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Like many people, I was swept up in the excitement in the build up to the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton last year. I wanted to buy some sort of memento of the special occasion but wasn't tempted by the usual array of tasteless, tacky tat on offer. As soon as I heard about this limited edition Royal Wedding set from ELC, I knew that this was something I had to have for me and the boys! I actually bought two of these sets - one to be played with and enjoyed (and most probably mistreated and mislaid) and the other to be kept unopened and treasured as a little keepsake.
The Happyland range is exclusive to the Early Learning Centre and includes various sets designed to replicate everyday life and locations, stimulating imaginative play for youngsters. Perhaps surprisingly, I'd never owned any Happyland sets before this one, tending to prefer Fisher Price's Little People range, which is a similar type of toy.
This particular set is a lovely memento, but is also a fun set of characters for imaginative play. This includes figures representing Kate and Prince William (of course) as well as the Queen (complete with crown) and Prince Phillip. They are accompanied by a smart soldier on horse back and a foot soldier complete with bearskin helmet! To complete the set, there is a horse and carriage and even a cute little corgi, to add an extra little touch. All of the figures bear a likeness to their Royal namesakes and have real elements of character.
When I first purchased this set, I expected this to be a set that could be played with by my youngest son as he got older. I was surprised by how much interest my three year old son actually showed in this set. He had been whipped up into a Royal Wedding frenzy by his nursery teachers at the time, however, and was forever telling me how beautiful Kate was and how she was going to become a magical Princess when she got married. (If the Royal Family ever need any help to promote their popularity and public image, they would do well to employ some Primary School teachers!)
My son really enjoyed pulling the royal couple along in their carriage and acting out the wedding ceremony, in the days leading up to the big day. I'm not entirely sure that the Royal Family would be overly impressed with all of his imaginary play, though. One memorable scene involved Prince William marrying the foot soldier! I'm not quite sure that the Royal Family is ready to celebrate its first gay wedding just yet. I'd probably better not mention the suspected bestiality either with the horse playing quite a leading role in the wedding ceremony in one of my son's productions! (Likewise, I suspect that having the Queen attached to the harness and pulling the carriage is probably an act that would be classed as treason!) Needless to say, this seemingly simple set does offer a surprisingly large opportunity for imaginative play although this would be best used in conjunction with further Happyland sets, of which there are many.
I did wonder whether the set might pose a choking hazard for my youngest son as he started to get more mobile. The dog, in particular, is pretty small but it is not small enough to fit into a toddler's mouth - despite his best attempts. I do think the age recommendation of 18 months plus is a fairly realistic estimate, as all of the figures are a reasonable size to be handled by tiny hands. At sixteen months, my youngest is just starting to show an interest in these figures, especially the animals and the carriage, but is not quite at the stage of acting out scenes as yet, so this set has the potential to entertain him for a couple of years to come. The carriage, in particular, offers a good opportunity for little ones to develop their hand-eye co-ordination as they attach the harness and connect up the horse to pull it along. I do find that the carriage and harness can come detached quite easily but this doesn't seem to frustrate my little one too much.
Having never owned any Happyland sets or figures before, I have been pleased with how durable this set has proven to be. My little one has sucked, slobbered on and chewed the various plastic figurines without any visible damage. The only obvious signs of wear and tear are visible on Kate's white wedding dress which is prone to scuffs and black marks. (I think that was mainly from being squeezed into one of my son's trucks. I suspect that isn't something that parents of little girls have to contend with!) Even the carriage has proven to be surprisingly robust. I'm pretty certain it wasn't intended to be misappropriated as a roller skate but it has withstood this and more without any signs of damage.
I am really impressed with the quality of this set both as a endearing little keepsake of a special Royal occasion and as a toy that is robust enough to be played with and enjoyed. As this was a 'Limited Edition', I was a little surprised to discover that this set is actually still available on the ELC for the original selling price of £15. This set appears to have been updated slightly too, to reflect the actual colours and outfits that were worn on the day itself. This is yet another beautiful and thoughtful little touch, making the set even more special.
Long after the day has passed, our set is still being enjoyed and played with. I'm even tempted to invest in one of the revised editions now. This really is a lovely, very well designed offering from the Early Learning Centre and should have Royal approval!
Oh goodness me where to start! We are Royalists we love the Royal Family my husband is an ex Para so Queen and Country are very important to us!
The Royal wedding was coming up and we wanted to buy something for the kids as a keep sake, not the usual tatt something different!
I came across the Early Learning Centre Happyland Royal wedding play set on an episode of This Morning and knew immediately that it was what I wanted for my nearly two year old!
The Early Learning Centre sold out of theses sets pretty early on but I managed to find them on sale in Debenhams, they sell the Early Learning Centre toys. We were thrilled! I could not bring myself to open the box so that the set could be played with so went back and bought another. One for me to save boxed and sealed and one for the kids to play with. At £15 each it hardly broke the bank.
