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About me: Burn the land and boil the can't take the sky from me. Thrilled to have given birth to my new little boy at home. If you're looking to cloth bum, I'm slowly working my way through all the different brands and types in our stash.

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It's a bus, well made, durable, sparks imagination

Ummm the sounds may become annoying

Recommendable Yes:

Detailed rating:

Value for Money



39 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
exceptional by (5%):
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  2. Marge3781
very helpful by (95%):
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  3. supercityfan
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The Happyland range from the ELC is a wonderful collection of toys that builds into a whole imaginary world for your child to play with. With sets ranging from a group of people for £5 up to a complete village for £60 thereís something within this range to suit most pockets and with village themes, space themes and fairy themes thereís something to catch the imagination of most children. The Happyland Double Decker Bus falls towards the lower end of the price range at £16 and about the middle in terms of size and pieces. Iíve wanted to add this bus to 23 month old Freddyís Happyland collection for some time, but it is one of the sets that goes out of stock quite quickly and can be hard to get hold of, whether in store, online at ELC or from Mothercare.

The Wheels On The Bus - First Impressions

As is standard with many of the Happyland sets the bus is supplied in an open-faced box and held in place with a number of those annoying plastic ties. My personal feelings about these ties is that they are the work of the devil, especially when trying to undo them so that an impatient toddler can play with his new toy and I would prefer that these toys were sold in a closed box minus the ties. Saying that the bus wasnít too difficult to remove from the packaging, taking less than five minutes to be ready to play.

The bus is a good size, measuring in at approximately 20cm by 12cm and standing 20cm tall, and is a pretty good representation of an Open-Topped London Route Master. Having particularly fond memories of this style of bus and jumping on and off through the open door, I have to admit to just a little nostalgia poking through as I watch Freddy play this. The main body of the bus is formed from bright red, hard plastic with advertisements running along each side displaying Union Jacks and the Legend, London. These adverts are formed from stickers as is the small screen at the back displaying the buses route number (10) and destination (London). The front of the bus again displays the route number and destination along with a radiator grill and number plate (again stickers) and headlight. As with the real thing the bus doesnít have an actual door so much as an open entrance leading to both the ground floor and the stairs.

The interior of the bus has room for a total of twelve Happyland characters, and rather than using the newer peg system to hold these characters in place there are holes for them to sit. The ground floor has room for four characters including the driver, but is hard to access while the top floor is in place. The top floor can be lifted out and holds a total of eight characters in four rows of two. I like that this floor can be removed to allow access to the ground floor, but it is a little difficult for little hands to replace as it needs to be positioned just so. The bus runs smoothly on four free-wheeling wheels and there is an extra special surprise hiding in the driverís cab. In this cab, easily accessible through the front window, there are two buttons which when pressed add sounds to your childís play. One button rings the bell, and believe me it is a very good representation of the sound I remember from pulling on the bell cord as a child. The other button produces the sound of an engine starting, and again is a fairly good representation, being a deeper sound than a car engine would produce. These sounds are fairly loud at full volume and quickly become irritating, but there is a volume control that allows you to switch them to half volume or even off. As there are electronic sounds the bus does require batteries, in fact it requires two AA batteries, but an initial demonstration set is provided and these are still going strong with two weeks very regular use.

Along with the bus you get four Happyland characters, all formed from a rubber-like material with their features painted on. What I really like about Happyland characters is the amount of attention to detail that is put into them and these are no different. Each of the characters stands about 7cm tall, although the children are a little smaller and they all feature friendly smiling faces. The characters in this set include a conductor in his uniform and cap complete with old-fashioned ticket machine, a lady with glasses, boy carrying a bag and of course the bus driver. Whatís really nice in this set is that the bus driver is not only female but also ethnic, so there is no stereotyping. I love the little details with these characters, the bus driver even has an Id badge and if you look closely you can see a chain on the lady passengerís glasses so she doesnít lose them.

