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Thomas & Friends Surprise Action Playset

Submitted by on January 16, 2010 – 12:29 pmNo Comment

ThomasandFriendstrain“What do you get the train-mad toddler who’s too young for a train set? This wonderful chunky, mini all-singing, signal-flashing level-crossing barrier-lifting set might be the answer.”

Buy online at Tomy

Price £29.99

*****

Initial thoughts: So much and all in such a small space! And yet so utterly absorbing. Many toys with grand ambitions only hold the average toddler’s attention for a few minutes at a time. But this set really did beat playing with the Christmas wrapping paper. In fact, it beat opening most of Charlie’s other Christmas presents and has been the one among them all that he’s consistently returned to.

Thomas and the Troublesome Truck go round the track setting off magnetic signals, level-crossing gates, and opening bridges. Stop beneath the hopper and the cargo of timber is delivered into the truck. Add batteries and the signals at the station flash, music plays and sound effects accompany the engine as it chuffs around the track.

We liked: The set is so sturdy. Charlie has certainly given it a good work-out since Christmas. It really is designed to withstand all a toddler can throw at it, having been dropped, walked over and otherwise abused.

The working parts are all chunky enough for sustained handling and robust enough to stay working. Some of the features require batteries, which are not provided. Fortunately we had some ready on Christmas Day. But many, such as the working level-crossing gates, are magnetic so they’ll work whether or not you’ve remembered to buy any. And the battery-driven features: flashing lights, the ‘Thomas and Friends’ theme tune and choo-choo sound effects can all be turned off by means of the only (and sensibly) toddler-unfriendly feature of the entire set: a little switch at the back of Knapford station!

We weren’t so keen: The track comes apart. I mean, it clearly does so for a reason: so you can pack the set away. And that’s good. But it can also come apart when shunted across the floor or dropped off a table. It takes a lot to dislodge the rails, but when it happens track repairs have to be done by a competent authority (dad or mum); a layout board would be a good way of overcoming such a problem. A large tea-tray might be our solution.

Secondly, the set’s great toddler-proof strength (it’s suitable for 18 months+) might limit its appeal as a child grows up and, as far as I can tell, the set doesn’t integrate into other Thomas and Friends sets from Tomy.

Overall: What do you get the train-mad toddler who’s too young for a train set? This wonderful chunky, mini all-singing, signal-flashing level-crossing barrier-lifting set might be the answer. A perfect first train-set; durable and with lots and lots to keep the most curious toddler interested. Well worth the money.

[Tim – Bringing Up Charlie]

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