This summer, we spent a fortnight exploring Lanzarote in the Canary Islands and the thing that most fascinated the Madhouse kids (and even the adults) were the volcanoes. Everywhere you look, there are black lava fields - no trees, no vegetation, nothing at all, which is why so many people talk about its lunar landscapes. It's quite disconcerting to begin with !
The unmissable trip if you ever go there is Timanfaya National Park which gives you the chance to get up close to the dormant volcanoes, either by coach or, believe it or not, camel ! It's totally mindblowing to see the craters so close.
And you can still see the solidified remains of the lava that was flowing down the hillsides.
Even more amazing, though, was seeing the restaurant using the heat from beneath the ground to cook their chicken ! If you click through to my post about Timanfaya National Park, you can also see the two highlights of the visit - a geyser of steam shooting out of the earth when a man pours water down a hole and another man putting dry branches into a pit in the ground and watching them burst into flames. The volcanoes may have been dormant for a very long time but there's no denying that it's still all bubbling away far underground !
Pierre was fascinated but slightly disappointed that he didn't actually get to see molten lava pouring out of an erupting volcano, so I knew he'd be over the moon to review the Schleich Dinosaurs Giant Volcano.
This one comes complete with plenty of lava, much to Pierre's delight !
That's not the only thing you get in the box though, so be prepared to sit down for a while and help put it all together before your child can play with it.
There are detailed visual instructions, so it's all simple enough, but a child would need adult supervision and it takes time and patience sifting through the packs for each piece that you need.
Once it's all put together, the fun and games can really begin. It already looks really cool and at 26cm high, it is an impressive size for a child. It is also the perfect size for playing with the large Schleich dinosaurs, if you already have some - if you don't, you needn't worry because you get a T-Rex and a Stegosaurus in the playset. Pierre was already having fun using his imagination to make dinosaur roars and make the figures climb up then slide back down the volcano.
A closer look soon starts revealing lots of fun features that really bring it to life and offer all sorts of entertaining interactive possibilities for creative roleplay. There is a cave around the back allowing you to put your dinosaurs inside the volcano. Pressing the skull-shaped rock will release stalactites that seal off the entrance making a dinosaur prison.
The tree root is a sneaky dinosaur trap that will snap shut, imprisoning your dinosaurs. There is also a large rock to press that will trigger an eruption, breaking up a fossil into pieces that can be put back together like a jigsaw.
There are so many different elements to discover and play with that it's hard trying to remember them all now that I've come to write the review ! There is also a removable water surface with a secret hiding place for small water animals - you get some in the box but the great thing about this playset is that you can use it with other dinosaur and animal figures that you may already have in your toybox.
I was impressed by how realistic the lava looks and also by how robust it is - it's put up with some pretty rough-and-tumble play (dinosaurs don't do gentle, so neither does Pierre !) and it is still in perfect condition.
If you're looking for a big playset, maybe as a joint Christmas present, it is definitely certain to get an enthusiastic reaction from its recipient. At just under £100, it's quite pricey but it does offer a huge amount of interactive play opportunities which means that kids won't get bored quickly, and you can add extra elements - dinosaur figures or add-on playsets - to make it even more exciting. Pierre was over the moon to bring to life the dormant volcanoes that we'd seen in Lanzarote too, so it was a great way of revisiting our summer holiday memories.
RRP : £99.99
for more information : www.schleich-s.co.uk
Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.