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This Postman Pat play set is something I picked up for my youngest son for his second birthday. At the time he was a bit of a fan of the show from cbeebies, and he was quite good already at playing alongside his older brother who was 3, so I bought a few of the postman pat sets so they could have fun with the parcels, then delivering them to various places like Ted Glen's garage. Postman Pat SDS (for the benefit of those who like myself remember Pat from their own childhood) is an updated version of the TV series for modern children. SDS is the Royal Mail special delivery service, and on the show Pat now has such things as a mobile phone to help him get his parcel there on time. This set is something we still have and gets played with only occasionally these days. It consists of quite a few bits, so a play session has to start by finding out the bits to the set. The main L shape part of the set comes in 3 bits which are a door for the van to drive through, a lift, and a conveyor belt. These just slot into each other, and the construction is pretty sturdy once you have it all together. The little barrier that raises up and down comes out too, and my son is the sort who likes to take things apart, so I find it hard to track all these bits down. You then get a little carousel for sorting the post, and an x-ray machine for looking at what is inside some of the parcels. This has 3 little cards about the same size as Nintendo DS games, and as you push them into the X ray machine, a bit on the side pushes up to reveal what the objects are. Simple, but we find it works really well and always amuses the kids. The carousel is a bit stiff to turn, and the same goes for the conveyor belt. It was definitely a bit of a fiddle for two year old fingers to manouvere the parcels along, though they can manage it now they are 4 and 6. There is a nice selection of parcels which are just brown with a line round them to look like string. They are not all just boring cubes though, as there is one shaped like a pig which is always interesting. Other extras that come with this set are a little trolley that you can push along once the parcels are sorted, and you get some characters from the show. You get Pat, Jess the Cat, and Ben who runs the SDS sorting office. Where this set is lacking is on the show Pat then delivers these parcels quickly, so he uses his van or a motor bike or the helicopter. I think unless you have at least one mode of Pat's transport then this will be a little bit disappointing for a fan of the show. This set costs £26.93 currently on amazon. To supplement is the helicopter set is £8, or the van set is £18.50. This particular set is good as it is one of the only items in the range that we own that doesn't play the SDS jingle from the TV show. I also think there is quite a lot there for encouraging good imaginative play. I think the set is an ok price, my only complaint is that the lift is prone to getting stuck if you put anything too big in there, so try and stick to the figures that come with the set, and also we found with the Pat figures they were a little prone to being decapitated due to him having a thin neck and long head. Poorly thought out, and only happens with the Pat characters and not any others from the series. 2 is perhaps a bit too young. The manufacturer age recommendation is 3-5. Slightly younger and older children may find it appealing and be ok with it, but parents should use their discretion with it in my opinion. I don't regret buying it for my son aged 2 as he has enjoyed playing with it over the past couple of years, whereas if I had waited longer his tastes have now moved away from the more babyish characters into more grown up ones like his older brother and cousin.
My daughter loves playsets and figures so it was no surprise that when she saw the Postman Pat SDS Deluxe Sorting Office that she would end up wanting it. So when it came up in the Argos sale at the beginning of the year we thought we would get it for her as it was reduced to £19.99. The set comes in a huge box which is much bigger than it actually needs to be and left me wondering if we had just paid for some cardboard, plastic and ties instead of an actual toy but lo and behold the toy was actually in there! It took forever to get out of the packaging and ended up being a joint effort between myself and my husband. We needed to work fast as a 3 year old (at the time) does not have alot of patience! Once it was eventually out of all the packaging, it had to be put together which was fairly easy as it was just a case of clipping and slotting things together; nothing too complicated. Much to my disappointment and annoyance this set does not contain 3 pieces like the clever photography Character Options have employed would make you believe. What the picture is actually showing is different angles of the same toy. Very sneaky and misleading in my opinion and it left me feeling a little bit stupid for not realising in the first place. The pieces in the set are nice enough and made out of plastic though I wouldn't say it is durable plastic and it could be broken easily. It consists of a little X-ray machine, a parcel sorter, a conveyor belt which is moved with a little handle though it is quite hard to move it, an opening garage type door which you can drive Postman Pat's van through (van sold seperately), a raising barrier to let the van in and a lift. There are also 3 figures, Postman Pat, Ben and Jess as well as a couple of parcels and a parcel trolley. You do get a fair bit for £19.99 and there isn't much in terms of things which can be lost (God send as I am always on the hunt for those missing things!). The downside is that to get the maximum enjoyment out of this item you need to buy the various other playsets which go with it - Ted's Garage, Mrs Groggin's Post Office and Ajay's train set with track and station as well as Postman Pat's regular van and then his SDS van. This does cause it to be a costly toy and I do find it slightly explotive of parents and children but I guess that is how toy manufacturers make their money. Overall, I do think they could have done more with this item in terms of the stiffness of the converyor belt and also not having Postman Pat's van included in the set as it seems pointless having a sorting office with no way for Postman Pat to deliver them. My daughter was the first to point out he had no van, trust her! Also I do think it is a bit of a con in terms of how much you have to buy to make the set complete to prevent boredom and to make it that little bit more imaginative as there is only so much you can do with just the sorting office. I give this product 2 Doo Yoo stars.
The Postman Pat Deluxe Sorting Office Playset proved to be a minor hit in our house this Christmas with the grandson, though I myself wasn't quite as impressed. We paid £20 for it on sale, with the full retail price being £24.99 usually. You can get it from lots of big chain stores including Tesco, Boots and Argos. The box that this set comes in is quite large, and the packaging is a bit awkward to be honest. Once you manage to yank the insert out of the outer box sleeve, you're faced with a jungle of plastic ties, sellotape and yet more layers of cardboard. It took me about fifteen minutes just to get all of the pieces out of the box, never mind set the darn thing up! Fortunately, actually putting this set together doesn't take quite as long, and mostly there's just a bit of slotting in here and there to do, to assemble this toy. Note that the picture above might be a bit deceptive, as it looks as though you might get a lot more in this set that you actually do. Some sneaky photography has gone on here to make the set look as though it's going to be bigger than it is. The pieces included are nice enough though, and they're well suited to a younger child who can't be trusted with the abundance of tiny pieces that come with Playmobil sets and the like. There's just the main backdrop included here, which includes an opening door, raising barrier, moving lift with sliding door, and a conveyor belt that can be moved using a stiff knob. Then there's a 'parcel sorter' which is just like a chunky roulette wheel really, and an 'x-ray machine' which is just a plastic box with a sticker on the side. Plus there's a parcel cart, two parcels, two figures (one is Pat) and Jess the cat. That's a fair contents for the price, but I liked that there isn't too much to lose out of this. The play appeal is a bit limited if you buy this set on it's own, but if you buy it along with the Post Office and Postman Pat's Van then you've got a great little postal world going on with this toy. Alone there is only so much you can do before you get bored and wonder why you haven't got a van to drive through your door and take the parcels out in. Really I think they should have added an extra few quid to the price tag and included a van thinking about it. The quality is about what you'd expect from this price range. I can't see the set breaking too easily, but then again I don't think it'll last for a second generation's use like Playmobil generally does. The conveyor belt and lift both stick a little too easily, though so far an adult has always been able to unjam them both. I can only really give this one three stars, as there's a lot more they could and should have done with this product to make it great. They should have fine-tuned the mechanisms which stick easily before manufacture, and they should have included a van to double the play possibilities (instead of selling it seperately meaning you're forced to buy the additional figures which come with it). The quality is a bit lower than I would have liked, and I think I'd have rather paid extra and got something of better quality. I do like the idea and general design though, and I like that they've not gone overboard with the tiny accessories like Playmobil so often do.