This was another one of the toys in the fabulous prize bundle that we won from the lovely people at John Crane. Having set up the 100 piece train set then putting it all away again after spending the morning playing with it, I was surprised to see that this castle set only contains 10 pieces. That has advantages and disadvantages - it's much quicker to set out and tidy away but it leaves less scope for imaginative play when choosing the layout, compared to the train set.
The box contains four corner towers, four walls (including the front wall with a working portcullis), a ladder and a flag. I couldn't work out how to fit it all together to begin with because some of the walls and towers are interlocking but some are just freestanding and you stand them up next to each other. This meant that even 5-year-old Juliette could set the whole thing up within seconds. I've just noticed while writing this review that the freestanding walls have magnets to connect them so I'll have to have a closer look next time I get it out !
I love the bright red and blue colours that look like they have come straight out of the pages of a fairy-tale. The pieces are extremely sturdy and well-constructed and the detail in the paintwork is very impressive. The fact that you can stand people up in the turrets as well as the ramparts and within the castle itself means you can pretend-play for hours, creating complicated stories of princes and princesses, Merlin and King Arthur, sieges and jousting tournaments (and that's just from eavesdropping on Sophie and Juliette playing !).
I was a bit disappointed that they didn't include a couple of figures in the set (maybe a knight or two or a king and queen) but these can be bought separately apparently. I think the Woodenmum family will have to dress up as knights and a royal family to play at defending their castle in the meantime, because we're a bit short on boys' toys at the moment so we have yet to buy anything that could pass for a knight !
It's a really lovely old-fashioned wooden castle that dads and grandads will love playing with with their sons and grandsons ! It's not just for boys though, as Sophie and Juliette both love it too. 17-month-old Pierre has knocked it over several times but it has withstood all the knocks and is still in pristine condition.
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £65
for more information : http://www.john-crane.co.uk/detail.php?product=858&c=,104,
to buy online : http://www.toysdirect.com/john_crane_lion_castle.html
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