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I bought the Happyland royal baby set soon after the royal birth in July, because I saw it at the till in Mothercare and couldn't resist buying it as a keepsake of the occasion. It cost £8 at the time, which did seem quite expensive but I have seen it included in a number of 20% offer weekends in store and online, costing £6.40. The set is actually a limited edition one and is now out of stock online, although may still be available in store, stock permitting. As my daughter owns lots of Happyland stuff, I thought it would be nice to put it away for her as a keepsake. The set is recommended for children aged 18 months upwards.
The set is very basic and much like the other small sets that Happyland offer. It includes a figure of Kate, one of Prince William and one of a pram with a baby inside. The baby is not a figure itself and is not removable, just included as part of the pram unit. The baby has also been dressed in neutral colours of white clothing, presumably because the set was designed and manufactured before Kate had given birth and nobody knew at the time whether the royal family would be welcoming a new Prince or Princess.
I think the set has primarily been designed to be a keepsake, as the packaging although cardboard, is designed to represent a park surrounding the new family and looks as though it forms part of the set. Once the figures have been removed from this though, I doubt it could be reused to keep the figures in as they are packed fairly tightly in there.
The figures are made of the same plastic that other Happyland figures are made from, that being fairly squeezy. The figures are also around the same size, at around 9cm tall. The two figures of Kate and William take on some of their features - blonde hair for William and dark hair for Kate - although I think Kate's hair looks a little darker on the figure than I would have expected it to be. Outside of the packaging and away from the pram, these figures could really be of any man or woman as there are no detailed features on them that give away that they represent the royal couple. William's figure wears a shirt, trousers and jacket and Kate wears a yellow dress but the outfits don't really stand out too much compared to the other figures my daughter has in the range. They just look like well dressed people. The pram and baby do look a little more royal with the pram having golden handles and trims and it also represents a very traditional pram style. I think the other thing to note is that the wheels on the pram don't move which was a little disappointing as it can't be played with all that much in the way you would expect, pushing it around. Again, that is another sign that it was primarily designed to keep rather than to play with.
I feel that £8 for this set is expensive and at it's offer price it is still a little expensive for what it is. I have previously bought a set of two figures for £4 and this is essentially the same, with an extra pram figure. Having said that, the size of the figures are perfect for my daughter to carry around and they are a nice addition to the Happyland range. They can be used as part of the range in general and wouldn't look out of place, more so the Kate and William figures than the pram, as the figures could pass for just being well dressed people rather than the royal couple. It also makes a wonderful keepsake and something I look forward to showing my daughter when she's older. I've rated the set 3 stars as I feel that is fair. A lovely item but on the expensive side.
Thanks for reading :o)
Before I start this review proper, I must make it clear that I did not get caught up in the Royal Baby fever, there's only one baby I'm excited about and he's not due for another three months. The actual reason I bought this set is two-fold, firstly my three year old son, Freddy, adores his Happyland sets and is always excited when a new set joins his collection. Secondly, we have been collecting the limited edition Happyland sets ever since the Royal Wedding set was released, always buying two of each set, with one to play with and the other to put away. This may be mercenary, but we've seen the value of these sets soar in the intervening years, with the original (first edition) Royal Wedding set now selling for anything up to £130 on Ebay.
The Happyland Special Edition Royal Baby set was released to celebrate the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Happyland's first-born which coincided almost exactly with the arrival of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's bundle of joy. This fairly small set is housed in a cardboard box that features a clear plastic window which reveals not only the three supplied pieces but also the commemorative packaging. While I wouldn't say that the box itself is as fancy or attractive as the Royal Wedding and Jubilee sets, it is still obviously a lot more special than the standard Happyland sets. While the standard price of £8 is a little considering there are only three pieces in the set, it does reflect the fact that this is a special edition with a first run of only 50000 sets and it does have to be noted that they are already selling for anything up to £15 (plus post and packing) on Ebay.
