Product Type: ELC baby toys
Newest Review: ... their other Happyland pieces and they are much easier to replace. The top door opens to reveal the cockpit where the 2 included astronauts... more
To the moon and back...
ELC Lift Off Rocket
Member Name: sandemp
ELC Lift Off Rocket
Advantages: Great sounds, can store most of the pieces in the rocket, durable, fun
Disadvantages: Doors come off quite easily
==To space and beyond - A Parent's View==
While the majority of the Happyland toys are based around the village theme, there are an increasing number of sets with a space theme. It goes without saying that the Lift Off Rocket falls firmly within the space range. This bright red space ship comes packaged in a rather large box and is secured with several of those plastic ties toy manufacturers seem to be obsessed with. Although set-up is fairly easy, a pair of AA batteries do need to be installed, so it's a good idea to do this the night before if this is intended as a gift.
Billed as being suitable for children between one and four years of age, the rocket is a fairly large and heavy toy. Measuring approximately 45cm in height it is almost as tall as Freddy when he's sitting. The main body of the rocket is bright red, while the jets and handle are silver and the whole thing is made of very durable plastic. The battery compartment is securely closed by a tiny screw, meaning that there's no danger of batteries finding their way into a little one's mouth. The on/off switch is fairly easy to operate and allows partial adult control as to how loud the rocket is, as there are two different volume levels. (I say partial, as although he is only a year, Freddy is perfectly capable of operating the switch).
Once switched on the rocket makes one of two different noises depending on whether it is standing up or horizontal. The button is easy to press and cleverly located on the handle, meaning it's easy for even the youngest of toddlers to operate. If the button is pressed while the rocket is standing upright (firmly supported by the three jets, I might add), then it prepares for blast off with a really cool echoing countdown. Meanwhile, if the rocket is on it's side it makes what I'm assuming is a flying sound. No matter which sound the rocket plays the bottoms of the jets light up and flash red. Although I like the fact that there is a volume control, I must say that even at top volume, the rocket isn't that annoying and what I particularly like is that rather than the sounds keep starting again if the button is continually pressed (rather like stuttering), each sound plays right through before starting again.
As this is a Happyland toy, this is far more than just a rocket with lights and sounds. There are three doors that open onto different areas of the interior. The top door opens upwards to reveal the cockpit in the nose where two astronauts can lay during the take-off and flight. The bottom door opens to reveal a storage area that's the perfect size for a moon buggy and the door doubles up as a great ramp. The final, middle door opens on to the living quarters and it's here that the attention to detail really shows. There's a kitchen area with a microwave, toaster and coffee maker, a sleeping area complete with bed and bookshelves, but my favourite feature is the toilet hiding under the bed, there's even a little toilet roll.
No rocket would be complete with the astronauts to man it, and in this case two spacemen are supplied. As with all the Happyland characters these are made from a durable, rubberised material and while they are not poseable, they do feature a good level of detail. At about 10cm high, they're a good size for little hands to hold, but still too big to cause a choking hazard. There is also a small buggy for them to use to make trips across the moon's surface, this buggy does only hold one character though, but thankfully uses the older system of a hole to hold the character in place (rather than the newer peg system). The buggy is actually really cute, a good size to hold and scoots along nicely on it's balloon wheels. But there's even more, ever wonder who lives on the moon? Well, in Happyland it's a green alien with googly eyes who calls a yellow crater home.
As an adult, I can't help but think this is yet another fantastic toy from the Happyland range with lots of play potential, that will easily survive the rather rough play it's likely to receive from a rapidly developing toddler. The attention to detail is absolutely fantastic and there are a good number of pieces in the set, there's even a little dog in a space suit. The sounds aren't too loud and although the batteries are not supplied, they do seem to last a long time. The rocket also looks pretty good (I think it looks like something out of Thunderbirds myself), and most of the pieces can be stored inside it when not being played with. So, I'm perfectly happy to give this rocket five stars out of five from an adult's point of view, especially at the price I paid.