As with all the Happyland sets this bus set is incredibly well-made and durable enough to survive almost anything a toddler can throw at it. Price-wise it is, perhaps, a little expensive for what you get, but as far as Iím concerned itís worth the price tag just for the nostalgia value. However, as with any toy itís not just my opinion that countsÖ.

Go Round and Round - A Toddlerís View

At almost 23 months Freddy sits firmly within the recommended age range of 18 months to 4 years and itís safe to say that this is a toy that quite simply delights him. Before even removing this from the packaging, Freddy couldnít wait to get his hands on the bus to make it go ďVoomĒ, but he had to wait while we untied the silly plastic ties, much to his annoyance. Once he did have the bus in his hands that was it, he happily sat and played with it for half an hour, completely ignoring all his other toys. Freddy loves to push the bus around the room, picking up passengers and taking them to the zoo (well that is how we get to the zoo, by bus), pressing the buttons and adding his own sound effects. It took him a matter of seconds to work out how to remove the top floor, but does find replacing it a bit frustrating.

As well as playing with this set on itís own Freddy has also started incorporating it into his other Happyland sets. It didnít take him long to realise that all of his Happyland characters would fit into the seats and soon the bus was picking up the Barley family to take them to the shops or helping Petunia to get to work. All in all this has been one of our most successful purchases and is a set Freddy loves, although it also has to be taken into account that Freddy loves real buses too.

Round and Round, Round and Round - Developmental View

Billed as being suitable for children between the ages of 18 months and four years, I would say that this age range is completely correct. While thereís nothing about the bus that would cause a danger to younger children, it is perhaps a little too big for them to handle and children over the age of four are likely to find it a little babyish. The bus is durable and well made, robust enough to survive most of the rough play this age group is known for, but Iím not convinced it would survive being sat on.

As with the rest of the Happyland range the bus is fantastic for helping your child improve various aspects of their development, whether played with on itís own or combined with other Happyland sets. At a very basic level it can help with gross motor development as the child pushes it around the room and fine motor as they put the characters in and out of the seats. But where this bus comes into itís own is in helping your child develop their imagination, role play, conversational skills and understanding of the world around them. Buses are something most children are familiar with, and the red bus is iconic, it would be very hard to find a toddler who does not know what a bus is. With this bus you can help your child understand how we wait for the bus at a bus stop, sit nicely on the bus, press the bell when we want to get off and wait for the bus to stop before alighting. It really is sweet to watch Freddy put his hand out for the bus, put the characters in and then drive them to wherever heís decided to take them, chattering the whole time about what heís doing and he learns even more when I join in and chat with him.

All Day Long - Final Words

This is a set that I had had an eye on for nearly a year, waiting for it to come into stock so I could buy it for Freddy and it was well worth the wait. I love it as it reminds me of my childhood antics, jumping on and off of buses and Freddy loves it simply because itís a bus. Although relatively expensive for what you get, I would still recommend this as an addition to any toddlerís Happyland collection and if the toddler doesnít have a collection then this is a good place to start. So Freddy and I are agreed that the Happyland Double Decker Bus deserves a hearty five stars out of five.

*There is also another London Bus set that has recently become available that includes seven characters and a bus stop for £20 that may be better value if you donít already have any characters.
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Comments about this review »

KateHurst 22.02.2012 01:13

I like the fact that they've made sure that the characters will actually fit into the bus properly - things like that make you think someone put some thought into designing it well.

Spottydog11 21.02.2012 16:16

We've got this, its great x

xmum2fourx 21.02.2012 16:15

Brilliant xx

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Product Information Ľ

Manufacturer's product description

All aboard. Fill the HappyLand bus and drive it along the floor. Your child can collect and drop off passengers and...

Product details

Manufacturer Early Learning Centre
Type Playset
MPN 125223


Listed on Ciao since 14/09/2011

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This review of Early Learning Centre HappyLand Double Decker Bus has been rated:

"exceptional" by (5%):

  1. xmum2fourx
  2. Marge3781

"very helpful" by (95%):

  2. Amazingwoo
  3. supercityfan

and 35 other members

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.

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