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My eldest son is 5 and really into lego. We have gone down the lego city route as I feel this is more recognisable to the everyday situations that a younger child comes across. Therefore, the available sets have a lot more play value.
He has also been fond of fire engines as a lot of younger children are after visits to the local fire station on the annual open day, so when I saw this set earlier in 2011 I decided that I would get it him as his main Christmas present from Santa. I am lucky that my boys don't really ask for things, so I knew I could buy it early and him not change his mind, and I noticed the price fluctuating on amazon. When I saw this particular set reach £65 I knew it was time to get it and hide it. Throughout the year the price went up and down round about the £85 level, and it now seems to be £99 so it does look like I got a good price. It is the sort of purchase I would recommend to do in advance to get a good price.
The set is really good value in my opinion, as you are actually getting 4 lego sets in 1 pack. You get a fire station which is set 7208 and normally sells for £62 on its own. This alone is a nice set with the large fire station, a fire engine with hydraulic ladder, and a smaller fire response unit. The station has 2 garages which have roller doors that really roll up, big enough to fit these 2 vehicles in. The 4 firemen have an accomodation area with a computer, coffee machine, TV, beds and chairs that swivel.
This fire station has a really modern look with glass panels in the roof and the roller doors and front of the building is see through so you can see all the action going on inside the station.
You also get all the tools necessary for the job, such as fire extinguishers, an axe, a shovel, and a broom.
The first job for these fire men is to rescue the white cat that is stuck up the tree in front of the station, so they best slide down the pole to do it quickly.
This set has fairly good play value on its own as the roof on the engine is hinged and the kids can get the firemen in and out easily on their own. The back of the building is open like other playsets you can buy, and it is a large substantial set with a lot to do. The only downside as in any of these sets, is there is a lot of little pieces to keep track of, and if the play is too rough pushing the vehicles through the roller doors, you will end up rebuilding at regular intervals. Quite a few of the pieces integral to the building are larger sections, so this does make it a lot sturdier than it would otherwise be.
You then get 3 smaller sets within the bigger box. These are sets 7239, 7942, and 7241. These came in their individual boxes within the much bigger box.
Set 7239 is a fire truck which costs £25 on its own. It is a different type of truck to the one in the main set, as this time the ladder has one of those baskets for the fireman to sit in to do rescues from tall buildings. This engine is shorter in length compared to the one in set 7208, and you can only sit one person in it. the section that the ladder attaches to is really clever as it rotates around to reach different areas. It also has feet that come out either side when the ladder is up to make the vehicle more stable.
It also has a trailer with a little dinghy so you can work on the water as well with this one. We also have the police boat and a power boat set, so there is good linkage between the different sets we have. With imagination, you can get the police and fire services working together to stop a gang of criminals. Or more likely with my boys, they pretend there are some pirates about.
Again, we get a good selection of small tools which have a white box to store them inside the main fire truck.
Set 7942 is an off road fire rescue truck, which is more of a pick up truck,. This comes with one figure, and again has a little trailer which has a water tank and hose, and other bits of equipment such as a hose and a fire extinguisher, a floodlight and a walkie talkie to report back to headquarters. This set is £11.49 to buy alone.
Set 7241 is the last set, and is a what I think of as a pocket money set. It is a fire car available for £5.99, and it just has the small fire car and one figure with it. This figure is meant to be the fire chief. He looks a little older than some of the other figures as he has a beard. He comes with a helmet, a fire extinguisher and an axe.
To buy all 4 items seperately it would cost almost £106. I feel I got good value getting all 4 for only a little more than the cost of the fire station alone. I don't think I would have bought the 2 smaller sets if I were buying the items individually, but it is nice to have them and have extra tools and people in the set.
With my son being only just 5, this set has required a good bit of adult help, and we have divided this up into the different sets and worked on it over a number of weekends rather than build it up in one go.
It helps that everything was in its own seperate bag or box rather than having a big mix of lego to sort through. Each set came with its own instruction booklet and stickers to put on the finished model.
I have to say, I only recommend this model if you have somewhere to put it where it will not get knocked about between play sessions. The station is quite a large piece when built. It is a funny shape too, as one garage is longer to accomodate the engine, so the smaller garage joins to the front half of the big garage, while the accomodation block is set back a bit and joined to the rear of the garage. While it is fairly sturdy, it is built on 4 base plates, so not as sturdy as if built on one base plate, and I don't want to be moving it around between rooms too often risking it all falling apart. It is approximately 17 inches long by 9 inches tall at its highest point, and about 7 inches wide.
I would bear in mind that while this is recommended to children aged 5-12, there are a lot of pieces here, and younger children in this age range will need some help, and may find it frustrating while building this. It is however a great challenge, and will provide a great sense of achievement when they do manage to do it.
Join the famous LEGO« CITY fire-fighting team! These brave fire-fighters are ready to handle any emergency in LEGO« City! The alarm goes off at the Fire Station - there's a big fire across town! Quick, run out of the living quarters, slide down the fireman's pole and hurry to the garage where the fire trucks and rescue trucks are waiting to go. Put the flames out and use a truck's ladder and jump sheet to rescue anyone stuck upstairs! That's one emergency down...now what about that kitten stuck up in the tree? This amazing value pack contains the LEGO City Fire Station, Fire Truck, Fire Pick-up Truck, and Fire Car!