“ Brand: Sylvanian Families „
At four, my daughter loves Sylvanian Families. One of the items on her 'most wanted' list at Christmas was this Sylvanian Families camper van and, on spotting it on sale in October, I decided to buy it for her. She was delighted when she unwrapped it on Christmas day and it has been played with frequently ever since.
* What do you get for your money? *
Basically, what you get is a campervan. The van itself is green, with a cream roof, silver ladder and bike rack and flowers on the side (you have to stick the flowers on when you assemble the van). The roof opens up to reveal two pull down bunk-style beds, complete with red and white gingham sleeping bags. Inside the van is a fold out table and a couple of bench-style seats, so that the Sylvanians can enjoy a meal in comfort. There is also a little kitchen with sink, hob and cupboard storage for all those teeny-tiny Sylvanian essentials. At the front of the van are two seats for a driver and passenger, and a steering wheel. In terms of accesssories, it comes with various tiny bits and pieces, ranging from cooking equipment and crockery, to food, board games and tourist information leaflets. Like many of the Sylvanian Families sets, what you don't get are any actual Sylvanians. Assembly of the van was very simple - the instructions were well-laid out and it took me about 15 minutes on Boxing Day morning to put it all together. Most of that time was spent putting on the very fiddly little stickers and folding up the tiny leaflets.
* Is it fun? *
My little girl seems to love this campervan. I think the beauty of it is that it is a set which works equally well on its own, or in conjuction with other Sylvanian families sets. Obviously, you do need to either own or buy some actual Sylvanians to go with the campervan - it doesn't matter which family though. Ours seems to be occupied predominantly by the Meerkat family, although the Badgers and Kangaroos often join them on their travels. For a little one, it is a easy thing to relate to and that encourages imaginative play. The act of driving along in a van, finding somewhere to park and setting up camp is a relatively simple concept. Once parked, my daughter loves getting the Meerkat Mummy to cook dinner while the rest of the family sit at the table. She also loves putting them all to bed at night - the only minor disadvantage is that there aren't enough sleeping bags for the whole family. The children sleep in the bunk beds but the parents are usually reduced to sleeping out under the stars (covered by the doll's house duvet). Obviously, this set would integrate well with other sets in the Sylvanian range - we also have the Fish and Chip van which works well with it, especially as my daughter likes to use the table and chairs from that as outside seating for the campervan. You can also fit the bikes and canoes from other sets on the campervan racks, so they would be a nice future addition.
* Any negatives? *
In terms of downsides, there aren't that many. The obvious one, which is true of virtually all Sylvanian sets, is that there are no figures included with the set. This isn't a big deal if you already have Sylvanians, but does mean you can't really buy it as a present without factoring in the cost of a family (or making sure that someone else is buying one). The other one is the size of the items included - they are absolutely tiny and this means that they are very likely to get lost / swallowed up by the hoover. For the younger end of the age range, it might be worth taking away things like the cutlery at the beginning and saving it until they get a bit older.
* Cost *
The RRP for this is around £40.00 but it is often available at a lower price than that. We paid £25.00 for ours. I think, based on the price of other sets in the range, this represents relatively good value for money - after all, everything Sylvanian is relatively expensive.
* Recommendation? *
I would definitely recommend this. I'm knocking off a star for the fact that it doesn't come with any figures and the fact that the accessories are so tiny, but I think my little girl would give it the full five star rating. She has three of the bigger Sylvanian sets now (this, the fish and chip van, and the Baby Windmill) and this is the one that gets played with most. It works well as a 'home' for the Sylvanians - her preference is definitely to play games that mirror real life - and that makes it a very popular toy in our house. And with that, I'm off.... to help the Sylvanians drive their way across Europe as apparently they are 'going to Turkey'.