“ Brand: ELC / Age: 1-3 years / Type: Cars & Vehicles „
Despite asking my parents not to purchase my twin boys "little gifts" every time they go shopping they still do. Meaning we have accumulated a number of ELC toys. My mums latest purchase was the ELC To the Rescue Helicopter which her justification for this purchase was "it was a bargain" because it was half price. However sadly I feel there was a very apparent reason why this was in fact half price.
***ELC To The Rescue Helicopter***
The description of the ELC To The Rescue Helicopter is "Rush to pretend rescue scenes with this great helicopter. With flashing lights and cool helicopter sounds for pretend rescues or mini flying adventures.
You can fly the helicopter around the room, spin the propellers and listen to the engine sounds. Press the button to open the hold, then drop a man and the lifeboat into the carpet sea. When you are ready you can rescue them and fly away again."
The toy is a blue and green rounded shaped helicopter which is around 30cm high and 15cm wide with three wheels on the bottom. There is a section in the front of the helicopter for the pilot figure to sit in On the front section there is a little flashing light. The helicopter is hollow and at the back of the helicopter is a pull down door which opens and inside there are two further figures which fit inside in addition to a rescue boat. On each side of the toy helicopter are two small rounded cut out windows. On the top of the helicopter are two separate grey spinning propellers each with four blades. The helicopter plays sounds and lights flash as your child plays with it.
ELC outline that the toy helicopter is suitable for children aged 1-3 years old. Personally I feel that although this toy is rounded, light with no parts that can break off and present a choking hazard it also requires quite a lot of accuracy when opening the doors and placing the figures inside therefore can be quite a frustrating toy for a 12 month old baby to play with and will require a parent to assist them to play. For a child of 3 years old the toy is fun but because it is very basic with only two sounds and a lack of detail they may get bored quickly. I know my friends little boy who is 3 prefers vehicle toys which have more features, sounds and details and describes the To The Rescue Helicopter as "for the babies".
The ELC To the Rescue Helicopter is available from ELC and Mothercare stores both in stores and online at www.elc.co.uk and www.mothercare.co.uk .
The RRP for the toy is £16.00. However my parents purchased this for £8.00 when it was reduced to half price. I have visited my local ELC store on a number of occasions now and noticed that this toy has been included in the 50% off section for a number of months now.
***Playing with it***
Once removed from the packaging (which takes around 10 minutes to untie all of the figures and parts from the outer cardboard) my boys were very keen to play with this toy when they were first given this at 14 months old. The helicopter and figures are bright and colourful and my boys were immediately drawn to the bright colours.
One of my boys was very keen to spin the propellers on the helicopter. Immediately when he first attempted to do this I discovered the first design flaw of the toy. The propellers do not spin easily they are quite stiff so in order for them to turn you need to keep pushing them and you can't set them off spinning and leave them spinning. Immediately we had a frustrated 14 month old. When friends children who are older have played with this toy at our house I have noticed that they also struggle with spinning the propellers. The main design flaw was noticed by me and the boys within the first 5 minutes of playing. The door to access the main hold on the helicopter is almost impossible to open. To open this you need to put pressure on a small green latch and full it forwards which opens this door. As an adult I struggled to do this and feel this took accuracy and quite a bit of strength to do this so knew most older children would struggle to open this latch never mind young toddlers. I was correct. Since playing with this toy at 14 months old my boys love to open and shut the door of the helicopter, however they can't actually open the door only shut it. So this means I need to be sat alongside them or close by so they can wave the helicopter in front of me as there way of opening the door. My more boisterous of the two gets very frustrated and if he can't get the door open again, the helicopter usually gets thrown across the floor.
The design of the other parts are satisfactory. The pilot (and other figures) fit inside the front section. It is relatively easy for young toddlers to place the figure in and out. This activates a bleeping noise and sets off the light on the front of the pilots cab. When you push the helicopter along on the wheels there is also a sonar type noise which is set off. I do think that with only two different sounds (which are very similar) this makes the toy quite basic. There are the usual 2 volume settings which most ELC toys have, however unusually I find that on both settings the sounds are a little too quiet.
The figures that go with the helicopter are bright colourful and easy for small hands to hold. One figure will easily fit into the rescue boat and all of the figures plus rescue boat will fit into the hold section of the helicopter. The figures will not remain standing when they are put in the hold so they rattle around in the back when the door is shut. For young toddlers they do not seem to notice this but for older toddlers like my friends 3 year old might get frustrated by this.
Development wise there are not a lot of "learning features" associated with the To the Rescue helicopter. Placing the figures inside of the helicopter will help with a child's fine motor skills, however because the main door at the back of the helicopter is so difficult to open a child will need EXTREMELY developed motor skills to open it. In fact my mum who has arthritis in her hands finds it almost impossible at times to open this never mind my two 16 month old children. The toy does however encourage "creative and imaginative play". When I watch my friends son who is 3 playing with our emergency services collection of vehicles he loves to play "rescues" and uses this helicopter to plan rescues in the "dangerous situations" that he creates, transporting plastic figures across our living room.
Although this is a badly designed toy the helicopter and figures are made to the quality that the majority of ELC toys are, safe for little ones to play with but are durable and easy to clean. The figures have been chewed on constantly by my boys however there are no visible teeth marks and the detail on the figures has not come off despite them spending a lot of time being gnawed on. The helicopter may not look it but it is also very durable and this has been tested by being dropped on a number of occasions onto both laminate and tiled flooring. The helicopter and figures are also very easy to keep clean and can be wiped over very easily with a damp cloth and because there are not a lot of nooks and crannies dirt does not get trapped in these areas.
Generally I have been very impressed with ELC toys; the quality, learning and development features and their ease to play with for young toddlers makes them a good purchase. However the ELC to the Rescue Helicopter does not follow this trend and even when purchased at half price I do not think it is a wise purchase.
The To the Rescue Helicopter is durable and good quality like other ELC toys but it's poor design makes it difficult for toddlers to play with and causes many frustrations. Firstly the helicopter propellers do not spin round easily which specifically for young toddlers is frustrating. The main problem is the door to access the helicopter. As an adult I find it very difficult to press the release button which opens the door as it takes quite a lot of pressure but accuracy to open this latch. For older toddlers this will also be very difficult and near enough impossible for younger toddlers which causes much frustration.
A below average toy from ELC, which has clearly demonstrated why it was reduced to half price.