“ Brand: Flair / Type: Doll Accessories „
The Sylvanian Families range are well known, and very collectable, items consisting of little animals, such as dogs, cats, mice, penguins and others, who all live in little houses and drive around in little vehicles.
The Sylvanian range has been around since the mid 1980's and has been growing more and more popular as the years rolled on, becoming a must for children and adults alike who would either want to play with the cute little characters or simply collect them, creating a lovely little village of your own.
In this village you could have several different types of buildings, such as a grand hotel to stay in when you're not living in your mansion, or a quaint little cottage to holiday in when you're away from your farm.
But one of the most important buildings that a village needs has got to be a good school, because the children of the Sylvanian families need to attend school to get that all important education, be it a primary school or a secondary school.
So the people behind the Sylvanian families story have introduced such a school, this one being called the Berry Grove School and is intended to educate not only the Sylvanian students but the people who play with it as well.
And it is this school that my daughter, who is an avid collector of Sylvanian Families items, has recently added to her ever growing collection.
What does this Berry Grove school look like then..?
From the front it looks a little like a church, with the bell tower section on the roof housing, well, housing a bell, with a clock above it.
The school walls are mainly a beige colour with green window surround, green tile effect roof and a solid looking double doors, with a couple of steps leading up to them, so it's not too wheelchair friendly as it could do with a ramp.
The detailing on the outside is not to bad at all, with the walls trying to resemble strip panelling whilst the roof is a green tile effect, with little arch type designs over the upper windows, the lower windows surrounded by a green frame, (this could have been a different colour but hey, green's green and some people may like it).
Inside the school building, or when you turn it around, you get to appreciate the full school in all its glory, especially when the floor and stairs are in place as there's quite a bit of room indeed.
What I mean by the floor and stairs being put in place is that there is a section of the floor, together with the stairs that lead up to the second floor, that can be detached, this is to help when packing it away to be stored as it makes a smaller rectangular shape when these bits have been removed. But they are easy enough to attached and detached as they just slot into place, so no tools are needed.
Anyway, inside the building, although inside is maybe not the right word as there is no roof and two walls are also missing, (typical government run school then), there is quite a bit of room on the ground floor which can take all 6 desks and chairs, together with the teachers desk. All these desk are supplied with the school so you know that they are going to have to fit somewhere and if you go by the image on the box that this came in you will see that the ground floor is where the desks go whilst the upped floor is where the table and stools go, which also comes with the school. But as the desks, tables and chair are all moveable then you can put them anywhere you want really, it's entirely up to you.
There is an upper floor as well, which is accessed via the removable stairs to the side, and up here there is room for maybe a couple of desks, or even the table and stools. This room is supposed to be the 'Art' room but as I said everything is moveable so you can use it as what ever room you want.
Both floors have a nice bit of detail added to them with the actual floors looking like stone tiles, which does give the school a more realistic look to it.
Then there's the bell tower, which as I said earlier, holds the bell, although it's more an ornament than an actual bell as it is made of plastic and doesn't ring, which is a shame really as if it was made of metal, even thin metal, it would have made at least the right clanging noise that a school bell should make, but never mind.
What other 'bits and bobs' do you get with this school..?
Well, apart from the 6 desks, 6 chairs, 6 stools and table you also get a cupboard which doubles as a shelf, a clock, which actually works if you insert an 'AAA' battery, and then there's several smaller items, such as books, papers and stickers.
The books that come with it do need setting up, although this only takes a few little folds so it is done in no time at all really.
The furniture may be small but it is all make very well indeed and should last the test of those little tiny hands that will no doubt be playing with them.
Is there any complications setting it up or putting it away..?
The answer to that is no, not really.
When we first took it out of the box it looked like one piece, that being the main school itself, but then I noticed that the clock tower needed attaching, which took all of three seconds as a quick push and it was on. Then there was the floor extension and the stairs, which simply slot into place and give the school a larger look to it.
Then when it came to storing it away it was a matter of taking of the stair and the floor extension, placing these inside the school and putting the entire thing back into its box, until my daughter had made space for it to be left set up in her collection.
You will need a little cross headed screw driver to put the batteries into place and there are several stickers which, as per usual with many Sylvanian items, will need to be stuck onto walls to make it resemble a school of learning.
There is a bit of a downside, and that is that it doesn't come with any figures, which is typical of sylvanian families buildings, but there are many figures on the market so filling this classroom will take no time at all, especially as it's the only school in the area. But if you plan on buying this before getting any of the actual families then this is going to be one empty school for a little while, (I wonder what Ofsted would say about that?).
In all this is another one of the better quality product from the Sylvanian families collection and, once filled with the furniture and the screaming children, can really resemble.
It is well built and the designers have made a good effort in adding the right amount of detail to the walls, floors and in fact the actual furniture.
