* Prices may differ from that shown
Millie's toy box is full of really girlie toys and lots of pink things so when she asked for this dinosaur Happy Land toy I was really surprised but willing to buy it for her so that it's a break from all the pink! We have several Happy Land items in our collection now and even though she is five years old she plays with them regularly so I think it was a very good purchase. This particular set is played with lots and is really imaginative.
Happy Land is a toy set which is available from several retailers but mainly The Early Learning Centre (I have seen it for sale in Sainsbury's recently too). The idea of it is to introduce imaginative play to preschool aged children. The various things you can buy are made from plastic and are usually a good, chunky size for children to play with. It is suitable for both boys and girls and there are lots to add to your collection so if you are like us once you buy one you end up buying lots more too until your house is beginning to be taken over by plastic toys! They sometimes bring out special editions such as when it was the Olympics they brought out athletic sets and a special Royal Wedding set too. I think that this is really nice as it's a good way to talk through what is happening in the world with your children in a way that they can understand. It is also a nice collectable to have too. The prices vary depending upon what you go for, you can pick up packs for about £6 but the majority are over £10 with some being as much as £60 but I do believe that you get what you pay for as far as Happy Land is concerned.
When Millie saw this in The Early Learning Centre she picked it up off the shelf and came running over to me and asked if I could buy it for her. I was so surprised! She usually goes for anything fairy related or like a princess but she was certain that she wanted 'a boy toy'. I am not one for saying girls can only play with things that are obviously aimed at them so was quite happy to buy it and was grateful that she had shown interest in something other than the very girlie things, it certainly would make a difference in her very pink bedroom!
Within this pack there is a dinosaur, an egg, a baby dinosaur and three cave people. These are lovely, they are easy to pick out from all the fairies in Millie's collection so it's easy to see them and put them in the right pack right away. The big dinosaur is green and has an orange back. Within this orange part are three holes in which happy land people can fit in and ride on his back. There are little wheels underneath it so it can be pushed along the floor and the head moves up a little bit when you do so. Millie was almost four when I bought her this so by no means a baby or a new toddler but she did really enjoy pushing this along the floor as she crawled along next to it! The egg is sitting on some grass and has some cracks and a hole in it, the top of the egg lifts off and inside fits your baby dinosaur (or Millie likes to put the lamb from her farm pack inside it...) the baby dinosaur is really cute, it's red with little green spots and has a big head like a baby would! The tree cave people are really cute too, there is a man with facial hair, a man carrying a log and a lady with leaves in her hair. Millie asks why they are wearing strange clothes and I've explained to her about how it is what people used to wear when there were no big shops and things!
I think this is a great pack because it's different and will mean that children play in a different way with it rather than just another farm or a shop or a building, this is really very different.
Millie thinks this is great fun! I think she likes that it is a 'boy toy' as she calls it as though it makes it that bit more special. She does not play with this every day but probably about once a week it will catch her attention and she will begin playing with it again. She is now five and doesn't pay as much attention to Happy Land as she once did, she once played with it daily now it's once a week probably but that for me is amazing really as I see this as a toy aimed at young toddlers so it's great that she is still playing with it. Although this pack is very obviously a dinosaur set she will use her other packs to play with it too like I said we have had a sheep inside the egg and some fairies like to have a ride on the dinosaur. She has even once pretended that the dinosaur was a fancy kind of car that the princesses like to travel in! She does definitely have fun with this and has done for about 18 months now. I think the dinosaur being able to move along the floor when pushed is good as it's different from having a car or a horse!
I cannot believe how much you can teach through toys like this! I always took toys at face value but since Millie has been around I've realised that everything has a lesson or two in it and Happy Land certainly does! From playing with little figures and things it can help children to learn fine skills with their fingers and this can help them to develop strong finger muscles which will help them when they come to learning to write and hold a pen. The ability to put people in the holes on the back of the dinosaur and to take the lid on and off of the egg again helps children with their motor skills and also their concentration to make sure they do it correctly. With toys like this there is always a lot a child can learn by using their imaginations. Millie makes up some amazing stories and things with Happy Land and this dinosaur set has really helped her to use her imagination even more like I said about her pretending the dinosaur is a princess car and things. By using her imagination Millie is learning about the world around her, I sometimes see her telling the big dinosaur to look after the baby dinosaur as it's only a baby and needs lots of gentle cuddles and I love how this must be because she is learning about the world around her and how you treat different people and so forth.
I do not know much about dinosaurs at all or about cave people but because Millie kept asking could I take her to somewhere to see a real dinosaur and why do the cave people have flowers in their hair and things I have told her a bit about it. She was amazed to think that a very long time ago dinosaurs were the only creatures around and that people used to make their own clothes out of materials they could find instead of going to a shop! So although I am not teaching her strict facts about by gone eras she is starting to understand a little about the world just by playing with these alone and by asking questions.
When we bought this for Millie I wasn't sure if she would lose interest in it with it being a 'boy toy'. She has never shown interest in anything to do with dinosaurs previously so I really wasn't sure how long this would last but I am really pleased to say that over the last 18 months this has been played with a lot and still is sometimes too.
