We received the Happyland train set as a Christmas present for my son. At first I thought it was going to be another floor filler that I would be tripping up over in the living room. I think the image on the box gave me that impression but it isn't really the case at all.
It was my parents that bought it for my son and they told me they got it from the Early Learning Centre, as they do with so many other toys. The image on the front of the box shows the train set fully built and has the happyland rainbow logo at the bottom. It says that the set includes nine accessories and tracks and states that this toy is suitable for eighteen months plus.
On the bottom of the box there is a symbol telling you that this set requires two size AA batteries and a warning not to let your children have those batteries at any time.
On removing the train set from the box I started to set it up. It really couldn't be any simpler. There are six pieces of track. Two straight pieces and four curved. They basically slot together very easily. Once slotted together they form an oval shaped track.
Also in the box was the train and two train carriages that the engine pulls around the track. The train engine is brightly coloured red. It has a blue front and chimney and the top is blue where the driver sits. There is also a button inside the engine that once the batteries have been inserted this causes the train to automatically drive around the track. The engine also has blue wheels with gold rims and some detail also in gold.
The two carriages and the same red colour with blue wheels and the same gold detail. One carriage is a coal carriage and the other a passenger carriage that can fit one passenger. These carriages fit together easily.
Before the train will work you have to insert the two batteries. To do this you will need a small head Phillips screwdriver to remove the battery cover and to tighten it back up again.
There are also other pieces that fit to the track. Firstly a ramp that slots into either side of one track piece and the other is two barriers that fit into brackets that are already built onto one piece of track. The ramp and barriers depict a level crossing.
There are two pieces that don't connect to the track. The first one is a platform. The platform floor is orange with a green and blue shelter with gold and red flowers at either side. There is also a big clock on the roof of the shelter. The second piece is a sigh that say Happyland Station. It is coloured green and stands on a bed of green and blue flowers.
There is also a car and three figures with the set. The car is a gold colour with silver grill and headlights and red and orange wheels. The three figures are a train driver, a driver for the car and a woman passenger for the train.
Once you have everything in place and the train is on the tracks you can make it go by placing one of the figures in the engine of the train. Inside there is a button and the weight of the figure pushes it down to make the train move. The train sets off and does make some quite realistic train noises that made my son chuckle. When the train reaches the straights on the track it stops because of two bumps in the middle this activates a switch under the engine causing it to stop. After a few seconds it will set off again on its merry way. The only way to stop it is by removing the figure off the button.
One of the figures is a train driver. Dressed in blue dungarees and a red cap. Secondly the car driver is an man in a blue coat and red cap with a set of goggles on his head. He also sports a handlebar moustache. The woman passenger wears red shoes, orange pants and a yellow and blue jumper and has black hair. None of these figures have any moving parts, they are just a moulded plastic figure.
PROS AND CONS.
I'll starts with the pros. Firstly it is very easy to put together and takes literally seconds. Once it is set up it is very easy to operate by simply placing the figure on the button and away it goes.
It is very brightly coloured as you would expect of something in a place called Happyland and it drew my sons attention straight away.
It is good for my son to use his imagination. I have seen him driving the car over the ramps and use the opportunity to show him to wait at the level crossing until the train goes past. He now knows the difference between each figure and what their role is. It also helps with his hand eye co-ordination when trying to place the track pieces together or the train carriages.
He also likes to use the phrase "all aboard" when putting the women passenger into the carriage. He learnt the phrase from a book called all aboard and has linked the two things together, this is something I found quite clever. He also associates this set with his mum getting the train to work and says "put mummy on the train".
The first negative I can think of is that although the train set is easy to assemble, it is also easy to dismantle as well. I left the room one day and my son had a tantrum and massacred it. Pieces of it were literally all over the living room.
Another one is that sometimes you have to put the train driver in just the right spot for the train to go around the tracks. My son sometimes gets frustrated when he puts him on the button and the train doesn't go.
I also think that this toy is a little younger than the recommended age. It maybe OK for a child of eighteen months but anything past that it might not be exciting enough.
I have also checked the Early Learning Website for how much this set would cost today. It is listed at £40. In my opinion that is very overpriced for what it is. I certainly wouldn't pay that price for it.
