“ Brand: ELC / Type: Car Wash Tunnel „
As soon as my boys were able to crawl it became clear that they loved to crawl under things, whether that be under tables or makeshift dens. After seeing them at playgroup playing so happily in a tunnel I decided to buy them their own so they could have as much fun at home. Whilst browsing ELC and the toys on special offer I came across the ELC Car wash Tunnel. ***ELC Car Wash Tunnel*** The ELC Car Wash tunnel is a fabric and PVC 1.2m long pop out tunnel. The diameter of the tunnel is 42cm. It is made from blue fabric with a two strips of clear PVC running along the length of the tunnel so you can see inside of the tunnel. On both ends of the tunnel there are "carwash" tassels. The tunnel is suitable for indoor and outdoor use and it is quick assembly. It simply folds down to store flat so is very compact to store. ELC state the tunnel is suitable from aged 2 years. The ELC Car Wash Tunnel is available from ELC and Mothercare stores and also available from www.elc.co.uk and www.mothercare.co.uk . The RRP for the tunnel is £15 which is reasonable value. ELC often has this toy on sale before summer and after the summer. We purchased this for £10.50 back in December 2010 which I think is excellent value and a decent price reduction. ***Playing With It*** The tunnel comes in flat square box about 45cm by 45cm and around 4cm deep. You simply remove the tunnel from the box. Untie the two Velcro ties at the side of the tunnel and it simply pops up and is ready to use. An advantage of this is just how easy the tunnel is to set up but one of my biggest criticisms is how much force the tunnels pops up at. It literally springs into shape and although it's not heavy it will probably knock a small child over. I always take care when opening as the tunnel springs from being almost 3cm deep to 120cm in a matter of a second. Mr Lools has been less careful and managed to knock one of our boys off their feet as they were running past when he was opening. Once you get over the initial surprise of how fast it opens you actually appreciate how easily it is assembled. Folding the tunnel back up is very easy in theory. You simply press the two end rings down to touch each other and wrap the Velcro straps around the rings so the tunnel is folded almost flat (about 3cm deep) and it is very compact when folded. You do need to press down hard to get the tunnel to fold. The force you press down at is not excessive it is just because the tunnel is long that it is slightly awkward and an easier task than it looks. Personally it is made easier if children are not surrounding you as you need both hands (and space) to fold the tunnel. Once the tunnel is folded it actually goes back into the original box. Any parent will know this is an achievement in itself! My boys love to play with the tunnel. They started playing with this at 11 months old and I feel that the tunnel really encouraged their physical development and encouraged them to crawl and move around the floor as it gave them something to crawl through, whilst building up their coordination, balance and strength. Since they started playing with the tunnel there has always been a lot of laughter and shrieks as they play inside which I feel is a thumbs up that this is a good toy. Now at 19 months old my boys love to crawl in and out of the tunnel and I feel the toy is a great way to encourage them to play together and chase each other in and out of the tunnel. My boys play with this toy when we have other children visiting and I feel that 3 young toddlers can easily play with the tunnel. You can easily fit two children in the tunnel, 3 when they are moving about however with 4 children playing together it does get cramped but seems to add to the fun. The tunnel is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Personally we seem to use this indoors more (mainly due to the poor summer weather). If using outdoors you do need to take care as the fabric does absorb water so it is advisable if it starts to rain to take indoors and not leave outside. For indoor use the tunnel is suitable providing you have the floor space. If you are using on laminate or shiny floor surfaces you do need to take care as the tunnel skids and slips. When they were younger my boys played more carefully and this was not a problem. But now at 19 months I feel as the boys play rougher because the tunnel skids about more I have to supervise more carefully. One of my boys seems to sit against the walls of the tunnel which means on laminate it rolls easier and we have had some bumped heads. Initially I was a little apprehensive buying this tunnel as the age range stated it was suitable from aged 2 years. I actually purchased this tunnel when my boys were 10 months old (they are now 19 months old) and at this point were crawling quite fast and steadily. My rationale of choosing to ignore the age range was that I would be supervising them playing in the tunnel. Secondly our local Surestart Centre were using play tunnels in the play sessions we were attending for children under a year old so I did not feel I was endangering my children by buying this for them. With many of the ELC outdoor toys they have a age range of 2+ years however I feel this is a judgement many parents will decide to ignore yet ensure they supervise their children. My cousin is 6 years old and will play in the tunnel with my boys. He can quite easily fit through the tunnel although has less space to move in it than my 19 month old boys do. I'm a small adult and I have attempted (and succeeded) to fit through the tunnel therefore most under 10's will be able to play in this. However as age ranges go I feel this is probably best to purchase for under5's to get any real benefit out of it. Like most other ELC toys the Car Wash Tunnel is durable and made to a good quality. The rings inside of the tunnel which give it its shape are still perfectly round despite my boys jumping on top of the tunnel on many occasions (usually whilst the other child is inside). The tabs to fold the tunnel down are stitched in very well as are the clear PVC panels and after 9 months of almost daily rough play the tunnel is free from holes where the tunnel has come away at the seams (our Chad Valley tunnel only lasted 3 months). The tassels on the front of tunnel are still all attached even though my boys regularly pull on these. My only criticism is of the fabric material the tunnel is mainly made from. This is a lot thicker than many other play tunnels but it is not as durable as the plastic/ PVC play tunnels which are waterproof and marks easy wipe off these. When using indoors the fabric material is not an issue but I find if you use on damp grass the light blue fabric gets muddy marks on it, meaning you have to scrub quite hard with a cloth to remove. ***Overall*** I would definitely recommend the ELC Car Wash Tunnel to other parents as it makes a great indoor and outdoor toy. Unlike many other toys it is also very compact to store and actually fits back into its original box after every use (not many toys can do this). My boys get hours of fun crawling in and out of the tunnel hiding from each other. The clear panels in the tunnel add to the fun so they can peek out and see what is going on and the tassels on the entrance to the tunnel add to their fun. For the bargain price of £10.50 this is excellent value. Like the majority of ELC toys the quality of the tunnel is very good. The tunnel is durable but you do need to take care when your children are playing outside in it as mud rubs off onto the fabric sections. These take some cleaning with a damp cloth to remove these marks. However in comparison to another play tunnel we had bought from another brand (Chad Valley) the fabric sections of the ELC tunnel are much thicker and more durable for use outside. A fun tunnel that my boys have used since crawling and will continue to use as they get older.