My son has been very in-to Cars for the last year. As soon as he reached the stage where he enjoyed playing with them, I knew for my own sanity that I needed to invest in some sort of garage or play set that could be the home for his tiny, four wheeled new friends. Mostly because without somewhere to keep them, they had the habit of emigrating to every part of the house, and more than once I found them sneaking underneath my feet at night time as I tried to find my way around in the dark without having to turn the light on and wake my sleeping child. Yes, it was time to find the cars a home.
I must admit, as a first time Mum to a little boy I hadn't ever looked at cars, garages etc until this point. I nearly fell off my chair when I began searching the internet for one! They were all so expensive! I guess in hindsight I should have priced things up better in my mind, and prepared myself to be spending over the £50 mark, but at the time I remember thinking that my days of being able to entertain my son with items that didn't cost the equivalent of a food shop, were over!
After trawling the online toy shops the best one I found was this Big City Garage from the Early Learning Centre. I had wanted a plastic garage as I'm not a fan of wooden toys (just personal preference, no other reason!) and I wanted something big enough to be stimulating for my son. This garage seemed to fit the bill. We have two branches of the Early Learning Centre near our house so after a quick decision, off I went to purchase it.
The Big City Garage comes in a large box with it's own handle. The packaging itself is very good, very protective so if you did buy online you wouldn't need to worry about damage in the post (unless your postmen have a habit of drop kicking everything around on purpose!). And each item inside is very well packaged too. The box is very brightly colored, visually stimulating and quite frankly makes it look like a lot of fun! The garage does require fully assembly as nothing comes ready assembled but I found the packaging very clear with regards to labeling which part was which. The instructions were clear, accurate and easy to follow and all in all it didn't even take 15 minutes to assemble. I found the most time consuming part of the process was putting the stickers on. This is where I get a bit obsessive though, as they have to go on perfectly or I tend to go in to Mummy-melt-down! Other than that, the assembly process was quick and simple. Ideal really for impatient little ones!
The garage itself is no longer blue, as shown in the stock photograph above. It's now red and grey. I suspect this is to make it more gender neutral. Either way both colors look nice, but the only one available now is the red one. Made of strong and durable plastic, there is no doubt from the moment you open this, that it's going to be a durable toy. Not something flimsy that's going to have bits that dis-assemble themselves or that falls apart frequently. This is one of the reasons I purchased the garage, E.L.C toys have such a good reputation for quality and for the price I wanted to make sure this garage was going to last and I wouldn't need to invest in a new one-ideally ever!
With three floors to play on, there is lots to do with this garage. On the bottom floor is a parking area for cars, a car wash and a petrol station as well as roads and the entrance to the lift. The petrol station has pumps made from a more stretchy, almost flexible plastic which look a bit more realistic. The car wash looks great but most non Big City toy cars don't fit through it. I assumed the material that represents the washers would be soft to allow for different sized cars to go through, but it doesn't. Which is quite disappointing really as with so many different die cast and toy cars on the market, it seemed a bit of pointless part of the garage for us.
The second and third floors are open spaces for cars to park and play. Connected by two ramps, each floor creates a track like run. My son takes great pleasure in lining his cars up on the top floor and then gently pushing them over the top of the ramp. They then follow the 'track' and slide all the way, perfectly down to the bottom and out of the garage. At the bottom of the lower floor ramp you have a barrier which means you can even choose which direction the cars will exit the garage. The effect is cars whizzing around everywhere! It's great for little boys (and girls!) who are intrigued by cause and effect play, it certainly really excites my little boy!
Another key feature of the garage is the working lift. Cars can slide on to the lift and there is a manual wind up knob for you to transport them to their chosen floor of the garage. I was worried that over time the mechanism would loosen and wouldn't work properly after a large amount of use, but we have had ours for six months and it still works as well as when we first got it.