The dimensions are Length 33.5cm x Width 43.5cm x Depth 10.5cm. It isn't a really big toy but it if you already have other toys that are out on the floor then you don't want to fill your whole floor up and spend the day tripping over everything, everywhere you go. The beauty of it is however that with it being so easy to assemble and disassemble then you can put it back in the box as soon as your child has finished with it.
At Christmas my son was aged sixteen months and was quite fond of this toy but now aged twenty months he very rarely touches it apart from taking it to pieces. He is more interested in all his other toys. So for £40 you have to question the value of this toy. I don't think it is value for money and would value it around £15, if I could get it for that price then I wouldn't complain.
This Happyland train set was another present my son received for Christmas this year. I had actually bought this for him a couple of months before the big day as I had seen it for £20 (half the usual price of £40) and decided to snap it up at that price. The set was ideal for my son who was 21 months and not quite ready for a traditional train set but gaining a strong interest in vehicles, especially trains. The happyland series is from the Early Learning Centre and is for children from 18 months of age. We have various items from the collection and both my son and I have always been impressed with them so I had no hesitation in purchasing this.
The train set comes in a large cardboard box with a very small plastic viewing window through which you can see the train's engine. The rest of the box is colourfully decorated with pictures of the toy. On opening, the pieces are contained in smaller cardboard boxed and some have that annoying wire fastening that seems to be compulsory on children's toys - so it does take a while to get unpacked and up and running when first using.
There are 6 pieces of track to piece together. These are brown in colour, made of plastic and slot together like jigsaw pieces. There are also three pieces to the train - the engine, a carriage for passengers and one carrying coal. The train is bright red and blue in colour. There is also a platform and a sign for 'Happyland Station' and a level crossing featuring gates that lift up and a track for cars to drive over the train track. Included in the set is one car (yellow) plus driver for use at this level crossing. There is also a small plastic girl figure for use as a passenger and to wait at the station and a driver for the train.
My son loves to piece the track together himself, so it helps with his problem solving skills - determining when a rounded piece or a straight piece is required and then actually fastening them in place. I have to confess that this is somewhat of a bonus as I hadn't even considered this benefit when purchasing. The train takes 2 x AA batteries (not included) and works by placing the driver in the carriage (therefore it must operate on some sort of weight recognition system). It then propels along the track. My son loves to put the driver in place and watch it move and then remove him so that it stops. The train also stops briefly at the platform, allowing him to load/unload passengers. It is quite noisy as it goes along and my son loves to 'choo choo' along with this. The movement of the train seems to mesmerise him and gives him great pleasure and amusement.
The figures included are, as with all Happyland sets, a lovely size to fit in a toddler's palm and my son loves to grip these and carry them around with him. They are made of a smooth, soft plastic and are very sturdy so stand up to the rough handling of a toddler.
The gates on the set lift easily by pushing them down at the ends and the car can then be driven through. My son does get frustrated if these fall down as he is trying to drive the car through and it can be quite fiddly to do so but this serves to encourage patience and develop manipulative skills too. The car is lovely and the driver styled like an old-fashioned driver. My son actually also owns the retro racers from Happyland and this is just like them, so we use these with the train set too so he has lots of vehicles to choose from. They fit neatly over the tracks too.
The train and the carriages simply clip together but do not actually fasten in place. This does frustrate my son when he is using the train as a push toy rather than automatic as they regularly unclip and he loses the carriages. He does not find them easy to reattach either so mummy or daddy regularly have to 'fix' them.
As with most of the Happyland range, I think that at full price this is quite overpriced. For the £20 I paid, I would say this is good value and this is a more realistic price for what you get. I think my son would actually have enjoyed this at a younger age than the minimum recommended of 18 months and, as there are no small parts, I would probably consider it for a 12 month old as the motion of the train is likely to be very appealing.
I think this is a really lovely set and well made. ELC have got this spot on for the toddler market and have got the balance just right between toys chunky enough for a toddler to hold and a more grown up (not too babyish) train set. The track is excellent and it's great that the child can help to piece this together rather than waiting for the adult to set it up. The set is also great for imaginative play as there is a platform provided for passengers to meet and get on/off the train and the level crossing could even be used to discuss road/train track safety.
