My husband and I bought this castle for our 3 year old son as his main birthday present. We first saw it in a Mothercare shop with an Early Learning Centre section. It was on a high display and my son spotted it from across the store. He dragged us over to it and was in awe as he stared at it. My husband, of course, checked it for it's sturdiness and durability while I checked it's price! We were both happy with it so bought it for a very happy little boy.
The castle comes flat packed so requires assembling. I was a bit worried about this to be honest as it always means there's a potential for missing parts or bits that don't fit where they should. Thankfully I had no problems at all assembling the castle. I built it on my own and it took approximately 1 hour 15 minutes, but I was watching TV and had a glass of wine at the same time! The instructions that come with the castle are incredibly easy to follow as they have plenty of illustrations to show what should be going where.
What I liked best is that you don't need any tools at all as there are no screws or nails involved in the assembly, all the pieces just slot together. Surprisingly though, the finished castle is incredibly sturdy and feels very well built. I was worried that it would be a bit flimsy since the pieces just slot together, but that actually seems to help make it stronger. Each piece of the castle is made from thick wood and feels of good quality, there are no thin, easy to snap bits here.
*Appearance and features*
The castle is a fantastic size, measuring approximately 110cm in height and 95cm in width which means it is big enough for a few children to play with it at the same time. The castle is mainly black and grey in colour and has a lot of detail painted on. On the base there is a fiery effect and around the bottom of the castle it has a rocky effect. One side of the castle has a moving drawbridge; there is a handle and when it is turned the drawbridge raises or lowers. It works easily and was also easy to build. On the other side of the castle is a dungeon area with lifting door.
Each side of the castle has different sections where characters can be stood. These sections all have painted details on the floor, such as rats or octopus tentacles sneaking out through grates. These are interesting effects for children to look at and help their imagination and game playing. At the top of one of the turrets is a big flag pole with material flag.
My son's favourite feature is in the middle of the castle, near the top. It's what he calls the 'trap door'. Two pieces of the floor are hinged so they can swing down. They balance on a little bit of wood that is actually the tongue of a gargoyle. When the tongue is pulled out then the trap door opens, plummeting any figures standing there down to the floor. It is amazing how long this trap door can entertain a 3 year old!
This castle is part of a set from Early Learning Centre. The castle is the main toy but there are many others in the theme. There are around 8 figure packs, usually containing around 4 figures. You can choose between different sets of knights or monsters. I won't mention them too much here as I'll be reviewing the other toys separately in another review and don't want to just repeat myself.
The castle cost £75 and came with a free pack of monster figures, normally costing £15. Although it is an expensive toy, in my opinion it is worth it as it has so much play potential. It is also incredibly well made and durable so I can imagine it will last for a lot of years. The box recommends it being suitable for ages 3-8 and I would say this is about right, although some older children may still enjoy playing with it. I wouldn't recommend it to children younger than 3 as I don't think they would get as much out of it and I think they would find the drawbridge and trapdoor difficult to work.
After having a good look round at the various castles and farms on the market when looking for Christmas presents for my 2 year old I found this and was quite taken with it. However, the £75 price tag was too high for me (burnt my fingers in the past buying expensive toys I think my kids will like only to find they don't!). By chance I popped into ELC one day and it was reduced to £45 with a pack of monsters thrown in - a far better deal and so I snapped it up.
I built the tower on Christmas Eve and despite hearing horror stories from friends about the time taken to build this tower (and various Christmas eves in the past where divorce has been a likely outcome when building toys from ELC) it took me less than an hour from beginning to end. I banned my husband from helping this year and am sure that made a difference to the time! It was really straight forward and there is only one wee section (the roof on the tower) which I'm not entirely happy with. The rest slotted in easily and is now solid and firm so no fears of it collapsing and needing rebuilt.
It comes on a big base which makes moving it around pretty easy. It's a good size and is actually bigger than my son which added a bit of a wow factor on Christmas morning as I managed to wrap it and so it looked pretty impressive beside the tree. My son isn't quite 2 and a half yet so it is probably a bit old for him at the moment but he was well impressed when he unwrapped it on Christmas morning and has spent a good bit of time playing with it. My 5 year old also likes it so it keeps them both occupied at the same time which is a bonus. The trap floor and draw bridge are great as are all the wee hidden areas and dungeon. Pulling the tongue to make the floor collapse kept me amused for ages when I built it! We got a pack of knights to go with it and with the original monsters this is more than enough figures for the kids.
Overall I'm well impressed with the tower. Obviously it is early days but construction was easier than expected and both kids are impressed with it and have spent a good bit of time playing with it. Hopefully many more hours of fun to come! And for the price I paid I reckon I got a real bargain.
We bought the newer version of the tower of doom for my sons 3rd birthday and he thinks it is the best present ever! He had been asking for a castle for a while and we could never find any that we liked until we seen this one in the early learning centre. It is rather expensive at £75 but we got lucky and got it in a sale for only £35! All the figures which you can get are sold separately and cost around £10 and there are a lot of different packs. So far we have bought our son 4 different packs and we are struggling to get them all to fit onto the castle but he always manages as there as lots of places they can go.
