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When Amazon or ELC have half price sales I like to stock up on the children's Christmas and birthday presents as although I find them to be more expensive than other toys the quality usually does shine through and you can see just why you are paying more. One of the things that I picked up was these retro racers for just £6 reduced from their usual retail price of £12. ==The toy== What you get when you purchase this set is 3 racing cars in a retro style and three different drivers to be used in them. Each one is a different colour and very bright and attractive meaning they instantly grabs little ones attention. There is a red car, a green car and a yellow car each one is numbered from 1 to 3 so little one can set them in order if they like and this also helps introduce numbers too them. The drivers all come in the same colour as the cars meaning it is easy to match them up to where they belong but the great thing is they can be used in each of the cars so one driver is not limited to one car. They can stand on the floor freely when out of the car meaning they can be used with other happy land sets and my daughter even uses them in her dolls house. The cars are a great size for little hands they are not huge but at the same time big enough to be an interesting toy to play with and most importantly for little hands to hold and move the cars around very easily. Each car and driver is made from durable plastic that has the elc quality that shines through making them very durable and these cars have been crashed and banged a number of times and have survived with no scratches or markings at all. The wheels on the car are free moving meaning they are able to be pushed along carpet and wooden floors with ease and are very easy for a young child to play with easily. ==In play == One of the best things apart from racing the cars that my children like is to put the drivers in and out the cars and to swap them about meaning the colour of the driver does not match the car. This is very easy to do and even a child at the lower age range of the suggested group of 18 months old can do this very easily independently. They simply sit in the car but the seat that holds the driver is deep and wide enough to hold them tight while they are being raced about without them falling out but as there is no fiddly bits to put the driver in this means they move in and out of the seat freely. Then it comes down to race time my children will line the cars up in a row and mummy shouts 1 2 3 go and they are off. On carpet I find they move well enough to make it fun and face paced for children like a race should be you can push the cars rather than moving along with them and they will glide along for a little while before coming to a stop and determine who the winner is. My children like taking these through to the kitchen on the wooden flooring as you would expect they move a lot quicker on harder floors meaning that they can push the cars from one side of the room and they will move across the room at some speed. They are a very simple toy yet have provided hours of fun for my children they introduce colours, numbers and fine motor skills to younger children while still being fun and interesting and holding young children's imagination very well. They are recommended from 18 months plus but my youngest son actually received them for his first birthday and as there are no small parts other than the wheels that are sturdy and well attached I felt it was fine for him to have them a little earlier. There really is no limit in my eyes to what age they can be played with as my eldest son soon to be five also loves these cars and although they may not get the same amount of play time from him he still loves racing with his brother and sister. What I love about these cars as they are so simple yet the bright colours and details help keep little one interested and rather than big flashing lights and sounds these racers allow little one to use their imagination and play freely without any limit in what story we can make with them. Also as there are three cars this means they are not limited to one child and can be used by all three of my children but at the same time are still usable if my children want to use them by themselves as they are a great size to push along with each hand. ==Summary == I would recommend these to anyone I was a little worried that these simple cars would be forgotten about at the bottom of a pile of flashing noisy toys but in actual fact they receive a great amount of play by all three of my children. It is simple yet holds a lot of value and is great for children to play with together or by themselves. Even at full price I would have been happy with these toys as they are very well made and have lots of life in them yet.
