Product Type: ELC Toy Car
Newest Review: ... visually stimulating and quite frankly makes it look like a lot of fun! The garage does require fully assembly as nothing comes ready asse... more
Always Space At The Big City Garage!
ELC Big City Garage
Member Name: joshuas-mummy
ELC Big City Garage
Advantages: Great size, durable, interactive, stimulating
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!
Summary: Worth every penny!
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