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This play kitchen and laundry centre by Little Tikes is a must for any child who loves imaginative play and pretending to be just like mummy. My girls have had so much use out of this, I am reluctantly getting rid of it as my girls have outgrown it. Priced at £90, I think its middle of the range price wise for a kitchen set such as this. You can pick them up for cheaper prices but should expect a lower quality item.
Perfect for two children, the double sided kitchen and laundry centre means that two children can happily play side by side both doing their own thing or can play together. The kitchen has a coffee maker, fridge, dishwasher, sink, phone and microwave, while the laundry centre has a tumble dryer, washing machine and ironing board (and iron).
I have loved to watch my girls play with this set, and have been offered countless cups of coffee. One time I was even ordered to take off my cardigan so it could be ironed as it apparently had a crease in it! My girls seem to be obsessed with shoving things inside bags, cupboards etc whilst playing, so I swiftly learned to check inside the oven, washing machine etc each evening for rogue toys / items of clothing. I once found a stash of babybells inside the oven, and my favourite top in the washing machine! Had I not thought to check I would still probably be looking for that top now, and no doubt a funny smell would have started from the oven!
The set comes with a small collection of cutlery and crockery but didn't come with any food. Luckily we had a shopping basket from early learning centre full of various toy cans of food, and fruit and vegetable items so I would advise buying a set if you don't already own them as this will heighten their imaginative play. Early Learning Centre do a lovely set which is really good value.
The kitchen and laundry centre look like they take up a lot of space when in play, but actually fold away as the two are connected by a hinge. This makes it easy to store and tidy away when not in use.
The only thing that I feel I need to mention is that the centre does not offer any sounds, such as washing machine noises. This for me was a major positive as my girls make enough noise all by themselves without toys adding to it! Some parents may want this for their little ones though so it is worth bearing in mind. I often find that it is the more expensive kitchen sets that offer this extra.
The age range is from two years, however I would allow children younger than this to play with this kitchen. There aren't any small parts and it is doesn't have any sharp edges to worry about. It is robust enough that a younger child can grab on to doors etc and you needn't worry about them coming off. My girls are now coming up to 5 and 7 so they are a little on the old side for this now and their interest has waned recently, so it's going to be given to a younger child that we know who will no doubt gain many hours of fun play from it.
Self-assembly is required however this was so easy that it's not an issue in the slightest.
I'd wanted to get my youngest daughter a kitchen for a while, but the prices and vast range available put me off for a long time. But with Christmas coming up last year I spent a lot of time researching the various brands and styles of kitchen and comparing the prices.
I already knew that I didn't want one with lights and sounds because I actually think this detracts away from the play experience the children have, they seem to get pre-occupied with making the various sounds work rather than getting lost in role playing games. I also knew my daughter loved to play with the kitchen at the Toddler group we attend which was quite large but had a lot of cupboards to open and close.
So I was kind of swaying towards a larger kitchen, and Little Tikes seemed to be the brand that kept appearing on my regular internet searches. I finally opted for this Little Tikes Double Up Kitchen and Laundry Centre, it was priced at around £80 from Tesco Direct at the time but I had £50 of Tesco Clubcard vouchers saved up so I ended up paying just £30 for it.
It was meant as a Christmas present so hiding the huge box it came in was a task, until my husband had the chance to put it into the loft. We weren't able to build the actual kitchen until Christmas Eve because once built it would not fit back through the loft hatch. This was a bit of a disadvantage because my husband struggled to bash some of the plastic screws into position and a lot of hammering, clattering and swearing was to be done while the children were asleep waiting for Father Christmas to arrive - they would be surprised if they heard him swearing!
Luckily they didn't awake from their slumber and my husband managed to construct the kitchen eventually. Stickers were also provided for you to position around the kitchen to make it look more realistic, and that was my job, there was a diagram to show you were they went so this was quite straightforward.
**The Monster In My Living Room**
Once constructed I was starting to regret buying it because it is rather large, but my thoughts that my daughters would love it kept the regrets at bay. The marketing of the kitchen states that the laundry centre can be folded away for better storage, but this isn't actually practical because with it opened out the whole kitchen can sit flat against a wall, but fold the laundry centre away and you seem to have a much more bulky item which does not sit unnoticed in a corner!
The actual dimensions of the kitchen are as follows:
Length - 115cm
Depth (widest point) - 35cm
Height - 108cm
If you fold the Laundry Centre in then the length is just 58cm but the depth becomes 55cm.
Bearing in mind these measurements are all approximate, but you can imagine that it is quite a sizeable item and simply does not pack away into a toy box!
**What You Get For Your Money and Loss of Living Space**
Integrated into this kitchen there are actually quite a few items. In the laundry centre you get the ironing board, including iron, and underneath that are two cupboards - the washing machine and the dryer.
Over in the kitchen section is a tall cupboard which is the fridge, with an ice dispenser in the door, and two smaller cupboards, one being the oven and the other the dishwasher. On top of these cupboards lies the work area, you get a mini sink with tap and drainer, and on the other side 2 hob rings with buttons that twist.
The kitchen now extends upwards and up here you have a microwave and a detachable telephone.
So although there are no lights and sounds with the kitchen, what you do get is a lot of cupboard space. There are a total of 6 cupboards with doors that open and close, and I had read a review that these were really small, but in fact they are just the right size. My kids love to play with pretend food, and these cupboard spaces are ample enough to fill with plastic tomatoes and bananas. I have also found other items stuffed in there but that's another story!
I thought the accessories provided with the kitchen were minimal, especially for a kitchen of this size. I cannot actually remember exactly what we got because the items have been swallowed up in the box of random play food we have, but I seem to recall getting a few crockery items such as cups, beakers, plates and a jug. There was also a knife & fork and a frying pan. 1 food item was provided and that was a hotdog. My kids have never seen a hotdog before so were quite puzzled at this!
