Product Type: ELC baby toys
Newest Review: ... Base, as I do have to try and distract Freddy from peeling these off. So from simply my point of view I would give the Mobile Moon Base f... more
ELC Mobile Moon Base
Member Name: sandemp
ELC Mobile Moon Base
Advantages: Brightly coloured, attention to detail, well loved
Disadvantages: A little heavy, some sticker decoration
==A Parent's View==
While many of the Happyland sets come in open faced boxes and features plastic ties that would try the patience of a saint, the Mobile Moon Base is supplied in an enclosed cardboard box with the pieces loose inside. There is a small amount of cardboard to protect the pieces from scratching and the figures are in plastic bags, but the set is very easy to remove from the packaging, taking literally seconds to be ready to play with. As a parent I really appreciated how easy it was to remove this from the box, especially as I had a very enthusiastic toddler who wanted to get his hands on it immediately.
Within the set there are a total of five pieces, comprising of two vehicles and three characters. The largest piece in the set is the Mobile Moon Base itself, which is a reasonably large, plastic cylinder that runs on four chunky, balloon wheels. The Moon Base looks very eye-catching with it's shiny, grey body, red doors, yellow satellite dish and blue wheels and the colour scheme ties in nicely with the Lift-Off Rocket. Being a Happyland toy, the attention to detail is impressive and it more than a toy that your child simply pushes along the floor. The door opens downwards to reveal stairs to the interior, which is decorated with moulded features. There is a computer on the desk that the spacemen can use to write up reports, send emails home, write reviews or sneak a watch of iPlayer. On one side of the computer there is a desk tidy, while on the other there is a jug and cup in case the spacemen get thirsty. At the front of the compartment there is a console along complete with a screen that provides contact with the permanent base and rocket. On opening the top door there are a set of solar panels to provide the electricity that powers all the electronics, while on the exterior of the Moon Base there is a satellite dish that can be positioned by way of a ball joint. Although the fact that the "accessories" are moulded into place could be considered a disadvantage, in that toddlers cannot move them around, the fact that they are not little pieces means that there is no worrying about having to remove them to prevent a choking hazard. There is plenty of room inside the Base to carry all three of the supplied characters, which makes tidying up that little bit easier.
One aspect of the Moon Base that I do not like is the decorative stickers, sure they look nice to start with, but Freddy has something of an obsession with stickers and likes to peel them off and eat them. Personally I would prefer that those details were either painted/printed on or omitted altogether. The Moon base is deceptively heavy, I thought it would be as light-weight as the majority of Happyland pieces, but it really does have a weight to it and I would imagine if it landed on your foot it would hurt. One aspect of all Happyland toys that this piece shares is how easily the doors fall off. Now many may consider is a disadvantage that the doors fall off very easily, but I am positive that they have been specifically designed to do this as it reduced the risk of them being broken by over-enthusiastic toddlers or being dropped on the floor.
The second vehicle in the set is a moon buggy complete with a scoop at the front that is perfect for scooping up moon dust (or sand from the sand table). As with the Moon Base, the buggy is deceptively heavy, (certainly much heavier than the buggy that comes with the rocket). The colour-scheme, is again bright and ties in with the rocket with the bright red chassis, blue, balloon wheels, yelloe scoop and grey detailing. There is only roon for one character in the buggy, unless one sits in the scoop that is, and the thankfully the buggy does not use the fiddly and frustrating peg system to hold the driver in place. The scoop is articulated and can be pushed up and down making a very satisying clicking sound as it does, but the range of movement is perhaps a little limited. As a final little touch the buggy can be attached to the Moon Base via a peg and eye system so that it can be moved to the next area to be explored.
The three characters that come with the set are all formed from the same rubber-like material as all the Happyland characters, with a small hole in the base that makes them compatable with all the other Happyland sets. I love that about Happyland, no matter which theme the character comes from it can be used with the vehicles and building in other sets, which gives a fantastic scope for a toddler's developing imagination. The particular characters in this set are two spacemen and a robot. I have to admit that the spacemen are identical to those found with the rocket, with one maybe being a slightly different colour. But the attention to detail that has been hand painted onto these characters is fanastic, with their tinted helmets and silver moon boots. The robot is a completely new character to us and one that I have to say is quite cute in a metallic sort of way. Again the attention to detail is impressive with his claw hands and "mad" eyes. At about 6-7cm in height these characters are the perfect size for little hands and far too big to cause a choking hazard.
All-in-all, from an adult's perspective, considering the price I paid, I feel this is a great add-on to the Happyland Lift-Off Rocket. It feels as well made as I've come to expect from the brand and has the same attention to detail and little touchs that you would find with other sets. My only qualm would be the couple of stickers used to decorate the Moon Base, as I do have to try and distract Freddy from peeling these off. So from simply my point of view I would give the Mobile Moon Base four and a half stars out of five, but as with any toy it's not just my opinion that counts....
