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My 4 year old boy is Thomas the tank engine crazy every toy he has loved in the last 3 years have been Thomas and it looks like this little engine will have a strong presence in our house for the next few years as now my youngest boy who is 18 months old is also becoming a big Thomas fan.
I will review each set of toys in the order we brought them and the first collection we decided to purchase for Connor was the track master range. These Thomas sets are motorised and this is why we initially brought these although the more expensive of the toys available we thought our son would love seeing his favourite engines working there way around the track by themselves.
There are many track master engines available and the amount keeps growing each time they bring out a new Thomas film the characters become available to buy and at anywhere from £10-£14 each they are not cheap. You can buy track master train tracks which these engines chug along but they also work on level flooring so there is no need for a track although I would recommend it as the joy little ones have is endless.
Tracks in track master range vary in price from a start up pack of £9.99 up to around £79.99 and are made of very durable plastic we brought our first set over 3 years ago and the track and engines are still going strong no signs of wear or tear. All the tracks fit together from each train set which is great as it means you can use all the pieces to make 1 big track and little one can have fun swapping and changing there track. There has only been one so far that we found did not fit with the rest of the pieces and that is the loco logging set these are numbered and can only be used for that particular train track.
As my son grew older he got frustrated by the engines moving by themselves and wanted to control them himself so he has now moved on to take and play sets. These are train tracks that are already made up and are not able to be dismantled. Again made of very durable plastic they are perfect as they unfold into full train tracks but they also fold down so that they can be stored and transported easily. These vary in price also starting from around £19.99 and each train set is based on the places on the island of Sodor eg cranky at the docks, diesels steam works. Most of these take and play sets can attach to each other meaning you can make a bigger fully track with lots of different places for the engines to go which I think is perfect and that makes take and play my personal favourite.
The engines that are used on take and play are smaller metal engines that have magnets at each end so that they can couple up to each other. They are very durable and just like track master engines there seem to be a never ending trail of engines appearing on the market and each one retails at around £5.99.
I have found all Thomas toys to be very durable from trains to train tracks , ride on's to remote control Thomas this little engine is very popular among young boys but it comes at a price. The toys can be very expensive but for once we are not just paying for a name as all the toys we have purchased so far have lasted brilliantly no signs of wear and they are now being used by my 2 boys and hopefully for many years to come. With no small parts they can be used from a very young age and at 4 and a half my eldest boy still loves his train tracks even after 3 years of playing with them so the novelty does not wear off. I would highly recommend any Thomas toy to any parent although it is costly to have a Thomas fan for a little boy the joy of seeing them use those toys over and over again is worth it.
Thomas the tank engine is very well loved in our home and we have quite a wide variety of toys related to Thomas. I would say that the most played with are the take and play sets, although these seem wuite expensive i believe they are well worth the money. Always keep a look out on the Asda website as they have some great offers on regularly. I most definitely recommend the take and play Tidmouth sheds as this has given both my children hours and hours of entertainment. I bought this for £25 for my daughters 3rd birthday and my 1yr old loves it just as much. The trains that you buy for it are the small ones with the magnets on them, these can also be used on the wooden tracks and are the most reasonably priced.
Another item that is good value for money is the Thomas first remote control train. Its great for little hands and very easy to use. It also plays the thomas theme tune as it goes around the floor.
If you are collecting the magnet thomas and friend trains then i suggest buying the thomas carry case which i bought from toys r us for £9.99. This is great when visiting grandparents or going to restaurants as all the little trains fit in and is easy to carry around.
Although the Thomas toy sets are expensive i believe that they are still great value for money as they are used nearly every day by my children and its probably the only thing that they will play with together without arguing!
Always keep an eye out for sales in the big supermarkets as this is where you can get some great bargains, i have also found that any garden centres that have minature railways usually sell thomas toys are reasonable prices.
Our nursery are regular visitors to Thomas Land at Drayton Manor Park and as a result the children all have a thing about anything Thomas so on our last visit we decided to purchase them there own Thomas train set with bridges, mines, train station, train shed, speaker and of course all the Thomas Trains and The Fat Controllers Car it cost around £300 for all the parts we purchased but it has been proved to be money well spent.