On the very top of the lift and the highest part of the garage is a helipad too which allows an extra element of imaginative play. It also comes with a button that makes a helicopter noise when pushed. And just underneath this are another three buttons which make various fun and interactive car themed noise to fit in with the garage. This part requires 2x AA batteries, and again, I have been very pleasantly surprised at how long these have lasted. The garage doesn't drain them and the original batteries we put in when purchased are still the same ones in there now. The batteries aren't included so make sure you have some ready!
The size of the garage itself was also very surprising. The dimensions are height 54cm x Width 78cm x Depth 44cm. This shows it's a great size, and not something that looks bigger in pictures and then disappoints you when you get it home.
The Big City garage costs £55, which at the time I thought was too expensive but now I know it's worth every penny. It's one of the most played with toys in the playroom and my son doesn't just play with his cars on it, he plays with his trains on it, his playmobil and his character figures too so it's turned out to be more than just a car play set. Having different floors to use, and the ramps too means there is lots of different types of playing that this garage is used for, all of the imaginative type. It's one of the most durable toys we have too. It's never broken on us, dented or scratched and saying this toy has a LOT of play is an understatement. The only thing I've noticed is that when we move it across the floor from the playroom to the living room, the pieces of the floors can pop apart but they go straight back together. This isn't a fault, it's just because the assembly isn't permanent of some parts.
This garage has also been invaluable for storage. We can store all of our cars and trucks etc on this garage when we put it away at night time. We keep a large box full of cars on the top floor and large vehicles on the bottom and middle floors, there is so much space for storage and we make it a game at bed time-saying goodnight to them all and putting them to bed. No more light night impaling myself on micro vehicles!
The garage itself comes from the Big City range, which has numerous other pieces that can be added to it. Although we don't own any other items from the range it's nice to know that at some point we could extend the garage if we wanted to.
I couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised, or overall any happier with this garage. It's met every need we had for a garage and more, it's plenty big enough, it's durable, it's interactive and imaginative, doubles as storage and is a staple toy for all playrooms.
My conclusion? Worth every penny!
Whilst I am writing this review, Lauren and her dad are happily playing with the Big City Garage and accessories.
We were in Mothercare last year when my other half (who I think is getting a bit bored of playing with Sylvanians and dolls) came walking over to me with the Carry Along City with a big smile on his face. His words were he had found a real bargain as it was half price at £20. I gave in and we purchased it.
The Carry Along City if great, its a small suitcase style box which folds out into a mat which has roads on, there are a couple of bridges and road that can be built.
Lauren was also really excited when she saw it, she liked to have races with daddy but her biggest fascination was lining the cars up in the car park.
Early Learning sell several products in the Big City range so we decided to add the Big City Garage to it at Christmas.
The garage just sits at the side of the mat, it has a moving lift, ramps, car wash, moving barriers, petrol pumps and a helipad, it also makes fun sounds and noises.
The ramps and road are quite wide which means Lauren can also race her lorries around.
I was really surprised at how much Lauren enjoyed playing with this, out of all her Christmas presents, this is the one thing she gets out the most.
Although everything is plastic, its really good quality (as you would expect with an Early Learning Centre Product) and not flimsy as some plastic toys are.
We had purchased a plastic garage from Toys R Us the previous Christmas and this was really flimsy, Lauren only had to lean on it slightly and bits would snap loose or un-clip.
This retails at around £55, however we managed to purchase it at £25 and it included a free pack of cars.
The last part of the range is the Big City Spiral Race Ramp and we will most definitely be purchasing this for her at Easter.
The range can be quite expensive however if you keep an eye out, every time ELC have some sort of sale on, some of the range is always included, we have always purchased the items at half price.
Thanks for reading.
I love the Big City Garage, it keeps my little boy amused for hours.
The big city garage is a three level garage with a helipad above the 3rd level. There are four buttons by the helipad that make various garage and helicopter related noises. There is a working lift that can go up and down using a chunky handle, great for little hand. The lift also makes a noise. Don't worry though, as the noises are loud enough for your child's enjoyment but not loud enough to drive the parents mad. It is a large toy so needs a large space on the floor for play and storage. It does require an adult to build up and it isn't easy to take apart and rebuild so once its up its up!