**Time To Cook**
When my 2 year old daughter opened this on Christmas Day, I won't lie and say she was jumping for joy, I think she was actually a little bit daunted by the sheer size of it. It does tower above her and did look pretty menacing in the middle of our living room. But once she got over the initial shock she began to play, and she hasn't looked back.
I also have a 4 year old daughter and the kitchen is perhaps better suited to someone of her age because of its size, but I would say they have both had equal enjoyment from it so far. I explained to them what each cupboard is intended for, such as the washing machine is for washing clothes and the ironing board for ironing them. But I have often caught my 2 year old trying to iron the pans or vegetables so this lesson has not quite sunk in yet...
What the children like to do best is arrange all their play food into piles and plop into the various pans in their collection, then they will either put them on the hob, or put them in one of the cupboards. And then they will provide either me, or their toys with some lunch. They also like to heat things up in the microwave, and I even hear them making the sound a microwave would make. The microwave is located just a little bit too high for my 2 year old, she can just reach it but has to stand on tip toes - so this reiterates my point above that the kitchen is perhaps suited to an older child, perhaps 3 years and above. Although smaller children would have plenty of enjoyment from the lower sections!
The telephone is also a massive enjoyment factor because they will pretend they hear it ring, then chat to whoever is on the other end. And I often hear them saying phrases such as 'how are you?' 'fine thanks' 'what you doing today?' - all the things they have obviously heard me saying on my phone. They also sometimes bring the phone to me so I can talk to their friends on the other end of the line, something which I have found myself doing to them...'come and talk to your granny!'
I was actually quite surprised at the quality of this kitchen, especially since it was priced at £80 and is made by Little Tikes; I was expecting something a bit more substantial. The quality is good, but while we were putting it together we could sense that it is just another one of those mass produced items and not a lot of care had gone into its production. The doors wouldn't quite fit properly and had to be bent into position, the microwave door still catches when you open and close it, and the laundry centre did not quite line up with the kitchen (hence the swearing from my husband when he was trying to fix it together).
Little things like that make you feel just a bit disappointed, but once it was together it looked great and I am not expecting it to fall apart anytime soon. However, something that really irritates me about it is that the hob section actually bows upwards, so you cannot sit a pan flat onto one of the rings. This does not bother my daughters, but I think for the price this should have been noticed before it was sent out. I would not sell an item with a defect such as this.
Overall I have been really pleased with the kitchen, especially since my daughters love to play with it and get a lot of role play out of it. In hindsight I think the price is pretty reasonable, especially when you compare it to something you would buy from the Early Learning Centre for £70 which is half the size and doesn't come with as much storage space.
I would definitely recommend this kitchen to others who are on the lookout for one for their children, but just be cautious because as I have said above, it is a large item and cannot be put out of sight, especially if you have a small house.
Recommended age is 3+ and I would agree with that.
Currently available from Amazon for £89.99 or Tesco Direct for £79.97 (January 2011)
My children are now 8 and 5 and out of all the toys we have bought since they were born this has to be the best buy. They still use it now and I can see that I am not going to be able to pass it on for some time to come!
As usual it is great Little Tikes quality - very strong substantial plastic that stands up to little children pulling and shoving it around (unlike the cheap kitchen I bought them for their playhouse which is falling to pieces)
It comes in two parts with a hinge so can be opened up long or one part folded back on the other to make it deeper but more compact. One side is the laundry centre and consists of an ironing board and two cupboards underneath with doors that open - one is meant to be the washing machine and the other the tumble drier.
The other part is the kitchen. This consists of a sink, double oven, fridge with pretend ice maker in the door, microwave and coffee machine. It even has a phone.
When young my girls used to enjoy hiding things in the many compartments but now they play cafes, restaurants etc. It comes with a few basic utensils and we have added to that with play food etc from a variety of toy shops.
The only criticism I would have is that it would be even more fun if it had sound and lights - but then they have kettles,toasters and blenders that do this.
It is a pricey kitchen but you definately get what you pay for in terms of quality. Although mine is approximately 5 years old it looks as new and has been played with a lot.
When my wife, in her infinite wisdom, decided that our daughter Emile had outgrown her Fisher Price Laugh And Learn kitchen, she went out without consulting me and bought this far inferior model. Although made by Little Tikes, and thus presumably a decent one to buy, I was majorly disappointed by the fact that this kitchen DOESN'T REALLY DO ANYTHING!!!!
With pretend taps, a sink, a make-believe microwave, stove-top and oven and an ironing board and pretend iron, the kitchen looks very pretty and comes with lots of storage space in the shape of cupboards where you could store other toys but these are deceptively small and, in fact as experience has shown me, you can't get much inside of any of them!
A couple of the cupboards are meant to look like a washing machine and drier and the kitchen even comes with a pretend ice-maker but the fact is, this makes no noises and though is intended to promote imaginative play, is unlikely to hold attention for long as the only advantage to this that I can see is that it folds neatly aay in two and can be shoved into a corner out of the way!
Priced at £76 on Amazon, I think it is likely you could get a much more interactive kitchen for a fraction of the cost. I do not know how much we paid and, conveniently my wife has forgotten, but if we paid this much for our kitchen I would not be impressed! It is my least favourite of all the toys my daughter has been bought and the fact that it is not used that often testifies to the fact that my daughter is obviously not that impressed either!
For value for money, my overall opinion is that you could do a hell of a lot better! This is something, in my eyes, of a bit of a damp squib and I would not reccommend this to any parent reading this! You would be far better spending a bit less and getting more for your money! There is a reason why I insist on buying the toys in the house because this is what happens when I leave it to the wife!!!