The trains cost around £10-£15 each and the track and other parts were varying prices they are all wooden and well made. the train track has train track print on one side and a road on the other so the children can make a road for the fat controller to go along and a track for the trains.
Each wooden train has the trains name printed underneath, which is handy for me I am still not 100% on who is who when it comes to naming the trains though the children all though.
As it is a wooden track we have to supervise it we had one piece broken within a week which does not go down well as I am sure you can guess when it has cost so much to buy.
The train track is smooth and so we have no worries of splinters occuring and it fits together really well good for small hands as well as adult hands. Our track attaches to the mine where the children can push the train up and through the mine shaft. We also have a bridge which makes a choo choo noise each time the trains goes through. We have Knapford Station for the trains to stop at they can't pick up passengers because our trains have no room for them put the children pretend anyway. We also have a speaker for at the station which the children can press and speak theough. We have the clock tower with a winding clock which says 3 phrases in English and German which amuses the children when someone flicks the switch and the German comes out instead of English.
Overall my experience of Thomas toys is that they are good for keeping children entertained but the wooden version is definately very expensive if you want a decent sized track to play with and because it is wood you do have to be careful with the track as it can be easily broken, especially when it is played with by many children.
For some children in the group the Thomas toys help them not only with there social skills as they play with others but also with their problem solving skills as they learn to fix a track which will work. They also have the opportunity to learn colours and numbers as well through the trains themselves.
I will give Thomas Toys a 4 as I do feel that it can get expensive if you want a really good set. We are off to Thomas Land again at Christmas so no doubt the nursry purse will be open again.
Thomas the Tank Engine is a very popular character and has been for decades. He is no less popular with my children, I think it's the friendly face that he has, as a result we have been pestered into buying some Thomas the Tank Engine toys.
I was reluctant to buy any Thomas the Tank Engine toys as I've never been very impressed with them before. My children pestered me into buying them a Thomas the Tank Engine & Cranky Coal Loader.
At just short of £45.00 I was expecting a decent toy that would last very well, that would hold their interest and that they would return to time and time again.
When I opened the box, I found adequate instructions but I found it quite difficult to construct (I'm used to constructing furniture and toys and do both regularly). The problem was that I found some of the parts looked very similar and would fit in another space but the whole thing wouldn't work in the end.
Once I'd (eventually) managed to construct the toy I showed my children how it worked. You set the engine at the top and turned it on, the engine went around the track dropped off it's load picked up a new one, dropped that off and the crane takes it back to the start to meet the engine there. I may not have got that 100% in the correct order but I wasn't exactly captivated, my sons both were... for about five minutes. After five minutes they had lost interest. They have asked for it from time to time since but as you can't do anything else with the track, like push the engines about etc. then they still lose interest in it very quickly. I am getting quicker at building it but it still takes me longer to build it than it takes for them to lose interest in it. It's been consigned to the back of the cupboard and is just waiting for the next charity shop run.
Cost per use: just over £8.00. This toy is definitely not worth it's hefty price tag.
Thomas - Surprise Action Playset
My little boy was 21 months when we got him this for Christmas and he really liked it. It was a toy he could play with on his own without too much help from an adult once it had been set up.
We bought it in the Mothercare sale for £15.99 (full price £29.99) and it is suitable for 18 months onwards.
It is billed as an ideal first playset for Thomas fans (probably before they move on to the wooden railway).
It is basically a plastic, figure of 8 track with additional features. It is magnetic so when the child pushes Thomas around, various things happen. There is a level crossing with barriers that go up and down, a railway bridge that Thomas can go over or opens to push him through and a signal that goes up and down. There is a also a hopper that will drop cargo into the truck as Thomas pulls it around. A station takes two AA batteries and will make the signal flash red and green as Thomas approaches. The Thomas theme tune can also be played.
Thankfully it is very easy to assemble for adults and is quite durable. It isn't too big either (I'm guessing about 50 cms long and 30 cms wide) so children can easily reach across it. My little boy is happy pushing Thomas around the track, which he stays on quite well. He can play without the lights as all the magnetic bits work.
Well worth what we paid for it but not the full price. Good idea for any little Thomas fan.
Thomas the Tank Engine is very popular in our house with my 2 and 4 year old boys. The main toy we have is the large plastic train track with road and many trains. This is my 4 year olds absolute favourite toy. It is played with more than any other toy, and would be out every day if my son had his way.
