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My son was given this car trio set from his nursery school for his first Christmas and he has enjoyed playing with. You can purchase the set from the Early Learning Centre for £10 (July 2012). They are made of durable plastic and are easy to clean. The cars are brightly coloured and there is a red racing car with a yellow driver, a green racing car with orange and yellow trims and a blue car with yellow and red features, the cars can be played with on their own or they can be linked together using the magnets on the fronts and back so they form a racing car train. At the front and back of each car is a little toll bar which houses the magnet. They are designed to be used from 12 months onwards. Overall my son has played with these sporadically, when he first got them he was fascinated by the magnets, though would get a little bit frustrated when he got the magnets the wrong way round and the cars would repel themselves rather than attaching to each other. He still plays with them from time to time, but has progressed onto to less babyish looking cars so overall they have had a limited life span, I would say around a year. Overall I give the cars three stars as they are fun at first but have a limited life span and are quite expensive in my opinion.
My twin boys have a lot of toys (as you have probably guessed from all of my reviews) but something that they do really like is cars. If we visit friends with children I can guarantee my boys will locate the cars amongst their pile of toys. So when browsing the ELC for "a little gift" for the boys we decided on the Racing Car Trio. ***What are they*** The ELC Racing Car Trio is a set of three chunky plastic colourful racing car shaped vehicles. Each car shaped vehicle is around 10cm long and has a rounded magnetic connector on the front and back of the vehicle. Each car has four moveable plastic wheels. In the set there is a blue rounded racing car, a bright red long F1 looking car and an orange and blue rounded racing car. ***Suitability*** ELC state that the Racing Car Trio is suitable for children aged 1-3 years. My boys were playing with these cars at 9 months old. The cars have no parts which appear that they could come off and be a choking hazard but they were and still are supervised when playing with these. For older children nearer the upper age limit of 3 years old I think these are still an attractive toy and my friends children play with them, but they are very basic cars. The design of the cars is very rounded and baby like which some older toddlers may not like ***Availability*** The ELC racing car trio is available from ELC and Mothercare stores and also online from both of these retailers. Boots also stock the Racing Car Trio in their toy section. The usual RRP for this car set is £10 however ELC regularly have a 50% off offer on these toys therefore you can pick these up for £5. I purchased these in October 2010 for this price and the product at time of writing (March 2011) is currently on special offer for £5. ***Playing With them*** Like many children's toys these are simple toys but not a simple product to take out of the packaging. Each car is held in to the box with a number of ties which took in total 10 minutes to completely untie. Once out of the box though the good news is that the cars are ready to play with and do not need batteries like many toys in the boy's toy collection. My boys were immediately attracted to the cars as they are very brightly coloured. At 9 months old they could very easily pick the cars up as they are rounded and reasonably small and light. They were supervised when playing with these toys but I did not feel worried about my boys chewing on the cars as there are no small parts which appear would come detached and be a choking hazard. I also liked that these cars were light as it meant if the boys did throw or push a car into the other baby, they were less likely to cause injury to the other baby! These are a really fun set of cars and the magnetic connectors mean that the boys can play with these toys alongside the other ELC vehicle trios. We also have the emergency vehicles, construction vehicles, space vehicles and train trio alongside the Racing Car trio. The magnetic connectors are small but very easy even for young babies to connect the car together and pull apart. My main criticism of the magnetic connectors is that they are slightly too weak. The connectors hold two vehicles together easily and quite sturdily and can be pushed around the floor together. The main problem is when three vehicles are connected together one; one of the vehicles will always come off as they are pushed along the floor and moved. For older children this is quite frustrating and my friend's children (who are 2 and 3) stop playing with the cars when this happens and find something else to play with. The cars are very easy to move and push along. My boys once able to crawl could push these along the laminate flooring and over carpet; even on longer pile carpet the wheels on the cars move easily. The cars do move a little too easy on smooth laminate flooring though. I have found with only a little force these cars shoot all of the way across the floor. For younger babies that are not mobile, parents may find they are regularly retrieving the cars as they shoot off away from the baby. For those with mobile children this can often be a blessing as toddlers spend their time chasing around after the cars tiring themselves out! These are very durable toys and made from the tough plastic most ELC toys are made from. The cars from the Racing Car Trio have been regularly chewed, thrown, dropped off highchairs and are still in excellent condition and have suffered no breakages. The cars are rounded and have no nooks and crannies meaning they are very easy to wipe over with a damp cloth after the boys have touched these with their sticky hands! Learning wise these are not many benefits to the Racing Car Trio. For younger babies and toddlers holding and pushing the cars along the floor will help develop their fine motor skills and hand eye coordination. The cars can also encourage mobility in younger children as they are a great toy to push along the floor and encourage a young toddler to crawl after. For older children these are more of a fun imaginative toy which they can play with. Although because they are quite basic rounded colourful looking cars they may not be so attractive to children nearer 3 years old as they do look like baby toys. ***Overall*** These are a brilliant toy and make an excellent "small present" or stocking filler and are worth every penny even at the full price of £10. The three cars are bright, colourful, and durable and my boys find them fun. For younger children the size and rounded design of the cars make these a very easy toy for small hands to hold. For older toddlers they may find that these are quite basic and babyish but my friend's older children are still happy to play with these alongside my boys. The cars move very easily on carpet and a little too easily on smooth laminate floors so these racing cars spend a lot of time racing around my living room. That does have its benefits that my boys tire themselves out from chasing the cars around the living room. A great set of cars for boys and girls and winner from ELC.
