“ Brand: ELC / Type: Toy Cement Mixer / Type: Cars & Vehicles „
When it came to Christmas 2010, Mr Lools and I were clueless when it came to buying presents for our twin boys who were approaching 11 months old. As new parents there seemed to be a wealth of brightly coloured toys all of which we were sure our boys would like. Because we already owned a lot of ELC toys and had found them to be of an excellent quality we studied to ELC catalogue for present buying inspiration. Mr Lools was very keen to buy the boys "proper boys toys" so when he came across the ELC Lights and Sounds Cement Mixer he thought this was perfect.
***ELC Lights and Sounds Cement Mixer***
The ELC Lights and Sounds Cement Mixer is a big chunky mixer lorry with space for a driver in the front carriage, light up headlights and sounds. It comes with three figures, two people figures and also a dog. The mixer is predominantly made from bright yellow plastic with a blue and green cement mixer at the back of the vehicle which tips up and down. The toy is around 35cm long by 15cm wide and 20cm high.
ELC state that the cement mixer is suitable for children from age 1-3 years.
The toy requires 2 size AA batteries which are supplied.
The Lights and Sounds Cement Mixer is available from ELC and Mothercare stores and is also available online. The RRP for the toy is £16.00 this is a similar price to the majority of ELC vehicle toys aimed at the aged 1-3 age range. The Cement Mixer is regularly on special offer and when we purchased this in November 2010 we paid £10.80 from our local ELC store.
***Playing With It***
The Lights and Sounds Cement Mixer comes in the usual type of ELC packaging. A cardboard box with lots of ties holding the vehicle and figures inside therefore as a parent it takes over 5 minutes to remove all these pieces away from your children.
When removed from the packaging I did feel that the cement mixer is definitely a chunky sturdy vehicle especially the wheels and cement mixer at the back of the vehicle. What actually surprised me is that there is no on/off switch which nearly all ELC toys have. The vehicle sounds and lights are touch activated. These sounds are not easy to activate unintentionally but it is not impossible and I have found on a number of occasions that if something in the toy box touches the sensor inside of the driver cab the phrases are activated. The two sensors on the posts by the driver back are probably easier to set off by accident which set off the mixing/ engine running sound. This is quite annoying as on an evening when my children are in bed there have been a number of occasions Mr Lools and I have walked past the toy boxes and this toy has been set off.
The toy is a bright attractive toy to play with but I do not think it offers the same level of fun and enjoyment that some of the other vehicle toys from ELC offer especially for children of 12 months. At 11 months when my boys were given this toy they enjoyed pushing the cement mixer along the floor which is easy to do but no sounds were activated and you have to press buttons for the lights and sounds to be activated. Unlike many ELC toys aimed at children of 12 months old it is not so easy to do.
To set off the engine/ mixer sound you have to press one of two small buttons which are circular (and about 5mm in size) which are located on posts near the driver cab. This sets off the cement mixer headlights and the sound plays for around 10 seconds.
To activate the male voice which says four different phrases you need to push down on the driver in the driver cab. Either of the two people figures fit into the front cab and these phrases are spoke in a clear male voice and say "it won't take long to set" , 24 parts sand , one part cement", "where do you want it" or "let's get mixing".
Until my boys were around 16 months old they needed quite a bit of help and direction to set off the sounds and I would regularly have to show them how to set the sounds off by pressing down the sensor in the driver cab or the very small buttons by the driver cab. As a result after a minute or so of pushing the cement mixer along the floor, tipping the back of the mixer up and down they would then crawl off to play with something else as they had lost interest in the toy. If I compare this to the fire engine, car transporter and ambulance they own from ELC they can spend over 10 minutes simply playing with each one of these vehicles as they have so many buttons and sounds to activate.
This was slightly disappointing when my boys were 16 months and older but over the last few months as they have become more independent and started to play with the ELC Cement Mixer a lot more. The toy has helped to encourage them to be imaginative and one of my little boys in particular can regularly be pushing this vehicle around his car playmat babbling to himself. He likes to take the figures in and out of the driver cab and although this cab area is small, at 19 months he is able to now do this easily although both my boys struggled to get the figures into this small space when they were under 15 months.
The figures that come with the cement mixer are two men (both dressed in high vis vests and construction helmets) and a dog. Even at 11 months old my boys were able to easily pick these up as they are a good size for little hands; not too big but not too small that they could be a choking hazard.
Unlike many ELC toys where I feel the 1-3 years age range is more suitable for children between 9 months and 2 years I actually feel the Lights and Sounds Cement Mixer is probably better from around 18 months old. I do not feel that the toy is dangerous or presents a choking hazards for children of 12 months (as I would not have given it to my boys when they were 11 months old) I just feel the functions are very basic and probably better for children who have better hand eye coordination and play more imaginatively so they can get full benefit out of this toy. The cement mixer is bulky and slightly heavier than other vehicle toys from ELC so if you do allow a baby younger than 12 months to play with this toy you would need to supervise and personally I would make sure they are sat up as the toy would be heavy if they pulled it over onto themselves.
One of the biggest advantages of the Lights and Sounds Cement Mixer is that it is very durable. It is a very chunky toy which has withstood being dropped from highchairs and from our sofa on a regular basis. Even when dropped onto a hard tiled floor no parts have smashed off the cement mixer and it has not affected the lights or sounds on the toy. It is also very easy to wipe over with a damp cloth. The figures are also durable and the hard plastic they are made from have withstood 8 months of my boys chewing on the figures. The detail on them has not scratched off despite being constantly gnawed. My only criticism of the figures/ design of the cement mixer is that you can only store one figure therefore the other person figure and dog tend to get lost, especially if you have a large collection of other toys in your toy box.
This is not one of the best ELC toys we have in our extensive collection but it is also not the worst. The cement mixer is bright colourful and very durable. The three figures that come with the vehicle are easy for a young toddler to hold and play with.
However compared with the other vehicle toys from ELC I do not think that the Cement Mixer offers the same range of sounds and functions as it is limited to only the back of the vehicle tipping back and forwards and only a few basic phrases. For £16.00 there are a lot of other ELC vehicle toys which offer better value for money which is why I feel the ELC Lights and Sounds Cement Mixer is "on sale" so frequently.