The control of the train is simple enough for a toddler to understand and operate - teaching them about cause and effect well. The train also moves along the track well and stays on course - so no frustration of a stuck train to contend with. This set does keep my son occupied for quite a decent length of time and takes virtually no time to set up so it is perfect for us. The train will also run off the tracks so my son likes to have this running up and down our lounge too - creating his own games with it and developing his creativity/imagination too.
The set is well made and, aside from a few minor improvements (secure fastenings of the carriages) it is pretty much spot on. It is suitable for boys and girls alike and I think that my son will still enjoy playing with this set as he gets older too. I would definitely recommend looking out for this when ELC have a sale event on as it makes a lovely gift and is very well received by toddlers (all my son's friends want to play with this when they visit!).
For some reason when I was pregnant with my son I developed a fascination with the Happyland Range at The Early Learning Centre. I thought it was so cute and innovative, although actually when you think about it, it's not innovative at all! I guess that's why even before my son was born I bought a few items when they were on offer and put them away thinking I would give them to him for his first Christmas.
I didn't really think that one through as my son was only 3 months old that first Christmas so the toys stayed in their box until this year when my son was 15 months at Christmas-perfect age for Hapyland introduction!
This Happyland Country Train Set was one of the sets bought before he was born and it was £38 then, the same as it still retails for now. You can buy it from the ELC website www.elc.co.uk and in their shops. Other retailers now carry the Happyland Range like Argos, Boots and Amazon-although you will need to check which stocks this train set.
The Train set itself is so simple to use and play with-that's the great benefit of Happyland. It's designed for children aged 18 months and upwards so therefore simplicity is key. The track itself comes in six pieces that easily slot together to form an oval shaped track for the train. There are four rounded pieces and two straight pieces that all connect together to form the one and only track combination (unless you want the train to run off the track at the end!) One of the straighter looking pieces is attached to the car crossing too. I think this is a really nice addition to this train set-you get a sports car and a man to drive it too and so in order to incorporate him and the car in to the toy there is a crossing made especially for the car. It's ramped on either side so the car can drive up to and over the track and you can put the barriers down to stop the car while it waits for the train. I think it's lovely getting the car element as an addition to the train element. It feels a little less 'standard train set'.
You also get the station platform which can be positioned anywhere but it is a rectangular shape so it slots nicely next to the opposite straight piece of track. You also get a moveable road sign for the 'Happyland Train Station' which can also be placed anywhere the imagination wishes. You also get two people as well with this set who can act as the passengers.
The train itself is red and black and painted in the traditional way. It has two carriages. One is coal filled so you can't really do much with it, and the other is hollowed out as a passenger train to fit one of the people loosely inside. These carriages both have little peg like hooks at the front and back to attach to each other and the front train in order to be pulled around the track. The main train itself has a hollowed out section for the driver who is also included in the set and the magic thing about this particular train set is that when you put the driver (or any other Happyland character) in the drivers section the weight of him pushes down and makes the train move! Removing the driver does the reverse and the train will stop. The presence and weight of the driver also is what instructs the train to make it's typical 'choo choo' noises too. As the train moves slowly around the track it will come to a stop of it's own accord when it reaches the station. After moments it's ready to go again!
My son absolutely adores this train set! It's the perfect 'first train set' and I can say I've not come across better thanks to the noises, the movement, the vibrancy, simplicity of the toy etc. Happyland has a chunky feel to all the various people and sets and this train set uses that and the beautiful way in which is moves as a great way to stimulate your child. My son loved learning that putting a man in the train makes it go forward, he thinks it's hilarious to knock him out so that the train stops and then put him back in-it goes on like that forever!
Happyland is what ELC describe as 'small play world' and I would agree. At the moment my son doesn't know what shops are, what cars and trains are but I know as he grows he will understand more and appreciate the role playing element of it even more. At his current stage of development he's happy to move the people around and touch everything, knock the train over and start it again and he genuinely loves this toy. So because of that it gets five stars from me.