This toy is durable, fun, bright and colourful. It can be used to make small tracks, or one large track with a road. You can follow the instructions to copy a track or you can make up your own design. There is a bridge that can be built too, which smaller children woud need help with and can get knocked down easily.
The train & truck connectors on some of our trains have snapped due to over playing and being dropped, which means the train can't now pull a truck or carriage. this is annoying but the train still works.
I will say that we do not have batteries in the trains as this causes too much conflict, because it is played with so much the batteries would not last, so we made the decision to not have batteries in the trains, this has resulted in my son playing better with it and not so many arguments about the batteries running out.
Overall I feel that Thomas the Tank Engine toys and stories are lovely. They promote good caring behaviour in stories and the ways the toys can be played with include, sharing, colours, numbers, spelling, fine & gross motor skills, memory skills (the names of the trains!!) building, problem solving & puzzles, taking care of things, collecting and imaginative play.
There are so many different toys available and for different ages, I think it is a lovely toy/range of toys/interest. Although, probably more boys than girls are interested in Thomas, there are girl trains to collect too!
It is quite an expensive toy, but it is definitely worth it simply due to the amount of hours it is played with.
There are a vast amount of Thomas toys out to buy for your young children and knowing what will be the most loved is hard to guess. With the prices so high its nice to know exactly which one is worth buying and which are worth leaving.
I found the ones that my son enjoyed the most were the wooden train tracks that come with the magnetic trains. Although they are expensive you can buy the simple figure of 8 track and a few trains to go on it and that should provide plenty of fun. I would also suggest keeping the box and its always easier to put it all back in one easy to find place. If you do go for this option its worth looking for the Thomas Storage train where you can store all the magnetic trains you buy in small compartments. Also the Thomas Sit and Ride is another favourite and lasts so it can be recycled for the next baby.
If you are after Thomas clothes or PJ's I would suggest waiting until Sainsburys or Tesco have one of their 20% or 25% off days and stock up! Another place we found good was the Severn Valley Railway, they sell some clothes and toys at their stations for a decent price and the clothes are stuff you cant find in the shops. If your not concerned about buying second hand ebay can also do some great deals on the toys, just give them a clean when they arrive and they will be good as new.
The one toy my son did get that I wouldn't personally recommend was the Thomas and Toby train and road set, I think its about £60 in the shops and when set up it takes up all of our dining room. We have had it 2years and only set it up twice, a lot of money to spend on something that can't be used all the time.
Look out for the Talking Thomas and the Whistle and Go Thomas. Again 2 great buys. We exhausted the batteries on both. But I would avoid the Construction Thomas I think its called, the one that you have to build up. I found the children do not want to take time building it up they just want to play with it straight away!
Thomas DVD's are very expensive and I always found it cheaper to buy the Children's Favourites selections that they sell in supermarkets. They have episodes of different TV programmes like Thomas the Tank, Fireman Sam, Pingu, Angelina Ballerina, Barney and many more.
Overall I found Thomas toys to be like the Thomas character, age defying but they can cost a pretty penny.
My little boy is 19 months old and he has just started getting into Thomas - but he is into it in a big way! We have a couple of DVDs which he loves - he points at the TV and says 'choo choo' when he wants to watch them. He has some books - his favourite one is a 'word book' - where all the different items on each page are labelled to try and encourage children to learn the names / words for them. He loves to look through this book to find the toilet in the fat controllers house!
But, by far the best Thomas toys we have are the James and Percy toys. These are relatively small trains which you can pull back and set them off across the floor. They also fit on Brio (or other wooden) train tracks - although they are bigger than the normal trains for these sets. My little boy will play with these for hours. They were a Christmas present and I can honestly say that he has played with them every day since Christmas.
I would definitely recommend these for any other train-mad little toddler - we have had hours of fun from them already.
