“ Brand: ELC / Age: 18 months / Type: Playsets „
The item I a reviewing the HappyLand Spring Meadow Zoo has been a favourite with my son for about 2 years now and it was him playing with it yesterday that remind me I really needed to review this.
What is it?
HappyLand for those of you un familiar with it is part of the Early Learning Centre brand and is generally aimed generally for children from 18 months to about 3- 4 years old. The aim of these sets is to encourage imaginative play. It is also useful in helping them understand the world and people and things in it. my son has always been fascinated by animals so this set seemed a natural choice and would allow him to use his imagination and recreate trips to zoo's and petting farms. The various sets are all interchangeable with the figures from one set fitting nicely into other sets.
The zoo set has large three main sections which are meant for you to display the animals. It contains a zoo train with a train engine for a driver to sit and two carriages each taking one person. The carriages are locked together so they can't come apart. The animals in the set include a monkey, giraffe, lion elephant, walrus, puffin penguin and polar bear. There are also two people one of which appears to be wearing a zoo keeper's outfit with binoculars and a visitor also with binoculars.
Now I can't say I can remember how many bits of wire there was attaching this set too the box but it was a lot and involved a fair bit of frustration as we got into it.
The first bit of the set that attached my son was all the animals as he is a huge fan of anything to do with animals. All the animals are a fixed shape design so there are no moving parts at all. This means they are nice and safe for little ones as there is nothing that can break of them and be swallowed. Now that he is getting to the top of the age range of this toy this isn't a concern but he still seems to like the fact that they are in a set pose. All of the animals have pleasant happy faces even the lion which doesn't look scary at all. They are all very chunky in design are nice and easy for small hands to hold them and move them around the zoo and floor as they are played with. My son finds these fit into his nicely and he is able to name all the animals and can tell the difference between the penguin and the puffin that are slightly similar. He also enjoys making noises for most of the animals but we can't really think of a noise for the walrus so he generally just ends up with splash as it goes into the water section. The two people with this set are also a fixed shape design and are again easy to hold and place into the various zoo sections and into the train.
The green tree section I think is designed to be a habitat for the monkey and giraffe and lion looks substantial and robust and is about 20-25 cm in diameter. On the base of the section there are several stickers that are well glued on the base. These stickers are too look like ponds of water for the animals to either drink from or have a bath. From the base there are several brown bits that are I think designed to look like branches of a tree for the animals to sit on. On the tree part itself there is a tyre swing for the monkey to sit on. I was a little concerned at first that the swing wouldn't be strong enough to cope with my son pushing the monkey into to it and swing it around for all its worth, but even after two years of rough treatment of monkeys people and other animals being placed on the swing it still works a treat and looks very good. The swing is not long enough to get tangled in the toy box either which is a huge plus for a tidy toy box. I was also concerned that the stickers may gradually come off but these too still look like new. The stickers for the ponds though have never really caught his attention in anyway and he still never makes the animals drink from the water or have a bath. This is one of my son's favourite sections as he just loves the swing element of it. He often places the monkey on the swing and makes monkey noises himself as he pushes it on the swing. He also loves arranging various animals on the wooden branches as if they are in a queue for the swing. The other animals tend to get knocked over by the cheeky monkey as it swings backwards and forwards and the giraffe especially seems to fall over a lot as a result of this.
The arctic area has a blue base and with some white bits that are to resemble ice. It too is about 20-25 cm in diameter across the base. There are also a couple of blue platforms for animals to sit on when they are not swimming in the water below. The bit that appeals the most here is the slide for the animals for them to end up in the blue water area at the bottom. This slide sees all the action and I think at one time or another every animal we have has slide down it complete with the wee noises my son makes. The sticker elements on the base of the unit are rubber rings for the animals. Again these stickers just haven't caught his imagination at all they have however remained on the base as good as new.
The least played with large section is what is refereed to as the petting zoo section. This is a large oval shape with a roof and a sign on the top saying zoo and a fence around it. This fence has two gates that open on either side of the oval. My son has never really used this as a petting section despite going to petting zoo himself. What he does use this for is a tunnel for the zoo train to go through and the lions to try to get the people on the train from either side. I think this section would of worked better for my son if it hadn't got a roof as it was a bit hard for him especially at the beginning to co ordinate what the animals did inside the fenced area as he could not always see what he was doing and his motor skills were not fine enough for him to move them inside it without banging his hand on the roof.
