Product Type: Golden Bear baby toys
Newest Review: ... length and looks just like you would expect Thomas the Tank Engine to look like a blue train. His main colour is blue and he has a rather ... more
A Really Noisy Engine
Golden Bear Thomas & Friends Talking Thomas
Member Name: sandemp
Golden Bear Thomas & Friends Talking Thomas
Advantages: Well made, an instant favourite, no stickers
Disadvantages: Very loud, one slightly offensive phrase
Whilst in no way the largest of the Thomas themed toys available, the Talking Thomas is still a good size at approximately six inches in length and is a good representation of the really useful engine. Thomas' body is formed of shiny plastic, with the only decoration being number one printed on his side in the form of a transfer. Thomas' face is moulded on the front and features the friendly smiling face and somewhat googly eyes that are familiar to anyone who has either read a Thomas book or watched the programme. Those eyes also move from side to side as Thomas is pushed along on his four rubber coated wheels. These wheels run easily and being covered with rubber have good traction even on smooth surfaces such as tiled or laminated floors. Thomas also has a hook on his rear, that I assume is to allow him to pull other trains in the range. While this makes an excellent push along toy for the younger fan, there is rather more to Thomas, and this more could either be considered an advantage or disadvantage depending on your point of view.
You see Thomas is an electronic toy that features a number of sounds (but no lights), the electronic dubbins that make these sounds, adds quite considerably to the Thomas' weight meaning that it is a little painful if it happens to fall on your foot. A pair of AA batteries are required to power these electronics and these batteries are hidden behind a hatch that is securely closed with a small screw. The first set of batteries are supplied and these are still going strong a week later, but it's nice to know that the hatch can be opened with a standard screwdriver, rather than requiring one of those tiny things that always get lost at the back of the drawer. There is an on/off slider switch on Thomas' base and this is stiff enough to provide a small challenge to the younger child, but there is no volume control and the sounds are loud, very loud, loud enough to be heard through a closed door.
Thomas is advertised as having seven fun phrases and a special moving noise, as a parent I wouldn't particularly call the phrases fun and in fact I have a problem with at least one of the phrases. The special moving noise is set off whenever the wheels move and it's basically the "chug chug" sound of a steam train in motion. While the sound is fairly realistic, it is set off far too easily, not only sounding when Thomas is pushed along the floor, but also if anyone happens to knock him. The seven fun phrases are activated by a cleverly disguised button on Thomas' back and each of them starts with a rather annoying "choo, choo". If you've ever watched the programme, then you'll realise that the voice sounds exactly like the narrator on the original Thomas episodes and although there is nothing to state it on the packaging, I do believe that they have either used sound-bites from the programme.
The phrases themselves are mostly fine, with such thrilling snippets as "Number One Always Comes First" and "Blue Is The Only Colour For A Really Useful Engine", to the one that really annoys me, "Wake Up Lazybones, Why Don't You Work Hard Like Me?". I don't why that phrase annoys me so much, well I do really, it's partly because I think it's a downright rude thing for anyone to say and partly because one aspect of living with Freddy is that my sleep is severely compromised and I regularly only get three to four hours sleep at night. So I suppose that it touches a bit of a raw nerve really. Rather than these phrases being randomised, they are always played in the same order, which can be quite comforting if you have a child that needs to know what is coming next.
While Thomas is considered suitable for children over the age of twelve months, at two and a half Freddy is considerably older than this minimum age, but developmentally he is probably at the bottom end of the target group. Freddy absolutely loves Thomas and has done since the moment he set eyes on him. He finds Thomas the perfect size to hold and push along the floor, and adores the sounds that are easy for him to activate. While he doesn't play with Thomas constantly, it is a toy that he will return to regularly throughout the day, playing with it for five to ten minutes up to twenty times a day. While we allow Freddy to have Thomas switched on during the day, I do have to switch him off at bedtime as Freddy insists on taking him to bed with him and the sounds are so loud that they would keep the whole house awake. I can't say that Freddy is quite as keen on Thomas when the sounds are switched off, because that would be a lie as he does sulk a little when it is switched off. But he does still play with Thomas, pushing him around his room.
Thomas has so far proved to be very durable and able to withstand Freddy's rather unorthodox play. The transfer number one on each side of Thomas' fender has proved highly resistant to Freddy's attempts at peeling it off and Thomas has survived being thrown at walls, dropped over safety gates and used as skate with only minimal cosmetic damage. When looking at how durable a toy is, if it can survive an hour with Freddy then it can mostly likely survive anything, so I would say that Thomas is tough enough to cope with any "normal" toddler.
Making a recommendation as to whether you should buy Thomas for your toddler is putting me in something of a dilemma. On one hand the sounds are very loud and there is one particular phrase that gets on my goat, but on the other hand, it is very well made, able to withstand Freddy's play technique and Freddy genuinely loves him. I guess if your child is a younger (or developmentally delayed) fan of Thomas and enjoys pressing buttons to set off sounds and you are able to cope with the very high volume that can easily drown out the television, then in most probability they will adore this. So, alls things considered, I am going to give the Thomas And Friends Talking Thomas four stars out of five, with it losing a star due to the much higher than necessary volume and the single rather irritating (and rude) phrase.
Summary: Freddy's new favourite toy