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My son loves fire engines and ambulances. I think his Uncle Jamie likes them too as for the past two Christmases he has bought Boo something fire engine related. Two years ago (Christmas 2011) he bought him the Chad Valley Fire Engine and Boo was delighted to open this on Christmas Day.
Age recommendation : 3 years +
Requires 2 x AA batteries (not included)
This fire engine is produced by Chad Valley. It features sound effects, flashing lights and an extending ladder. The engine measures approx 15 x 15 x 56cm excluding the ladder. The Argos website states different dimensions but I have measured this myself. The fire engine is packaged in a large, colourful box and would make a nice gift.
~Price and Availability~
The full price of this fire engine is £24.99 but Argos currently have it reduced to £8.99.
My sons uncles have a habit of buying noisy toys (drums, keyboards, battery operated noisy stuff!) and this fire engine was no exception. I feel at full price this fire engine is very overpriced but at the current Argos price it would make a nice gift for a fire engine fanatic boy or girl. My son was 3.5 yrs old when he received this so was above the recommendated age. I would adhere to this recommendation as there are some small parts on this engine which may become loose and could pose a choking hazzard if in the wrong, little hands.
This fire engine is very big and made of thick plastic. It looks like a real fire engine and has been a big hit with my son. It is quite heavy too and solidly made. I often notice my son trying to sit on it and move it with his legs which is amusing. It does hold his weight and seems to be very sturdy overall. We have replaced the batteries three times since this fire engine entered our home which I consider quite good. It is very obvious when the batteries are running low as the noise features are very squeaky!
~Design and Quality~
The main body of the fire engine is a dark red colour with black wheels. There is a lot of detailing on this fire engine including headlights, a black guard at the front of the engine, silver holes to attatch hoses and windows/doors. It looks very realistic and I feel the extra features make it look much better than just a plain, non detailed fire engine. There is no assembly required except for the adult to insert the batteries.
Whilst the main body of the fire engine is made of solid plastic, some of the features are a little flimsy and cheap feeling. The guard at the front for example is made of bendy plastic as are some of the smaller features on the engine. The extending ladder is really big when fully extended takes the height of the entire fire engine to nearly 1m. It is quite a solid ladded and is finished off with a little basket and hose attatchment. Our hose has snapped off through regular play though. I would say the quality of the fire engine is okay but could be better.
~Playing With The Fire Engine~
Boo loves this fire engine and plays with it regularly. He is encouraged to use his (very active) imagination when playing with this toy. He is able to move it freely across the carpet or laminate flooring but can also pull down four little stoppers to rest it flat on a surface to play. Boo mainly plays with the extending ladder. It does take a little bit of strength to move the ladder up and down and it is quite noisy in the process but Boo can manage this himself. The ladder can spin round 360c which is fun. I love watching Boo play with the ladder as he creates his own stories or speaks about scenes in Fireman Sam. He likes to use his Fireman Sam figures in this engine and this works well as we have quite a few of them! He 'drives' the fire engine to emergencies. Boo often sets up his character sets and saves the characters. He is very smart when it comes to knowing what to do in a fire and even knows the number to get through to emergency services.
If I am being honest, I really hate this fire engine but only because of how blinking noisy it is! It really drives me crazy but I tolerate it as my son likes it so much. There are three little control buttons down the side of the fire engine which control the lights and sound. To be fair, I did have to ask Boo where the control buttons were as they are quite small and not immediately noticeable.
I would say that the lights and sounds from this fire engine are fairly realistic. I'm sure we all know what a fire engine on a call out sounds like - very loud and highpictched. It really needs to be for traffic and pedestrians to be aware of it being nearby. The front lights, the top lights and the main headlight light up and flash on a continuous loop. The lights remain flashing until the sounds have stopped each time and are very bright. There are three different sound features - two which sound like a fire engine when rushing to an emergency and I'm almost certain that the third is water from the hose but I may be wrong as it isn't overly clear.
Boo really likes his fire engine. It is a good size for him to play with and has some neat detailing. I give it a wipe down regularly with a baby wipe or damp cloth as it seems to attract dust. Our fire engine is in very good condition and is only missing a hose attatchment. My son is quite careful when playing with this fire engine but rough play may result in some of the plastic attatchments becoming loose so care must be taken.
I wouldn't recommend this at full price as it is more of a novelty toy which encourages use of imagination rather than an educational toy. It is played with on a regular basis in our home and has been well appreciated. I would recommend this fire engine for any boy or girl who likes big vehicles or fire engines in general as it is likely to appeal to them.
Thanks for reading :)