The age suggested on the garage is 3 up, however my son received this as a present for his 1st birthday and still loves it now 2 years on. The little ones will love making the cars go up and done the ramps, while toddlers and pre schoolers will enjoy imagitive play, parking the cars and using the lift. My son always has a diffrrent story to tell me when he is playing with it. Sometimes he's in the shopping centre car park and other days we are going on a helicopter trip. It is a little on the high priced side at £55, however my sons was bought with a large pack oars for free. I have seen the garage many times in the shops with offers on it, as much as half price. If you, like myself feel £55 is a little steep, it is well worth keeping an eye out for a bargin on it.
It is also made of strong plastic and will be a long lasting toy. My son is not the best for being careful and i myself have dropped it a few times and its still going strong. It has done my son a few years already and know i'll be able to put it away for any future children i may have once my son grows out of it.
There are also other big city products that can be used with the garage. I bought my son a big city add on pack which joins onto the garage making one giant big city. Does require alot of floor space. I manage to get the add on pack for half price which was only £20. There are also big city cars helicopters and more however it can be used with any other small die cars your child may have.
Overall a great toy! For little kids and big kids it will last
I am a childminder and I bought the big city garage for all the children to play with, The box says form age 3 but my niece age 1 plays with it really nicely. The garage costs £55 but I got it in the sales for £27 and I got a free set of 20 superwheels cars worth £20 so as you can imagine I am mega happy with my purchase. It took a while to put the garage together but it was well worth it. The big city garage is a multi story garage and is packed full of fun and realistic features including a car lift to raise your car to the top level, there is also a car wash and petrol pumps. The top storey of the garage includes a helipad with realistic helicopter sounds. The garage has moveable barriers and lots of parking space for all your cars. Whilst the sale on the big city products was still on I bought some extras to go with the garage, I got some helicoptors that have realistic sounds and I also got the big city service refuse truck which comes with moving parts and a recycling bin. I think this is a great toy garage but Im not sure I would have bought it at the full price so keep an eye out for a bargin
We bought this toy garage for my son for his fourth birthday, a year and a bit later it is still going strong and a favourite toy.
The big city garage is more than the usual lift and ramp garage you will find in most toy shops. It is a three story car park with a heli pad, lift, car wash, petrol pumps and a mechanics.
When you first buy the garage it is quite fiddly to put together, it comes apart in quite a few pieces and there are what seemed like hundreds of stickers to attach to all the little signs, ramps and bases of the garage. Once it is set up I think it should stay set up, it would be far too complicated for a child to assemble and a bit time consuming to keep putting it up and down, so if you have the space, leave it up.
The garage makes really realistic sounds for a few actions, like when the lift goes up or down it makes the movement sound and then a bing at the end. It also makes whooshing sounds when the cars go down the ramps. The car wash makes a really good bubbling noise and the heli pad makes a sound of a helicopter landing. There are also lights on the helipad. There are two levels of sound quiet or loud we find the quiet setting is more than loud enough. The garage takes three AA batteries which need to be fitted into a little compartment by the lift, you will need a screwdriver to undo the lid.
Despite getting many other toys over the past year for birthday and Christmas, my son absolutely loves this toy, he plays with it daily and it is always a favourite of his friends when they come around to play. I think the fact that it is uncomplicated and easy to play with is a brilliant feature of the toy. My son and his friends can use their imagination to create scenes and stories, they have police chases, driving schools and there is often many crashes and car pile ups that require the air ambulance to come and rescue people.
The garage is available from Early Learning Centre stores nationwide, you can also order it online at elc.co.uk or over the phone on 08712313511, the product code is 113530.
It costs £55 and at the moment that includes a pack of 20 metal cars. It is expensive and a lot of money but for the quality and the years of play your child can get from it, I think it represents good value for money. It would definitely make a good birthday present.
