Product Type: ELC baby toys
Newest Review: ... different sound effects lights and other sounds triggered when you raise the lift. This is a brilliant imagination toy fill up with petro... more
Whiiiizzzz, Brrrrmmmm, BEEEP BEEEP!
ELC Whizz Around Garage
Member Name: historywitch
ELC Whizz Around Garage
Advantages: Bright, noisy, entertaining, educational, lots of activities
Disadvantages: Quite expensive, noisy, falls apart when you carry it around
My mother got wind of our plans and pre-empted us by buying this one from the ELC and my husband bought it over the last time he was in the UK.
********Early Learning Centre*********
Probably one of the most popular high street and online retailers for children’s toys and games, there can’t be many parents, or grandparents, or aunts and uncles or god parents or friends of people with children who haven’t heard of this company. They pride themselves on good quality, educational and stimulating toys at reasonable prices and my daughter owns vast quantities of their merchandise. We even own a ten year old ELC train set that has passed through the hands of at least ten children in my family and is still in perfect working order. So I was pretty confident that this would be a useful and enjoyable toy for my daughter.
They say about this garage:
‘This chunky garage is ideal for little hands to get to grips with. Includes an exciting spiral descent and ramps, 3 cars and 6 sounds. This fun toy will help your child develop their manual dexterity and provide hours of imaginative play.’
***********Age range and size***************
ELC guidelines say this product is suitable for children between 18 months and 3 years.
Height: 37 cm
Width: 64 cm
Depth: 41 cm
(taken from the ELC website)
*****Unpacking and Setting it up************
Once you have opened the large box, undone all the plastic packaging and fiddled with all of the plastic tags you will be left with 9 pieces of plastic to fit together. Luckily, they do just fit together and the whole process is pretty intuitive, you will probably only have to make minimal use of the instruction sheet that comes with it…the picture on the box would probably suffice. There is a large blue moulded base piece, a yellow tower, two orange supports, the car wash section, the red ramp, the green ramp, the orange sign and the yellow barrier. All of these pieces neatly fitted into their pre-assigned holes and we were ready to try it out. Sadly, like many toys, it came without the essential batteries and this one needs four AAs, so my husband had to make a hasty trip out to the shops.
The batteries fit in the helipad at the top of the yellow tower, a small screwdriver is required to open the hatch and the batteries slip easily into the holes.
Also included with the garage are a packet of yellow and blue arrow stickers to apply to the ramps and the car wash entrance and exit. The places where these stickers should go are clearly marked by arrow shaped smooth places in the rougher plastic of the garage. However, we preferred the more child friendly approach of giving Olivia the stickers and letting her get on with it. The result is certainly not aesthetically pleasing and would give any serious users of this garage a major headache, but it gave her a great deal of pleasure. One thing we did notice is that when applied in the wrong places these stickers are very likely to curl up and ultimately peel off, but this has never bothered us. The garage comes with some stickers already applied, there are garden effect stickers applied to the blue moulded base and the striped sticker on the barrier was already there when we bought it.
In addition the garage comes with three chunky and colourful cars in red, orange and blue. These friendly looking cars have eyes for headlamps and are perfectly sized not just for the garage but also for little toddler hands. The cars also have magnetic attachments at the front and back, so you can join them all together and send them down the ramp for extra fun. There is a certain degree of movement in these magnetic attachments so when you have joined all of the cars together they can turn in a gentle circle. My daughter likes to put two opposing forces together to make the magnetic attachments wiggle amusingly, and of course you use the opposing force to push another car along. I hope I have used the right terms, I know very little about magnets even though I am married to a research physicist!
I have to warn people that this toy DOES make a noise, in fact six different noises. My daughter is particularly deprived in this area because of the damage that these toys do to my sanity and my prospects of getting any work done while she is playing. So she was delighted to find that this garage not only makes noises but lights up. However, there is a volume button located on the side of the yellow tower which will also turn the sounds off in an emergency. The very loudest setting is louder than I was comfortable with and I had some concerns for my daughter’s hearing, so the garage is usually set at its lowest level.
