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Early learning centre sell a number of magnetic vehicle sets including cars, trains and emergency vehicles. They also sell them in different colour ranges aimed at girls and boys. We bought both the trains and the cars when my son was around 6 months old.
The train set consists of three separate units each with a magnetic connector to the front and back. The first is the train engine, the second is a cargo section with a tipping section for loading up with small objects and the third has three logs (?) tied to the trailer. Each section has 4 wheels and they roll very easily. When linked together, the train is around 35cm long.
The set is sold for 12 months plus but is such a simple design that I think it is suitable for younger babies. The colours are bright - all bold primary colours and the trucks are chunky with rounded edges and friendly fun eyes at the front. There are no small parts and the the individual trucks are easy to link together. You can link them up or use the magnets to push them away from each other.
All of the above led me to think this would be a good purchase and at £10 per set I thought it was quite reasonable. The reality is that they were pretty much a waste of money for me. None of my children found them interesting enough to play with. The magnetic couplings were not strong enough to withstand the train being pulled along the carpet and they soon got bored of it coming apart. Not once have I seen them choose these trains from the toy box to play with.
I have no specific complaints about this toy except that my children didn't like it. And this of course is the most important point about a toy! On the positive side, the build quality is good and after 5 years they still look as good as new. This might however have something to do with the lack of use.
My son was given the ELC Magnetic Train Trio for his first Birthday. I know ELC toys to be generally good quality and my son likes rolling small vehicles around so it seemed like an ideal gift.
- I Don't Know Much about Science Books -
The train consists of three brightly coloured plastic carriages, each measuring approximately 11cm in length. The first section is the front of the train with a big steam engine and a cabin where the driver would stand. At the front there are two little eyes which move around a little. The next section is has a bit trough on the back which could hold something inside (sand, water?). The tough can be moved slightly so that it tips up to let out its contents over the side of the train. The final section appears to be carrying three big tubes which are strapped down. These could be concrete, wood, metal perhaps. Each section has four wheels so that they can be rolled around. At the ends of all the carriages are magnets. Each carriage has two opposite magnets (poles), a north seeking and a south seeking. This means that if you match the correct ends of the carriages you can connect them together. This magnetism can be held to pull all three carriages across the floor. The carriages can be connected in any order as long as you match up the magnets correctly, a north and a south together. Alternatively you can make the magnets repel each other which moves the carriages apart and across the floor away from each other. I won't go into positive and negative electrons because this is already starting to sound like a physics lesson! The trains are very simple in design but are coloured nicely in red, blue, green and yellow. To be honest if I was looking to buy a very simple train set I would probably go for a wooden set because I think they look better. To me this train just looks a little plain, cheap and unexciting.
- Choo Choo! -
My son is not particularly interested in this train set and if he comes across them in his toy box he usually throws them out of his way! Children are so honest! If I get them out to play with they will only hold my son's attention briefly. I think this is partly because there is very little to interact with on the carriages. In fact the only interaction is with the trough that moves very slightly. However, the only time my son has shown any interest in this was when I filled it with raisins! He is only vaguely interested when we move the trains across the floor, after all he has many more interesting toys that can be played with like this. He wasn't even intrigued when I used the repelling magnets to move a carriage on its own as if by magic. I think the train is just a little too boring for my son with very little that makes it stand out from all his other little vehicles. The only advantages are that it could be played together with a friend and it could be used for imaginitive pretend play but both of these are a little beyond my son at the moment.
- Age Range -
This set is suitable from 12 months which I think is fairly accurate but there is no reason why it couldn't be played with slightly before this age as there are no hazards.
- Price and Availability -
This set is available from the Early Learning Centre where it is priced at £10. It is also available on Amazon for around the same price. I think that is a reasonable price for a small train set but I don't think this set is attractive or interesting enough to warrant the price. There are several other sets in the same range such as construction vehicles, racing cars and emergency vehicles.
- Would I Recommend? -
While there is nothing overwhelmingly wrong with the ELC Magnetic Train Trio set it just isn't attractive, interesting or engaging enough for me and my son. For that reason I don't feel I could recommend it.