Product Type: Fisher Price baby toys
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Fisher Price Amazing Animals Learning Train
Member Name: sandemp
Fisher Price Amazing Animals Learning Train
Advantages: Animals are nice, Freddy really, really likes it
Disadvantages: Songs soon become very irritating, doesn't move very well
Ahh Grandma's don't they just have the best of both worlds, being able to give the baby back at the end of the day and being able to indulge the little ones with noisy toys and then not sticking around to have their brains turned to mush. Freddy's Grandma (well she prefers to be called Nana) is no different, she bought Freddy enough noisy, electronic toys for Christmas to completely liquefy Mummy and Daddy's brains and this has to be his favourite.
The Fisher Price Amazing Animals Sing And Go Choo Choo Train (from now on known as the train) is a rather large pre-school toy aimed at babies and toddlers from six months to three years of age. To be honest, I can't remember how easy this was to remove from the packaging, I do remember some of the nasty plastic ties, but the train has so completely turned my brain to mush that I can't remember much more than that. The actual train comes in two parts, the engine and a pair of carriages. As I've already said, this is rather a large toy, far too large for a six month old (in my opinion) with the engine measuring approximately 25cm by 16cm and 20cm tall. As it contains a motor this engine is also relatively heavy, I really would be concerned that a baby at the lower end of the recommended age range would attempt to pick it up and be unable to hold it meaning that they hurt themselves.
Both the engine and carriage sections are very brightly coloured though, with bright reds, blues, yellows and greens. The engine runs on four wheel, which are not free-wheeling and features a light-up button on it's funnel. There are also a pair of rails on the engine each of which features a pair of beads that can be spun. The carriage is about twice the length of the engine and features two compartments. The larger compartment also features a bird on a spring, while the smaller has a bar for an animal to swing on. As well as the actual train there are a total of three animals that can be played with either with the train or on their own.
Although these animals are a little cartoon-like they are instantly recognisable (as long as your child has seen pictures of them before). There is a giraffe, who is fully poseable with all his limbs and his neck making a very satisfying clicking sound as they are moved. The giraffe also has a lot of different textures for baby to discover, with raised bumps on his neck and legs and then a different texture on each of his feet. I will say though that at 25cm tall he is again possibly a little too large for younger babies, which is a shame as they would have loved the way he rattles.
The next animal is a blue elephant, this animal is a much better size for younger babies and again he is fully poseable with clicking sounds and different textures to explore. The final animal is a small monkey, who swings from the bar in the last compartment. The monkey is much smaller than the other animals and far less interesting (to me at least), his limbs cannot be moved and he doesn't click, but he does rattle and his tail is a nice texture to chew on.
As I stated at the beginning of this review this is a noisy toy, and specifically it is one that plays of five different songs, or animal noises depending on which button is pressed. The battery compartment is securely hidden behind a screw fastened enclosure and this toy requires a total of three size C batteries which are not included. We are still on the first set of batteries though with extensive use over the last three months. There is an on/off switch on the underside of the engine, and this switch also allows you to set the sound to full or half volume. I will warn you though that even at half volume the songs will soon start to melt your brain. There are days where I start to feel as if I hear that "All aboard..." one more time then I'm going to need to call out the men in white coats.
All of the different sounds are easy to activate, the green funnel sets off the "All aboard..." song, while a yellow button sets off the different animal noises. Then placing an animal in the engine (or pressing on the platform) sets off yet more songs. While the songs are sung in a clear voice (there's no mistaking what's being said), I am slightly disappointed in some of the pronunciation, which is distinctly American (especially zebra). At the lower volume the songs are still loud enough to drown out the TV, and at the higher volume they are loud enough to be heard in another room though a closed door.
As well as playing tunes the train can be set to either stay still or move along the floor. Or it's supposed to be able to move, ours does occasionally struggle it's way along the carpet (which is in no way deep pile), but more often than not it just sits where it is. I don't know if that's because Freddy has somehow broken the mechanism or because ours is faulty, but I do find this disappointing from what I'd always thought of as a manufacturer of quality children's toys. When the train does decide to move, it's at a very sedate rate meaning that it never quite gets out of reach.
In the main part I would say that the train is quite well made and reasonably durable, that is of course barring the movement. It has been thrown around the room, chewed on and even tripped over without falling to pieces. I'm not too keen on the stickers adorning the sides though, these are already peeling. All-in-all as a parent I would give this train three stars out of five. As far as I'm concerned it's far too noisy (even at half volume), the songs just grate and the lack of movement is a disappointment, but I do think the animals are nice. But it's not just my opinion that counts is it?
