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My eldest son was 5 a few months ago, but is really quite mature for his age with the abilitiy to concentrate for long periods and the manual dexterity necessary to build lego models. We have had a recent birthday and Christmas, where we have acquired a large number of models from the lego city range.
Aimed at children in the 5-12 age group, the lego city range is really quite nice as there is a wide range of sets, and most children of this age will have experience of seeing trucks, boats, fire engines, trains, police stations, fire stations, airports, and whatever else you can find in the range. I think we may need to build an extension to house this lego city we are building, then perhaps we can set up a version of legoland and charge entry.
On opening this set as a gift, the size of the box alone was pretty impressive. Measuring 11 inches by 19 inches on the front of the box, and 2.5 inches deep, my son was pretty excited about this model, and it was a decent size for an afternoon project.
The reason for the size of the box becomes clear as you look inside and start looking at the pieces in the box. The boats in this modern range are designed to float in water, so therefore to achieve this, the hull of the boat is one solid moulded piece of plastic which you then build upon to construct the rest of the boat. When we opened this on Christmas day, we were at my mum's house, and all the male adults immediately started discussing how this is a cop out and it should be all made from little bricks like in the good old days, but personally, I think it just makes it a bit easier to make a realistic looking model. We have not tried it out in the water to check it does float. This is for the simple reason that there are some stickers on the top of the boat, and knowing my children, these would get wet, and then would peel, and spoil the appearance of the model.
This kit consists of 3 parts to make up the whole model, which again makes it a bit easier for the younger in the age range to take part as you can break up how long you sit there building the model, and also as the pieces all come in individual heat sealed bags, you can not get out some of the pieces before they are needed, and remove the risk of losing them.
The first part we tackled was the cab of the truck. This wasn't too tricky, as we have built other vehicles before. Whenever we build any model, we start by getting out some of my tupperware tubs and split all the pieces up by colour. That way we can find whatever piece we need easily.
The instruction booklet took us through stepwise how to build up the cab brick by brick, in numbered instructions. My son assembled this by himself, with us checking that he was putting the bricks on correctly. We spotted a few little errors in placing nearer the start, but on the whole, my son could build it himself, and this does wonders for his self esteem and confidence knowing that he can achieve it.
We ended up doing parts 2 and 3, the trailer on a separate day just because it took a little longer than we thought, but when we came to the trailer, similarly to the boat, it was slightly easier as we had a long piece to make up the bottom of the trailer.
Overall, we spent about 5 hours building up this model. The boat is a pretty impressive 24 cm in length when built, and when you sit it on the trailer, the 3 parts together make 34cm.
When the model is built, there are 2 men that come with the kit, with life jackets, a crash helmet and a baseball cap each. I have noticed that the model is quite sturdy. We often get tears when my two children play with lego models together as my youngest is only 3 and a half, and though he loves the models, he is too rough and as he pushes the vehicles along they fall apart in his hand. We have found we can take the roof off the truck cab and get a man in to drive it without the whole thing collapsing. The truck can also be pushed along nicely without the trailer falling off, or the boat tipping off.
The way the trailer connects to the cab is very sturdy, so the movement is very realistic compared to trucks you see manouvering, and it is a secure connection. If you were quite rough and driving over objects, then it would all fall off, but with normal play, it has survived in one piece.
This is a really attractive model. I am really quite surprised to see the price is only £16 on amazon at the moment as I was expecting it to be more like £25-30 for the quality and size of it. It would impress any truck or boat enthusiast, and is pretty impressive for any fan of lego. It is a highly recommended model from me, particularly for younger people in the age range as it is a model that can also be treated as a toy, and that is not always the case. As a parent, that is a big wind up to me, as every two minutes play is interupted for me to carry out emergency repairs, and we don't have that with this.