It is a must for anyone collecting the Sylvanian families range as this school will add a certain style to the village of little animals that need to be educated.
As for the price, this school is on the market in the region of £40 - £50 which, for anyone that has heard of Sylvanian property prices, is not a bad price at all considering what you get.
Sylvanian families are a big hit in our house and over the years my daughter has collected numerous buildings and sets. It seems like the school has been on her wishlist for a long time, but being rather expensive it was definitely one for Father Christmas to bring rather than buy herself with saved up pocket money. I started looking for it quite early on, hoping to find it reduced from it's usual price tag of £49.99. Deals on Sylvanians are very rare though, and eventually I bought it as part of the 3 for 2 on Christmas at Boots, also on a points event day, snagging myself a free item plus £12 of points for spending over £50 and felt quite pleased with this. My daughter was delighted to find it under the tree on Christmas morning.
Berry Grove School is, as all Sylvanian families toys are, a very nice high quality toy. Made of plastic, this open backed two story building is clearly well made from the moment you open the box. The main body of the building is already built and requires very little assembly...a relief on Christmas morning when faced with a child desperate to get their hands on it!
The school comes with a clock tower that has a real working clock which does need attached. This is pretty simple and straight forward requiring nothing more than clicking into place. The clock however does require 1 x AAA battery and a tiny screwdriver to get into the battery compartment which aren't included and I didn't have to hand. Thankfully we were able to wait until Grandad was available to help out with this and apart from the clock not telling the actual time, it had no effect on the rest of the toy.
The tower also has a bell which needs to be threaded in and is again simple to do taking only seconds. The bell is perhaps the only real disappointment of the toy though, as it's made of plastic and doesn't actually ring when the string is pulled. I know this was one aspect of the toy Lucy was particularly looking forward to and I can't understand why they didn't make the bell a working feature...it wouldn't be difficult and would be much appreciated.
The ground floor is extended to become a large playing space by a removable board and unfixed staircase which is handy for packing the toy away and storage. I was actually surprised at how large the toy was when fully constructed. It's not huge, but is a lot bigger than I was expecting from the box. I don't think these toys are suitable for younger children who may find them far too fiddly, but for more dexterous older kids it's the perfect size.
The toy is aesthetically very pleasing too with some lovely detailing. The clock in particular is very pretty. Like most toys this does come with stickers that need putting on with a steady hand to complete the look. I hate this...I always make a mess and the school does have one crooked times table poster adorning the wall now. Why companies can't have these decorations already in place is beyond me, but Sylvanian isn't the only culprit of this practice so can hardly be faulted.
Berry Grove School doesn't come with any figures, but it does come with quite a bit of furniture and accessories. There's desks, tables, books, art equipment and furniture which is all sturdy and well made, although some of it is tiny and could easily be lost. The books needed folding up and some of the smaller pieces had to be detached from plastic holders which was a bit faffy but all in all my daughter was playing with her completed school fifteen minutes after she first opened it.
And she hasn't stopped since. The school has really piqued her imagination and she's spent hours lining up her figures and taking them into school. With the addition of a couple of other packs that accompany the school (a music lesson set and school dinners set) and the two school pupils set she also received for Christmas along with the pieces and people from her previous collections she's played happily for ages and I've loved hearing her act out the parts of teachers and students. It's been a big hit and judging by how much pleasure she gets from her other Sylvanian toys I'm certain she'll continue to do so for a long time to come.
Berry Grove school isn't cheap, and with many additional add on sets the price can quickly add up. However this toy can stand alone if your child already has a few figures as it does have enough equipment to keep it going. I also like the fact that this is a collection and can be added to throughout the year. My daughter has already bought herself a couple of other sets with a Toys R Us voucher she received from a relative and she's keen to save her pocket money for another longed for pack. I'm also confident that I'm paying for quality. In four years we've never had a piece of Sylvanian families break...and they've been played with a lot. The school is made with the same detail and quality as the others and I fully expect it to last long beyond Lucy playing with it.
Apart from the non ringing bell, which was a disappointment and loses the toy a whole star for us, I'm very happy with the school and Lucy absolutely loves it. I think it provides more imaginative role play than the Sylvanian houses and would actually recommend it above these...after all, what little girl doesn't want to be in charge of her own school? Another success from Sylvania!!
The start of 2011 will see the opening of a fourth school in the Sylvanian Village. As the number of families in Sylvania continues to grow, even more school places are needed. New headmistress, Red Deer Mother Agatha Buckley and her husband Rupert, will be ready in September to welcome all their new students. Berry Grove School has two floors and comes with a host of furniture accessories; desks, chairs, artroom furniture, books and accessories, blackboard and teachers instruments. In addition a number of extra sets will be available to buy seperately, including uniforms, school dinners, music class and sports accessories. Figures not included