Monday, 6 January 2014

It's All About Thomas The Tank Engine Baby

We don't know how Aaron got into Thomas.  It took us quite by surprise and it WASN'T anything to do with him watching him on TV/DVD - that came later...  Actually I think it started with his Thomas jacket that I got him back in 2011!

When he was young, we visited friends who had a cheap (under £10) wooden train set, and they said their son had played with it for years, so within days I got Aaron one, and it was the beginning of a fascination with trains and tracks that has been consistent ever since.  When he is pushing a train around a track he gets very meditative.  Do you know how very beautiful it is, seeing a vibrant happy child get meditative and still.  It's enabled me to get things done, whilst he is in a calm peaceful trance.  I sneak peeks at him and marvel at his concentration.  It's not true that 2 year olds can't concentrate.  They REALLY can when they are absorbed in a task or a much loved activity!

As Aaron's developed and grown, so too has his train collection, and wow, the latest is the best yet, but at his age, requires a lot of parental supervision.

Let me count actually... hhhhhmmmm... Aaron has 6 tracks in total.  I would say he sometimes has them all out at the same time, but that hasn't happened since we acquired the latest one, thanks be to God.  The latest one fills the floor space in the sitting room.

This is it, it's Thomas and The Breakdown Train and is currently £37 off in Argos.  Do note, it is a "web exclusive".  The day I went to Argos to buy it, I did not realise this, but they were kind enough to process the online order on their tills right there and then, and I got free delivery a couple of days later to my home.  LUCKILY thanks to the discount, I was able to get something else as well, which means Aaron and I did have something to take home straight away while we waited the couple of days for the track to be delivered.  It was delivered well before Christmas but I wanted us to play with it for a while before reviewing it (that's my excuse and I am sticking to it)!

The other thing we got that day?  Well it was a "Thomas Me Reader" and wow it's fab.  We were hungry after the shopping, so we went to McDonalds and Aaron could not wait to get it out... Look:

It's a "toy" that is INCREDIBLY good value for money. At £19.99 I would pay that just for the books themselves - you get EIGHT hard-back, beautiful Thomas books, and it comes with an electronic reader that Aaron simply loves using. SO impressed was I with this, that on Christmas Eve I went to Argos to get another one, for my (dearly departed) Father-in-Law's best friend's Grandson.  Nothing better than gifting a toy that you KNOW works and you KNOW will be much played with/loved!  To use it you simply press the button for the corresponding book, and then press a symbol each and everytime you turn a page, for the "reader" to read that page to you.  It keeps Aaron busy for ages each time he plays with it.  I was really impressed with Argos actually, as that day (when we got the second one, not the first) it wasn't in stock in the Argos we went to, and I put down the items I had collected in the queue and said "if you don't have that I am not buying anything" and she said "you can collect it in a nearby store" and even gave me a receipt so that it would be reserved for me.  If you remember the weather on Christmas Eve and the fact that we bus it everywhere (I don't drive) you will know how thankful I was to travel to another branch KNOWING it was reserved for my collection.

Back to the Thomas and The Breakdown Train track, 
I think it will require another post to be honest, as there is so much to say...  The day I set it up, I felt daunted, as it is our first grown up Hornby, electrical track.  Slotting the metal pieces of the track together is a real art form, but I soon got the knack of it.  You have to do it so that the are totally seamless and smooth to the touch when connected.  After all you are in fact creating a circuit, which gives the trains placed on it a current.

See it's a thing of beauty:



That silver line on the wheels chugs round and round and round.  Beautiful to watch as it zips and whizzes round the track, effortlessly once positioned correctly.

Things we loved about it:
  1. The remote control means that Thomas can go fast or slow or anything in between.
  2. He can even go forwards and backwards.
  3. There is a lever (I think it's called "points") so that he can go into the sidings.
  4. He has proper metal things on his wheels that go round and round (unlike all the childlike Thomas trains we've had up to now), and it now makes sense of that action adults make with their arms when they're going chooo chooo (LOL)!
  5. There's 4 parts to it, which you can't at all tell from Argos's website! You get a Thomas AND a trailer AND a crane and a pick up truck thing that he rests on.  Here's the thing though, we keep our curtains open all through Christmas, so the only light in the sitting room is from the window lights.  This wasn't enough for me to see what I was doing, and it is an art form to connect all of these carriages together - it is very rewarding and fun once done though, and even more so if you put the 3 bits in the sidings and get Thomas to drive to collect them, as shown in THIS YOU TUBE VIDEO (which is not mine by the way): 
 