Thomas the Tank Engine is a firm favourite in our household. So much so, that fourth Little HonestBob is a 'Henry the green engine'! After telling a bedtime Thomas story one night we suggested that Littlest HonestBob number two help us name the baby boy Mummy was carrying in her tummy. Number two had a Thomas the Tank Engine duvet cover at the time (and curtains, and bin and lampshade.....) and instantly selected 'Percy' as a suitable name. Hmmmmmmmmmm, not keen on that one!! As Percy is a green engine we persuaded number two that the baby could be named after another, bigger, green engine, and 'Henry' was selected. Nine years later and Number four and number two get along fairly well and Thomas is still going strong in our house, only it's number five that's an addict now (I'm considering giving up on names and just numbering them in future!).
Over the years we have collected numerous Thomas the Tank items. We still have the duvet set (It's a 'spare' now, but still holds its colours after 12 years or so) and some wooden trains, plus the books of course, but the firm favourite among my boys (and occasionally the girls) has to be the die cast models of the various engines in the Thomas the Tank series.
The models are priced individually from around £4.25 for Thomas and the other smaller engines and increase in price to around £5.45 for the larger engines. We built our collection over a few years with engines being bought for Birthdays and Christmas, plus the boys also saved their pocket money for a desired engine and I sometimes bought the models instead of Easter Eggs (the kidlets get way too much chocolate!). We keep our engines in a large plastic box, but there is a 3D Take along Thomas carrycase available (£14.99 from Woolworths) which holds around 18 engines and carriages tidily.
The metal die cast models are ideal for little hands and are very durable. After approximately 12 years the paint of some of our models is chipped due to the number of crashes that they have endured, but we've never lost a wheel or had any parts broke despite some pretty spectacular pile ups. It's fantastic that such a pocket-money priced toy can be handed down through the children and the collection added to over the years. Whilst researching for this view I've come across an engine I've not seen before, 'Fearless Freddie', it's a must-buy for this household as guess what Littlest HonestBob is called........!
I started buying these toys for my son when he was 18months (now 5) Have built up quite a big coollection and he still enjoys playing with them now. The set and trains are quite expensive (trains from £6.99) but they are made to last and need no batteries so probably work out better value than most of his other toys in the long run.
We built up the set gradually with extra track and trains at birthdays and christmases etc so it now takes up a lot of room when built, but the wooden track is simple to put together that my son can do it himself. It provides hours of entertainment with cranky the crane lifting cargo from one trailer to another and bridges and tunnels. He is not as thomas obsessed as he once was but still enjoys playing with it all the same.
Can't find a bad word to say about this set and would call it a definate investment buy. Hours of entertainment which helps his concentration too.
I Collect the Thomas & Friends wooden set by learning curve and I really rate it.
I am an early years practitioner (Registered Support Childminder) with lots of experience in the Early Years. I love trying out and buying new toys for my setting. This thomas set has grown from a basic set to a full board set that fits in my childrens rest room under cot and comprises bridges, working water fill tower, Cranky the crane also working, various track pieces, conductors shed, windmill, station and various trains including: Thomas, Percy, James and lady. Newer models include Daisy the passenger Diesel engine, lights and sounds Thomas and a new set where young thomas fans can get airborne called Jeremy and the Airfields set which includes an airplane hangar with removeable roof, fold-up runway and a stop-and-go station.
It is mostly wooden built from North American hard maple and very hard wearing but it is expensive 1 piece e.g Conductor's Shed cost £11.00(toymaster), water tower £15.00, Crane £15.00, full sets between £20.00-£100 trains are between £8 - £15 some are battery operated and some you just push round the track. Alhough they are expensive they are very well made and you can just keep adding too as I have done.
Thomas and Friends by learning curve is stocked at all toymaster stores, early learning centre and You can also buy it on line.
I think it is worth splashing out on has it keeps your little ones busy for ages, it also encourages small world role play. It is suitable for ages 3+.
I love watching the battery operated trains going round there is something really relaxing about it.
Thank's for reading may also be posted on other review sites.
A very warm welcome to all Thomas friends!!!
I've got a little boy age 5 who is very fascinated by Thomas the tanks engine and all his friends (made by Tommy).
********How it started. ******
About 4 years ago my husband and me was visiting my husband nephew. They have some Thomas toys for sale (and if I remember right it was Thomas medium set and some trains). Therefore, we sad why not and we did.
In addition, since that day my son is just mad on anything to do with Thomas the tank engine and his friends. He plays with toys, ride Thomas bike, and scooter, wears only Thomas cloths, eats from Thomas plate with Thomas knife, fork and spoon. But the biggest adventure with Thomas for our family is to spend our holidays around steam railway where Thomas visits (what normal cold "days out with Thomas the tank engine and his friends").