It is a very good quality toy, the plastic is really robust so if it takes a tumble or is played with outside it survives it which is really important as it is a toddler toy mainly and toddlers are not the most gentle of little people at all! The egg plastic is slightly thinner than normal Happy Land toys so I think that could perhaps break if it was stood on but everything else is really robust and will last a long time.
It's bright and colourful without being too vivid so it goes well with other Happy Land packs you can buy. Everything in this pack compliments other ones such as the spaces on the back of the dinosaur being perfect sizes for people from the other packets too so this can easily be played with along with the other packs in your collection.
I really like Happy Land toys. I don't think we will be buying any more now that Millie is five and i will miss that! I really have loved seeing all the different packs you can buy and getting a few for Millie's collection but I think really the main age for these are around 18 months to about 3 years as after this age they can begin playing with toys that have smaller, more detailed parts to them. They are a very good buy for young children, it's lovely to see them grow their imaginations and learn to play with characters like this.
I recommend this set whether you have a boy or a girl! I think it's nice that Millie has something to play with that is different from her other things as it broadens her mind more and I think that is very important.
We bought this for £12 about 18 months ago and I think that that is a good price to pay for this. It may have gone up in price now but quite regularly The Early Learning Centre have offers on which usually include Happy Land toys so it is well worth looking out for it when it is on offer.
The Happyland range of toys from The Early Learning Centre are fantastic for helping your child understand the world around them, develop their imagination and role play, all while having fun. Although the village themed sets are the most well-known, there are several other themes available including Fairyland, Space and Prehistoric. Two year old Freddy owns many sets from the Village, Space and Prehistoric ranges and among his favourites is the Dino Playset, which is part of the Prehistoric range. As he loves that particular set so much, when I recently received an Amazon voucher I decided to extend this set by purchasing the Dizzy Dino Carrier, which cost me £16 with free super saver delivery.
~~Roar - A Parent's View~~
The Dizzy Dino Carrier is supplied in an open faced cardboard box, with all the pieces held in place by a multitude of those irritating plastic ties. These ties are actually even more awkward than usual to untwist, with it taking a good ten minutes to release all the pieces. Considering this toy is firmly aimed at toddlers, I do feel that a more parent friendly method of packaging should be considered as Freddy became very frustrated while waiting to play with the set. Within the set there are a total of six pieces, the Dino Carrier, three characters, a baby dinosaur and an egg. So although the set is relatively expensive there is a fair amount of play potential.
The Dizzy Dino Carrier itself is a bright green dinosaur with orange spine plates, that I'm assuming is supposed to be a stegosaurus. Although not massive it is a fair size at approximately 25cm in length, which means that it is a good size for the target age group to play with. The Dizzy Dino runs across the floor on four wheels and as it is pushed back and forth it's head nods up and down in an amusing manner (well amusing to toddlers anyway). Along the Dizzy Dino's back there are three holes nestled amidst the defensive plates, each of which is perfectly designed to carry a single character. What I really like about these holes/seats is that rather than using the newer peg system, they are simply holes that hold the characters in place. This makes it far easier for Freddy to put them in and take them out and reduces the frustration caused by characters falling out too easily. Being made of a durable plastic, the Dizzy Dino should be able to withstand almost anything a toddler will throw at it, although the nodding head (that makes it look as if the Dino is taking mouthfuls of grass) could prove to be a weak point. While many of the Happyland pieces feature electronic sounds, the Dizzy Dino does not, which not only negates the need for batteries but also encourages you child to fully use their imagination and supply their own sound effects.
To a certain extent the three characters follow the same format as all other Happyland characters, in as much as they are about 6-7cm in height, moulded from a tough, rubber-like material with their features hand painted on. However, unlike the standard Happyland characters, these are most definitely dressed to tie in to the Prehistoric theme. The are two male characters and one female and what is nice is that these are not all your standard blonde haired, blue eyed people. Both of the cavemen are wearing the stereotypical caveman garb of a one shouldered tunic, although strangely one of these cavemen is wearing something that looking like a bra!! I really can't work out what this is supposed to be, perhaps it's a bow-tie, but seriously it looks like something Raquel Welch might have worn in One Million Years B.C. I'm not sure how I'm going to explain this when Freddy gets old enough to notice, but I'm sure it's going to raise a few giggles. The female character is, sadly, rather stereotypical, seeing as she has been left holding the baby, which is a shame. As with all the Happyland characters I love the attention to detail with these, from the simple smiling faces to the bone through the cave woman's hair, you can see how much thought has gone into them. I also like that each of the characters in this set are different to those found in the Dino Playset.
I wish that I could say that the final two pieces in the set are different from those found in the Dino Playset, but in all honestly I can't. The egg (which is sitting on a leaf nest) is easy to open and although it does need to have edges matched, is also easy to put together again. There is a small hole in the egg, through which the baby dinosaur (looks like a T-Rex) can be seen as it hides. Lifting the top of the egg off reveals the cute little T-Rex, who is made of the same rubber-like material as the characters. Unfortunately this egg and baby dinosaur are virtually identical to those found in the Dino Playset (with the egg being a different colour), which is a disappointment that slightly detracts from what I, as an adult, perceive as value for money.