At first I thought the price was a bit steep but when I thought about it I think it's not quite that bad, although I think a £35 price tag would be more than adequate. I have noticed the price of Happyland steadily increasing and the amount the range is discounted by is getting smaller each sale-which is sad. I assume it's because it's popularity is growing. Nevertheless though I will continue to invest in Happyland, not just because I like it but because my son enjoys playing with it!
The train needs 2xAA batteries which aren't included but ELC sell them at the counter's in their stores so you can get them there if your rushed. The packaging is easy, the stickers all come in place and you don't need to do any assembly other than putting the six pieces of track together-and it's ready to play.
As a mum, my take on this toy is 5 stars! It's so easy to get out and play with straight away, provides entertainment and holds my sons attention, it's already taught him something he didn't know and it will continue to give him something to play with as he gets older. I can't really fault it other than the price! Another reason I love it is because it taught my son to say 'choo choo' which is the most adorable thing I've seen! Therefore it's all worth it in my eyes!
My youngest daughter received this for her 2nd birthday. We have a selection of Happyland toys, but they're her older sister's, so this was her first set.
The set includes 6 pieces of brown coloured train track which slot together easily to form an oval track. Little ones should find it easy to put the track together themselves, although they may need help getting the right configuration to make the oval. It lies flat enough on a solid floor, such as laminate, but not on thicker pile carpets which can make the track uneven.
A red train engine, coal-filled carriage, and passenger carriage hook onto each other to run around the track. My daughter tends to try and push the train from the rear carriage which makes them unhook from each other and fall off the track. Even when pulling the front carriage around the track the carriages can come apart which is frustrating. Happyland figures can sit in the front of the train and carriage. Other trailers, such as the caravan, from other Happyland sets fit onto the train as it's a generic fitting, so the train can be played with away from the track and used to pull other vehicles.
There's a level crossing on one piece of track, complete with red barriers that lift up. The barriers stay up, but it can be a bit tricky to make them stay up, you have to push them right back slowly.
Something I didn't discover for a while was that the train makes a noise and moved by itself when batteries are fitted. No idea why this got overlooked, although batteries weren't included which could have had something to do with it. I would have expected ELC to include them like they do with other products. After fitting 2 x AA batteries we had sound! When you put a figure in the front of the train it starts to move around the track by itself, making chuff-chuff, woo-woo noises. It goes at a reasonable speed, then stops at the station (or rather the small bump on the track where the station is supposed to be placed next to!) When passing the level crossing, it hits another bump and makes a ringing noise just like a level crossing. The train doesn't stop until the figure, and therefore pressure, is taken from the train, so make sure this is done at the end of play to preserve battery life.
A posh looking old man in sports car comes with the set and can play at going through the level crossing, or even taking a joyride along the track itself! Unlike the train, the car has a little bump in the seat so the man fits in securely and can go as fast as his wheels will take him without falling out. Two other figures are provided, a train driver and passenger.
A station platform with clock, and a station name sign complete the set. The station platform is good as it gives somewhere for the passengers to stand while waiting for the train. The name sign, on the other hand, doesn't have a great lot of use and tends to get thrown aside in our house.
The train set goes very well with other Happyland toys and can be a great addition to a Happyland town, providing lots more scope for play and imagination. Lots of other figures from the town can go on day trips by train, or even use it to get to and from work. It's good for children to learn about railways, safety and especially how level crossings work. There aren't any bits that can fall off like with other Happyland products so I'm sure it will last.
Recommended age range is 18 months to 4 years. It's perfect for my two year old who will spend a decent amount of time playing with it. My 4 year old will sometimes sit and play with it alongside her sister, but it doesn't hold her interest for long and is more suited to the younger end of the age range. With no small parts it's safe for children younger than 18 months, and although they won't be able to assemble the track themselves they will get enjoyment from watching the train go round the track. The train would perhaps be a bit too chunky for smaller hands to hold, but the car and figures are small enough for them.
It retails at £38, but we got it half price in the sale which is better value. I'd say it's really worth no more than £25. If it was a better price I would have awarded 5 stars.
Although eleven month old Freddy has quite a few of the Happyland sets, this is one of the more expensive and larger pieces. Being in many ways a typical boy, Freddy absolutely adores cars and trains and as this train set combines both of these it's absolutely perfect for him. The standard selling price for this set is £35, but when we bought it, it was reduced to £28, which really isn't a bad price, considering what you get in this set and what it does.