I bought this for my 2.5 yr old for the xmas just gone. It took me ages to decide if i was gonna buy this or not as it had bad reviews on the ELC website. After i couldnt find anything else similar i decided to go for it thinking if it really was that bad i would return it!
i'm pleased i did buy it as my son has enjoyed playing with it. I must admit though i wouldnt have spent 55 on it if it didnt have the 20 cars free!
It has 3 different sounds on it - Helicopter, car wash and car zooming. The lift can be a bit stiff to move up and down but my son manages it. The cars whizz straight from the top to the bottom and go quite fast so really enjoyable for kids!
The downside to the garage is that it comes apart easily which is what i was wary of from the ELC reviews. However as long as u pick it up from the bottom and down pull the pieces its fine. Not a problem really
We bought my son this garage for Christmas as he had spent a long time prior to that telling us how much he wanted it, regardless of the fact that he already had a garage!
But we decided to get it for him as his other one was getting a bit too babyish for him. The garage itself cost £55 which is quite pricey, but it came with 25 free cars to sweeten the deal.
My son's face on Christmas day when he opened it up was a picture - he loved it.
The garage itself is blue and grey, definitely designed for boys! It has 3 different levels plus a helipad (and it comes with a helicopter). The bottom level is the entry to the car park/garage and has a mechanic bay, a car wash and petrol station. The next two levels are car parks.
When you open the box you are confronted by many different pieces to try and figure out how they go together - it took me about 10 minutes to piece it together which I didn't think was too bad.
You then get a sheet of stickers which are a bit fiddly but really complete the look.
The only downside I would say for this is that the garage pieces come apart fairly easily so at some point my husband is going to take a glue stick to them to fix it all in place. My younger son has a tendency to remove the signs and hide them which infuriates my older son!
All in all this is a great garage and definitely worth the money.
My parents bought this garage for my son's birthday a couple of years ago. He'd eyed it up in the Early Learning Centre a few times on various different visits, and we thought it would be a good thing for someone to get him. It's an easy toy to build and play with, and the fact that it came with 20 free cars was a bit of a bonus.
The price naturally didn't affect us as someone else had bought it for him, but it's still worth noting that it costs around the £50 mark. Sure, it's not cheap, but when you consider the 20 free cars, and how much longevity such a toy gives you, then it's good value.
A couple of years on, and he still plays with it. My parents tell me that when I was a kid, I used to love playing with cars, parking them and lining them up in their front room. Now, my son does the same wth his cars and garage, and the interaction with the moveable parts is something that is simple, yet will occupy them for ages.
The garage is the same as the one you see in the picture, although it comes needing to be built before you can play with it. This, however, is simple to do. Four base plastic pieces slot into the base, and from this the two levels of the car park can go on the top. There is also a car lift on the side, with a helipad on top of it. At the bottom, there is a car wash, and a couple of different ways in and out of the car park, and overall thios is plenty to keep kids entertained for quite a while.
Now he is 5, nearly 6, our son doesn't quite play with it as much as he used to. He is much more into things such as Ben 10, and Transformers, similar things to me at his age. He still plays with the garage from time to time, though, and when he does, it can be a while before he materialises again!
The garage is also battery powered for things such as sounds and lights, although those on ours ran out a long time. However, they are not essential to the functioning of the garage, and so if you don't want to replace them, it's not really going to stop your kid playing with it.
I recommend this as a toy. It has the capacity to be a toy that kids will make last a few years, and thus the £50 is well worth it. I think we've had this for almost 3 years now, and it's still well used. It's also sturdy, as the plastic parts haven't been damaged at all. Recommended!
We bought this garage for our son for his 2nd birthday despite the recommended age being 3 to 8 years. It is one of his favourite toys and although it is quite expensive at £55, it does come with 20 free cars and considering the amount of use it has had, it is very good value. Every time friends come round for a play date, the garage is the first toy they all go for. This is also one of the first toys that my son started to play with on his own which was great for me as I could get on with my jobs, leaving him to happily make traffic jams out of his cars on the garage. The cars that come with the garage are very good quality, much better than some of the cheap ones I have bought in supermarkets.