==A Toddler's View==
Before I tell you about Freddy's reaction to this set and how he plays with it, I'm going to tell you a little bit about Freddy as he isn't exactly what you would call an average two year old (and what a child would get out of this does depend very much on the child). Freddy has a significant developmental delay in all areas, but especially in his communication, social and imaginative skills. This means he's virtually non-verbal, needs a lot of help when it comes to role play and doesn't always play with toys exactly as intended. Saying this Freddy is also a little boy who adores his Happyland sets and will happily spend hours exploring them, pressing buttons and putting characters in and out of the vehicles. As he is unable to tell me exactly what he thinks of this set, I'm basing this next section on my knowledge of him and observing him play.
There was never any question that Freddy was going to love this set, the only question was how much and would he be put off by the lack of sounds. And the answer is, that he unsurprisingly adores the set, playing with it everyday. Although heavier than his other Happyland vehicles he loves to push both the Base and buggy around and was really impressed when he discovered that they have very soft suspension and wobble slightly as he puts his weight on them. This same soft suspension means that they are perfect for using on the sand in his sand table, the wheels just don't get clogged up in the same way as ordinary cars. He also discovered the scoop on the buggy is perfect for moving sand from place to place as well as making a comforting clicking noise as he moves it up and down (and up and down and up and down).
When indoors Freddy's favourite way of playing with the Moon Base is to open the doors (which he finds very easy) and then place either one of the characters or some other toy inside, taking them for a ride and then opening the doors with a loud "boo". All sorts of different toys have been taken for a ride in the Mobile Base, including his beloved Tinky-Winky Beanie Baby, which was a bit of a tight squeeze, but a sign that the Mobile Base could be trusted with his most treasured of possessions. Freddy has no trouble wheeling either vehicle over our carpeted floor, they are the perfect size for him to hold and the wheels turn freely enough for them to build up a reasonable amount of speed. As with all his Happyland characters, the spacemen and robot have been thoroughly explored, with hands, eyes and mouth, with no sign of the paint flaking off. The characters have also been taken for rides in other Happyland vehicles and the fairground rides, depending on which other sets he has out.
As I expected, Freddy has attempted to remove the stickers to eat them (he has Pica and eats some very strange things), but so far they have held firm with a little help from me distracting him. The doors have proved to fall off easily, on those occasions the Mobile Base has landed on the floor they have flown off in all directions. But these are easily replaced and I would rather they fell off than broke. The Mobile Base and buggy have proved very durable when played with both indoors and out and the Base has even survived being used as a step so Freddy can reach a door handle. Believe me, if they can survive that weight then they can survive almost anything.
From observing Freddy playing with this and the joy he gets from exploring all it's different aspects, I do think that if he could talk he would give it five out of five, with him not even being concerned by the lack of buttons or electronic sounds (another obsession).
==Developmental Benefits and Age Suitability==
Billed as being suitable for toddlers aged between eighteen months and four years, the ELC claim that this set will help your child develop and improve their imaginations, social skills, understanding of the world around them and hand-eye coordination, and I would say this is just about right. Freddy's hand-eye skills are certainly challenged as he opens and shuts the doors, puts characters into the buggy, attaches the buggy to the Moon Base and pushes them around. His social and verbal skills are encouraged as we play together, with me giving a simple running commentary. Since recieving this set Freddy has attempted to copy me saying "spaceman" and he can now show me the spacemen or robot on cue.
How this set helps him expand the understanding of the world around him is a little harder to quantify, but we have used the vehicles in this set on different surfaces, compared them to other vehicles and discovered that the big wheels make it easier to push them on sand. We've also talked about space, looked at pictures of planets and I've tried to put them in context for him. Finally (for this aspect) Freddy has spent a great deal of time exploring what will fit in the Moon Base. As far as Freddy goes, imagining and role play are not something that comes naturally to him, but even with his games of hide and seek there is an element there. For the more "typical" child, this would be a fantastic prop for their imaginative role playing games, detailed enough and yet leaving enough to their vivid imaginations.
As far as age suitability goes, while there is nothing about this set that would cause a choking hazard to very young toddlers, and those of about a year would gain something from playing with it, I do feel that due to the weight it is more suited to the recomended minimum age upwards. As to the upper limit, as with all the Happyland toys, I do feel the ELC are being a little over-optomistic. Yes a four year would probably enjoy playing with this, but they would also probably be offended at receiving it as a gift, spurning it in favour of more "grown-up" alternatives.
This is a lovely little add-on set for those how already own one of the bigger Space themed Happyland sets, or even as a standalone set. There are a reasonable number of pieces and the attention to detail is fantastic. Freddy may not be a typical two year old, but he adores this set and plays with it daily (along with all his other Happyland sets). I do, however, feel it is a little over-priced when not included in one of the ELC's regular half-price offers. So while I am giving The Happyland Mobile Moon Base five stars out of five (rounded up from four and a half) and recomending it to the parents of any toddler, that recomendation is with the caviet that you wait until it is half price.
Summary: Another great addition to Freddy's Happyland collection
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