Product Type: ELC baby toys
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William and Kate Live Happyland Ever After!
ELC Happyland Royal Wedding Set
Member Name: jo1976
ELC Happyland Royal Wedding Set
Date: 08/01/12, updated on 10/10/13 (253 review reads)
Advantages: Great for imaginative play, lovely keepsake of the Royal Wedding
Disadvantages: Best used in conjunction with other Happyland sets
The Happyland range is exclusive to the Early Learning Centre and includes various sets designed to replicate everyday life and locations, stimulating imaginative play for youngsters. Perhaps surprisingly, I'd never owned any Happyland sets before this one, tending to prefer Fisher Price's Little People range, which is a similar type of toy.
This particular set is a lovely memento, but is also a fun set of characters for imaginative play. This includes figures representing Kate and Prince William (of course) as well as the Queen (complete with crown) and Prince Phillip. They are accompanied by a smart soldier on horse back and a foot soldier complete with bearskin helmet! To complete the set, there is a horse and carriage and even a cute little corgi, to add an extra little touch. All of the figures bear a likeness to their Royal namesakes and have real elements of character.
When I first purchased this set, I expected this to be a set that could be played with by my youngest son as he got older. I was surprised by how much interest my three year old son actually showed in this set. He had been whipped up into a Royal Wedding frenzy by his nursery teachers at the time, however, and was forever telling me how beautiful Kate was and how she was going to become a magical Princess when she got married. (If the Royal Family ever need any help to promote their popularity and public image, they would do well to employ some Primary School teachers!)
My son really enjoyed pulling the royal couple along in their carriage and acting out the wedding ceremony, in the days leading up to the big day. I'm not entirely sure that the Royal Family would be overly impressed with all of his imaginary play, though. One memorable scene involved Prince William marrying the foot soldier! I'm not quite sure that the Royal Family is ready to celebrate its first gay wedding just yet. I'd probably better not mention the suspected bestiality either with the horse playing quite a leading role in the wedding ceremony in one of my son's productions! (Likewise, I suspect that having the Queen attached to the harness and pulling the carriage is probably an act that would be classed as treason!) Needless to say, this seemingly simple set does offer a surprisingly large opportunity for imaginative play although this would be best used in conjunction with further Happyland sets, of which there are many.
I did wonder whether the set might pose a choking hazard for my youngest son as he started to get more mobile. The dog, in particular, is pretty small but it is not small enough to fit into a toddler's mouth - despite his best attempts. I do think the age recommendation of 18 months plus is a fairly realistic estimate, as all of the figures are a reasonable size to be handled by tiny hands. At sixteen months, my youngest is just starting to show an interest in these figures, especially the animals and the carriage, but is not quite at the stage of acting out scenes as yet, so this set has the potential to entertain him for a couple of years to come. The carriage, in particular, offers a good opportunity for little ones to develop their hand-eye co-ordination as they attach the harness and connect up the horse to pull it along. I do find that the carriage and harness can come detached quite easily but this doesn't seem to frustrate my little one too much.
Having never owned any Happyland sets or figures before, I have been pleased with how durable this set has proven to be. My little one has sucked, slobbered on and chewed the various plastic figurines without any visible damage. The only obvious signs of wear and tear are visible on Kate's white wedding dress which is prone to scuffs and black marks. (I think that was mainly from being squeezed into one of my son's trucks. I suspect that isn't something that parents of little girls have to contend with!) Even the carriage has proven to be surprisingly robust. I'm pretty certain it wasn't intended to be misappropriated as a roller skate but it has withstood this and more without any signs of damage.
I am really impressed with the quality of this set both as a endearing little keepsake of a special Royal occasion and as a toy that is robust enough to be played with and enjoyed. As this was a 'Limited Edition', I was a little surprised to discover that this set is actually still available on the ELC for the original selling price of £15. This set appears to have been updated slightly too, to reflect the actual colours and outfits that were worn on the day itself. This is yet another beautiful and thoughtful little touch, making the set even more special.
Long after the day has passed, our set is still being enjoyed and played with. I'm even tempted to invest in one of the revised editions now. This really is a lovely, very well designed offering from the Early Learning Centre and should have Royal approval!
Summary: A lovely keepsake that also offers ongoing play value