Product Type: ELC baby toys
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A Royal Celebration In Happyland
ELC Happyland Royal Wedding Set
Member Name: sandemp
ELC Happyland Royal Wedding Set
Advantages: Durable, lots of detail, unusual, collector's piece, value will rise
Disadvantages: Limited play value, peg system for holding characters in place, bride's family not represented
I promised that I wouldn't get excited about the Royal Wedding and certainly wouldn't spend any of my hard earned cash on any memorabilia, but I suppose I really should get into the spirit just a touch. At a year old, my Little Man is probably far too young to understand even what a wedding is, let alone one that involves royalty. But that's what I love about the Happyland range, no matter what the circumstances, there's almost certainly a set available to help introduce your child to them. The Happyland Royal Wedding Set is a special edition set brought out to celebrate the upcoming wedding of William Windsor and Kate Middleton. Because this a special edition set it is priced slightly higher than the norm coming in at £15, but as I had a 20% birthday club discount voucher I only paid £12 a set. And being a bit of a canny Mummy, I actually bought two sets, one for Little Man to play with and the other to be put away, unopened as I'm pretty sure it's value is only going to rise. I will say though that this set is already quite difficult to get hold of, I tried two High Street stores and they had both sold out, but they were still available on the ELC website (although delivery then had to be added to the price). Taking a look on Ebay this set is already selling for anything up to £30 in new unopened condition and I can only see this price rising.
==Here Comes The Bride==
The Happyland Royal Wedding set comes securely packed in a cardboard box that features an see-through section so that you can see exactly what you are getting for your money. Even the packaging is a little extra special, with a castle and crowd scene in the background. Removing this from the packaging was fairly easy, there were only a couple of plastic ties to be untwisted, but I was disappointed that I was unable to remove all the pieces without damaging the background, even using the utmost care. On a scale of one to ten, I would put the difficulty of removing this from the packaging at about four, it took me about five minutes, but I was being very careful.
Once removed from the packaging there are a good number pieces, which there blooming well wants to be for the price. Firstly you get the royal carriage, which is beautifully decked out in black and gold with red wheel. The carriage scoots along quite happily by itself, but can also be connected a halter that fits over a beautiful white horse. What I like about this carriage is that the connection to the halter is very secure and doesn't come apart every few seconds. But what I don't like is that the halter isn't secured to the horse meaning that the horse comes away every few seconds. There is room in the carriage for two Happyland characters, with newer peg system of keeping the characters in place.
No Royal Wedding set would be complete without the bride and groom, and in this case Kate Middleton and Prince William. As with all the Happyland characters the amount of detail that has gone into these is fantastic. Although I wouldn't say they are instantly recognisable they are fairly close to reality in a cartoon-like way. It's always the little details that make Happyland characters extra special, and Kate is wearing a simple but elegant wedding dress, with a very pretty tiara holding her veil in place, a lovely waterfall of pink flowers and even little stud earrings. In the meantime Prince William is dressed in a very smart uniform with peaked cap all with plenty of gold detailing. Both bride and groom have their arm raised ready to wave to the crowds.
Although the bride's family are not represented in this set (which is a little strange, who's going to give her away), William's grandparents are here in the form of the Queen and Prince Phillip. While if I didn't know who he was I would have assumed that Phillip was Charles (he even has sticky out ears), these characters again are beautifully detailed, I especially like the Queen's crown. The Queen has even brought one of her corgis along. There are also two soldiers here to guard the Royal family, a mounted cavalry officer in his full regalia, who is seated on a black horse and a foot soldier in his red uniform and bearskin hat. As with all Happyland characters those in this set are made from a rubberised material with all the detail painted on. At about ten centimetres high they are too large to cause a choking hazard, although the corgi is somewhat smaller, it is still too large to swallow.
As an adult I think this is a lovely set that is not just suitable to give to young children. Sure it's perfectly safe to give to them and durable enough to withstand lots of rough play, but it's also a lovely set to display. I think this would make a nice and slightly unusual gift to give to a newly married couple. This is also a nice set to put away as a keepsake, which is what we've done. All in all, as an adult I would give this set five out of five, it's a well thought out and well made toy, that will only increase in value over the years. But I would say, that you need to buy two sets, one to play with and one to put away unopened.
My Little Man is almost a year and loves all of his Happyland toys, so it's no wonder he got excited when the courier delivered this set. Although Little Man wanted it there and then, but as I wanted to try and save the packaging, I did make him wait until after a sleep. Although I did set everything up nicely for him, as soon as he got up, Little Man started thoroughly exploring all of the different pieces, with both his hands and mouth. Although Little Man will play with all the different pieces, he seems to have fallen in love with the Kate character and will spending an age putting her into the carriage and then taking her for a ride. As with all Happyland vehicles that use the peg system, Little Man finds actually pushing the characters onto the pegs impossible, meaning that they do tend to fall out, which he does find frustrating. Saying that the carriage is a really good size for him to hold and is easy to push along ready to chase. When we first set this up, I did place the harness over the white horse, but as it doesn't fit very firmly, they soon become separated.
Although he really doesn't understand what weddings are, Little Man does like me helping him play with this set and listens quite intently as I talk about what the characters are doing. And he's not the only one who's played with it, older visitors have also had a play and loved the prince and princess aspect. Not only have they got married, but they've also had lots of adventures where they've been used in conjunction with other Happyland sets. From a child's point of view, I'd probably have to give this set four stars out of five, because as nice as it is, play is a little limited. (Although I'm sure it will be far more popular with little visitors after the wedding has been televised).
==Learning Through Play==
Although your child/toddler will learn no matter what they play with, certain toys can help them learn and develop new skills. What I particularly love about the Happyland range is how they help children learn about the world around them and develop their imagination and role play skills. While I do feel that this is one of the more limited toys as in what it does, it still has a valuable place in Little Man's collection. Obviously, this set is perfect for helping a child recreate their own Royal Wedding, but it can also be used to help prepare a child for a slightly less royal occasion. As his Mummy and Daddy will be getting married next year, we have been talking about that while playing with the set. The set can also be used to prepare a child for a visit to Buckingham Palace (or recreate it).
This is actually a lovely set, with plenty of pieces, but it is a little limited in play value. As with all Happyland toys it is well thought out and durable, having survived being chewed on and thrown around the room with no real sign of damage. I do love the detail, and the use of metallic highlighting does make this set extra special. In fact this set is so special that if you are only going to buy one, then I would advise not giving it to your child and putting it away unopened instead. In fact, if you do plan to buy this, then I would suggest buying two sets, then your child will still be able to play with it. As well as being a nice set for a child, I do think this would make an unusual wedding gift or a nice gift for a collector of Royal memorabilia. The only thing I will say is, buy one quick, many of the High Street stores have sold out and these are already selling for ridiculous prices on Ebay. And so, yes I am recommending this set, both for toddlers and young children between the ages of one and four, and for adults as a collector piece.
Summary: Almost too special to give to a child.