==The Elephant Is Big...==
...the monkey's kinda small. Sorry, I told you those songs turn your brain to mush, didn't I? Freddy received this train as a present on Christmas day when he was nine months old and has played with it daily for the last (almost) three months. So it's safe to say that much as it zombifies me, Freddy loves it. Freddy finds it easy to lift the animals out of the carriages and loves to play with them on their own. He loves to make the animals legs click, and explore the different textures with his hands and mouth. In fact he's currently sat beside me thoroughly exploring the elephants ears.
Although he has tried to get into the trains battery compartment, he hasn't succeeded so far, meaning that I've no worries that he's going to be able to chew on batteries. Although Freddy is very good at pressing switches, he is unable to actually operating the volume control, meaning that he can't turn it up to top volume on his own (which can only be good). But this also means that he can't switch the train on, which does lead to a little frustration. Once the train is switched on, Freddy has no problem operating the different buttons and in fact picked up what did what very quickly (within five minutes). Freddy does particularly like to press on the platform in the engine and set those songs off, so much so that I do know those songs by heart. But even though the songs liquefy my brain, Freddy loves them and is starting to make attempts at singing along.
On the rare occasion that the engine decides that it's actually going to move, I must say that Freddy starts to look a little confused. Neither of us have really worked out what it is that makes the engine move, and Freddy can sometimes be seen trying to work out why the engine moves sometimes and then at other times doesn't.
This train is a toy that Freddy will pull out of the toy box to play with at least once a day and he will then play with it for extended periods. Even though he's quite lazy when it comes to crawling, the train is a toy that Freddy will make the effort to get to. Which I suppose says it all, I may at times want to throw this toy out of the window, but I'm pretty sure that Freddy would give it five out of five.
==The Learning Train==
I've said this before and I've no doubt I'll say it again, but no matter what toys you give your child or young baby they will develop new skills as they play. For all I moan, this train does actually provide quite a few different learning opportunities for your child, starting with the obvious of helping them improve their fine motor skills as the press on buttons, twiddle beads and ping the bird. Understanding of cause and effect is also encouraged as your child learns that placing an animal in the engine will cause a song to play and (if they're lucky) the train to move. The animals also encourage your child to use their hands and mouths to explore different textures and again encourage hand-eye coordination.
While the songs are highly irritating and the pronunciation not exactly what I would have liked, they do seem to be quite educational in their own way. There's a song about which climate animals prefer, polar bears like the cold don't you know. Then there's another about what colour animals are and one comparing sizes. Not that my little man is really old enough to actually understand these songs, but I'm sure he'll start to take more notice soon. The animals are also great for helping talk to your child about different animals. We're planning to take Freddy to the zoo for his birthday, so I've been talking to him about what animals we're going to see and what noises they make using these as props. It particularly helpful that there is a giraffe and elephant as we will be feeding these (fingers crossed).
As to the recommended age range, well I've already stated that I think the majority of this toy is too large for babies of six months. Personally I would say nine to ten months is a more realistic lower age range. As to the upper range, well while I'm sure that a three year old would play with this and possibly learn from it, I'm not sure that they would appreciate being given a 'baby toy' as a present. Personally I wouldn't buy this for a child over the age of two as the life-span would be severely limited.
As far as making a recommendation goes I'm finding myself in a bit of a quandary. On one hand this toy incorporates everything I really hate about electronic baby toys. It's loud with an American voice and the songs really do start to grate after only a few minutes, but at the same time I think the animals that come with it are fantastic. Personally I really don't think it's worth the £32.99 that Amazon are asking for it and there's no way I would have bought it. But at the same time, Freddy adores it and there are days when he's seems totally obsessed and will play with it almost constantly (which is probably why I hate the songs so much), so in that context it's worth every penny that Nana spent. So am I recommending the Fisher Price Amazing Sounds Animal Coo Choo Train? Well I suppose I am, but I would also recommend that you either buy it for a child you don't actually live with, or you buy it to keep at a house that you visit so that you don't have to listen to the songs daily for hours at a time. As for the star rating, well as I said I'd give it three stars out of five, but Freddy would probably give it five. So I'm going to split the difference and give it four stars out of five.
Summary: Loved by babies but will turn adult's brains to mush
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