That video will also show you the many bits you get in this set!
You get hours of satisfaction from playing with this set.  You don't manually push the trains round a wooden track, but it is meditative to watch it speed round. It's a real eye opener getting your first Hornby track actually.  Electrics are no problem as EVERYTIME something odd happened and Thomas derailed or Aaron did something silly, the electrics on the track cut out.  I'd then have to reset it by plugging it out and back on again, which did get a little testing, so I was kind of wishing Aaron was a bit older. It definitely requires parental supervision.  I desperately need to keep it safe so it is still in one piece when he is older.  It's already been boxed away, as he kept running across it the other day, and the track is really delicate and can crack if stood on.  I have promised him I will get it out again.  Daddy was relieved when I put it away as it was taking up the whole sitting room floor for over a week.  I can't wait till we move house and maybe it can have a permanent home!
Things not so great about it
  1. The carriages are very delicate, so the hook on the crane has already snapped off. This is more to do with Aaron's age (3.5 years) than the toy itself.  I did see it happen so have kept it in a safe place waiting to get the superglue out.
  2. Resetting the electrics each time something happened got a little trying.
  3. The website photo is only of the box and should show you the track and parts you get.
  4. The track mat you get with it is paper and I expected it to be fabric.  Because Aaron walked across it a couple of times and dropped things on it a couple of times, it does already have a few tears.  On a positive note, it does mean that the track and trains work perfectly on our carpet; you don't require a wooden floor/tiles.
  5. With the last point in mind, I would love a LARGE (it would have to be very large) table, so that we could get a really good look at the trains as they go round.  Placing Thomas on correctly, (so he picks up the electrical charge/current and moves) is easy, but not so with the other "carriages" as they have many wheels and in dim lighting it was hard for me to align these all to the track.   If the track was at eye level (on a table) this would be much easier.  But then the chap on the You Tube video makes it look dead easy so maybe for some it is.
  6. I think you can already tell from everything I have said that this track takes up a lot of space.  Argos' website states: "Space required 1.57m x 1.14m".
  7. The box says age 3+, but Argos says on their site: "For ages 7 years and over".  Having played with it for over a week, I definitely think Aaron is too young for it, but equally, I think he would fully be responsible for it way before the age of 7, but perhaps no younger than say 5! Good on Argos though for knowing it needed a higher age than stated on Hornby's box!
***
If you are a parent or relative of a slightly older Thomas fan, and all of the Thomas toys seem too childlike, then THIS TRACK would make the perfect gift, or if you have a husband/partner who is as much of a train enthusiast as your little one, then it is IDEAL FOR 3 YEAR OLDS with full on ADULT SUPERVISION!

For any Thomas fans, you need to get to Argos.  Their selection of affordable Thomas & The Tank Engine items is vast, and includes so much more than just the trains and tracks themselves.  I wish I had discovered this fact during the last 3 years, or at least 2! There are sections for bedding, clothing, outdoor, DVDs & books, and even a section for gifts for under £20.  It's a whole "Thomas and Friends Argos Shop" - awesome actually! Actually I just looked on there again, and they even have a ride on train (for babies older than 12 months) - that would SO have had Aaron's name on if he was younger! It's currently reduced.  I've always wanted my second baby (when I hopefully have one) to be a girl - I hope she likes Thomas ;-)

Bye for now, Liska xx

Disclosure: this post was In Association With Argos, but all words and all opinions are my own.

41 comments:

  1. My children both love Thomas, and it is handy that we love just 10 minutes from Thomasland! Funnily enough, just bought a new Thomas book today, and they're loving their RC Thomas they had for Christmas (I got that from Argos!)

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    1. Our remote control Thomas is from Argos if you mean the big engine that drives around. I think I got that nearly 2 years ago for about £29 or something. He still loves it. The Hornby set is RC.
      Oh if I lived 10 mins from there we'd be in there all the time. Despite it being a 2 hour drive for us, we have been 3 times (2 of them for overnight stays in the Drayton Manor Hotel) xx

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  2. Make sure you keep all the boxes. The Thomas Stuff has a great resale value too!

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    1. Eeeek I am inherently a hoarder so I don't know if I will ever part with any of it. I can see me giving him boxes when he himself has children LOL x

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  3. Mine love Thomas too! Actually my 5 year old now says he is too old for thomas (quite sad, as he loved him before!!) but my others are still in full on thomas obsession and i think my 5 yr would still be very interested in the hornby track!

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    1. Yes, even if he has outgrown "Thomas" he would love the Horny track which is definitely for big boys. :-)
      I think I will be VERY sad if he outgrows it. I should say if and when.
      Liska x

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  4. Mine all went through Thomas phases, the girls too - much love for the trains!

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    1. I am so glad that they are gender neutral - yes Thomas is not just for boys - always see LOTS of girls at Thomas Land xx

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  5. F has a total love of trains and is a complete Thomas nut so he would love this!

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  6. I think all boys get into Thomas somewhere along the line don't they. I have to confess I am not a fan and am glad mine has grown out of it now!

