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
ELC HappyLand Village Fire Station
Member Name: sandemp
ELC HappyLand Village Fire Station
Advantages: Lots to do, sturdy, well thought out
Disadvantages: Stickers on road signs
The ELC Happyland range is in a word fantastic and by collecting the various sets your child can take charge of their own village. One year old Freddy has quite a few of the sets now, having received many when the ELC held a sale where they were half price and then yet more on his birthday. One of the things that I love about Happyland is that there are sets to suit all budgets, from £8 for a set of people right up to £60 for the village. The Happyland Fire Station is a set that Freddy received from his Nan and Granddad for his birthday and one that he's played with every day since.
==Is There A Fireman In The House? - A Parent's View==
The Fire Station is one of the larger and more expensive of the Happyland sets coming at £26 (although it is on offer at the moment). Supplied in a reasonably large box, there are a good number of pieces in this set and with many of them needing to be removed from plastic bags along with installing batteries this does take a little while to set up. Although there are none of those nasty plastic ties to untwist, it's still a good idea to either make sure your child is distracted while you set up, or do as I did and set it up the night before.
Once I'd set it up I really couldn't help having a play with this myself, it's just so much fun. The bright red fire station sits on a pale green base and has a bright, yet pastel blue roof. With the base measuring approximately 30cm by 15cm and the station standing 25cm tall, this is quite a large toy that takes up a significant amount of space in the toy box. Although there are no buttons to press on the interior, there is lots of detail to help fuel your child's (or even your own) imagination. I love all the little details, there's a computer, complete with monitor, pair of telephones and even a tea set. There's also a pole for the firemen to slide down and a hose reel that actually turns. The outside of the station also has lots of detail, there are two sets of doors, one single door that opens on to an office area and the double doors with ivy growing up the side that open to the engine bay. There's even a klaxon on the roof and a bell above the double doors, this really is a detailed toy.
I also love the two open windows in the roof, which form a perfect handle for carrying the station around, they really do make it easier for me to put it away at the end of a busy day. Although there are doors at the front of the station, the rear is open to allow easy access to the two floors. Perhaps the best bit about the station is the sounds that it makes. While other Happyland buildings have buttons in the form of doormats, phones or tills, the fire station has a set of five buttons on the roof's apex. These buttons are powered by 2AA batteries (not supplied), which are secured in the underside of the roof behind a tiny screw. Although there is no volume control the sounds are not too loud, loud enough to be heard, but not loud enough to drown out the television or be heard in the next room. Each of the buttons has a picture on it corresponding to the sound it activates, with there being the sound of an engine being started, a hose running, two different sirens and a bell ringing. My personal favourites are the two sirens, they really help bring the station to life. Although we've only had the station for a week, this has had extensive use and there's no sign of the batteries running down yet.
Along with the station there are a number of other pieces in the set, including not one but two vehicles. There is, of course, a fire engine, which is actually really cool. The fire engines cab is bright red, while it's rear is grey and the two parts pivot (but do not separate). At the very back of the fire engine is a rescue platform, that rises up with a very satisfying series of clicks to allow the fire fighters to rescue cats from trees and reach to the tops of the buildings. The fire engine also has room for not one but three characters which are all held in place via holes (rather than the newer peg system). Although the fire engine is chunky, it's a good size for little hands to hold and the three sets of wheels make it easy for them to push it along the floor. The other vehicle is much smaller and is the Fire Chief's car, again it is chunky a good size for little hands and easy to push.
A fire station and engine, wouldn't be much good without any fire fighters and if you include the fire chief in this set we are treated to a total of four. As with all Happyland characters the fire fighters are non-poseable but full of detail. What I especially like about this set is that rather than sticking to gender stereotypes there are both male and female fire fighters. At approximately 10cm high, these characters are the perfect size for little hands to hold, but too big to cause a choking hazard. There's also a little cat, who is perfect for rescuing from trees. All the characters are made from a rubberised material and while the detail is painted on, it has shown no sign of wear and tear. The final two pieces of the set are a couple of road signs, which I have had to put away for the time being as they are decorated with stickers and a certain little someone has been trying to remove them.
As with all the Happyland sets, the fire station is extremely well made and a lot of thought seems to have been put into the construction. The only problems I have is the fact that stickers have been used for some of the decorations and that the doors do come off very easily. All in all, as an adult, I would give the Happyland fire station four and half stars out of five. But it's not just my opinion that counts....