So what noises does it make? Firstly the petrol and air pumps at the front have chunky and easily pressed buttons which are endlessly inviting to small fingers. On pressing these buttons you are rewarded with a ‘glug glug glug’ or ‘psssssssshhh’ sound and the lights on the front of the tower light up in order. The effect lasts only a few seconds, before the button has to be pressed again…and again….and again…and again.
The lift in the yellow tower makes a noise and lights up when the red handle on the side is raised or lowered. The noise it makes is a ‘wooooooaaaarrrrrr’ as the lift goes up, with a ding or a dong when the lift arrives at the top or the bottom. The little red handle is very easy to use, but my daughter still amusingly hasn’t worked out where the cars go in the lift and doesn’t look for them on the other side of the tower. She is quite prepared to repeatedly slide the lift up and down though and she really enjoys the added effect of the lights.
The final noises this garage makes are when a car goes down the green/blue ramp. As it passes the yellow tower the garage makes a ‘beep beep’ or ‘brrrm brrm’ noise and the lights go on again. This feature seems to be pretty hit and miss, however, a number of variables need to be present for the noise to be created (hey! I am married to a scientist, they like to investigate these things!), including vehicle speed and certain environmental conditions.
In addition to these noisy features there are the two ramps to fling cars down, a small red inspection ramp and a ‘car wash’. The inspection ramp is very simple, with a plastic tab at the side to enable small fingers to lift it easily. Use of this feature is inhibited by its location under the ramp and my daughter often loses her temper with it. It’s a useful place to park one of the cars and fills an otherwise empty gap, but we rarely use it. The car wash also is relatively uninteresting, consisting of a piece of cut material through which you drive the car.
This is a really lovely children’s toy. It’s simple, bright, colourful and perfect for this age range. However, I wasn’t very impressed by the fact that we had to go out and buy batteries for it and I don’t like the fact it makes a lot of noise. My daughter, on the other hand, loves it and we have had many hours of imaginative play from this toy. My husband also likes playing with this toy...with Olivia of course!
A few niggles with this product are that the orange sign on the top is easily pulled off, at the moment it is residing underneath the TV cabinet and it is likely to remain there for the conceivable future. As soon as it is reattached it gets removed again as my daughter likes to sit on the garage (thereby proving its strength I suppose) and this sign gets in the way. Also, at the entrance to the car wash there was a small yellow plastic sign which had been badly attached in the factory and was already loose in the packaging. The presence of a protruding screw meant that it was dangerous and had to be discarded, a small niggle but a little annoying as we now have an empty space there.
My daughter also got her arm stuck in the lift shaft when she was reaching down to grab a car from the lift, which was at the bottom. Due to the location of the lift shaft in relation to the rest of the garage she had to lean in quite far to do this and was unable to extricate herself. This made her very frightened and she had a big red mark on her upper arm once I had rescued her. She hasn’t done this since but I wasn’t very impressed with the garage at the time, as its design had actively caused her to get stuck in this way (the helipad at the top has an overhang which is where her elbow got stuck).
It is quite precarious to carry when set up, be prepared to do a bit of reassembling once you have put it down again. This is because the pieces just slot together, rather than click firmly, so you cannot pick it up by any other part than the blue base piece. Even when picked up in this manner it is awkward to carry and parts of the garage shift and come off with the carrying movement. I have taken to moving it around with my foot but I don’t have carpeted floors.
I have also found that it can go off randomly, sometimes when you walk near it and sometimes not. Being woken up by something going ‘beeep beep’ is not ideal! It can also give you a nasty start if you have to get up in the middle of the night!
I do think that given a chance to buy a garage for ourselves I would have gone for one for an older age group. These seem more fun and realistic and while this garage is greatly enjoyed now, I have reservations about how many more years we will get out of it before it will be passed over in favour of something more exciting. However if you have a car obsessed toddler who isn’t ready yet for a more complex garage, this is a perfect buy…even though it is quite expensive for what it is. Definitely a good present though.
*********Price and Stockists**********
This product is stocked by the Early Learning Centre. You can buy it instore or from their website: www.elc.co.uk
It retails at £37.50 and there is a promotion at the moment which includes a set of construction toys worth £8 in this price.
This is reasonably expensive for such a simple garage, but I believe its price represents the fact that there are very few similar products for this age range on the market. This was the only one I came across on a simple search.
Summary: A good first garage