Presented in a cardboard box with details of the set contents and a celophane window bearing special edition 2011 sticker, the box also has playing tips, ie push the happy couple round in their carriage, act out weddings bringing people to life, inspiring early pretend play. I think this is a lovely idea to expand an adults imagination as well as the childs.
The set comes with
A Royal Cavalry Soldier in full uniform
A Foot Soldier complete with bearskin
2 Horses and the Queens favorite... A Corgi!
Prince William is in his full military uniform, Kate is wearing a beautiful wedding dress, tiara, viel and carries a bouquet of flowers they stand in a black and gold carriage drawn by a horse, they are supported by a Royal Cavalry Soldier in full uniform, he rides a grey horse (he cannot be removed from the horse but this is not a problem, it just neans he stays in place while Jamie plays with him) there is also a Royal foot soldier with a cute little bearskin, Prince Phillip and of course the Queen also attend standing in the box on the balcony of the castle, and last but not least the Queens favourite little corgi.
This set is fantastic I love it and I am sure anyone of any age with or without children would love it too, it is a great collectors piece and also a great little toy.
Highly highly recommended.
I am very excited about the upcoming Royal Wedding and wanted to buy something to celebrate the day. I am not really a teatowel, china mug kind of girl so when I saw the Happyland Royal Wedding set I knew this was just the memorabilia for me. I could share the day fun and excitement with my little girl by buying her a little toy and also satisfy my hunger for a bit of British history.
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."
I have a number of different Happyland sets now and what I love about them is that you can add to the collection all the time with all of the different sets you can buy. The little characters can play in each others houses and cars, etc as they are all the same size and so it makes collecting them fun.
This set is absolutely adorable and fun for me to play with too. The set was brought out to celebrate the Royal Wedding hence the title and has such cute little characters. The set includes a queen, prince, prince groom, princess bride, mounted royal guard, royal driver, horse drawn carriage and my personal favourite the corgi!! Obviously the Queen is our current Queen, Queen Elizabeth the 2nd and the Prince is Prince Phillip. They actually look very similar to the real life people and its really uncanny the likeness. I think it is the grey hair and hairstyle that really make the queen figure look like Elizabeth. She also has a crown and a sash on and her ever present string of pearls, very dressed up and perfect for a wedding celebration. William and Catherine are the Prince Groom and Princess Bride. They don't look as much like their human characters as the Queen and Prince Philip do. They are sitting in a wonderful horse drawn carriage. The carriage is gold trimmed and is the perfect vehicle for them to parade around the streets of London once they have said their I do's!
THe mounted royal guard is very professional looking in his hat and boots, sitting upon his trusty steed ready to protect and serve and parade for the crowds. He has the ever present no expression on his face which the guards are supposed to display and he pulls off his role perfectly. The horse is a beautiful black colour and looks very regal. THe royal drive/foot soldier is wearing a smart red jacket and bearskin helmet and is a perfect London symbol to be included in the set.
Like I've said above, my favourite character is the corgi. THe queen is never far away from her corgi's and the fact that it is included in this set is perfect. He's such a cute little dog, half white and half brown, sitting panting with its tongue out like he's been running around the grounds of Buckingham Palace.
Like all the other Happyland products these characters are wonderfully robust and great for little hands to play with. They are quite big so there is no risk of swallowing or choking with little kids. They stand up to a lot of heavy play and I would say are for kids aged 1 and above.
The set was £15 but is now £12, a fair price I think and great from a collecting point of view. Available in Early Learning Centre or online at www.elc.co.uk
I promised that I wouldn't get excited about the Royal Wedding and certainly wouldn't spend any of my hard earned cash on any memorabilia, but I suppose I really should get into the spirit just a touch. At a year old, my Little Man is probably far too young to understand even what a wedding is, let alone one that involves royalty. But that's what I love about the Happyland range, no matter what the circumstances, there's almost certainly a set available to help introduce your child to them. The Happyland Royal Wedding Set is a special edition set brought out to celebrate the upcoming wedding of William Windsor and Kate Middleton. Because this a special edition set it is priced slightly higher than the norm coming in at £15, but as I had a 20% birthday club discount voucher I only paid £12 a set. And being a bit of a canny Mummy, I actually bought two sets, one for Little Man to play with and the other to be put away, unopened as I'm pretty sure it's value is only going to rise. I will say though that this set is already quite difficult to get hold of, I tried two High Street stores and they had both sold out, but they were still available on the ELC website (although delivery then had to be added to the price). Taking a look on Ebay this set is already selling for anything up to £30 in new unopened condition and I can only see this price rising.
==Here Comes The Bride==
The Happyland Royal Wedding set comes securely packed in a cardboard box that features an see-through section so that you can see exactly what you are getting for your money. Even the packaging is a little extra special, with a castle and crowd scene in the background. Removing this from the packaging was fairly easy, there were only a couple of plastic ties to be untwisted, but I was disappointed that I was unable to remove all the pieces without damaging the background, even using the utmost care. On a scale of one to ten, I would put the difficulty of removing this from the packaging at about four, it took me about five minutes, but I was being very careful.