The Happyland Country Train Set comes securely packed in a cardboard box, now personally I feel that far too much packaging was used. While there weren't that many plastic ties to undo, there were several, empty cardboard boxes within the outer box, the only purpose of which would appear to fill in gaps. All of the separate pieces were also wrapped in plastic bags, which meant there was a considerable amount of rubbish that needed disposing of. Apart from unpacking the train set from the box the only real setting-up that needed doing was inserting two AA batteries into the engine and connecting the track together. On a scale of one to ten, I personally would put the difficulty of setting this up at about four and would say it took me under ten minutes to have it ready for Freddy to play with.
Now as there are so many different parts to this train set, this next section is going to take a while as the outside of the box really doesn't do justice to the quality and detail. The track itself comes in six pieces all of which are made from strong, durable plastic. When put together they form an oval that while not huge, does take up a good amount of floor space at 120cm by 60cm. As an adult, I found it very easy to fit the track pieces together and as they are quite chunky I would imagine that any child of about two years upwards should be able to manage with a little assistance. The track pieces also hold together quite well and don't come apart with every little knock, meaning it doesn't have to be put back together every few seconds.
One of the two straight track pieces also doubles up as a level crossing, complete with pivoting barriers and warning lights. The level of detail on this crossing is really quite amazing (as it is across the whole set), with the gates and posts being set among lots of very sweet looking flowers. The barriers themselves did need to be slotted into place, and although they are easy to lift up and down, it is quite difficult to keep them raised, which does lead to a little frustration, when trying to get a car through before the train starts approaching. Along with the track a small country station is also supplied, and again it's all the little details that make this extra special, I especially like the addition of the clock and hanging baskets. We live in the country and have a country train station that also has hanging baskets, so for us this is quite a realistic touch. The final building is a station name board, which is again set among tiny flowers. All of the buildings are extremely well made, feel very durable and perhaps my only gripe is that there are a few places where stickers have been used rather that the details being painted or moulded on.
The train itself is of the old-fashioned steam variety and comes in three parts all of which connect together via movable peg and hole type affairs. The actual engine is powered by two AA batteries (not supplied), which are hidden behind a flap that is secured with a tiny screw. The red, black and yellow engine is a good size for little hands to hold, but because it contains a motor it is quite heavy. Along with the actual engine there is a coal compartment and passenger carriage which are both a lot lighter. The wheels on all three sections run fairly freely even on a carpet, meaning that a child could just push them along the floor, but then they miss out on this train sets extra special features.
Once the train is placed on the track all that's needed to make it go is to the place the driver (or any other Happyland character) into the engine and then the train starts making it's way round the track. Although the train doesn't move particularly fast, it chugs it's way round the track in about thirty seconds making lots of noise as it goes. As the train makes it's way round it makes some very satisfying steam train sounds with a sort of 'chugga, chugga' and 'whoo-hoo', but this still isn't the best thing. On the bottom of the engine are some sensors that correspond to different areas on the track and cause the engine to react in different ways. As the engine approaches the crossing, it actually gives off an alarm just as you get at a proper railway crossing. And as the engine gets to the station is stops for a short period to allow passengers to board and alight, before setting off once more. The only thing I'm not keen on, is that the train continues to make it's way round and round the track, even if the driver has been removed, with the only way to stop it being to lift the train.
So I've covered the buildings, track and train, but there are still more pieces in this set, making it even better value. Firstly there's a racing car, that is part of the Happyland retro racers range, an old-fashioned, yet stylish green car, that's a great size for little hands and fantastic for racing games. This isn't a family car though as it only has room for the driver, who fits neatly onto a little peg. The car driver is one of three characters that are supplied in the set, along with the train driver and a passenger. All three characters are made of chunky plastic, and while not posable do have a remarkable amount of detail. I am a little disappointed that the characters are rather stereotypical though, it would have been nice to see either a female train driver or racing driver, but as all the characters from the different Happyland sets fit in the engine and cars, so far a variety of different people have given the train a drive (including the elderly postmistress).
