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Can someone explain the difference between the different Thomas the Tank engine toys?

(26 Posts)
ijustwantasofa Thu 08-Nov-18 22:45:48

My nearly-4-year-old has had a wooden train set (brio etc) since he was 2, and we've added to it over the years so he has quite a lot, plus tons of wooden Thomas engines (he really likes/liked Thomas the Tank).
His birthday and Christmas are coming up and he's suddenly talking about wanting the more elaborate plastic track kits instead! Like the twisty turny ones.

I've explained his engines won't fit on then but is any of it compatible with the wooden railway? What's the difference between Trackmaster and Take & Play? Can I just get one set or will I need to add plastic track to it like we have with the wooden track?

I'm reluctant to start off another massive expensive collection, and we've already got some good ideas for presents (he doesn't see many adverts or toys so he doesn't specifically ask for much). I don't want him disappointed though (he has had expectations in the past of getting particular engines and it's horrible to see him wonder why he didn't get them (because we're not mind readers!))

Any info/ advice from Thomas-mad households appreciated!

FermatsTheorem Thu 08-Nov-18 22:55:23

You can get loads of "knock off" brio (big jigs, ikea, tesco - all fit together with genuine brio track). Invest in a load of bridges so you get the sections which enable you to change levels, then (pro tip!) 3 blocks of brio is roughly the height of a bridge... so you can build as many levels as you want, and put curves on bridges, and points, and...

We have Thomas and Percy (and I think you can get James the red engine etc.) Also Bigjigs do replica real engines - we have the Mallard, and a Japanese bullet train, and the Duchess of Hamilton. (Sorry, I'll get me anorak...)

I think it was my favourite toy when DS was younger, hours of fun (we once reconstructed the roller coaster at our local theme park out of brio and duplo).

Brio-type track is much better value for money than the plastic kits which will only go into one configuration. And you can keep adding to it (we now have a crate which contains enough brio to carpet the entire ground floor of the house). Sadly DS is past playing with it mostly, unless we get it out for his friends' younger siblings (at which point he suddenly remembers how much fun it is and will happily spend an afternoon with it).

AnneWiddecombesHandbag Thu 08-Nov-18 22:59:21

Take and play trains are smaller. Track master will work sort of on brio tracks but are better on their own plastic tracks.

We have a lot of Thomas trains as my eldest loved them.

BathFullOfEels Thu 08-Nov-18 23:00:37

TrackMaster are the battery trains. They’re a pita to put together and don’t have any flex in them so you have to put the pieces in the right places or they won’t fit at all. The wooden tracks the connections are loose so you can use a lot more combinations. TrackMaster trains will fit on brio but struggle with corners and no chance on hills.

Take and play has recently been replaced with Thomas Adventures - exactly the same sizes but different connections for track and couplings for trains so you can’t mix and match at all. Which I’m still cross about. They don’t really fit on brio track either.

I’d stick with brio - you can get battery operated wooden Thomas trains online and BigJigs wooden track fits and is waaaay cheaper than brio of Thomas versions.

AnneWiddecombesHandbag Thu 08-Nov-18 23:01:08

@FermatsTheorem
We have the mallard etc too. We've taken many trips to York to see the real trains too.
Eldest doesn't play with them anymore which I'm quite sad about. The youngest just throws them about and isn't really interested!

BathFullOfEels Thu 08-Nov-18 23:01:18

fermats I have a feeling our kids would get on.

ijustwantasofa Thu 08-Nov-18 23:06:23

I found this article which is useful but has annoyed me at how they keep changing things (and no doubt have changed again since that article)!. craftulate.com/which-thomas-and-friends-train-set/

Our wooden set is a real mix. Im happy to get the odd trackmaster set but don't want them to be completely incompatible!

ijustwantasofa Thu 08-Nov-18 23:07:31

Thanks, I didn't realise the plastic track had to be built exactly in the right order! That's annoying!

BathFullOfEels Thu 08-Nov-18 23:11:27

They also are unlikely to change the format of the wooden ones after you’ve spent hundreds of pounds on Take and Fucking Play because your autistic son has the lifelong goal of having every single train on Sodor.

BathFullOfEels Thu 08-Nov-18 23:13:37

Look - exactly the same track and trains just different connections so you can’t play with them together, ever. Not that I’m bitter at all or have spent many hours writing complaints to the bastards who couldn’t give less of a toss.

ijustwantasofa Thu 08-Nov-18 23:21:01

agh!! Can you get adaptors for the track?
We've got the odd die-cast and plastic train from charity shops etc but they never seem to couple together. I'm quite resistant to introducing a new strain of Thomas into the household but the tracks look so cool to a 4-year-old boy!

ijustwantasofa Thu 08-Nov-18 23:22:18

changing the name to 'thomas adventures' just seems designed to deliberately confuse people even more. Do they hope grannies will buy the wrong thing so mums/dads then need to invest in more of the same 'new' track etc?

HopeGarden Thu 08-Nov-18 23:38:20

We’ve got wooden train sets and Trackmaster sets.

The Trackmaster track is the same gauge as the wooden track, so Brio style trains can be pushed around on a Trackmaster track and vice versa, although Trackmaster trains are bigger so don’t tend to work so well with wooden track tunnels and sharp bends. Trackmaster trains are all battery powered too, which can get expensive when you have children who set them running and don’t turn them off.

