Product Type: ELC baby toys
Newest Review: ... to new scenarios, and letting them act things out. The firestation is one of the larger happyland sets, same size as the farm and school... more
HappyLand's on Fire!
ELC HappyLand Village Fire Station
Member Name: cmh4135
ELC HappyLand Village Fire Station
Advantages: A good stand alone item from the Happyland range
Disadvantages: Not enough thought has gone into how a child might play with it
One of our new acquisitions this Christmas was the Happyland Fire Station, part of Early Learning Centre's Happyland range. This range of toys is designed to allow children to partake in creative role play and consists of a range of people, vehicles and buildings which allows you to create a make-believe town in which children can play.
The bulk of our Happyland toys are kept at my son's grandparents' house and are used both my son and my niece. This item was, however, intended as a stand-alone item for use at our house and, I'm happy to say that it seems to fulfil that role.
The fire station itself is an open-backed building (like most in the range) and allows the child to play from both inside and out of the building with the accompanying figures. Double vehicle doors allow either of the two fire trucks to enter and exit the building and there's a separate pedestrian door. Internally the building is very simple with a couple of fixed telephones, a computer and a hose reel. There's a fireman's pole and a loft area.
As with many of the buildings in the range there are sound effects with the toy. Unlike many others, however, the sound effects are not "hidden" within the building but are presented as buttons atop the roof. Each of the five buttons has a picture on it supposedly depicting the sound that will be made when it is pressed.
There are a number of issues with the toy and things that just didn't seem to be thought about when putting it together.
The loft (or upper) area of the fire station is too small for the figures provided and the only way they can stand is either directly in the centre or with their heads poking out of the holes in the roof. This renders this are redundant save for the ability to post things through the roof and letting them fall to the lower floor. Similarly, the fireman's pole serves no purpose as it's inaccessible from the top (unless you're very dextrous) and you clearly can't climb it! It would have been far better to present a chute which the figures could slide down.
The noise buttons I find rather confusing as an adult and so I doubt that they are really within the grasp of a child. There are several "alarm" noises and I assume these are meant to be telephone, station alarm and fire engine siren but, from the pictures you'd never guess. Similarly they are not set out in "chronological" order, the noise of the engine starting up is the last button, after the noise of the hose and water! Also, being atop the roof, its too easy to push them by accident, especially when my son steadies himself using the roof.
The internal area is small but, rather disappointingly, the fire hose is just a plastic barrel which can be turned. Again, it would have been good if there could have been some kind of hose which could be reeled in and out - it's small enough that it shouldn't present a choking hazard.
Finally, the larger fire engine has a lift at the back comprising two concertina parts. This is so stiff that I can't extend it upwards and my son stands no chance.
This aside, my son has great fun playing with the station and its parts. The engines are regularly pushed from one side of the station to the other and used as vehicles on other toys. The characters are increasingly used in a make-believe way and interact with each other and other figures from other toys. The sounds are less of a hit but are used and I can see them coming to the fore as my son gets older.
As a stand-alone unit this toy works well and it would also be excellent as part of a larger Happyland set up. It encourages imaginative play and is ideal for children from about 18 months (there are no small parts) through to about 4 or 5. Unlike some of the shops this is one that would appeal equally to girls and boys throughout the age range.
Summary: A good stand alone item from the Happyland range