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Last Christmas, I was lacking in inspiration for ideas for my youngest son's Christmas presents. He has two older brothers and has inherited many of their hand-me-down toys but Santa still wanted to make a visit to a special little boy. Eventually I decided that an inexpensive farm set would be a good choice and purchased this Massey Ferguson branded set from Amazon.
At the time of my purchase, I bought this directly from Amazon and paid just £14.66 for the set. I felt this was pretty good value for money at the time as this is a fairly comprehensive farm set and comes packaged in a really large box, with a cellophane viewing window, making this suitable for a young child's 'main present.' Once opened, however, and all of the pieces have been separated from the packaging, the box isn't sturdy enough to be used as permanent storage for the set so another home will be needed to keep all of the pieces safely together.
This is a plastic set, however, so lacks some of the charm and detail of more expensive wooden sets. There are several components to this set although it does lack a base which would be a useful addition to maximise play value. What is provided is a good basis for a play farm, including a generously sized farmhouse and several farm buildings of various sizes and forms. There is also a replica Massey Ferguson tractor complete with a detachable trailer with a working tailgate section so animals can be unloaded and unloaded easily and safely.
As you'd expect this set also includes a large number of animal figures with all of the usual farm animals featured, including horses, sheep, cows and chickens. The animals are good quality plastic figurines being instantly recognisable with the features clearly painted on. The only disappointment with the figures are that the sizing is pretty inconsistent with the adult cow and horse figures being huge in comparison with the sheep figures. The larger figures are pleasingly chunky and a good size for toddlers to move around and hold but some of the smaller animals are a little too fiddly.
In terms of age recommendation, I feel that a child from two years upwards can appreciate this set under supervision and began to engage in imaginative play. The formal age recommendation is from three years upwards which will be due to the inclusion of a number of very small play pieces which would present a choking hazard. I would advise caution if being played by or near a very young child not yet past the stage of putting things in their mouths (or noses) as the small items such as hay bales and milk churns could be very tempting and potentially dangerous.
The farm buildings aren't fully enclosed as they all have a completely open back. This does mean that the structures aren't quite as stable as a complete box would be and they can easily be knocked over by a clumsy toddler but this design is far better suited to imaginative play. My son is able to trot the animal figures through the door and can then manoeuvre them around easily through the open back, re-enacting various little scenes and activities with the animals. My son particularly likes the different doors and openings to the buildings, especially on a long shed like building where the entire roof lifts up, offering another option for posting various animals and items through or just lifting up to peep at the treasures beneath.
The main issue with this set is that the plastic used isn't particularly good quality. The actual buildings themselves are pretty robust but there are many other instances where cheap materials lead to disappointment. The clip that connects the tractor to the trailer snapped off within a couple of months of ownership which was a real shame as this was the feature that appealed to my son the most. The tractor itself is an impressive Massey Ferguson likeness and pushes along easily but it does lose considerable amount of play value when the trailer can't be attached.
There are other flaws such as the base of the flimsy fence pieces supplied snapping off, making the fences unusable as they cannot stand up stably. My little boy enjoyed making little fenced off areas to separate the animals but can no longer do this. The other feature that he absolutely adored was a wind up little pulley that attached to one of the sheds. Unfortunately, this also broke and was beyond repair.
I do like this set and my son stills plays with it on a regular basis, at the age of three. With the benefit of hindsight, I do wish that I'd invested in a more expensive and better quality set, knowing how happily he plays with the farm set. At the price I paid, I can accept the lower quality pieces and materials but I would not recommend paying the current Amazon selling price (£39.99 plus postage via a third party seller.) This is certainly not a set worthy of such a high price and I would be seriously disappointed had I paid anywhere near that amount.