It's as if Christmas has come a bit early for Little Miss C this year. I came home from town the other day with her buggy weighed down with the Toot Toot Drivers Garage to review from our lovely local toy shop, Cuthberts.
The Toot Toot Drivers range comes from VTech, and as you would expect from them combines bright colours and noises to attract the children, with interactive elements to help them learn through play. The vehicles are a lovely size to fit into small hands, and also talk and sing in response to pressing a button on them whilst the Garage provides a fantastic centre piece to play with. Not only is there a road area to drive the vehicles along, but also a lift to take the vehicles up to the upper level, a spiral ramp for them to come down again, a turn-table area, car wash area, parking space, heliport and filling station area. A couple of small barrier arms help traffic flow around the garage and seem to be one of Little Miss C's favourite parts – I had no idea that lifting a small arm up and down could be so fascinating. There are also some large buttons which can be pressed to hear various other things. There are two modes one of which seems to be a learning mode and the second a music mode, but since LMC hid the instruction book when we unpacked it all Mr C and I are yet to discover exactly what the modes do!
The interactiveness of the range really comes apparent when you combine the cars with the Garage. There is one section at the top of the spiral ramp where if you press the vehicle down the Garage recognises the vehicle type and sings a welcome song to that particular vehicle. (All cleverly done by a small plastic plate on the bottom of the vehicle pressing down on a series of buttons in the garage. The shape of the plate being unique to each vehicle type.) The garage itself comes with a pick up truck vehicle, but all of the vehicles in the range work with it and I can see that new vehicles would make great presents further down the line.
Little Miss C has been playing with this garage for just over a week now and seems to love it. Being only 16 months old she obviously doesn't quite understand all of the things that it can do (but then neither do Mum and Dad!), but she was very quick to work out all of the things that she can push to make it play noises and songs, and pushing the vehicle around it also came quite naturally to her. I know some people may initially think that cars are for boys to play with, but that's not an attitude we adopt in this household and LMC has played more with this than the doll she owns! With all the different areas in the garage there's loads of scope for imaginative play using it and I can see that the way LMC plays with it is likely to change as she develops.
The only complaint I might have is that when you have the garage making all its noise the addition of the vehicle independently making noise and singing can be a bit much. I've started ensuring that either the garage OR the vehicle is turned on at one time. I imagine that with more vehicles you might end up with a bit of a cacophony going on so I'm hoping LMC doesn't discover the on/off switch too quickly.
At the moment the Toot Toot Drivers range just consists of the vehicles and the garage, but looking at the way that it's built I am hoping that VTech will also bring out some road areas, as it looks like there is space for them to click into place. The inclusion of the heliport makes me wonder if the vehicle range will also extend to include a helicopter of some sort. There is no doubt that the garage is a huge hit in this household and I definitely think we'll look to buy Little Miss C a couple of extra vehicles for Christmas. I'm also going to keep a close eye on how VTech look to extend the range.
Disclaimer: We were given a Toot Toot Drivers Garage to review by the lovely people at Cuthberts. Cuthberts have fantastic physical toy shops in St Albans and Letchworth, Hertfordshire and also have a full online store available on their website.
If you're local it's also worth ensuring that you check in on foursquare when you visit them as they run some great check in specials as well as fantastic deals for the mayor.