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The reccomended age for this toy is 3+. I am assuming this is in case a child breaks off a small piece. As neither of mine were inclined to eating small bits past about 12 months, and we are always in the room anyway, my children got alot of enjoyment from this at a much younger age. So my age estimate would be 1-8.
The toy itself is sturdy and well made, we bought ours second hand and have had three years with no breakage or damage. The car goes on a lift to the side which makes a loud creaking door sound followe by "whooooo", as you lift it through the house, over the wee bridge held by a skeleton hand, spins around in the house, down a ramp onto a turntable, another spin and the child pulls the skeleton back to push the car on its way again.
My sons have both been happy to sit for ages just doing this over and over. This is one of their favourites toys and is always sitting downstairs where it can get alot of use. If it does get rotated away for a bit ( I trade toys downstairs) they are always asking for the "spooky house" back, so I've given up switching this one about.
I did see one very negative review on it, complaining that only the car that came with it would work. this is definately not true as my sons have a huge collection of hotwheels and matchbox cars and over 90% of them work just fine. As with any set you will find a small percentage of the cars especially the strange shaped ones or motorbikes will not work right.
The only real downside I could find with this is after an hour of so of play, especially if we are watching a movie the ghostly sound effects gets very annoying to adults, but the kids never seem to mind.
The Matchbox Hero City Haunted House Playset was available from Tesco for only £10 on the run up to Christmas. It's still reasonable value for money if you get it for £20 from other places now though, and stockists include Amazon.
In the box, you'll find that the playset comes mostly assembled. All you need to do is to add on a few of extra chunky plastic parts which would not fit ready-assembled into the box. There are a fair few fiddly tie bits in here, but no more than you'd expect from this sort of toy. Instructions are included but you won't really need these.
Play basically involves launching a car (included) across the rickety bridge, and then flipping it down through the trap door in the tower. From there the car will zoom down a ramp and hit a roundabout, which the child has to turn manually. Then the child has to flick a switch to make a skeleton pushed the car down the next ramp, where the car will run over a ghost and make a dash for freedom. The mechanisms all work relatively smoothly, and despite the low price tag, the toy doesn't feel cheap when in use.
I really like how there are so many interactive parts here that require the child's involvement. This isn't just some automatic toy that does everything for the child, they have to get actively involved in the play. I also like that there are not scary sound effects in this, as that did concern me with giving this to the grandson (who is not a fan of sudden strange noises!).
I'm also impressed that the car that's included has glow in the dark bits on it. It gives the toy that little edge really, and adds to the fun of it all. I'm sure slightly older children will love playing with this toy by torchlight in their bedrooms, and getting to see the glow in the dark patches during play. Because there are no sound effects built into this, and it only offers haunted themed mechanisms, this toy really encourages little ones to try to use their imaginations to create games and add sound effects for themselves. They can even add their own spooky lighting effects if they use it in the dark with a torch.
For the price this was an absolute bargain, and even for £20 it's reasonable value for money. This is quite a small playset, but it's very robust and includes lots of interesting added functions. What's more, you even get a glow in the dark car included. Great stuff.