Our collection of toys is ever growing and I would say at least 70% of toys that my boys own come from ELC. When we visit our local ELC store my boys fight to be out of their pushchair so they can "play" with the toys out on display. Once they got to around 15 months old and were toddling around a clear favourite range was the ELC HappyLand sets which were always on display for children to play with. The HappyLand range consists of at least 20+ sets aimed at encouraging children's' imaginations. One of the sets we own from this range is the ELC HappyLand Retro Racers. ***ELC HappyLand Retro Racers*** The description of the HappyLand Retro Racers on the ELC website is "Pick a car and driver, then race your car across the floor, or try pushing all the cars at once." The HappyLand range from ELC is aimed at toddlers and within the collection are various sets to make up an imaginary town, consisting of different buildings, vehicles and characters to help children explore their imagination. The ELC Retro Racers are essentially 3 cars with three driver figures which come from the Happyland range. There are three retro cars in the set which look like old fashioned racing cars. Each car is around 8cm long and 4cm wide and inside is a space for one figure to be placed inside the car. Each of the three cars is the same shape but different coloured. There is a red car with a number 1 on the tail end, a yellow car with number 2 on the tail end and a green car with number 3 on the tail end. In each of the different coloured car is a HappyLand racing car driver figure. Each cars driver has the same coloured clothing as the car and is wearing a coordinating helmet to the car they are "driving". ELC state that the ELC HappyLand Retro Racers are suitable for children aged 18 months and over. The ELC HappyLand Retro Racers are available from ELC stores and online. The Retro Racers set is priced at £12.00 which personally I feel at full price is a little expensive for such a basic set. The cars simply push along and have no light or sound features. I think in comparison to some of the other sets from the HappyLand range you do not get as much for your money ***Our Experience*** My boys love anything vehicle or cars related so as an addition to our growing HappyLand collection the Retro Racers seemed like an obvious choice. Like many other ELC toys as a parent when you buy the Retro Racers you have a 10 minute battle with the presentation box and many ties which hold each car and racing car driver into the box. Once these are untied the Retro Racers are ready to play with. When out of the box the three Retro Racer cars feel of a good quality. The cars are made from a thick durable plastic and have a smooth well finished surface. The wheels on each car move around easily. I did notice that the racing car driving simply stand in the indented slot in each car rather than press into the slot so they are fixed securely and can be tipped over without falling out. The slot is deep enough for the racing car drivers to stay in but when moved around fast I did feel that they are more likely to fly out rather than stay in the car securely. This is the case sometimes which does frustrate my boys if they pick up or tip the cars. But for general movement on a flat surface even at speed the racing driver figures stay in the car as their slot is deep enough. My boys love playing with the Retro Racer cars and as soon as I got them out of the box they eagerly pushed the cars along the floor. A benefit of there being three cars is that it encourages children to share and play with the cars alongside another child and interact however in typical toddler fashion we still have numerous fights over who has which car (the red car being the preferred choice) or who has two cars and who has one. I often find myself claiming one of the cars to solve the latter argument so my sons have one car each and mummy has one car. At 18 months old when they first started playing with the Retro Racers my boys could quite easily lift the racing car driver figures in and out of the cars and I feel that the size of the indent in the car for the figure to fit into is large enough so a younger child (from around 12-14 months) would also be able to do so. My boys love nothing more than to push the cars along the floor and shout "race". Our living, dining room, kitchen and hallway all have wooden/ laminate/ tiled flooring and I would say my main criticism of the Retro Racer cars is that when played with on these types of hard smooth surfaces they move a little too fast. On carpet the cars move fast enough for a child to enjoy but not too fast so it shoots away from them. With a very small amount of force I regularly find one of my boys has pushed the cars a little too eagerly on our laminate flooring and I have to retrieve the car/s from under the sofa which as a parent does get quite frustrating. ELC state that the HappyLand Retro Racers are suitable from 18 months. My boys were around this age when we purchased the Retro Racers for them. Personally I would have had no issues allowing my boys to play with these from around 1 year old which is when they started playing with a lot of the HappyLand toys. The figures and cars are not small enough to be a choking hazard and at 12 months old my boys had the ability to pick up and move the figures around. For the creative play and imaginative benefits I do think the HappyLand sets are more suited to children from 18 months old but for younger children the bright coloured cars and characters are fun and entertaining to play with and push along the floor. For older toddlers I do feel the Retro Racers are fun and interesting to play with as stand-alone toys as they