustained any damage at all over the course of the year we have owned it. The batteries have lasted well and despite daily play we have not had to change them yet (a good thing as I can't find any screwdrivers!). The sounds are clear and not tinny although an off switch would be good for when you simply cannot take any more repetitive pressing of the sound buttons. Like many items in the Happyland range the door regularly comes off, but it can be reattached very simply - I suppose this feature is to enable the weakest part to stand up to the sustained play of young children; much better to have something that comes off when forced than to have a broken door that you can't fix. All the furniture is fixed in place so you cannot reposition it as you like, however this also means that there is no chance of losing anything, or for that 'Argh' moment when a child spends twenty minutes organising the furniture and then brings the house to show you in another room. My children enjoy going through little scenarios with the figures and its lovely to watch them co-operating and discussing a storyline rather than squabbling (that comes later!). It is a super toy for developing imagination, language skills and vocabulary and my son in particular enjoys using his other toys as monsters which chase the innocent Barley figures around the house.
There are a few negatives to the house but none of them would put me off buying it again. Firstly the windows don't open which has led to some considerable force being applied to them by children who are determined that they should. Secondly its size means that it either needs to be placed on a table or the child to lie on the floor to get a proper view of the inside. Again, not a serious problem - I just have to be more careful about where I am putting my feet when crossing the small lounge with a load of washing! The one thing that does niggle is that it is very tricky to complete clean the inside. There are lots of cracks and corners which means if a sticky drink is spilt or chocolate (or god forbid something brown coloured but much less fragrant) on the toy then you have to get out the cotton buds and toothpicks to get all the substance out. For a toy that is made for small children this seems a little short sighted. I have had to clean the house out two or three times now and each time it has taken at least half an hour to do a proper job, balancing the thing on my lap and angling a lamp inside to check all the crevices.
I'd still buy it again though, its an ideal first dolls house and it has the bonus that you can add on other bits of the Happyland range or not, depending on the space available.
Rose Cottage is a small-ish plastic dolls' house from the Early Learning Centre's 'Happyland' range - a series of buildings and characters that make up a typical storybook town, similar to the Fisher Price Little People range but nicer in my opinion. As far as I'm aware this is the only house in the series.
We bought this for my son's 2nd birthday, mainly because it wasn't pink like so many similar products. It is, however, still pretty girly but my little boy doesn't seem to mind, and 5yr old big brother has even been spotted playing with it too!
What you get
A two storey cottage with open back and various moulded fittings
4 figures: mummy, daddy, son and daughter if you take the stereotypical approach, plus 'ooftie', as my son calls the dog.
One car, which only one person can ride in at a time. Presumably this was with great foresight on daddy's part so as to avoid having to take the kids to discos when they get older.
As with all these type of toys, the packaging is somewhat excessive and you'll likely need a degree in wire de-tangling to unpack it all. A real pain on Christmas/birthday morning.
What does it do?
Not a great deal really. It's designed for imaginative play, therefore the
amount of fun that little ones get out of it depends very much on how much they (or you) put into it.
There is a doorbell that rings, a musical TV than operates when you press down on the seat, a telephone (far too loud and realistic!) and a noisy cooker. The door and windows open, but beyond that there isn't much interactivity with the toy. On the plus side, this means there are less things to break. On the minus side it seems like there are quite a few missed opportunities.
My son enjoys putting all the people to bed (the family have slightly unconventional sleeping arrangements) which is a bit awkward due to the shaping of both people and hard plastic beds - it would have been nice if the design had been a bit more thoughtful. Similarly the toilet and bath aren't brilliantly designed - not quite fit for purpose really! But that doesn't stop it from being great fun.
The educational value is fairly limited to that which you would gain from any 'housey' toy, but my son does enjoy pointing out the familiar household furnishings and objects and naming them. As kids get a bit older this aspect would diminish and it would be a play toy rather than a learning one, and I reckon there's nothing whatsoever wrong with that, not every toy needs to teach, it's good just to play.
Made from sturdy plastic, this is of excellent construction and built to last.
We've had Rose Cottage for about 6 months and it isn't showing any sign of wear. I was worried the batteries would be an annoyance but with Duracells in it, it is still going strong (annoyingly!). Because of the little electronic components unfortunately it can't go in the dishwasher like most of the other plastic toys I have, so if the inside gets grubby it can be a bit of work to clean it, but a packet of wipes and a bit of patience did the job for me.
Like the rest of the Happyland range, the characters are made from slightly softer plastic than similar other ranges - they're not quite as soft as bath toys, but somewhere in between. I really like this aspect, as toddlers will be toddlers, and Mr Happy (or whatever alias he is using) will undoubtedly end up in toddler's mouth at some point or another.
Value for money
I think this normally retails at about £25 (we got ours as part of a larger package) in the ELC, but discounts are often available. It's not cheap, but comparable to other alternatives, and if you can get a decent discount off this, of pick one up second-hand then it'd be well worth the money. You can also generally get a fair re-sale price on Ebay for ELC toys, and as far as I know Happyland is no different.
So, overall I'd definitely recommend this toy for both boys and girls, but it's just a pity that the manufacturers didn't put just a little more thought into it, as it could have been made even better with more moving parts, buttons etc. And a car that the whole family can fit in as well!
My daughter got this for her second birthday from a relative. When I looked at the size of the box I was a little panicked as to how bulky the house would be. However, I have to say it's not too bad size wise. The house comes with it's own little family and a car that they can sit in. It's part of the Happy Land range at the ELC.