Once removed from the packaging there are a good number pieces, which there blooming well wants to be for the price. Firstly you get the royal carriage, which is beautifully decked out in black and gold with red wheel. The carriage scoots along quite happily by itself, but can also be connected a halter that fits over a beautiful white horse. What I like about this carriage is that the connection to the halter is very secure and doesn't come apart every few seconds. But what I don't like is that the halter isn't secured to the horse meaning that the horse comes away every few seconds. There is room in the carriage for two Happyland characters, with newer peg system of keeping the characters in place.
No Royal Wedding set would be complete without the bride and groom, and in this case Kate Middleton and Prince William. As with all the Happyland characters the amount of detail that has gone into these is fantastic. Although I wouldn't say they are instantly recognisable they are fairly close to reality in a cartoon-like way. It's always the little details that make Happyland characters extra special, and Kate is wearing a simple but elegant wedding dress, with a very pretty tiara holding her veil in place, a lovely waterfall of pink flowers and even little stud earrings. In the meantime Prince William is dressed in a very smart uniform with peaked cap all with plenty of gold detailing. Both bride and groom have their arm raised ready to wave to the crowds.
Although the bride's family are not represented in this set (which is a little strange, who's going to give her away), William's grandparents are here in the form of the Queen and Prince Phillip. While if I didn't know who he was I would have assumed that Phillip was Charles (he even has sticky out ears), these characters again are beautifully detailed, I especially like the Queen's crown. The Queen has even brought one of her corgis along. There are also two soldiers here to guard the Royal family, a mounted cavalry officer in his full regalia, who is seated on a black horse and a foot soldier in his red uniform and bearskin hat. As with all Happyland characters those in this set are made from a rubberised material with all the detail painted on. At about ten centimetres high they are too large to cause a choking hazard, although the corgi is somewhat smaller, it is still too large to swallow.
As an adult I think this is a lovely set that is not just suitable to give to young children. Sure it's perfectly safe to give to them and durable enough to withstand lots of rough play, but it's also a lovely set to display. I think this would make a nice and slightly unusual gift to give to a newly married couple. This is also a nice set to put away as a keepsake, which is what we've done. All in all, as an adult I would give this set five out of five, it's a well thought out and well made toy, that will only increase in value over the years. But I would say, that you need to buy two sets, one to play with and one to put away unopened.
My Little Man is almost a year and loves all of his Happyland toys, so it's no wonder he got excited when the courier delivered this set. Although Little Man wanted it there and then, but as I wanted to try and save the packaging, I did make him wait until after a sleep. Although I did set everything up nicely for him, as soon as he got up, Little Man started thoroughly exploring all of the different pieces, with both his hands and mouth. Although Little Man will play with all the different pieces, he seems to have fallen in love with the Kate character and will spending an age putting her into the carriage and then taking her for a ride. As with all Happyland vehicles that use the peg system, Little Man finds actually pushing the characters onto the pegs impossible, meaning that they do tend to fall out, which he does find frustrating. Saying that the carriage is a really good size for him to hold and is easy to push along ready to chase. When we first set this up, I did place the harness over the white horse, but as it doesn't fit very firmly, they soon become separated.
Although he really doesn't understand what weddings are, Little Man does like me helping him play with this set and listens quite intently as I talk about what the characters are doing. And he's not the only one who's played with it, older visitors have also had a play and loved the prince and princess aspect. Not only have they got married, but they've also had lots of adventures where they've been used in conjunction with other Happyland sets. From a child's point of view, I'd probably have to give this set four stars out of five, because as nice as it is, play is a little limited. (Although I'm sure it will be far more popular with little visitors after the wedding has been televised).
==Learning Through Play==
Although your child/toddler will learn no matter what they play with, certain toys can help them learn and develop new skills. What I particularly love about the Happyland range is how they help children learn about the world around them and develop their imagination and role play skills. While I do feel that this is one of the more limited toys as in what it does, it still has a valuable place in Little Man's collection. Obviously, this set is perfect for helping a child recreate their own Royal Wedding, but it can also be used to help prepare a child for a slightly less royal occasion. As his Mummy and Daddy will be getting married next year, we have been talking about that while playing with the set. The set can also be used to prepare a child for a visit to Buckingham Palace (or recreate it).
This is actually a lovely set, with plenty of pieces, but it is a little limited in play value. As with all Happyland toys it is well thought out and durable, having survived being chewed on and thrown around the room with no real sign of damage. I do love the detail, and the use of metallic highlighting does make this set extra special. In fact this set is so special that if you are only going to buy one, then I would advise not giving it to your child and putting it away unopened instead. In fact, if you do plan to buy this, then I would suggest buying two sets, then your child will still be able to play with it. As well as being a nice set for a child, I do think this would make an unusual wedding gift or a nice gift for a collector of Royal memorabilia. The only thing I will say is, buy one quick, many of the High Street stores have sold out and these are already selling for ridiculous prices on Ebay. And so, yes I am recommending this set, both for toddlers and young children between the ages of one and four, and for adults as a collector piece.