==Help There's A Cat Stuck Up A Tree - A Child's View==
Although the recommended minimum age for this set is eighteen months, Freddy received this for his first birthday. I will say that there is absolutely nothing in this set that would cause a hazard to younger toddlers and I would say that although they might not get the absolute most from it, they will still have fun. Freddy loves all of his Happyland sets and this is no exception, this is a toy that he will explore and play with on his own as well as enjoying the time that we spend playing firemen with him.
As with any new toy, Freddy spent a good amount of time examining every inch of the fire station when he first got it. As he's used to Happyland toys having buttons for him to discover, he spent (and still spends) time pressing everything that he could think of before discovering that he needed to press the buttons on the roof. It's quite funny to watch him press the bell above the double doors and then expect the station to make a noise. The next thing he did was pull the doors off, which is something that he is quite obsessed with at the moment. While the fact that the doors do come off so easily may become frustrating in the future, I'm actually glad that they do as I would much prefer that to them breaking, especially as Freddy is so determined. The doors are easy to replace, but I must admit, I've just put them away for now.
As well as enjoying spending time exploring the station, Freddy absolutely adores the fire engine. He loves the way the platform clicks and is quite happy just to spend time pushing it up and down. He also enjoys putting the fire fighters into the engine or car and then pushing them along, making them "vroom" as well as occasionally chewing on them.
As Freddy's imagination is only just starting to emerge, as well allowing him time to play with this independently, we also spend time playing with him. I guess, I enjoy this time almost as much as Freddy does as we put out pretend fires and rescue the cat from the fire station roof. All of the pieces add to this play and the sounds really do add another dimension, although I must admit that I do love to make the "Nee-Naw" sounds myself, while Freddy giggles at me. Along with Freddy, other visiting children have enjoyed playing with the station over the last week (while he was having a nap of course) and they had just as much fun as Freddy and I.
Being only one, Freddy's not really able to put how much he enjoys playing with this into words, but he is able show us in other ways. The fact that he will sit exploring the station, pushing the vehicles and playing with the characters for up to half hour at a time speaks volumes as does the smile on his face as we play together. Although this isn't quite his favourite Happyland set (that would be his rocket), it is one that he enjoys playing with both as a standalone set and with other sets. All things considered I would say that he would also give this set four and a half out of five.
==Learning Through Play==
As well as simply being a wonderful toy that Freddy enjoys playing with, the fire station will also him to develop new skills while improving those he's already learnt. The ELC themselves claim that this will help children develop their imaginations and understanding of the world around them. These are claims I completely agree with and are in fact claims that I would say could be laid to any of the Happyland range. You see what I love about the Happyland range is how the ELC has taken buildings and situations that could well be familiar to young children and created toys around them. Now although we do have a fire station in our town, it is a very small one and in the year we've lived here I don't think that we've ever seen a fire engine go out on a call. So Freddy really doesn't have a clue what a fire engine is, apart from what he's seen on TV, so this fire station has been a really good way to introduce the idea of fire engines and fire fighters to him. Even in this week he's begun to learn that fire engines go "Nee-Naw". The addition of the cat is absolutely fantastic, because Freddy does know what a cat is and it's lovely to hear him saying "meow" as he plays with it.
Other skills this set is helping Freddy improve and develop include, his fine motor skills as he pushes buttons and puts the people into the vehicles and his gross motor skills as he pushes the vehicles around. As there are so many pieces this is also good for helping a toddler start to learn about cooperation and sharing.
As to the recommended age, well I do think that eighteen months is being rather over-cautious. Freddy has been playing with Happyland toys since he was about ten months and there's really nothing about them that would make them unsafe for that age group. I would say that although younger children might not get the most out of this toy, think of it as an investment as while a ten month old may only really play with the fire engine and car, as they get older they will steadily make more and more use of the set. And you'll be safe in the knowledge that this will easily survive the rough play it will receive over the next few years as your child plays with it in a more and more refined way. I would say though, that for younger children, it is essential that you spend some time teaching them how to play with this by playing firemen with them.
The Happyland Fire Station is yet another excellent toy from the range, full of detail with plenty of pieces to keep your little one amused. If your child already has a Happyland collection, then this is an essential add-on that adds so much play to the other sets. This is also a wonderful set for any young child who is fascinated with fire engines. Freddy and I both love this set and it's one of the better presents he received for his birthday, so I don't hesitate to recommend the Happyland Fire Station and give it four stars out of five.
Summary: Every Happyland village needs one