As with all Happyland sets, The Dizzy Dino Carrier is well thought out and manufactured with the intended age group in mind. This means that the pieces are the perfect size for little hands and the construction and materials used are very tough and able to withstand the very rough play a toddler is likely to subject it to. If Freddy didn't already own the egg and baby dinosaur (through his Dino playset) I would have said that you get a fair number of well made pieces for you money and have given this set four stars out of five (from an adult perspective), with it losing a star for how difficult it is to remove from the packaging. But as he does already have those pieces, I would have to say that from an adult perspective I would have to award three stars. But as with any toy it's not just my opinion that counts....
~~Let's Get Prehistoric - A Child's View~~
At two years old Freddy falls firmly into the recommended age range for this toy, but I must state that developmentally he is not a typical two year old as he has a significant delay and poor social/imagination skills. Saying this Freddy loves his Happyland toys and has done since he was about ten months old, he may not play with them exactly as intended, but he still gets lots out of them.
As soon as Freddy saw the box this set came in he became excited and wanted it NOW, but due to the difficulty in removing the stupid plastic ties that simply wasn't going to happen. Once he did manage to get his hands on it after an attempt to find buttons he was thrilled and started using his very rudimentary role playing skills. The Dizzy Dino is the perfect size for him to push along the floor or back and forth on his table and he finds the head nodding action hilarious. The orange spine plates make a great handle for pushing. A favourite occupation with the Dino seems to be putting the characters in and out of the seats, which Freddy finds easy due to the lack of a peg system and on the most part the characters are held firmly enough to not fly out even when the Dino is pushed quite roughly.
Freddy finds the egg perfect for hiding the baby dinosaur along with anything else he can find that will fit. What he particularly seems to appreciate is that there isn't a particular way that the top half of the egg fits onto the bottom, meaning that he doesn't get frustrated working out how to fit them together (that type of problem solving is definitely not Freddy's strong point). Freddy also seems to appreciate that the top half of his other egg also fits on top and can often be found trying one then the other trying to decide which looks better. Freddy also loves the characters, indeed he has recently started to really enjoy playing with all his Happyland characters, exploring them with his hands, eyes and mouth or lining them up or putting them in all sorts of cars and containers.
While Freddy does enjoy playing with this set in isolation, he does prefer to use it in conjunction with all his other Happyland sets including, but not exclusive to his Dino Playset. This means that the characters in this set have ridden in his bus, visited the fair and gone into space, while characters from other sets have been taken for rides in the Dizzy Dino. One thing that has slightly disappointed Freddy is that there are no buttons for him to press or sounds to activate. This isn't the set's fault though, it's just that Freddy has a slight obsession with buttons and tends to look for them on any toy. He also doesn't appreciate the lack of decorative stickers, but I do as he has a habit of pulling them off so he can eat them.
All-in-all, from Freddy's reaction and the fact he plays with this set daily (along with the rest of his Happyland), I would say that he would be quite happy to give it four stars out of five, losing one star due to the lack of sounds and stickers.
~~A Caveman's Education - Suitability and Developmental Benefits~~
With a recommended age range of eighteen months to four years the ELC claim that this set will help your child develop their imagination, social skills and understanding of the world around them and I have to say I pretty much agree with them. However, I would also say that this set will also help your child develop their fine motor skills as they place the characters in their seats and open and close the egg. Their problem solving skills will also be tested as they discover what will and will not fit into the egg. I've certainly watched Freddy slowly develop a rudimentary imagination as he plays with this set and indeed all his Happyland collection and I love to watch him chattering away in his own special language as he plays. While I'll admit that he doesn't exactly play with this set in the intended manner, he is still learning from playing with it.
As to the recommended age group, well I do feel the lower limit is a little on the high side. Freddy has been playing with Happyland toys since he was about ten months old and there is nothing about this set that would be a danger to these younger toddlers. Indeed this set is probably one that is most suitable to younger toddlers as it does not feature any electronics (and hence no batteries) nor any stickers that can be peeled off. It is also very, very durable, so you don't need to worry about your child breaking it and there being sharp pieces to harm them. Freddy regularly uses this as a make-shift step to reach door handles and if it can withstand his weight, it can withstand almost anything. The upper age limit, however, is perhaps a little overoptimistic. While I'm sure a four year old would play with it, I would imagine that they would be just a little disappointed if presented with it as a present, think it's a bit babyish and prefer something more realistic.
While this is a lovely add-on set in the Prehistoric Happyland range, it's not the most exciting or feature-rich and perhaps a little over-priced. That's not to say I regret buying it, because I don't. It is well-made and has definitely been designed to appeal to and survive the rough treatment of toddlers. Freddy adored it from the minute he saw it, plays with it regularly and while he was/is a little disappointed that it doesn't make noises, I do like that he has to supply his own sound track which encourages him to vocalise. If asked if I were to recommend The Dizzy Dino Carrier, I would have to give a resounding yes, as what toddler doesn't like dinosaurs and this is perfect for toddlers who are too young for the more realistic versions