Pros: A step up from the wooden Thomas sets Durable Easily expanded Fun!
Cons: Can get expensive
The Bottom Line: A great choice for little kids who want to leave the wooden trains behind. This is a sturdy, economical starter model to electric trains.
I am the mother of a 5 year old boy who has been obsessed by trains since he was 2 years old. Its been very interesting watching him play with trains and how his tastes have evolved. For his 5th birthday, we purchased the Bachman Thomas the Tank with Annie and Clarabel Train Set. He was beyond thrilled.
He's played with the wooden Thomas train sets for years and was eager to move up to an electric train. This set is his first electric train set.
We live in Southern California which is home to many many model train shops and stores. We have visited just about all of them to check out their trains and train supplies. My son would pick up the free train catalogs and pour through them each night. These catalogs became our night time "stories".
This train set is a HO set. HO defines how wide the track is. HO is a wider track and is one of the most popular of the model train tracks. He likes this set as it is larger than most and easy for him to get his hands on it. It's easy for smaller hands to pick up and set down just so on the tracks. The package notes that this set is designed for 8 year olds and older, however my 5 year old handles this with ease.
The set comes with an oval track system that is 56 " by 38". This is a simple design is a system called EZ track. Literally you just snap it together and it stays put. It has worked well in our house, in the garage and even in our back yard. As this is an electric train, all of the track pieces have to snap together well or else the electric current can't electrify the track. We've had no issues of faulty track assembly. To fully assemble the oval track takes about ten minutes. Should we want to expand the track, that would be easy as EZ track is sold widely at train shops. Our next design will be the classic figure 8.
Thomas is the engine and has moving eyes. He is solidly constructed and well painted. His moving parts all work well. He pulls two coaches named Annie and Clarabel. There are the same characters from the wooden set. They attach using a coupling system that is easy to attach and durable. My son loves to back Thomas the engine carefully and couple with the coaches. For variety, we added two separate cars, the Oil car and the Flat Bed Truck car. Now his train is size-able and Thomas is able to push or pull with ease around his track.
The track itself is wired into a control box which has a round dial gauge that allows kids to make it go faster or slower. The train can go quite fast too. There is a switch that will reverse the direction. Both are easily understood and controlled by my son. The control box is plugged into a standard electric socket.
We ordered online and the set came well packaged in one box that weighed 6 pounds. All items were carefully packed and wrapped in plastic. Shipping time was about 7 days for standard.
We talk about electricity safety and the importance of speed safety while we play with this train set. My son loves it and spends many hours playing with it. He also spends a lot of time thinking about track design ideas. This set is very expandable should we want to upgrade. There are a lot of ways to upgrade such as making more complex track layouts, adding car crossings, adding scenery, adding more cars, adding people, etc... I imagine this set will hold him until he gets a couple of years older.
We got the set in August and it has been in use almost constantly and is holding up very well. I recommend to any parent of a little train enthusiast. However, this starter set can get expensive with the addition of more track and train cars. The set alone retails for about $70 but each separate car is about $15.
My only complaint is that the set is too large for train tables that the wooden ones uses. Thus, it's on the floor which can be problematic. I currently have it routed under the coffee table which helps protect it somewhat. However if it's on the floor, it's easy to step on, or the dog can get into it.
Amount Paid (US$): 75 Type of Toy: Trains Age Range of Child: 6 to 8 Years
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About the reviewer
A working professional, partner and mother. I am a tech gadget loving person who enjoys saving time and money in my daily life. I review computer products, … more
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