==We Have Lift-Off - A Child's View==
As soon as he set eyes on the rocket, one year old Freddy was enamoured, the bright red really caught his attention and he couldn't wait to explore it. After being shown how to make the sounds and lights worked the once, he finds it easy to work it for himself and loves to press the button and hear the noises. Although the carry handle is a good idea, Freddy is not yet big enough to carry the rocket around by himself, although he does think it's brilliant when Mummy or Daddy join in and use the handle to make the rocket fly while it makes noise.
We have found that all three of the doors come off their hinges rather easily, but in our case that is actually a good thing. You see Freddy has a thing about pulling the doors off of his toys, and I would much rather they came off easily than they snapped. The doors are all easy to click back into place and although they may become a source of frustration in the future, at the moment the fact they come off so easily probably reduces frustration. Although he can't carry the rocket, Freddy can just about lift it, which has led to a few near misses, especially when he's laying on the floor with it.
As with all the Happyland toys, the characters are a really good size for Freddy to hold and he loves to put them in and out of the rocket and the buggy. Freddy also loves to explore the rocket's interior, although he was confused as to why the toilet wouldn't flush. I do think that Freddy would have liked there to be a few more buttons to press. Many of his other Happyland toys have two or more buttons and Freddy loves to press them. So he's thoroughly investigated every last nook and cranny in the hope that he'll discover a new button.
At only a year Freddy is only just beginning to develop his imagination and role playing skills. So we spend time playing together with the rocket, which is great fun for young and old. I love helping Freddy to take the astronauts on a adventure to look for new life and the rocket's sound effects do add another dimension. We then make up a little story with the astronauts and their dog (who goes Woof woof) adding our own sound effects and voices. Both Freddy and I really enjoy playing together with the rocket, there's something about the countdown that brings out the inner child.
All-in-all the Happyland Lift-Off Rocket not only gets a big thumbs up from me, but also gets one from Freddy, who will happily play with this for extended periods. This is also a toy that immediately catches the attention of visiting children, who then go on to play with it. (If Freddy lets them that is, he hasn't quite worked out sharing yet).
As with all the Happyland toys, the ELC claim that this toy will help your child develop their imagination and understanding of the world around them. As always I agree with this assessment while still thinking that they are selling the toy a little short. Yes the rocket is a fantastic toy for encouraging role play, there are just about the right number of pieces and the little details really do bring imagination to life. At only a year, Freddy does need help with this imaginary play, but he will make woof noises for the dog and 'oogly-boogly' sounds for the alien, while the astronauts say hello, so he is getting there. As Freddy gets older the rocket could possibly be used to help explain the concept of space travel (although we might have transporters then, you never know).
As well as encouraging role play, the rocket also rewards a number of other skills, including fine motor as the button is pressed and the characters placed in the car or crater. Gross motor skills are also rewarded, from pushing and chasing the buggy to making the rocket fly.
As to the recommended age group, well this is the only Happyland toy that has a minimum recommended age of a year (as far as I know), with the others being considered more suitable for children over eighteen months. Well just for once, I reckon this lower age limit is just about right, as while there's nothing in the set that I would consider an actual hazard to younger children the rocket is probably a little heavy for them. At a year old Freddy isn't yet getting the most from the rocket, but he definitely enjoys playing with it and is steadily learning the skills necessary to use it to it's full potential. I would say that the upper age limit is about right too, the fact it's a rocket/spaceship is bound to hold the attention if nothing else.
==Back To Earth==
This is yet another wonderful toy from a wonderful range, it is extremely well made and real thought has gone into it's construction. Although Happyland is often compared to Fisher Price Little People, believe me the difference in quality and durability is like chalk and cheese. (With Little People being much flimsier). Freddy loves his rocket and at only a year is able to put his rudimentary imagination to work while playing with it. Even better this is a toy that I can see him playing with for at least the next three years, and one that will survive even the roughest play. As to whether it is worth the standard price of £30, well that's a hard one, because if I hadn't of bought it at the lower price, I would have probably said it was. But having only paid £17.50, I would say that it might be better to wait until it is reduced again. Only, the ELC does regularly discontinue Happyland sets, so if you wait then you might miss out on a fantastic toy. Oh, this is so hard, so I'll leave you to make your own mind up, knowing that both Freddy and myself are giving the Happyland Lift-Off Rocket five stars out of five.
Summary: We're off on a space adventure
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