The quality of the house is very good and robust. My daughter does like it but finds it a little frustrating to get 'around' the house. Even for little hands I have found that my daughter struggles to move the family around and put them in areas. The other down side is that it's quite hard to clean inside. My daughter is certainly not the most 'clean obsessed' child and had put various bits and pieces of food in the house and spilt juice all over it. Whilst I have been able to wipe and wash the main areas I cannot get into all the areas - resulting in sticky floors and items in the house.
However, despite this she does like it and it does occupy her for short periods of time. Maybe my daughter just doesn't have the patience to play with this - takes after her mother!!!
I bought this for my daughter for Christmas for £20 on sale from Early Learning Centre, it's usually £25. The reason I bought it was because my daughter always makes a beeline for the dolls house when I take her to toddler group so I thought she would like this. I was right. I liked the fact that it wasn't pink, as it's quite difficult to find toys for girls which aren't. I think it is aimed a both sexes as it's part of the Happyland range, which consists of lots of characters and places with a map to place them all on, it includes a vets, market stalls, a school etc.
It's quite a small cottage, standing at just under 12 inches from the ground and about 11 by 5 inches width ways. I've found this to be a good size though; it doesn't take up much room but it's still chunky enough. It comes with a family of four characters plus dog and little red car. It's made from plastic and is brightly coloured with a yellow thatched style roof with two chimneys, a red door and blue window frames. The cottage takes a couple of AA batteries in order to make various sounds; there is a sizzling cooker, a ringing doorbell and phone and some annoying flashing lights and music for the television. I wasn't sure whether to actually put the batteries in as I'm not a fan of flashing lights and loud noises in toys, I don't think they're necessary and imagination works just as well, probably better, after all children are capable of making ringing doorbell noises for themselves, but I did put them in just to see and, well, they do the job if you like that sort of thing, but the cooker and television noises go on way too long and I find them irritating. There are two storeys and the back is simply open for access, rather than being the fold out or slide along type. The front door opens but the rest of the furniture and fittings are molded together. The door has come off a couple of times as I thought it might, but it fits back in without a problem. Other than that, everything seems to be quite sturdy, as it would need to be for this age group. Upstairs are beds and bathroom, with open plan kitchen and living room downstairs. There are a few nice details dotted around - a little bookshelf, chopping board, vase of flowers etc.
The family are Mr and Mrs Barley and their children Poppy and Charlie - of course you could call them whatever you like, but they had been given brief names and biographies on the box they came in, which we went along with. Apparently Mr Barley teaches geography at the local school. The dog wasn't given a name - we've called ours Wuffles and unfortunately he has disappeared at the moment, we may have to pin up some reward signs - although I suspect he may be in 'Under the Fridge Land'. The Barley family are a touch stereotypical with the little girl holding a teddy bear and the boy a toy train, Mrs Barley carries a handbag and sports a pink scarf with matching earrings, while her husband has the newspaper under his arm.
My daughter has played with this every day since Christmas, often for long stretches of time. It is the toy she has shown most interest in in her life, although this may be partly due to her age as I think imaginative play starts to develop a lot around 18 months. The age for this product is stated as 18 months to four years, although I'm not sure it needs an upper age limit on it myself.
It seems to have been a very good buy.
Part of the happy land range from the ELC this is a fantastic part of the set and a must have for any collection, after all how can you have a village without a cottage.
For any one that doesnt know the Happyland set is a variety of different sets which can be used individually or along with others in the set to create your very own village, other sets include airport, school, vets, bakers, police station, fire station, train station, farm, etc. Desinged for children 18mths+, this set is priced at £25 although if you use a discount such as the birthday club can save 20%.
Happyland rose cottage, is very pretty and decorated from the outside in a traditional thatch cottage style with a straw rook, with 2 small windows at the top and 2 larger windows at the bottom all decorated with flower boxes. there is also a pink door at the front which opens and as a real working door bell which plays pressed chimes like a proper door bell. At each side there is a small window and larger window gin, then at the back it is all open to allow you to play inside the house. Inside the house it is split into 2 floors. On the top floor is a double bed, drawers, bunk beds, computer, toilet, bath and basin. Which is great fun as you can pretned yoyur people or going to the toilet or going to bed. Downstairs is an open plan living room and kitchen. In the kitchen is a fridge, cooker, sink and work top, whilst in the room there is a tv, cupboard, books, phone and arm chair.
The best part about the house is the sound effects it makes in addition to the front door. Inside there are 3 other sound effects. Press down on the hob and hear fun cooking sounds, press the phone and hear the phone ringing and sit on the chair and the telly lights up and flashes whilst playing a song. Would of been nice for them to off carried the theme upstairs and perhaps a toilet that flushes, or a bath that sounds like running water.
The set also comes with the family, there are 4 figures, mummy, daddy, daughter and son, along with a gog and the family car. All the figures are very strong and last 4 ages even when your daughter carries them around in your mouth. It is recommended for 18mths but my daughter who is 12mths loves playing with it and as the figures are taler and thinner then little people figures they are easy to hold.
We bought this last xmas for my son when he was 2 and there has not been a day pass when he hasnt played with it, infact im amazed the batteries are still the originals. He is now 3 and loves playing proper role plays with it, inviting you in whilst he cooks tea etc, the only problem is you usually have to have the same conversation over and over again wih him. This was our first piece in the collection, and now have several more and have bought others for xmas as its a great range for both my 3yr old a 1 yr old to share. would strongly recommend
This two-storey country cottage opens up to show the home of the Barley family. Includes four figures, furniture, car and pet dog.