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Melissa and Doug may sound like a dodgy American Country and Western duo with 6 teeth between them, but actually they are a company who stock some really fantastic toys. They are especially appealing if you like wooden toys with a slightly retro feel. This is a stunning little wooden "sandwich set" complete with its own tray. My daughter has always loved pretending to cook, and she has a wooden oven, wooden fruit etc. I have tried not to get into the whole "toys for girls" thing by balancing it out with tool sets and cars etc, but to look at this set is gender neutral. Sprog received this when she was just 3, so we have had it a year now. It has been played with a lot and lives in the kitchen alongside a wooden folding oven and an awful lot of playdoh. The playdoh is also utilised for "cooking" purposes. This set could sit in alongside all sorts of toys and could also be played with outside in the garden in the summer. THE SARNIE SET: This set comprises a whole range of sandwich bits all made from wood. There are 16 pieces plus tray and knife, all of which are attractively painted and displayed. Melissa and Doug also do a range of toys that you can slice and cut such as cakes, pizza etc, as well as cookies and cupcakes, all delicately painted and crafted from wood. They seem to be around the £13-18 price range, which for a toy which is well made and lasting is a good deal I think. If you were to use all of the pieces in this kit then you would have a whopping great big sandwich. You get slices of bread, a bread roll which is in two pieces, ready cut. There is a variety of salady bits, some cheese and some ham type stuff which as veggies we call Quorn (they do a veggie ham that my daughter likes). The range of combinations that you can make here is large and to add to the fun, the pieces make a crunchy sound when cut with the knife as they are stuck together with velcro in the centre of each piece. All of the pieces are light weight but strong and durable. They are painted with a non toxic paint and have shown no sign of peeling or damage over the year that we have owned them. The colours are vibrant and interesting for a child, and when stacked up make a wild looking sandwich. Everything in this little set is excellent quality and well made. There are no sharp edges and the items do stack together beautifully. For imaginative play, this set is excellent, especially when combined with a toy cash register like we do, teaching the child about money, and values etc. The pieces can be used for simple counting games as you stack the sandwich, and for younger kids you can use the set to learn colours and different types of vegetable. The details in the food, in particular the tomato and cucumber, are fantastic. We also have a wooden pizza kit which can also be "cut" with a little wooden knife, and this set works well alongside that. The cheese and tomato bits can be "cooked" on a play oven with other food too so you are not limited to just a sandwich. There are enough pieces of bread for little friends to learn about sharing ie they can both make a sandwich at the same time which is fun. My daughter prefers to make the food for other people and deliver it to us (usually dropping half of it along the way). THE TRAY: The tray is a good idea to keep all of the separate pieces from getting lost. It has some activities for kids printed on the back to enable you to enhance the child's experience if you are so inclined. It mentions food groups and counting skills as well as ideas for memory games. This is a very nice touch. The tray features a red checked backing which is also repeated around the sides. THe tray also has a clear plastic insert to hold all the pieces in the right place which amazingly we have managed not to lose. It all packs away tidily and we have not lost any pieces. Combine this kit with a wooden pizza, a few cupcakes and an oven and you have an immersive play experience. Chuck in a cute tea set and you have a cafe... Do be prepared to get bored of saying "Hmmmmm, delicious" as you shove the painted wooden food in your mouth for the 18th time in an hour though.... FEATURES: * 16 wooden sandwich ingredients * Makes a satisfying "crunch" sound when the included wooden knife slices the pieces apart * Wooden storage tray helps keep it all organised * High quality materials ensure durability and safety * Non-toxic paints and finishes SUMMARY: All in all this is a beautiful little set and I think that it is great value for money considering that it is wooden. The possibilities for play with this are varied and interesting to a child of either gender, and you can use it as an educational tool as well (as you can most things to be honest). The set is good quality and should last a long time. Available for £13.77 on Amazon with free postage- not bad for solid wood I think.
For Christmas last year my we bought my eldest son who is nearly three years old a small wooden cooker. To go with this I wanted to get him some play food. After searching for a while I came across the Melissa and Doug wooden cut and play range. They looked great fun and durable. One of the sets I opted for was the sandwich making set. My son is not a huge fan of sandwiches and I thought buying this would not only be fun for him to play with but may help with encouraging him to become interested in sandwiches. Lunch time in our house can be a challenging one! The sandwich making set comes with sixteen pieces to make mouth watering, large sandwich. We have had some interesting combinations! There are slices of bread, a bread bun cut in half, pieces of cheese and meat and salad items. It also comes with a wooden knife to cut through the Velcro when the pieces are stuck together. The knife is perfect size for a small one to hold and is very light. All of this comes in a wooden storage tray but as I have found over the last few weeks all of the sets seem to get mixed up during play so we now have a large wooden basket to keep all the bits together. But I would say the wooden tray is a nice idea and looks great when given as a present. All the pieces are made from wood with a piece of Velcro in the middle of the item so it can be stuck to another. My son loves the noise it makes when he cuts or pulls apart the pieces he has put together. All the items except the knife are painted in lovely bright colours which are a non toxic paint and finishes. As you always expect with these wooden painted toys the paint does chip when it is bashed about that is why it is recommended for three years old and above. I would vouch for this as my sixteen month old has chipped a couple of pieces when he has taken to bashing it on the wooden floor! This product is made exceptionally well and is of high quality. It is a durable toy that will give your child many hours of fun. My son does use the item with his cooker and alone. I think there isn't any need for a cooker to be able to play with this. It is about your child using their imagination and being creative with it. My son has really enjoyed playing with this set since he got it for Christmas. He finds it good fun and likes to see how big a sandwich he can make from all his Melissa and Doug's cut and play food he has. He also uses the pieces with his cooker frying the piece of cheese in his frying pan. I'm not entirely sure where he got this idea from! The only problem I find with this toy is my son's lack of sharing skills with it. He is very reluctant to share it with anyone something we may have to work on. An extra bit that I like with these Melissa and Doug is the extra activities they put on the back of the wooden tray. These give you as a parent or guardian different ways of sitting with your child and using the set to its maximum. For the sandwich making set their ideas are along the lines of counting, basic food groups memory and more. I like the fact they go that little bit extra for you. Down to money I think for what you get you are paying a reasonable price. The set is priced at £15 but is currently on Amazon at £12.89 (Jan 2011). I think the set is well worth what you pay for it and I would highly recommend it. I know my son would be happy to receive any of the Melissa and Doug items. He has been very happy with his set and the others he received for Christmas.