The Trackmaster sets each have an intended layout and instructions to make the layout - but the track itself can be made into any configuration, just as wooden track can , provided you have enough Trackmaster track.

The wooden track is undeniably easier for a child to put together themselves through. Trackmaster track is more fiddly to connect together, so there’s far more adult input demanded when setting up Trackmaster layouts.

I’d avoid the Take n Play / Thomas Adventures style altogether - that track is completely incompatible with Brio style trains, and the sets we’ve had have been flimsy in comparison to wooden track and Trackmaster sets.

ijustwantasofa Thu 08-Nov-18 23:40:16

and what on earth are THESE:!?
www.fisher-price.com/en_GB/brands/thomas/products/My-First-Thomas-and-Friends-Railway-Pals-Thomas-FFY26

(thanks Hope! I was wondering about battery use... and tantrums about him not quite being able to fit track together properly).

I blame Izzy's toy time for all of this.
Perhaps it's my fault for letting him watch videos of other kids playing instead of actually playing himself!

HopeGarden Thu 08-Nov-18 23:45:23

I saw one of those trains you linked to in the supermarket a while back.

They look like they’re intended for small toddlers. Largish train, too big to fit on Brio style track, and most likely too babyish for a child already into wooden trains.

HopeGarden Thu 08-Nov-18 23:48:07

And yes, we had a fair few Trackmaster related tantrums when our DC were new to Trackmaster.

Almost all related to DC breaking the track and not being able to put it back together themselves. They got the hang of it (eventually) but it was terribly wearing until then.

SoupMode Thu 08-Nov-18 23:55:42

There's this thomas set that's meant to fit the wooden trains, trackmaster ones and thomas adventure ones. It's expensive though and I've no idea how good it is, but the reviews look ok.

SoupMode Thu 08-Nov-18 23:58:36

Oh and it apparently works with the Mini trains as well, which is yet another type of thomas train!

marinerkk2 Fri 09-Nov-18 00:15:52

Big Thomas fans in our house! The super station from last Xmas I think can have the batttery trackmaster trains, minis and adventure/take and play trains on the same track. Not sure about the wooden ones but presume they would work too.
It's huge but keeps my 4 year old very occupied.

slappinthebass Fri 09-Nov-18 00:29:20

Oh I'm glad you've asked this as I've been meaning to. We have tonnes of wooden Brio type track which is well loved, plus lots of accessories. Was planning on getting some Thomas trains for it for Christmas and the have been flummoxed by the different types and then I heard that most don't fit on the wooden track so I'm almost given up on the idea. I hate the look of the plastic track. The newest style of wooden trains looks odd and has poor reviews.

Does your son have any of the Thomas Minis? We have only recently discovered them, they cost £1.80 each in Asda at the moment, micro machine sized engines, all painted in themes. Fruit, animals, TV characters etc. You can get play sets for these, much like the track master/take and play with lots of ramps and twists. I wonder if this could be a cheaper/smaller alternative to tempt your son with?

ijustwantasofa Fri 09-Nov-18 02:38:37

I'd dismissed the minis as being gimmicky but I didn't realise they had motorised/ stunt tracks... They are a bit cheaper so might well do!

slappinthebass Fri 09-Nov-18 08:42:00

They look fab to be honest, on Amazon they have videos of them in action. One is a motorised one that looks good fun. The other is more like a ramp. A massive heap of ugly plastic, but at least smaller than the others on offer and a good compromise. I have to admit I'm more excited with the mini's blind bags than the kids.

FermatsTheorem Mon 12-Nov-18 08:28:20

Just bumping your thread @ijustwantasofa

A friend picked this up in Lidl for her toddler twins, and it is awesome and fits together with brio!

www.lidl.co.uk/en/MiddleofLidl.htm?articleId=17421

ijustwantasofa Tue 13-Nov-18 23:18:01

That's so massive though!
I gave in and ordered a Minis track, the Cranky one. It's cheap (that super station looked great but way too expensive atm) and at least you can pick up minis cheaply. I think he'll like it as the one he was studying intently (we got him a poster ages ago with all the engines on but it also has ads for take n play...) was a Cranky one.

Last Christmas you could get wooden Brio-style Thomas engines everywhere, like half-price in Debenhams, even the more obscure characters. Whereas can hardly find any this year. There's also loads of knockoff Chinese ones on eBay but my obsessive boy will notice if their faces don't look right... I think they've officially been replaced by the 'real wood' engines that have some 'exposed' wood in their design... :/

GingerbreadBlob Wed 14-Nov-18 03:49:46

My kids are grown now and they all had this, it's brilliant

https://www.argos.co.uk/product/8358352?storeID=761&cmpid=GS001&$ja=tsid:59156%7Cacid:444-797-0832%7Ccid:598623310%7Cagid:28645204165%7Ctid:pla-487919017362%7Ccrid:96091136965%7Cnw:s%7Crnd:12984040210805158231%7Cdvc:m%7Cadp:1o2%7Cmt:%7Cloc:9045529&gclid=CjwKCAiAiarfBRASEiwAw1tYv8Yww_7V0w2FACss_CyXUJnNWle9pn44WYlcUVw2n4h5npzZZ_95TVhoCjVUQAvD_BwE

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