Playmobil Dinos fills that category. I love Dinosaurs, I've tried hard to instill my love of all things palaeontological in the children and at aged three each of them could recognise their ammonites from their belemnites and name several different species of dinosaur. When this Playmobil arrived I had to fight the urge not to give it to the children and set up my own little secret den under the stairs with this and the Ice age Cave set which they were sent earlier in the year. I felt guilty, its a usual mum emotion, but I thought Playmobil might tell me off if I didn't pass it onto the intended recipients. So begrudgingly I handed it over.
The set includes two really robust dinosaurs, suitable in my opinion for little Ned to play with independently. He loves them, really loves them.
There is a bit of a fight when the older kids want to play with them and the volcano. The volcano is brilliant, for those budding palaeontologists who want to tackle the problem of what actually killed the dinosaurs, then here in play form is one of the theories. You can re-enact dinosaur extinction to your hearts content. There aren't many toys which allow you to do that!
Unfortunately for the pedantic amongst us, you'll notice that the trilobite, ammonite and insect preserved in amber fossils which can be excavated on the volcano aren't actually geologically correct in terms of stratigraphy or rock type. However, you cant have it all and I don't this the intended audience would really worry about such a matter. I must admit, I think the fossils are brilliant. I'd like to lobby for a Playmobil fossil excavation in the basis of them. I don't think I've seen a better replica ammonite amongst my searches for fossil toys.
The set comes with a little palaeontologist figure, he is a really cool dude with lots of accurate tools. I wish I looked like that when excavating human remains.
Everyone in our house loves this set, its an all round winner. Not only is it educational as you can build in loads of role playing and discussions about dinosaurs, fossils and evolution, you can simply have tons and tons of fun. The dinosaurs can fight each other, you, the palaeontologist. The volcano can actually erupt, the fossils can be excavated and identified.
If you want to check out Playmobil Dinos have a little look at the website. They are a fab solution for Christmas and if your child is studying KS1 or KS2 they they might actually fit quite neatly in with the curriculum. Also if your child is at university studying geology, works at the Natural History Museum or has always just loved dinosaurs then these sets might make ideal gifts for them. I do hope my mum is reading this...
Disclaimer: We were sent this set to keep for the purposes of review. How lucky am I!