We bought the Big City Spiral Race Ramp from Early Learning Centre for my son for his second birthday. At the time it was in a half price sale so reduced from it's RRP of £25 to £12.50, which seemed pretty good value.
The toy is part of the Big City range from ELC. It can be used in conjunction with the Big City Garage and play mat or on it's own. It is suitable for use with standard sized die cast cars. The age limit for this toy is given as 3 years plus but I have no issues with my son playing with it at 2 years old.
The race ramp comes inside a cardboard box in several plastic pieces and they need to be slotted together to build the toy. There are two ramps that run down in a spiral - one coloured red and one grey. The ramps come in six different pieces but slot together easily as you can follow the colour as a guide and, once slotted together, it forms a stable ramp. At the top of the spiral ramps, there is a black plastic 'launch pad' where two cars can be placed - one on track 1(red) and one on track 2 (grey). They are held in place by a bit of plastic that is lowered on the pressing of button 1 or 2 on top of the ramps. This way, they can be released by the child simultaneously. At the top of these, there are two yellow plastic fences that can be added or removed - for example we have our ramp connected to the garage (a connecting slide is provided) so we don't need this fence on one of the ramps. There are a couple of stickers enclosed to put on various parts - this is easy to do and work out where they should go.
My son instantly loved this toy. Surprisingly, he took to it much more quickly than he did the bigger, more expensive garage! I think this is probably down to the speed at which the cars race down the track and how easy it is to use - which was great for him at two years old. As he has grown older and developed, the garage holds his interest a little more than the ramps as there s more to 'do' on the garage.
He loves to line the cars up in the spaces at the top of the ramp and push the button to release - practising and practising at making them release at the same time so as to have a race. He enjoys watching the cars race down the ramps and speed, giggling as they reach the bottom and then shoot along the floor (great with wooden floors as the speed that they gather propels them forwards quite some distance!). The ramps are a great addition to the garage and certainly hold his interest. As a stand-alone toy, they hold his interest for a while but nowhere near as long as there isn't too much to them.
The only frustrating thing with this toy is that when my son picks it up to move it (it is light enough for a toddler to transport comfortably) it will often fall apart. Whilst it is pretty simple for an adult to put together again, he is unable to do this himself so he does get quite annoyed with it.
LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT
This was great when my son was learning his numbers and aided his recognition of the numbers 1 and 2 as well as the colours red and grey. It also helped to develop his manipulative skills as he placed the cars on the ramp and then pushed the buttons down to release them. As he gained greater understanding of how the ramps work he then developed his co-ordination skills to be able to push the buttons at the same time to race the cars.
I would struggle to say that this is really worth the RRP of £25. There is not a lot to the toy and such a high price tag is not really warranted in my opinion. Having said that, I find this true of a lot of ELC products and the frequent sale events and promotions they have mean that you rarely have to pay the full price anyway. For the £12.50 we paid, I think that it is very good value.
It makes a great addition to the garage from this range and I am really glad we purchased it as such. As I said earlier, as a stand-alone toy it does not really hold the interest as much now my son is older so I would recommend it for use alongside the garage. It is frustrating that the ramps come apart. I was not expecting this as the box the pieces came in was actually big enough to fit the made-up ramp in and had it been ready made it would be a lot more solid and easier for my son to move himself.
It is a fun toy and nice for use with die cast cars (not just from the Big City range). It is great for my son to play with by himself but even better when he has a friend to play as they love to race cars against each other and they get plenty of enjoyment from this! I would recommend this toy if you see it at a reduced price and especially if you have the Big City Garage as it really does make a lovely addition to this.
Send two cars racing down the spiral ramps and across the floor. Links to the Big City Garage (available separately) for even more fun.Not suitable for children under 36 months due to small parts. Age range: From 3 years.