The big collection:
1. *Thomas the tank engine* -It is a small blue tank engine with number one on it. He has six small wheels, a short stumpy funnel, a short stumpy boiler and dome. He shunts coaches for big engines and he has own branch line.
In the box you will find - Thomas with Annie and Cralabel.
2. * Edward* - It is an old tender engine. He is blue with number two on it. He is kind to trucks and coaches, which he almost never bumps. He has four small wheels and four big ones.
The engine comes with tender, carriage and troublesome truck.
3. *Henry* - green tender engine with number three on it. He has six wheels and he can pull coaches and trucks.
The engine comes with tender and two carriages.
4. *Gordon* - it is big blue express engine with number four on it. He has six big wheels and he can pill big express and the trucks.
Comes with tender and coach.
5. *James* -it is red tender engine with number five on it. He has six big wheels and pulls coaches and trucks.
The engine comes with tender and freight car, and caboose.
6. *Percy*- it is little green tank engine with number six on it. He is very cheeky and he loves playing tricks on the other engines. He has four big wheels.
The engine Comes with fuel car, and Sodor mail coach.
7. *Toby* -it is a brown tram engine with number seven on it. He loves people and is always happy when he could help them. He has cowcatchers and side plates.
The engine Comes with Troublesome Truck, and Henrietta.
8. *Duck* - green pannier engine with number eight on it. He is the Great Western Engine. He is propel names is Montague but everyone call him Duck because he waddle.
The engine Comes with SC Ruffey, and Toad.
9. *Lady* - it is dark pink tank engine.
It comes with two carriages.
10. *Bill and Ben*- identical twins- are the most teasing and mischievous characters of the whole railway family.
They Comes with two cargo cars.
11. *Splatter & Dodge*- diesel engines. They Comes with carriage.
12. *Diesel*- devise diesel -black-.he likes play tricks on other engines, so no one like to work with him.
It comes with milk and fuel cargo cars.
13. *Spencer* - shine silver engine. Comes with tender and coach.
14. *Emily* - is a beautiful engine with shiny paintwork and gleaming brass fittings. It is the single Stirling engine.
Comes with tender and coach.
15. *Rosie* - it is feisty purple and white tank engine.
It comes with two cargo cars.
16. *Fearless Freddie* - it is a silver and white narrow gauge railway engine. He is fast, fun and fearless.
It comes with two carriages.
17. *Donald and Douglas* - they are black Scottish twins.
They come with tender and freight car.
18. * Busy Bee James* - it is normal James painted in bees colors.
It comes with two trucks.
19. *Duncan* - it is an orange narrow gauge train.
It comes with two freight cars.
20. *Arthur* - it is a red engine and comes with two freight cars. Has a spotless record.
21. *Rocky the crane car*
22. *Boco* - it is a green diesel engine and come with tar barrel and freight car.
23. * Dennis* - it is a grey diesel engine and comes with two troublesome truck.
24. *Diesel 10* - diesel engine with eachy on the top. It comes with two troublesome trucks.
25. *Harvey* - it is the crane engine and comes with carriage and low loader.
26. *Mavis* - it is a quarry diesel engine and comes with crane car and flat bed.
27. *Molly* - it is yellow tender engine and comes with tender and freight car...
28. *Might Mac* - it is two faces engine and come with carriage.
29. *Murdoch* - it is a gold color engine and comes with tender and boxcar.
30. *Neville* - it is black diesel engine and comes with tender and freight cars...
31. *Oliver* - it is green number eleven engine and comes with two troublesome trucks.
32. *Rusty* - it is an orange diesel engine and comes with two carriages.
33. *Salty* - it is a red diesel engine and comes with two troublesome trucks.
34. * Skarloey* it is a small red engine and comes with two carriages.
35. *Stepney*- it is a yellow engine sometimes called bluebell engine and comes with two carriages.
36. *Sir Handel* - it is a narrow gauge engine (blue) and belongs to the little railway.
37. *Arry and Bert* - two smelters diesels
38. *Daisy* - it is the diesel rail-car (green)
39. *Rheneas* - it is red narrow gauge engine with number two on it.
