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We are family, I've got all my sisters with me!!! I think its important for kids to learn about family and know who is who in their life and who is special to them. I think it promotes a feeling of safety and nurtures some of the most special relationships they will ever have. A great way for them to learn about family is through play and they can do this really well with this set of Happyland family members. Happyland is a magical land brought to you by those clever people at Early Learning Centre. They describe Happyland as, "A place where children's imagination can run wild. ELC offer a range of fabulous buildings, characters, animals and vehicles from this great range. With HappyLand toys children can build a collection that can be added to over time to create an imaginary town and learn about all walks of life." This is a very stereotypical, 2.4 children family set of figures and really doesn't represent a modern 21st century family but in our case it is fairly true to life and a good way for my little girl to learn about family and how it relates to us. The set includes a mummy, daddy, 2 children, one baby and a dog. One of the children is a boy and he has a football with him. The other child is a girl and she is holding a teddy bear. The mum and dad are friendly liking and pretty nondescript. The little baby is sitting in a pushchair and the little dog is a lovely cute shaggy grey and white dog. All the characters are well made and quite tough so they hold up well to being played with, thrown around, etc by little hands. What I like about all the Happyland characters is that they are interchangeable and you can use them to play with all the other Happyland sets so this family plays in the cottage and windmill and all the other houses we have. The set costs £8 and is available from The Early Learning Centre.
The Happyland range of toys from the Early Learning Centre is a vast range of figures and play sets usually incorporating a building of some kind with characters and accessories to suit. My son is 21 months old and has a number of different sets from the Happyland range which are gradually building up into a lovely collection. The Happyland Family is a simple and small add on set to the Happyland series. It is priced at the lower end of the range at just £8.00. Play sets vary in price with the more expensive sets at £40.00. The age guidance for the entire range is 18 months to 4 years. I purchased this particular set quite recently in order to give my son some extra characters to use alongside his play sets. It consists of six characters in total. The first is an Old English Sheepdog, this character also appears in the veterinary play set and so collectors of the range may find themselves with two. The next I presume is the father of the family, though he could be mistaken for a little boy. He sports a striped t-shirt and jeans and is a rather simple character. We then have a little girl with blonde hair and pigtails, holding onto a teddy bear. The smallest of the characters is a small baby in a pushchair. Next is the mother of the family with curly hair and a handbag at her side and finally we have a little boy with a football beneath one foot. These Happyland characters are rather simple in terms of facial features, though their small eyes and button noses do make them rather child-like and endearing. Each is perfectly painted in bright and attractive colours. The characters are just the right size for small hands to grasp and to play with. They are not so small as to cause a choking hazard, yet they are just the right size to move around the Happyland play sets and the Happyland play mat and storage box which is also available from the Early Learning Centre and priced at £20.00. My son's particular favourites are the Old English Sheepdog, which he refers to as "Bow-wow" and the baby in the pushchair, or "Babba" as he likes to call it. This little family are beneficial in terms of encouraging role play and as they are rather basic they also encourage imaginative play. They are chunky and strong and their smooth surface makes them easily wiped clean whenever the need arises. This particular set works well alongside the school bus play set in the Happyland series, though of course they can be incorporated into any of the sets within the range. The Happyland family are a rather versatile bunch and at just £8.00 they are a cost effective way of adding to a wonderful collection.
Another addition to the ever growing 'Happy land' collection which my son Toby has is the 'Happy land family' The family consists of 6 characters which came packaged in a cylindrical plastic container, the set includes; Dad - Blond hair, white and orange stripy top, blue trousers and brown shoes. Mum - Brown hair, red scarf, blue top, green scarf, orange shoes, hand bag and bracelet. Boy - Brown hair, red and white stripy top, green shorts, blue shoes, dinks container and a football under his right foot. Girl - Blond hair tied in bunches, blue top, orange skirt, pink shoes, holding a teddy bear. Baby - girl with blond hair also in bunches, pink clothes and shoes, sitting in a purple buggy. She has something green near her mouth but I'm not sure if it's a toy or ball or dummy. Dog - A white and grey shaggy looking 'dulux' type dog. Priced at £6 I felt that this is quite expensive for what you get, but if you consider its £1 per character then this is quite good compared with the animals which ELC sell, as some of these are the same size as the 'Happy land' characters but are £2 - £3 each. The majority of characters Toby has got revolve around the sets, i.e. fire, police etc, and if you were to have the happy land collection all laid out like a town/village, then I an see it's good to have other characters who can move around and play in the park, go to the post office etc. Although this is a nice family set to buy, you probably wouldn't buy it as a product to use on its own; it is only something that goes with other 'Happy land' sets. Toby loves playing with all his 'Happy land' toys, moving the people around, putting them in/out of the vehicles etc. He's only 22 months at the moment, so doesn't always put the right people in the right vehicles, but he does find it very funny when the dog goes for a ride in the aeroplane. He also gets frustrated though, when the baby or boy don't fit into the vehicles, due to their size. These characters are made from the same plastic as the others characters from 'Happy land' they are lightweight and easy for a little one to hold. This family is a great addition to any child's collection, but as the set is a white family, I feel that it would be good for Early Learning Centre to produce a family which is black, we live in a world where there are people of different colour, and our children should be made familiar with our world from a young age. I have already written a few reviews on other 'Happy land' toys, please feel free to have a look at these if you are considering buying any of these. Thank you for reading this review, ratings and comments always appreciated. Nicola x 17/02/08