(How to Enjoy a Cuppa in Peace)
I’m quite fussy about what products I take on for reviewing, partly to maintain blog integrity, partly due to time restraints and partly because I’m not sure how much more bright plastic my home can take. However, when Fisher-Price asked me to review their new Little People Garage, I had no hesitation in accepting, as I had been coveting a toddler toy just like this for absolutely ages. Oh, and I also thought my 2-year-old might like it as well. This need of mine goes back a long way as, being the youngest of three 80s kids, I had no hope at all of bagging my own shiny big toy. It was all hand-me-downs and not being spoilt rotten – the tots of today don’t know how easy they’ve got it etc. etc…
Anyway, I did also think it might make a useful blog post, if other parents are anything like me in their inability to choose from the overwhelming array of potentially life-changing toddler toys on the market. And by life-changing, I of course mean, a toy that will do the good service of occupying their child for a full ten minutes so we can enjoy a cuppa in peace get stuff done.
S is two, and has been very vehicle-centric since he first laid eyes on the toy garage and big box of cars at the local playgroup. He is a mere moth to their flame, and the fact that he knows the difference between a backhoe and a bulldozer is not a credit to his intelligence, but more a demonstration of his obsession… and also the fact we have been living amongst major roadworks for the last 18 months in our area. As an aside, I’m genuinely fearful of his reaction once the diggers pack up and go home – the residents may be rejoicing but this tot is not going to be pleased, at all.
But at least we now have the garage. It is quick and simple to set up, even with the toddler’s “help” and it comes with a Little People car and driver, the usual slides, mechanics ramp, barrier and lift. The lift is a bit weird looking compared to other toy garages I’ve seen – not like I’m some connoisseur to be fair – and it probably wouldn’t stand up to vigorous Health & Safety checks were it an actual vehicle carrier (which it isn’t, I know).
The difference being it is open – the car just slides onto it rather than into it – although it does have slightly higher sides to stop the vehicle of choice just rolling off upon operation. It is actually easier for babies and younger toddlers to use as it’s less fiddly, and it does prevent the sad fate always destined for the playgroup garage lift; when a gaggle of smalls inevitably ram it full of cars, get it stuck and then whine, fight and – worst of all – need a grown-up to put down their tea and biscuits and sort it out.
The thing that most sets it apart for me, and for S… of course, is the uber-cool Petrol Station which has two operating buttons with sound effects. I’ve never seen this before and the actual ‘glug, glug, glug’ when filling up has been delighting S all week. I’m hoping this will replace the need for me to sing the ‘Petrol Station Song’ when we go to an actual garage with our actual car. As much as I enjoy bopping around the forecourt warbling ‘Ooh we’re at the petrol station, let’s fill her up, up, up’ to a delighted 2-year-old and a bunch of bemused drivers, I think the toy garage and its six different sound features are both more appropriate and entertaining…
Size wise, the garage is only 13.2 CM in height, so dinkier than some I have seen. I prefer this as it doesn’t take up much room, which is great as there isn’t a lot of space left in the toy-littered domain we used to call our living room. S plays mostly on the floor, zooming his cars and diggers around anyway so I don’t feel it’s too small for him – even though he’s a very tall fella – and it’s probably a better size if buying for a one-year-old as they can still reach everything on it easily. I guess it is something to bear in mind if shopping for an older toddler though, weighing up the advantage of it not taking over the house, with a potentially shorter shelf-life than its bigger counterparts.
It also seems compatible with other toy vehicles – S has been sliding everything from Matchbox cars to his ice-cream van down the ramp so it’s great he can incorporate existing toys and that we don’t need to buy certain ones to fit.
We’re really pleased with the garage, and it has already become a firm favourite to S. I know there may be a novelty factor invovled, but I’ve never known him talk about a toy when we’re away from home until now, when I regularly hear that he wants to: ‘Play garage at home’ or ‘Play garage with Daddy’ or ‘No nap! Play garage!’ That last one would have put me off our new play mate a bit, if S hadn’t been Chairman of the Nap Avoidance Association for the last few months anyway.
I’ve also found the garage a nice thing to play with together, as I’m never quite sure what to do games wise and can practically sense his disappointment at some of my previous vehicle-play-efforts. I find the garage great for following his lead with, and also for building on imaginative play and incorporating some of his other toys.
The best thing though is that he really enjoys playing with the garage by himself, too. There are lots of features to keep him occupied – from parking his cars to a good old-fashioned crash on the ramp. And of course him being occupied leaves me time to do some work, tidy the house or make dinner.
Alright, alright, I mostly put the kettle on and browse eBay – so shoot me.
Fisher-Price sent me this item in exchange for a review, which is written completely honestly – right down to drinking coffee over cleaning the house.