The zoo train itself is very popular with him and with its three carriages for people it moves around a treat on the floor. He loves placing other people from his different HappyLand sets inside this and taking them on trips not only around the zoo but around other HappyLand sets like his farm. The only person from our HappyLand sets that doesn't fit into the train is the policeman and it is only the first carriage he can't fit in as it has a roof and his helmet is too high for it. This has meant that my son has been able to take a lot of his HappyLand characters on day trips to the zoo which he and they have enjoyed and it has been fun to see him mimic some of the things we have talked about on our own zoo trips as he pushes them around. As he has got older he seems to have become quite the tour guide for them and describes the animals that the people are going to see and then moves the animals around in their own section.
I think this toy would have benefited from a playmate to place the various sections on and to illustrate different sections of the zoo in the same way the Goose feather farm has a mat with fields and thing on.
We have supplemented the animals in this with ones from our Safari Zoo set and this has just given him pairs of animals. This just seems to add to the fun and gives him more animals for the visitors to admire.
This toy makes no noises at all which I personally think is right for this toy as it allows my son to use his imagination to make all the noises of the animals and the visitors and train. He has never missed the fact that there is no noises to it wither and has loved making his own sounds.
Overall and recommendation
This is a great set from the ELC and one that has stood the test of time in our household as it was the fact that my son had played with it a few times over the past few days that prompted me to write this review. He is now just over 3 and still plays with it most weeks. It wasn't a cheap set and at full price was £40 but we got it when it was on offer. Unfortunately they no longer make this one and I have to admit I am puzzle as to why as it is a lovely set that is well made and great for imaginative play. It still can be bought on eBay and if you have a child that loves Happyland and animals I would definitely recommend looking out for one. This is a five star toy from my son has he still loves playing with it and I would give it 4 stars due to the roof problems on the petting zoo section.
My almost two year old son has recently begun a collection of the Happyland series of play sets from the Early Learning Centre.
Spring meadow zoo is one of his larger and more substantial play sets. It is priced at £40 and so is one of the more expensive sets, with others ranging from £8 for a simple set of figures to £70 for a large village set.
Just as with all of the Happyland series, the recommended age range for this product is 18 months to 4 years.
This particular set includes a zoo entrance, a penguin slide and pond, a monkey tree with swing, a train with three sections - each with a seat for a Happyland character, a giraffe, rhinoceros, monkey, polar bear, elephant, walrus, puffin, penguin, lion and two safari explorer type characters, each sporting a pair of binoculars.
The Happyland Spring Meadow Zoo was one that immediately caught my attention when browsing my local Early Learning Centre store. My son adores animals and so I knew that this particular set would be a big hit with him.
Just as I have come to expect from the Early Learning Centre, the pieces that make up this delightful pay set are strong, durable and attractively designed. The characters have rather endearing little features and the animals are painted in true to life colours - a quality which is not always present in some other brands such as Fisher Price.
Each character is just the perfect size for a toddler's grip and all moving parts, such as the opening door on the zoo entrance, are easily accessible and move freely - again this is a beneficial quality which is not always present in some other brands of toys.
This product has many educational benefits. It encourages role play and imaginative play. Figures and moving elements aid hand to eye co-ordination. The animals themselves can make a great conversational point between parent and child as we describe the names, sounds and countries of origin for each one. This toy can also accommodate more than one player and so it encourages social skills and interaction too.
My little boy has had lots of enjoyment from this set. He particularly favours the monkey tree swing and the little train which has spent many a day being whizzed around the kitchen and living room floors.
My only qualm about this product, and it is all but a slight one, is the price in comparison to other sets in the series. My son also owns Goosefeather Farm, which I believe to e just as substantial and maybe even more so as it includes a large, feature filled building and an additional play mat. Goosefeather Farm however is priced at £35, whereas Spring Meadow Zoo is priced slightly higher at £40. I personally believe that these prices should be somewhat aligned.
Overall this is a fantastic product and a wonderfully cheerful addition to the Happyland series of toys. I would most certainly recommend it for its endearing qualities, educational benefits and its durability and stability.