40. *Peter Sam* - it is green narrow gauge engine with number four on it.
All this engines are compatible with any Tommy tracks.
Price: around £11.
All Thomas toys are safe because there are no easy removable bits. They are designed very colorful with smiley warm faces. These toys are suitable from 18 months.
My son spends hours playing with them. He can remember what color, number and name is every engine. He spends hours to build the track and every time he builds, one is different.
Tommy offers big variety of tracks. In every set you will find Thomas the tank engine, some tracks and all sort so bit like stations, bridges, tunnels, buildings etc...it just depended what set you will go for.
***Thomas Ultimate set - it is a king size set for king size adventure. This set includes variety of engines (Thomas the tank with Annie and Clarabelle and Percy), cars(Elizabeth and carline),cranky the crane, Harold the helicopter, Bullstrode, 4 stations, tunnel, 2 brigades , turn table with 3 sheds and tracks and lot of bit and bobs. The price of this set is very risible at toys r us £59.99 and suitable for 3+...
***Thomas medium set at £14.99 and include Thomas the tank. One station, one bridge and some tracks
***Thomas steam along set-this is a 60th anniversary edition. This set includes Thomas with real stem effect Maithwaite Station, bridge, tunnel and some tracks. £24.99
***Thomas Sodor Quarry Loader Set at £49.99
***Thomas Calling All Engines Set at £34.99 includes: Sodor Airport with an aeroplane, Thomas and the Troublesome Trucks, a bridge, tunnel and engine shed.
*** Thomas and Terence Deluxe Action Set-this set include Thomas the tank, Terence, Harold the helicopter. Timber yard and depot and track. £49.99
For all this set you can buy separate all sort so bits and bobs what has come each year on the market.
It is pleasure to watch my son playing with all his Thomas's friends-every day he bring his imagination a step fever-he put another station ,bridge or tunnel and change it all around.
And all that would be perfect if not the batteries!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
THOMAS TANK AQUADRAW
One of the Boy's forgotten favorites but I'm sure it'll be dragged out again soon once the novelty wears off all the Christmas stuff.
We bought this quite some time ago for the reasonable sum of £25. Is readily available from various stores but I would recommend a search online to see if you can't find a cheaper deal than the RRP of £35.
In the Thomas adorned box you will find your big aqua-draw mat with a nice blue border featuring Thomas pictures- which measures up at a fairly large size: 105x90cm. You also find a pen, Track-Roller and of course our faithful friend Thomas the Tank Engine (who needs 2x AA batteries which are NOT included)
Fill up the pen and Roller and let the fun begin, once Thomas has been switched on that is. The pen and roller are easy to open and fill, the ends unscrew and you simply fill with water and screw back on.
You (and your child) can now draw people and squiggles and print track with the roller to watch Thomas follow..is all very fun !!
Then there's a wait while it all fades away then the fun begins again.
Boy is now 4 nearly 5 and still like to play with this in different ways, Its good to draw and generally scribble on, good for practicing writing on as you can use again and again. Also good for wet hand and foot print making, good for playing ' Noughts and crosses' on too.
Plus there's the added joy of watching Thomas follow your "choo-Train-Track" whilst playing the theme tune from Thomas Tank Engine and going 'PEEP, PEEP' he also follows lines if you draw them thick enough.
A Very versatile toy indeed, with many ways to play. Suitable from a young age as only water required - just supervision for the very little 'un's as they will put the pen etc in their mouth and chew on it. Many many ways to play with the mat so still fun for older little people too and very good fun.
Our mat has got rather grubby, well it is played with on the floor and the dogs tend to walk over it and the like, but is still working and it has been in use for over a year.
A big good point is it saves my Boy from wasting LOTS of paper with drawings 'writing' and general scribbles and such. It is "Good Clean Fun" Messy Play - without the mess, worst that can happen is a soggy floor...all the drawing painting fun but none to clean up.
Highly recommend it - an Excellent Toy that will keep little ones entertained for a long time.
Thanks for reading,
Also find me on Ciao under same name.
Many years ago a young boy lay in bed at his home in Wiltshire listening to the trains of The Great Western Railway as they puffed and chuffed from Bristol to Paddington Station in London. I can imagine him lying there full of the adventure to be found in steam engines, though it was many years later when I too listened to trains passing in the night.