The castle comes flat pack and upon opening the box and taking all the pieces out we automatically thought it was going to take forever to build it, but it didn't take long at all. It comes with picture instructions which are easy to follow and all the pieces slot together like a big jigsaw. The castle is made from solid mdf and has lots of detail on it such as the stone work and gargoyles. There is a working drawbridge at the front of the castle which can be lowered down and up very easily by children. Other features are a trap door which can be released by pulling the demons tongue which is at the front of the castle and a dungeon which can be used to put the knights in or the ghost which comes in one of the packs. The castle stands at just over a metre tall and at the top it has a black flag with a red dragon on it.
I would highly recommend this product to anyone who has a child that loves castles, knights or monsters. My son absolutely loves it and never tires of playing with it. He's had the castle for about a week now and everyday we have to pretend the goodies and baddies are fighting. The castle is very sturdy and robust so it will last for a long time so we will certainly get our moneys worth out of it and when he decides he is too big to play with it (which will be a good few years yet) it will be easy to take apart and store for another time or for some else.
We bought the older style Tower of Doom which is featured on the picture from the ELC a couple of years ago for my son who was adamant that this was what he wanted Father Christmas to bring for him. I have to admit initially I was dubious: The castle was £75 and I was worried about spending such a large amount of money for something that may not last too long. I need not have worried. He still plays with the castle on a regular basis eighteen months after receiving it.
The Tower of Doom comes flat pack for you to build at home. In retrospect I wish we had built it on Christmas Eve and had it all set up for him on Christmas morning as he was quite impatient when we were trying to build it. I am totally useless when it comes to building things so it took a little time but the instructions were simple and once it was built it looked amazing and really complex!
The Tower of Doom has various little "holes" and "cages" where you can imprison the bad guys. ELC sell a really good range of figures to go along side the Tower but to be honest you can use any kind of figures. Currently my son is using his Ben 10 figures in there. There is a drawbridge which you can lower and raise and a ramp which once the drawbridge is open can sit on.
The Tower is very tall and quite big but it is on a base which makes it relatively easy to move around so I have ours in a corner next to the suite in the lounge but when he wants to play with the full thing we can easily pull it out. He is often happy just playing with the front of the Tower where it is.
One negative thing I have found with it, and it is literally my only complaint is that the very top of the tower where the flag goes can topple over quite easily, and it is heavy so if it hits anyone it obviously hurts. Perhaps this is more to do with the way my son throws his figures around in there though!
I really would recommend the Tower of Doom. Ok so it is very expensive but when you work out how many years it will last it doesn't seem such a bad investment.
Early Learning Centre have relaunched the Tower of Doom and in my opinion the newer version, which my three year old has, is great. The tower is made from glossy mdf and comes flat packed for home assembly. The pieces all slot together a bit like a jigsaw so the tower is (relatively) easy to take apart and store if you're not going to be using it for a while.
The castle now has one tall pointy tower from which flies a pennant and then a bridge to another, slightly shorter tower, which is built more in the style of a habitation. The bridge between the two towers spans a boiling river of fire. There is a trap door on the bridge and small children can delight in piling their knights onto the trapdoor and then pulling the demon's tongue to send them plummeting into the firey depths below.
The taller tower has a drawbridge at the bottom which children can raise and lower. Underneath the other tower is a dungeon to trap your good guys or monsters depending on what side you choose to play.
I had read some negative reviews of this toy on the ELC website before buying it and I was a bit unsure. We took our son to the store and looked at the old style tower (which was on offer) and the new style tower. The new one seemed to have more to offer and looks more like a tower of doom should in my opinion. It is decorated in dark grey, black and brown with accents of fire. There are plenty of little details to look for like the tentacled beastie trapped in one of the towers. My son seems to really enjoy this toy and it offers lots of opportunity for role play. I can see this lasting a long time as the way that it can be played with can develop as a child ages. We've even built train tracks around and through it and have used the castle monsters as obstacles for derailing the trains! The tower is made from good quality materials and there is nothing that could really be broken - or at least that could not be fixed with wood glue if it was.
ELC sell plenty of accessories for this toy including a scenic playmat to go underneath and they sell plenty of knights and monsters to use in the castle. There are also add ons like siege towers and battering rams to buy. There is, however, no reason why this castle would not accommodate knights and monsters bought from other shops. So there is plenty of opportunity to add to this toy and provide stocking fillers for years to come.
This review is for the old style Tower of Doom as pictured - on the website the style has changed to less of a castle & more two big towers with connecting bridge. Possibly they're still selling off the old ones in the shops; they're certainly the most common second-hand.
My son begged me for a Tower of Doom for years but I couldn't bring myself to pay £75 so in the end he saved like a man possessed until he could buy a second-hand one from ebay. Unfortunately he was eleven by this time & his childhood was nearly a fond memory, but it's a mark of what a good toy this is that he's neverthless getting a huge amount of playing done with it.
It comes flatpacked, & although ours came without instructions we managed to assemble it without too much trouble by looking at a picture. I should think that although it looks impressively complicated when finished it's a piece of cake with the instructions.
