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The Chad Valley Farm set would be easily described as a cheap and cheerful set. Bought for my youngest son who is three years old it has provided more play hours then I first thought. With this product you basically get what you pay for. It isn't the strongest play set going and does have a fault here and there but it is fun, encourages your child's imaginative play and best of all both my son's enjoy playing with it. Over all I have felt this playset is money well spent.
Chad Valley haven't scrimped on the products within this set, you really do get plenty for your money. With four buildings, a tractor and trailer, a farmer, plenty of animals and hay bales and milk containers there is lots to get stuck in too. The four buildings are made of thinnish plastic which surprisingly has with stood my rather heavy handed son! They are not brightly coloured buildings but rather more realistic buildings made up of brown and grey colours. They have gone to the effort of trying to add some detail to the buildings with detailed tiled roofs, stonework walls and wooden effect doors.
The Farmhouse is the largest of the four buildings measuring roughly 27cms in width, 27cms in height and 13cms in depth. For someone with a small house and limited toy space we have found this to be the perfect size for our small house. The Farmhouse has an arched wood effect door to the front with an open back at the rear which makes playing easy. At rather a cheapish retail price I wasn't surprised there isn't any detail to the inside of the Farmhouse but there is space to add your own bits if you wish. The only negative I felt about the Farmhouse was there is slots for another floor level like the tall barn but no floor level provided to put in the Farmhouse. After returning to the Argos website I have since found out it isn't a missing piece in the pack but a piece that was never made. A bit disappointing but it hasn't spoilt my son's enjoyment.
As well as the Farmhouse there is a Tall Barn which has large wooden effect barn doors to the front. Which are perfect for pushing the provided tractor through. This building also comes with a small arch way opening at the top of the building which has a pulley system fastened to the front ideal for lifting things up to the hay loft. This building actually comes with its flooring for the upper level. It just slots into the grooves around the inside of the building. The pulley on this building is only very small and my youngest son does find it a little tricky but my eldest son (four and a half years old) loves winding it up and down.
The set also comes with a Chicken Coop which is short and long. Unlike the other three buildings this building is enclosed all round. To the front is has a set of small doors and an open window hole. To gain access to the inside of this building the front half of the roof is hinged and can be lifted up. The boys love to tend to their chickens in here.
The last building is the least favourite of my son's it is an open arch way barn. At the front it has two tall archways perfect for standing your horse and cow in and yet again an open back. Other than that my eldest complains it doesn't do anything!
All four buildings work well together and make up a lovely playset when all used. To go with the buildings is a Green Tractor and white trailer. My youngest son is mad on tractors and to begin with he was more excited about the tractor than the rest of the playset but now he enjoys combining the whole lot together. The trailer attaches to the tractor easily and both my son's can do this with ease. The tractor is well detailed and the front lift is perfect for lifting bales. The back of the trailer lifts and drops although this can be a little difficult for little hands to do. I think the fact this farm playset actually has a tractor within the set and doesn't have to be bought separately is fantastic.
As I mentioned before this set is made of a good amount of items and you can see for yourself above but the set doesn't scrimp on accessories either there is plenty to get a good farm set up. There is a cow and calf, horse and foal, sheep and lamb, sheepdog, plenty of chickens and chicks, a farmer, bales of very small hay, milk containers and six pieces of white fencing. Unfortunately the fencing doesn't clip together but to my amazement the individual pieces stand up really well alone. The rough boys I have, they have stood on one piece and broken the feet off it resulting in it being put in the bin. Lucky for them they haven't repeated the accident and still have five pieces!
Once this set was unboxed and the very small assembling needed done both my son's were playing with it. They have spent many playing hours so far setting the farm up and for my eldest he has been running a successful farm! As for my youngest his imagination isn't quite as varied and he likes to fill the barns with the animals or push them around in the trailer pulled by the tractor he loves so much. Even though it is made of thin plastic apart from the one piece of fencing everything is still intact no breakages. Both my boys have had a lot of fun with this playset and I am sure they with have plenty of more fun. It isn't a babyish playset so I can see my eldest playing with it for some time yet. The recommended age range for the product is three years plus and I would agree with this. There are small parts included like the bales of hale and too heavy a hand could see some of the parts broken.
From a parents point of view I think this set is fantastic for the price you pay and it is quite compact too. The three tallish buildings near enough fit into the back of each other making storing the set even better. The retail price for this set is £40 but every time I have seen it in Argos it is always reduced to the £15 mark. I got it for £15 and it is currently (Dec2012) priced at £16.99. I would say anything under the £20 mark and you have got yourself a bargain. For the £15 I spent it has been well worth the money -well done Chad Valley.