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  7. This takes me back ! My son is nearly 17 now but he was OBSESSED with Thomas the tank engine. I remembering him not wanting to fly his Thomas kite when he was 3 as he was worried it would break.

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    1. Thomas has survived the test of time, and they keep updating it all the time, to meet with the changing generations x

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  8. my kids (girl and boy) love them! Im sure your next baby will do it too.

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    1. Ah, I love hearing that "next baby" - I hope I can manage to get pregnant - here's praying xx

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  9. Boys just love Thomas, Son loved the trains and had loads of track and also loved the books. The one thing he wouldn't watch though was the DVD, he hated Diesel, he'd run out of the room.

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    1. Aaron's not that loyal to the DVDs. He watches them, but not again and again as with other ones. He's more into the trains/tracks than watching it. xx

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  10. My two used to love Thomas - they're too old now though but I remember how many we used to have!

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    1. did you give them away or sell them? x

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  11. My son used to love Thomas and had several train sets, just like your son. He also loved the Thomas stories which I found really dull to read, but any book they're interested in is great!

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    1. I must be dull as I love reading them, but I guess you have a point, as although I do love the trains and tracks (and Thomas Land) I do prefer the Gruffalo, and even more so The Gruffalo's Child :-) xx

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  12. I'm so surprised that Hornby would class that set as 3+! We have a Hornby set that Monkey got as a Christening present, he's now 4. It hasn't come out of the box yet, and I wouldn't consider it for a couple more years, way to fragile. We have a massive Thomas fan here too, I think boys love trains and Thomas is a firm part of growing up. Looks like he's been having lots of fun

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    1. I think it is safe to get it out of the box as long as he has 100% adult supervision. But then some of the things that happened with ours did occur despite me being in the room xx

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  13. Oh that train set looks fab! I've got 2 girls and the eldest didn't ever show an interest in Thomas

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    1. I think some girls like Thomas, but I guess it is not for everyone. One thing Aaron's never taken an interest in is Chuggington. He does love Sofia the first on TV though, so he's happy to cross the gender divide and I don't discourage it xx

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  14. Boys and Thomas. T loved Thomas before he'd seen him on TV too. Like you it was some clothing we bought. From then on we have progressed to 9000 miles off track and about 20 trains. If the Hornby set is too delicate go for the Thomas Trackmaster stuff, a lot more robust, the trains are battery powered. They usually have good deals on starter sets at Tesco and Argos, and once you have the track you can get some good deals on trains on eBay. Happy Thomasing!

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    1. Oh we have one trackmaster set which came with ONE battery operated Thomas (a starter set from my Dad last Xmas). We have the carry and play quarry set too. Rest of our sets are wooden, although I also have a Lego Thomas set (which is lovely). One day I need to list, and photograph them all together in one blog post. Of course we have Thomas PJs and pants and.... etc etc etc xxx

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  15. I'm impressed you bought a Hornby set. We have one but E is only allowed to look at it every couple of months as it's so fragile. Not including that one we have three other sets and I am a master in setting them all up! If only they gave degrees in track management I would be a Professor of Trackmaster :)

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    1. Oh I can set up a track with my eyes closed now. Even our really large wooden £84 one.
      Yes, fragile it is indeed. A bit of track got cracked, and he snapped the hook off the crane. I fixed one, but am yet to fix the latter. Until he is a couple of years older it requires 100% adult supervision - it is GREAT though - I love it as much as he does. The current price is superb! xxxxx

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  16. JD was a huge Thomas fan when he was younger. The set sounds amazing.

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    1. It is, I will get more photos when I get it out once again, which I have promised Aaron I will xx

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  17. Those both look great, Ethan would love them too, I'll have to look into it :)

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    1. I can't recommend the reader enough. The track, but with supervision. As for the Thomas shop, it's so extensive and so much affordable stuff in there. Great for finding the right thing for any age of Thomas fan. xx

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  18. it's so lovely how Thomas has been going through generations isn't it! x

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    1. Oh it is wonderful. We are both fans here, and Daddy comes to Thomas Land with us - been 3 times now :-) x

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  19. My boys are all just growing out of this stuff and I'm so reluctant to get rid because of the sheer cost of it all. Sounds like you got some fantastic bargains.

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    1. Jen above says it all has great resale value. Would you consider selling any of it? x

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  20. Fabulous stuff, they look amazing. We love Thomas here too although our daughter is mostly watching him on television :)

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  21. My eldest loved Thomas and his train track got passed his 3 siblings. Quite sad that my youngest has no interest in it, it's Sponge Bob or nothing for her!

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  22. We are Thomas lovers here also, my son has been fascinated by trains from when he was about 1 I think. I love the look of the reader and it does seem good value for all the books. I'm on the look out for some reasonable thomas trains that will fit on his wooden train set. I think ebay will be the way to go as they are just so pricey.

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