The finished article is about a metre high, & stands freely on a 68 x 60cm base which is useful for sliding it across the floor when necessary.
There's a ramp at the front leading to a drawbridge that can be raised & is overlooked by as guard's post.
The main courtyard within has roughly the equivalent floorspace of a shoebox so you can get a fair few knights in it, & it has two towers, one with two floors, one with three, joined by a walkway.
Under the castle is more playing space accessible by various arches, a portcullis & a secret entrance. Pedants like myself who always hated dolls houses without stairs will notice that defending soldiers under the castle can't get up to the other levels without coming out of the castle & up the ramp which rather spoils the continuity, but my son (nitpicker extraordinaire) says that's the only bad point.
It's a lovely big sturdy thing: surprisingly tough & unwobbly, even the highest tower. There's all kinds of balconies, doorways & windows so that there's new things to see from every angle.
I'm so impressed, acually, now that we've got it, that I wish I'd listened to the nitpicker & spent the £75 when he first asked, because it's a really well-made, generous-sized toy that's inspired hours of contented play.
The Tower of Doom from the Early Learning Centre was my nine year old son's main Christmas Present. He had been asking for it for months, since his birthday in July, but as it is marketed for 3-8 year olds I told him he was too old for it and tried to direct him towards more age appropriate presents.
However, a nine year olds' pleas can be relentless, and once we had established that this was all he really wanted for Christmas, I could hardly say no. Hence, I duly purchased the tower, which came with 6 'free' monster and warrior figures, plus an extra present of a pack of knights with King and Queen, just to even up the battle a little.
The Tower was met with delight on Christmas day and 9 year old son soon fitted all the pieces together with the help of his 15 year old brother. They all slot together without the need for tools, hence it was easy for the boys to assemble. Once put together the Tower stands 111cm tall and is 68cm wide with a depth of 95cm. That's one big Tower! It takes up a lot of space in itself, but you also need to allow for space to manouvre around it as it is one of those fab toys that can be played with on all sides at several levels. We have had a 9 year old, 11 year old and 15 year old practicing various battle strategies on and around the Tower, plus a 22 month eager participatory onlooker, so it definitely has multiple play value for several children of different ages. Even 10 year old sis has had a go, but as she was assigned to 'Queen' she still got to girlie up the game a bit!
The Tower stands on a board, giving the impression of foundations with oily, black depths and large stone boulders. The castle itself is made to look as if it has been constructed from grey stone, with flames licking the castle walls and devlish eyes above the drawbridge. I find these eyes particularly eerie as my son stores the Tower on top of a table, making the eyes almost level with mine when I enter the room to check on my two sleeping youngest sons - how it hasn't given littlest HonestBob nightmares I don't know.
Overall this has been a good buy. At £75 it was expensive, but it did come with 6 plastic warriors and monsters (see other review if interested in these). It has been played with daily, both by my nine year old alone and with various combinations of brothers (he has 5!) and a sister. I doubt a 3 year old would make much use of the Tower so the age range 3-8 is not accurate as far as I am concerned. Aged 3 boys are too young to get much fun out of this Tower and children over 8 miss out if parents stick to 'age-appropriate' toys and overlook this as too young. The Tower does require additional play items however as on it's own there is not much to play with. Figures of some kind are required. Having already added a set of Knights (with King and Queen) to the Tower, my son is now saving for a Chariot and the ELC also sells more knights (in different armour colours) and different monsters and warriors with prices ranging from £10 per figure set to £20 for a Lights and Sounds Battle Dragon or a Stomping Battle Rhino. Were we to get the entire set it could work out fairly expensive. However, there are plenty of ideas for his Birthday now and that makes things easier for the rellies!
My 5 year old son had written his letter to Santa and top of it was a castle for his dragons to live in. So the search was on and after trawling through websites for hours I decided on the Tower Of Doom. I had previously purchased other wooden products from the ELC and had always been pleased with how they handled being played with everyday and the Tower of Doom has not disappointed.
I ordered it in plenty of time as I had read that it would take hours to put together and know that as Santa's helpers dont get much time, it may take a few evenings of sneeking around to construct. However I was pleasantly surprised when after taking 10 minutes just to get it out of the box, it only took 40 minutes for me (a lady with little experience) to put together.
I stood admiring my work and was really pleased with the finished product but wondered how it would be once my 3 children (5, 4 and 17 months) began to destroy it.
Christmas morning came and they were as impressed with it as I was. 4 weeks on and I have no complaints at all, yes my youngest one uses the drawbridge as a seat and slides her dolly down the ramp but it is still in one piece albeit the flag does fall off the top sometimes.
This is an expensive wooden castle at £75 but it is good quality and can be used with may different characters. Sometimes ours houses dinosaurs, transformers or star wars figures. It also takes Polly Fashion but dont tell my son that. It is quite big and takes up a lot of the room but the wooden base board can folded in half to be stored away and the rest of it comes apart and goes back together easily.
Over All I am delighted with this and I now have 3 happy children.
Create your own battles and keep the enemy out by using the working drawbridge, ejecting weakling knights down the slide. Use the dark dungeon underneath to imprison captured knights and beastly monsters.