Although I did try, I found it impossible to open the box and release the characters without damaging the back drop, which incidentally is of Happyland Park (which I don't really get). Each of the three characters are made of the same rubbery material that is used with all Happyland characters with the detail painted on. The characters supplied are the Duke of Happyland, Duchess of Happyland and their newborn baby in a pram. While the adult characters are very obviously based on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (aka Wills and Kate), neither character looks particularly royal or prince/princessy. The Duke is dressed very casually in a blue jacket, white shirt and beige trousers, really if you didn't know he was supposed to be royal then you would assume he was any Daddy. The Duchess has to be Kate as she has long flowing brown hair, what I particularly like about this character is she does actually look like a brand new Mum. I don't know if she has been specifically designed in this way, but she looks as if she hasn't immediately got her figure back and still has a bit of a baby belly, which as every Mother will tell you is completely realistic. I also love her bright summery yellow dress, very apt for the beautiful summer we've been having (she's so lucky not to still be pregnant in this heat, it's far too hot).
The new Prince is all tucked up asleep in his very posh, old fashioned pram, which to be honest is the only part of the set that looks vaguely royal. While I'm not completely certain, the pram looks very much like a top of the range Silver Cross that has then been personalised with gilt trim and little crowns on the sides. I'd quite like a pram like this for my upcoming arrive, the little prince looks super comfy all snuggled up under his blankets, but I don't think I'd give my baby a gilt dummy. The only problem with the pram is that the wheels don't actually turn, which is a real shame as I do think that would add greatly to the play value.
As with all Happyland characters, the Duke, Duchess and little Prince are incredibly durable. The rubbery material they are made from makes them tough yet soft to the touch and the hand painted details manage to weather even rough play and chewing well. Being hollow they are also fairly light meaning they cause little damage when thrown and they are easily cleaned with a damp cloth or even in a washing up bowl.
As with all of the Happyland sets this has a recommended age range of 18months to 4 years, although I would suggest that it is suitable for a whole much older age group as well (for reasons I'll get into later). Freddy is about three and a half, but due to learning difficulties he has a developmental age of about two, putting him at the lower end of the recommended age group. As with all his Happyland collection, Freddy loves this little set and enjoys playing with the "Princess, Baby and Daddy", (I cannot convince him that Wills is a prince), spending time getting the Princess to push her baby around the room. I can't help but think that he's have even more fun with this if the wheels on the pram turned, but the fact they don't doesn't really seem to phase him in the least. Due to the fact that the adult characters are of a standard, Happyland size, Freddy also loves to incorporate them into his other sets. In fact it seems their favourite way to travel is in the double decker bus, which they use to get to the town, park or zoo, just like we do. It really is wonderful watching Freddy play with this little set and see how it is ideal for helping him improve his budding imagination and role play skills.
While we do not have a fanatical interest in the Royal baby, we do also use this little set to talk about babies in general and our upcoming arrival to be specific. This is something I really do like about Happyland, is the way the sets can be used to help a child (even one with special needs) understand the world around them and come to terms with new life events, with this set being no different. For younger children this set can be used to help talk about families and babies, while with more advanced children it can be used to talk about the media hysteria surrounding the Prince's birth.
As well as young children there are several other groups that this particular set may be suitable for. I'm sure this will make a quirky (and slightly different) gift for those who collect Royal memorabilia, especially as it is a limited edition. It would also make a nice gift for either new parents or a new arrival, with the history of the previous special edition Happyland sets, it could even be thought of as an investment.
While I do think this set is s little over-priced for what you get, it does have to be remembered that it is a limited run, special edition set. It is also set that Freddy enjoys playing with, so I am recommending this as a purchase for a younger child (just remember to buy two sets, one to play with and one to keep) or as a special gift. As far as stars out of five go, due to the fact that there are only three characters for £8 and the pram wheels do not turn, I am going to deduct one star, meaning The Happyland Royal Baby Set gets four stars out of five.