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We have owned a number of these make your own kits as we love to do crafty things on a rainy day. With two boys crazy about crafts and trains I decided they would love this activity. After ordering from Amazon as soon as the postman delivered them we decided we would give them a go. In the set you receive a small wooden train. It was a little smaller than I expected but my son found that it was the perfect size for his take and play set so not all bad. There are 2 small holes pre-cut out of the block of wood for little one to attach the wheels. Then there are 4 paints, a paintbrush and some stickers to complete the look of your train. There is a lovely picture of what can be achieved on the front of the box but my sons decided to do it their way.
There is everything you need in the pack to fully complete the activity. We did not receive any instructions but it is self explanatory anyway so my eldest son decided to paint first and then add the wheels after it had dried, where as my youngest decided he want to paint once the wheels has been stuck on. Each and every piece of the set is well made. The rounded wooden train is a fair size and very durable. The wheels are of course a lot smaller, and because you have to add a small connecting piece of wood to hold them in place we found mummy really needs to help with this.
There are lots of great colours for boys to paint the train however they like. My little boys really plastered the trains in paint which meant they needed a few hours to dry fully. As there was a choice of four colours each part of the train was decorated differently. What I also like is that there are a lot of stickers so little one can decorate it really nice, but of course they do not need to be used so it can be customised to how the child would like it. It also gives it more of an identity once the pain has been piled on. The paint does sink a little in to the thick wood which means it needs to be coated a few times. My children decided to add these layers all at the same time and it is perfect for prolonging the painting activity.
The stickers were fairly easy to remove from the paper but my sons only used half the amount provided. They were keen for their paintwork to shine through and so only used a handful of the stickers. I was glad of this after a few days as the stickers began to peel a little at the edges. The wheels need to be stuck to axles and threaded through the train before the connecting wheel can be added. This is supposed to secure the wheels on the train but we ended up breaking the superglue out as we found the glue provided wasn't strong enough. There are three sets of wheels to add one back and front and of course one in the middle. The wheels do move so it can be rolled along the floor but they are still very fragile.
From start to finish this activity took a good few hours. There is time needed between for the drying of paint and glue but there really is a lot for little one to do. It is recommended from ages 4-12 which I think is about right. My youngest son is only two and he did complete one but with a lot of help from mummy. He loved painting the train and adding the stickers, but the wheels were definitely too complicated for him to add himself along with the choking hazard. My five year old son was able to complete most of this activity independently. He did attempt to stick the wheels on himself, but found that they just fell off again so I needed to re glue them for him. Other than that he really enjoyed making his train and decorating it however he wanted. Even with the paint and stickers provided this really can be whatever your child wants it to be. It is all made from their ideas using he paint and stickers they want to personalise it to their taste.
A downside for me is the wheels continue to fall out. There is glue to stick them in to place, but we found that it was not strong enough at all. Other make your own sets from the same brand have been used afterwards to play with, but this is one that needs to sit somewhere looking nice as otherwise they just fall apart. Another problem is the paint. With other sets we found the paint washed out easily, and this is one of the reasons I love these sets. This time my sons managed to get the paint both on their hands and clothes, and when it was time to clear up I found it a nightmare to get out. It took a lot of scrubbing and stain remover to get the paint to come away which is very disappointing for a child's product.
I would recommend this set to anyone with younger children. It is not limited to boys although my little girl did choose the mirror to decorate rather than the train I purchased for her. It provided an activity for them to complete on a cold winters day, and even with its few faults they really enjoyed it and ask if I can get them another train to decorate. As there is building, painting and stickers to be added it provides enough variation to keep it interesting. Unlike other Mellissa and Doug sets this cannot be played with afterwards as it is more fragile than other sets we have completed but my children do still enjoy showing of their train. I would suggest an apron as the paint is difficult to come out of clothes which are a shame as we have never had this problem before. I paid around £5 including postage for each train but looking on Amazon they are currently available for £3.99 with free delivery. I think this is a fair price for an activity that kept my children happy and they were able to build most of it independently.
Little engineers will be proud to design their very own personal train engine, and now, this kit makes it possible. Wooden train engine, 6 wheels, simple assembly, paints, brush, glue and stickers are all included.