“ Brand: ELC / Type: Helicopter „
My son owns various things from the Big City range from the Early Learning Centre. He has had the garage a while and, for Christmas, we added the take along city and construction centre. There are various helipads located throughout this, so we decided to also get him the Big City Mini Helicopter. The helicopter costs £8 at full price from the Early Learning Centre but we got it on offer at £6.
The helicopter is approximately 15cm in length and 10cm in height. It is made of plastic and surprisingly lightweight for it's size. It is yellow and navy blue in colour with a single red stripe running across it. It has the word 'POLICE' and number '124' on either side and two blacked out windows painted on each side as well as a blacked out windscreen. It has two silver plastic 'feet' for landing on. There is a black plastic rotary blade attached to the top which can be spun.
On one side of the tail, there are three bright orange push buttons. One is shaped as a square, one as a triangle and one as a circle. When the square is pushed, a sound like the taking off of the helicopter is made. This also lights up two yellow lights at the front of the helicopter and two red lights on the tail. The triangle shaped button makes a flying noise and causes all these lights to flash on and off quickly. The circle button makes a police siren and causes the lights to flash slowly.
The helicopter is recommended for children from 3 years of age (which is the lower age recommendation for all of the Big City range). It requires three LR44 batteries - which it comes supplied with.
My son uses the helicopter with the Big City items that he has. It fits neatly on the helipads that are located on the garage and the city play sets. However, it is too large for the helipad on the construction part, which is much smaller and he has to use a smaller, die cast helicopter on this one. The helicopter doesn't really fit the scales of the city and garage - it is much larger than the cars that fit on it. But, at two years old, my son isn't really too fussed with whether things are to the right scale or not! The size of the vehicle means that my son can grip it very easily and manoeuvre it where he wants it to go. It is very lightweight too which means he can hold it up high to fly for great lengths of time without tiring.
The lights and sounds of the helicopter are a big hit with my son. He loves the variety of noises he can make and the fact that the lights flash are an added bonus for him. They sounds really do add to his imaginative play with this as he loves to fly it around the room pressing the buttons and copying the noises as he goes. For me, the noises are a little on the loud side and could do with being a little quieter, or at least having a volume control. This is particularly true when used in conjunction with the garage which already has buttons for helicopter noises and police sirens. My son likes to use these simultaneously so it can get very loud indeed - a little variation in the noises would have been nice.
As an independent toy, it makes a nice vehicle to play with so you do not need to have anything else from the range to enjoy it. My son doesn't often play with it separately but when he does he enjoys flying it around the room or maybe using it with other toys he has. The helicopter has been dropped on our hard floor a number of times already and has not chipped or damaged so it seems to be fairly resilient. The only sign of wear and tear so far it the slight peeling away of the sticker with the word 'POLICE' on. It is a shame that this is on a sticker rather than painted on as I think, over time, this feature will therefore probably be lost.
The helicopter is a nice addition to my son's vehicle collection. I personally don't think it is worth the £8 RRP - but this is not unusual for Early Learning Centre toys, which I feel often seem to be overpriced so that when they are in the 'sale' they are more priced at more their value. The addition of sounds and lights is really what appeals to my son most about this toy as it seems to make it come alive for him. It is realistic and life like and, as his play develops into more and more imaginative play this supports him well.
The age recommendation is 3 years plus on this toy but my son is two and I am more than happy for him to play with this - there are no small parts and the toy is actually very chunky so I would say it was ideal for younger toddlers. This makes a nice present for a young child who is in to vehicles and I would recommend it, especially if you come across it in a sale event.