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Toy story

Toy story
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First Published: Tue, May 25 2010. 06 54 PM IST

First letters: Early Learning Centre, DLF Place. Saket.
First letters: Early Learning Centre, DLF Place. Saket.
Updated: Tue, May 25 2010. 06 54 PM IST
Early Learning Centre (ELC) store at DLF Place, Saket is divided into eight sections—Art and Creativity, Baby and Toddler, Making Music, Dressing Up, Sport and Outdoor, Let’s Pretend, Action and Adventure, and Puzzles and Games. Currently, ELC has three stores that are functional—at DLF Place mall, Saket, M-block market, Greater Kailash 1, and another at DLF Promenade mall, Vasant Kunj. They are planning more stores in cities such as Kolkata, Bangalore, Chandigarh and Amritsar.
The good stuff
Many of the items at this store are from ELC’s Spring Summer 2010 international collection. It’s good to see that ELC India is not getting older, outdated merchandise, but what’s new and on-the-racks internationally. While you cannot look at the catalogue and place special orders, the store does promise that for whatever merchandise they have in stock, you can ask for larger numbers in case you want to give these toys as return gift items.
First letters: Early Learning Centre, DLF Place. Saket.
The really good stuff at ELC is not the working washing machine toy (it does get a few oohs and aahs), the blue vacuum cleaner (yes, boys can use it too) or pop-up toaster toys, but quirkier things that are tough to come by at Indian toy stores. We liked a pair of binoculars with adjustable lenses, a small lace-up board that can help your child learn to tie laces, a steering wheel with a manual small car game attached to it and a bright red saxophone (a break from the usual drums, keyboards and trumpets that Indian stores seem to favour).
In the Art and Creativity section, there is much to choose from—packets of colourful feathers, alphabet -shaped sponges, puzzle makers, fashion kits, most of which of much better quality than the cheap Chinese versions available all over. It will be difficult to control your child in this section, so it’s best not to let them loose.
In the Baby section, Talking Ted is a huge draw. Each time any part of this teddy is touched, she sings and tells the child what it is about. Songs about its hand, foot, nose or tummy will keep your young one busy, and hopefully, help him or her identify their own body parts more easily.
The not-so-good
On the first visit, I found the sales staff was not really equipped to answer questions about the toys, their suitability for different age groups or even offer recommendations, but those were early days. Hopefully, ELC has a few more trained people at the store now.
There is really no point in having sections if you cannot have a decent number of options. The Sport and Outdoor section was very bare.
The Dress Up section is one that ELC needs to rethink for India. While it is fine to have gowns representative of fairy tale characters such as Snow White, but when it comes to uniforms such as that of policemen, we think children would identify and learn more from the khaki variety that our cops wear, rather than the blue uniform of British policemen.
Talking plastic
The Talking Ted costs Rs1,230, the lace-up board Rs250, binoculars Rs660 and the bright red saxophone Rs820. The price range for the toys is Rs50-7,990.
seema.c@livemint.com
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First Published: Tue, May 25 2010. 06 54 PM IST