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Wow Toys are a British company, making durable plastic toys for pre-schoolers. One of the biggest selling points is that the toys are appealing to toddlers, featuring bright chunky vehicles, but equally appealing to parents as they are sturdy and don't require batteries.
I purchased this 'Off Road Ollie' play set for my youngest son's second birthday, having spotted the set at a heavily discounted price of £6.70 on Amazon earlier this year. This seemed a real bargain for a set which includes a chunky colourful van, trailer, three wheeled motorbike and even a little figure to drive all of these vehicles! The set has been really well thought out to include loads of interactive features and each element can be played with individually or played with as a set.
The high quality of the set is immediately obvious. All of the components are plastic but the material used is very strong and thick, using bright, attractive colours and with excellent attention to detail. This set has to run the gauntlet of our toy boxes and has survived being thrown about, dropped and played with over the last three months and each piece still looks as good as new. Even though some of the detail has been added through the use of stickers, these come ready applied and are showing no sign of peeling or fading. Key features, such as the eyes and lights, are painted on so should be even more durable despite regular play.
I must admit that I was a little sceptical about the relatively high suggested age range for these toys. This set comes with a recommended age range of between eighteen months and five years old, which seems like a pretty unrealistic range given my experience of children at both sides of the spectrum. My doubts were soon proved wrong when I witnessed the reaction of my five year old to his younger brother's new toy. Both boys seem love playing with this set although they play with it in very different ways. My older son will use this set in a very imaginative way, acting out scenes with the little figure and enjoying sending the man out on little errands on either his bike or van.
My two year old enjoys the mechanics of the set and is absolutely entranced by the button on the side of the van which causes the sun roof to pop open. Unlike similar toys, the button is really easy to press, even for children at the very bottom of the recommended age range, and the roof pops open instantly. Likewise, he finds it really easy to press the roof back down into position so this is a toy that he's able to play with independently without becoming frustrated. At two, my son also loves the simple process of pushing the car and bike along and is also fond of repeatedly hiding the man inside the van. This fun little game keeps him entertained for ages.
The trailer attachment is equally well designed, using a simple but effective magnetic attachment which keeps the trailer firmly attached when being pulled about but is equally easy for a clumsy toddler to remove when he chooses. The trailer also features a fold down flap at the back which clicks satisfyingly into position and secures the trailer. This flap serves the dual purpose of forming a secure enclosure for the bike, which fits perfectly inside the trailer, and also creates a fun ramp for the bike to ride up and down as desired.
In terms of safety, I feel confident that this is suitable for children at the lower end of the age recommendation, possibly even younger. The figure provided does appear quite small but, realistically, it's just too big to provide a genuine choking hazard for little mouths. My two year old has done his best to try and swallow it but has had to make do with a bit of a suck and a chew - fortunately, this has resulted in no ill effects to either party! All of the other components are sturdy with rounded edges and no pieces that are likely to break off or chip.
With so many different elements, there is even the possibility of similarly aged siblings being able to play together with the set although that isn't something that realistically happens in my household, unfortunately. My two year old and five year old just end up fighting over the same pieces and it always end in tears from one or the other! The set would fit perfectly alongside other products from the Wow Toys range, particularly as there are potentially three places for a little figure to fit inside at a time. (One can ride the bike and there is room for two figures inside the van.) These might solve some of the arguments around sharing with my boys, although I'm not entirely convinced!
In all, this is a really well designed and robust set, designed to offer lots of stimulation and ongoing play value. My only criticism of the design would be that the friction mechanism isn't particularly strong or effective, even on a tiled rather than a carpeted surface. This doesn't appear to affect my sons' enjoyment of the set at all and is a small price to pay for a toy that requires no batteries and no maintenance.
The set is currently available for £12.29 from Amazon which is almost double the amount that I paid, but still considerably cheaper than the prices charged for Wow Toys sets from independent toy stores or garden centres, where they tend to be stocked.
Even at this higher price, I do believe this set offers good value for money as there is so much potential play value within one simple set and the age range that the toy appeals to is so broad. This Ollie set is the first Wow Toys set that I've ever purchased but is unlikely to be the last. I am happy to recommend this to anybody looking for a durable gift for youngsters this Christmas and beyond.
I'd never heard of Wow Toys before, and haven't even seen their products on the shelves in the toy shop. Maybe I had been over looking them when faced with so many other brands. However, a friend of ours bought this set for our son's 2nd birthday, as his name is Ollie and he's mad about cars. Couldn't get more appropriate than that! And I have to say, I am now very impressed with Wow Toys.
This was tough to get out of the box (so many twisty ties!) but once out there was a bit of a battle between my three sons over who would get to play with it first! The colours are lovely and vibrant, and the cars are made from quality plastic and have a bit of weight to them that made me confident of their durability. The trailer attaches to the car with a magnet, so no fiddly catches to frustrate the kids! The back of the trailer goes up and down, so as the motorbike can be driven onto it, and there is a button on the side of the car to pop open the lid so the driver can be put inside. The figure is pretty basic, with no moving parts, but is colourful and cheerful and perfectly suited for young children. The car is friction powered, which my son has yet to get the hang of, but should be a breeze for slightly older children. It's a great size for children's hands, and it has withstood many knocks and falls in our house without the plastic cracking or breaking. And best of all, no batteries! Which means it has no lights or sounds (which is a good thing in my book) but it is still a much loved and often played with toy.
The recommended age for this set is 18 months - 5 years and there are plenty of other sets in this range that compliment each other. Our son will probably be getting another set or two from Santa, though I will be shopping around. The RRP on Off Road Ollie is £16.99, and while I think it is a great toy, I feel that's a bit expensive for what it is (which is why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5.) Overall, I would recommend this set and Wow Toys in general, but would advise you to try to find the best price online before buying.