Santa brought lots and lots of presents for Freddy at Christmas, and among the smaller stocking fillers was this set of racing cars from the ELC. Although the minimum recommended age is 12 months, Santa knew that Mummy and Daddy would supervise Freddy while he played with these and that the cars were well made with no small pieces. Although he was only nine months old when he got these, Freddy's been playing with these regularly and they've survived being thrown around the room and chewed on. ==Broom Broom=== Santa paid a very reasonable £5 for these three rather cartoon-like cars, all of which were very securely attached to the packaging. I've said this before and I'll no doubt say it again, but when will toy manufacturers realise that babies and small children don't understand the concept of waiting while the countless plastic ties are untwisted? Each of the cars is a good size for young children to hold at about 10cm in length (not including the magnets) and made of durable hard plastic. As I said the cars are very cartoon-like, but they are also recognisably racing cars, with that appears to be a formula one car, another being a rally car and the final car is a drag racer. Each of the cars has a pair of eyes that wobble as the car zooms around along with magnetic buffers that allow your child to link them together. The wheels are firmly attached to enclosed axels and spin freely, so even the gentlest of pushes will send them across the floor. ==On Your Marks...== Before I go any further, I must that although he's only 10 months old, Freddy loves cars, whether real or toy, they just fascinate him. So as soon as he unwrapped these cars, he wanted to play with them, which was a shame seeing as it took me about ten minutes to unwrap the plastic ties from around the wheels. Once he finally got his (not so) grubby, little hands on the cars, Freddy spent ages just examining them, spinning the wheels and then chewing on the magnetic buffers. Freddy is a little delayed as far as sitting and moving round the room goes, so to begin with he was just playing with them while on his back, but just recently he's started trying to crawl and these are a great incentive for him to start moving. Freddy finds it easy to push these along the carpet while blowing raspberries (which I think his attempt at saying 'vroom'), they travel fairly easily on carpet but not so far that he can't manage to get to them. On tiles or laminate, it's another matter as these do speed across smooth surfaces, meaning they'll be ideal for racing in a few months time. Freddy's only just discovered that he can use the magnetic bumpers to connect the cars together, and today he spent a good ten minutes simply connecting and disconnecting them. I must say though that he does this more by trial and error than precision as the bumpers are quite small. But while the magnets are strong enough to hold the cars together, they're not so strong that Freddy can't separate them. Let's put it this way, the magnets won't stop a car from flying across the room if a couple of cars are swung about. As well as being able to be played with as simply this set, there are a number of other vehicle sets that utilise the magnetic bumper bars, including a trio of emergency vehicles, construction vehicles and even a car transporter. These cars are completely compatable with these sets and Freddy will often play with them together. These cars are also pretty similar in size to Happyland cars, and won't look out of place in your child's Happyland town. ==Learning To Drive== Coming from the ELC I had no doubt that these cars were going to be well made, and have some sort of educational value. I must say that the actual educational opportunities are a little limited with these cars, but sometimes I like Freddy to just have fun. The ELC website states that these cars will help your child use their imagination and discover the world around them. I guess I'd agree with this statement for children of about eighteen months or older as they are just starting to develop their imaginations at this point. For younger children, such as Freddy, they are still learning a little about cause and effect and the cars are encouraging him to move, but more than anything these are just about fun at his age. As to the recommended age range, Freddy is a couple of months off of a year and loves playing with his cars. There are no small pieces and the cars are extremely well made, so I would say that he could have safely played with them even younger, perhaps from eight months or so as long as they are adequately supervised. The upper age range of three is perhaps a little over-optimistic though, yes the cars are perfectly capable of withstanding the rather rough play from this age group, but they also look a little babyish. I would imagine that once Freddy starts pre-school, he'll start to want to play with somewhat more realistic cars. ==The Chequered Flag== This a great little set of first cars, they're just the right size for little hands and are extremely well made, being able to withstand being thrown across the room. They are also easy for young children to push across the floor, meaning there's no frustration. Freddy loves playing with his racing car trio, and Daddy can't wait until Freddy is old enough to start racing the cars with him. (Daddy does still enjoy holding a sneaky race while Freddy is watching, but it's just not the same). All in all, this is a great little trio that I would recommend for all little boys and girls from about eight months up to the age of two. And so I'm giving the ELC Racing Car Trio a hearty five stars out of five and I'm pretty sure that Freddy agrees with me.