The garage is extremely well made and is very sturdy so it can withstand quite a lot of rough play. It consists of 3 levels, with a helipad, petrol station, a lift, barriers and a car wash. Once it is assembled some of the parts do come off quite easily for example the exit ramps and the barriers. They are very easy to replace, though my son pull them off again quite easily so I don't always bother putting them back, apart from a section of the fence which if you don't replace, the cars will just shoot off the garage when they come flying down the ramp.
Just as a warning, when the batteries start to go flat, it starts to make random noises and your child will no doubt keep turning the garage back on however many times you turn it off to stop the annoying noise. Therefore my recommendation is to change the batteries as soon as they show signs of running out, to save your sanity.
We bought this garage for our toddler as a 2nd birthday present.
It is a large toy (see the picture) which takes a bit of setting up before play so it really has to be used as a permanent fixture, setting it up before play is not really an option. It requires an adult or an older child (probably from about 10 onward) to set up as the parts fit well and require a bit of force to click together.
It's made of durable, solid plastic which doesn't break even if a three year old climbs on it, and the plastic is of the softer variety which, if broken, bends and stretches rather than snaps into sharp shreds (not a single piece did break, but it's this type of material).
The toy costs around £50 from ELC and comes with what they call "free" box of die-cast cars. The cars is really what makes it worthwhile, as they are reasonable quality with a bit of weight to them (though it would be nice to have more variety at types, vans and working vehicles, not just different
It's a very playable toy, with three levels (including helipad) connected by a lift (makes noises), a car wash, a petrol station and ramps and barriers.
How much use your child will get out of it obviously depends almost entirely on the child. My little one does tend to play with toys (my elder one didn't and still doesn't - see a pink palace tale), but I think this garage was perhaps a bit too old for him. One problem is that the ramps can't be really used to let the run cars down them (the ramps are too steep and the cars fall off).
We put it up permanently on a small coffee table, and stuck it to the surface with double-sided tape. He plays with it quite happily with other children, but not much by himself. I might take it down onto the floor level now he's bigger and can be more relied on not to climb on top.
All in all, a good quality toy, and very playable - it will bring a lot of fun to a child that actually does play with it, for one that doesn't it will be a rather large decorative feature!
The Big City Garage costs £55 from the Early Learning Centre and is worth every penny I think. This is one of those toys that will get used time and again for many years to come. Also, it presently comes with a special offer where you can get 25 die cast cars for free when you buy this. You can use other special offers with this like free delivery and money off vouchers too.
This is a really big toy that's bound to have a big impact on most little boys. There are three levels to it in all and a helicopter pad as a miniature fourth level too (helicopter included). There are censors on the garage in a few places, so that when a car goes whizzing past it sets off a whizzing sound!
There's a working lift to one side of this garage that the grandson especially loves. It's moved up and down by the grey chunky handle on one side, and as it goes up or down it activates a motion sound, plus there are up and down arrows on two red lights that flash up on the top of the lift panel, and you get to hear a "ding" when the lift hits the top or the bottom of the garage.
There are a couple of barriers included that can be swung one of two ways to filter the traffic through to different areas of the car park. There's also a little car wash with working sounds, a petrol pump and a little moving platform for the cars to sit on when they need repairs.
Best of all, this garage is made of really chunky, durable plastic. There are no parts here that are likely to be easily snapped off, and the most robust child would be hard pushed to break this.
The only thing I think anyone might find fault with this over is the size of it, because it's great that's it's so big if you're the child, but it might be a nuisance if you're the adult! This is too tall to be pushed under a bed and too wide to sit on most shelves. Either it needs the whole of the top of a standard chest of drawers to sit on, or a big space on the floor.
I think this is a really excellent toy that was well worth the price tag. ELC never fail to impress me with their quality products, and this is another five star item from them. The garage is fun, well designed, offers lots of variety, has great sound effects and will keep a young lad entertained for years to come.
Fantastic three-storey garage with helipad, car lift, petrol pumps, carwash, ramp, parking sign and barriers. With lots of realistic sounds, and lights showing up or down on the lift.