As a parent I think this is a wonderful train set, that delivers far more than I would have imagined from either the product description or indeed the box. As I would expect from a Happyland toy, all the pieces are well made and easy to wipe clean. And while it does make a noise, it's not really that loud, I would say that it can only really be heard in the same room, and it sort of melds into the background after the first ten minutes. As for how often the batteries need changing, well this has been played with for at least half an hour at a time, many, many times and the ELC batteries we bought for it are still going strong. As for gripes, well the sheer number of pieces means that storing this between plays can be a bit of a pain. Personally, we've bought a plastic storage box, which is working pretty well, but I wouldn't really recommend using the original box as it quickly gets tatty.
We first set this train set up for Freddy while he was having a nap and then sat him in front of it once he woke up. As soon as he saw the set, Freddy's eyes lit up as he recognised that it was a 'dain', as we do live in a small town where trains are the only option for travelling (if you don't have a car), Freddy is very familiar with trains. After allowing him a few minutes to just stare at the set, I showed how to make it work by putting the driver in the engine, and the look on Freddy's face was just a picture. It's not a word of a lie, to say the Freddy will now put the driver in and then sit and watch the train go round and round the track for about half an hour at a time. He gets really excited as it stops at the station and he puts one of his people into the carriage. Freddy does, however, get a little confused that the train still works once he's taken the driver out, but he's starting to work out he needs to lift the engine to make it stop.
As well as playing with the train on the track, Freddy will also spend time playing with just the different parts of the train, pushing them along the floor and in the engine's case setting it off by putting one of his many people in it. Freddy also loves to play with the car, which he finds easy to push, in fact a little too easy as it moves faster than he can crawl. As with some of his other sets, Freddy does find it rather difficult to fit the people onto the little peg in the sports car, he just can't press quite hard enough.
As well as allowing Freddy lots of time to explore this set on his own, both Mummy and Daddy love to spend time playing with him, both with this set on it's own and in conjunction with the other sets. There are so many pieces in this set, that's it's all too easy to forget that we're all grown-up, as we race the car against the train, stand at the platform waiting in the cold or run for the train to just miss it. Oh and we're not the only ones who think this train set is brilliant, so do visitors, from 9 months to 90 years. As for Freddy, well he knows where this train set is kept and right now he's trying to tip the box up, so something tells me it's time to set it up again.
==The School Train==
Although the recommended age range for this set is 18 months to four years, there are absolutely no small pieces that would cause a hazard for younger children. Freddy is only eleven months and loves playing with this (as he does all his Happyland toys), and although he probably doesn't get the most from the set, he is still learning from it. Of course, Freddy's imagination is only just starting to emerge in it's most basic form, but by us playing with this train set with him, we are encouraging that imagination to develop. This set will also encourage communication skills, as we talk about what we are doing and allow Freddy to make sounds and say words. Freddy does already say a few words when playing with this, the most noticeable being his version of train (dain) and I'm sure that as he gets older then this will increase.
The actual engine is also a lovely way of encouraging hand-eye coordination and helping your child learn cause and effect, as they put the driver into the cab to start the train moving. Freddy is already pretty good at this, but I have noticed his movements become more precise as he tries to get people into the carriage before it starts moving again.
Along with these aspects there's something even more important that this train set can teach your child, especially if like us you live in an area where there are lots of level crossings. By talking about track safety and making sure that the people behave in the right way near the train, I'm teaching Freddy that he must not go across level crossings if the barriers are down or run across tracks or run on platforms. I know that he's very young now, but young children do understand a lot more than they can say, and they find it far easier to learn these things through role play and repetition. (After all we've waited for the green man since he was born and he does look for him now when crossing roads).
This is a first train set that any little boy or girl would be proud of, whether they have any other Happyland sets or not. It's wonderfully made and has an immense amount of play value. Believe it or not, one of my older children had this sets processor, and I'd bought this on the back of knowing how good that was. But this is even better, the attention to detail is almost unbelievable. But it's not just me that loves this train set, Freddy adores it and will happily sit and play with it for up to an hour, which is almost unheard of for an eleven month old. I therefore have no hesitation in giving this set an almighty five stars out of five and recommending it for children aged from about ten months (sitting independently) to three years.