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In Happyland

Life is apparently much more fun on Mars. At least, if alien abodes are anything like the new Happyland Martian Moonhouse from ELC USA imagines them to be. This plastic playhouse is packed with wild and whimsical features, including two rocket ship vehicles, a rooftop landing pad, and a garage directly below a trapdoor that deposits the members of the alien family directly into the driver’s seat of the waiting rocket.  Yeah, it’s that cool. Oh, and did I mention the awesome slide?  Or the strangely cute mutant dog?

The Martian Moonhouse is easily the most creative and unique new toy I’ve seen in a long time for the toddler set.  It does use batteries to enhance the play with a few sound effects, but ELC is considerate enough to include an on/off switch and two volume settings.

We gave the Martian Moonhouse to my 2-year-old son for Chanukah, and he completely adores it. He has spent hours and hours playing with it. But when he’s napping, my older girls take it over, completely unashamed to be playing with their baby brother’s toy. My 8-year old is besotted with the aforementioned dog and I caught her trying to steal it. When I told her to put it back, she asked earnestly if I could buy her a Martian Moonhouse for Chanukah too.

The Martian Moonhouse pairs beautifully with several other Happyland sets – the Happyland Lift-Off Rocket is another very impressive piece, as is the Happyland Retro Robot. The Happyland Mobile Moon Base is a battery-free playset that comes with astronauts, a robot and two roving vehicles which can connect (or not). I especially love that ELC also makes small sets of figures, so you can add some more aliens and astronauts to the family.

The Space series is  just one of several in the Happyland family. I sent my niece one of the fairy pieces last week, and my sister-in-law sent me an email this morning saying that her almost-2-year-old had been playing with it for 45 minutes straight.

What’s so appealing here? The theming is colorful and well detailed. There are lots of fine-motor delights – moving parts and doors that open and close. And the figures, well, they’re just really cute. Most importantly, everything is really high quality – like the nice, rubberized wheels on all the vehicles, or the heavy-duty plastic that feels like it could withstand a whole lot of toddler energy.

If you’ve got a toddler on your holiday list, Happyland is my top pick. Whatever your budget, you will find something that can either start or augment a wonderful collection.

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