can be pushed along the floor and raced or played with alongside other toys and sets from the HappyLand range and integrated into their "make believe and pretend scenarios". I think for older children and toddlers their interest in the HappyLand range will be dependent on their preferences and if they like to play with imaginative play types of toys. I know my best friends little boy who is three and a half loves playing with the Retro Racers and all of our HappyLand toys which he also owns a lot of in his own toy collection. Whereas another friends little boy who is just three shows no interest in the HappyLand toys when he comes to visit and calls them "the baby toys". On a very basic level developmentally the Retro Racers are great for encouraging hand eye coordination in order for a child to be able to put the racing car driver into the driver seat in each car. I also feel on a very basic level the cars can help a child to recognise different colours and numbers as each of the three cars is a different colour and has a 1,2, or 3 written on it. Each of the racing car drivers is dressed in the same colour as the car they drive so you can encourage your child to match up the correct driver to the correct car. My boys are fanatical about this and at 2 years old are very clear when playing with the Retro Racers which driver belongs in which car. The Retro Racers like most of the other HappyLand toys encourage my boys to play very imaginatively when playing with the cars and figures and they can occupy themselves for quite long periods of time playing with the Retro Racers alongside some of the other sets from the HappyLand range. As a parent it is really nice to watch my boys play and I feel now they have hit two years old they are becoming a lot more socially aware and actually talk to each other and also other children that come to visit our house when they are playing with these toys. Obviously this is very basic conversation as young toddlers but I can clearly hear phrases like "stop please" and "over there" as they direct each other and the cars they are driving. What I particularly like about the majority of "HappyLand" branded products is that they are extremely durable and my boys certainly put their HappyLand toys to the test by chewing, throwing, dropping and fighting over most of the products we own from this range. The Retro Racers are no exception to this rule and I would say my boys probably are at their roughest with these toys as they race the cars along the floor with force and usually end up hitting them off furniture and the skirting boards. All parts of the Retro Racer cars are made from durable plastic including the wheels and after 6 months of rough play no damage has been suffered. The three racing car driver figures that come with the set are made from a more rubbery plastic and despite my boys regularly chewing these there are no apparent teeth marks and none of the detailing has been scratched off. The main concern I have as a parent is keeping the HappyLand toys and sets together therefore because the Retro Racers do not come in their own storage case I keep them in a toy box specifically for HappyLand toys. Some of the HappyLand toys have their own storage where you can fold up the buildings for example and keep the figures that come with these sets together. However with the Retro Racers you do need to take care as the racing car drivers' fall out of the slots in the cars and get lost amongst the other toys. This is not major issue but as a parent it does get a little annoying when you have to frequently "search and locate" characters that have gone astray in the toy boxes. ***Overall*** My boys love the HappyLand Retro Racers and I feel they are an excellent set from the HappyLand range especially for little boys who like cars. Although I would say that the toys are unisex and suitable for boys and girls as the colours of the cars are not overly boyish or girly like some of the other sets in the HappyLand range are. The three cars are fun for children to push around and are easy for young toddlers to take the people figures in and out of the cars. The benefit of there being three cars is that unlike many of the smaller HappyLand sets the retro Racers are suitable for more than one child to play with so great for encouraging sharing and encouraging children to interact. My only real criticism of the HappyLand Retro Racers as a toy is that when on hard floors such as laminate or tiles the cars when pushed move a little too fast. With over enthusiastic toddlers like my boys this becomes an issue as they push the cars along with a little too much force and the cars shoot away from them; usually under the sofa in our case which I have the job of retrieving. When playing on carpet this is not such an issue and on the flip side is that a benefit that these cars move so easily Despite being toys that my boys enjoy playing with I do feel compared to some of the other sets and ranges from the HappyLand range which consist of more objects / have more functions the Retro Racers are quite expensive at full price. Personally I think for 3 toy cars and figures that make no sounds or light up £12.00 is quite expensive and I would recommend purchasing these during toy sales if possible.