The boy was Wilbert Awdry, later to become the Reverend W. Awdry, the author of the first Thomas the Tank Engine Stories. I imagine that he kept those dreams to himself until his son, Christopher was ill in bed with measles in 1943. The illness was then still serious and to keep his son amused, Awdry made up stories about Thomas and his friends. He invented an island called Sodor where Thomas, a little engine with a big heart, longed to become as important as the bigger engines who hauled freight and ploughed along in all weathers. I can only guess from reading those early stories that Awdry was an exceptional father who knew that a sick child would probably identify with Thomas, the little stubby engine's hopes.
In 1945 Awdry was persuaded to put his stories into print and one of the most popular children's stories ever became a living legend, with Thomas now over sixty years old.
After twenty-six books, Rev W.Awdry felt that he could write no more and his son, Christopher, took over the authorship of the books. His own son was then the same age as he had been when his father invented Thomas and friends for him. Children loved the stories and in the 1980's Thomas and Friends was finally brought to television by Britt Allcroft, a woman of vision. Ex Beatle member Ringo Starr was the first person to narrate the series which took the UK and US by storm.
Today, Thomas is as popular as ever with merchandise selling as fast as it hits the stores. Nowadays there is a vast choice of Thomas products, from small wind-up toys, to track engines made for road and rail sets, to push-along engines for younger children. There are plenty of websites which sell Thomas merchandise and some offer both competitions and free toys to parents of a new generation of engine lovers. And why not? All children love engines, whether male or female. I would have loved a train set as a young girl, but Thomas was in his infancy as well as me. For anyone interested in the full background of the authors and the TV programmes there are many good general sites to be found on Google. My own interest was piqued when my grandson, Jack, first started taking a healthy interest in Thomas a year ago at the age of nearly two years old. I found a set of six Thomas books by the original author, Rev Wilbert Awdry in a charity shop and bought them thinking they would be a gift for when Jack was older. However, they were so appealing that I gave them to him for my daughter to read to him.
Jack's love of Thomas and friends was born and is still as strong this year, though challenged by Bob the Builder. His toys have grown with him, from those early push-along trains ideal for little hands, then to the wind-up ones, culminating in the road and rail tracks.
The original railway now has off-shoots which include a helicopter that picks up cargo and Jack's favourite, Cranky the Crane, whose ability to pick up a piece of cargo labelled "Sodor" and place it into a rail-truck has him in raptures, so much so that he couldn't even bother to unwrap his other presents until days later.
Of course he still has his favourites and he can name each one and what they do. Quite a feat since he won't be three until April. There's Thomas, naturally, Percy, Gordon, Duncan, Jack, Emily, Henry and many more, including the figure of the "fat controller", who is often put in his place.
The great thing about Thomas and friends is that children can use their imagination while playing with the figures. Jack has invented some complicated games with his characters that sometimes defy description. The magnetic sensor that allows Cranky the crane to pick up a piece of cargo and wind it up or down is teaching him basic physics. He knows that there is something special about this toy, but hasn't quite worked it out yet. By chance the swinging pendulum with the magnetic bit can also pick up small metal objects, a fact that Jack soon discovered by himself. His concentration on this one toy lasted for most of one day, with further trials the following day.
But it's not just the learning aspect that I find so delightful. He knows the songs that go with the characters and this has developed his voice and interaction with others. Mummy is allowed to sing one part, daddy another and this year his nanny was allowed to sing her bit as well. He even adopts play voices for the trains, no doubt from watching DVD's and also from his parents. He "apes" the Fat controller with a rather snooty voice, and then falls over giggling when he deliberately runs the figure over. Well, no child is perfect, thank goodness!
As I was born in an age when children had few toys and had to rely on imagination, I love to see this in my grandson. With Thomas and Friends he knows about rail travel, loading ships at the docks and carrying mail from one station to another. His vocabulary is astounding and he loves to mimic voices already. If he can't find a word to express what he wants then he looks to his parents, or the nearest adult, a sure fact that he knows where to gather facts and words. He is also intensely loyal, playing over and over again with a favourite toy while tentatively exploring a new one.
This is the real value of play. Learning new things, increasing vocabulary, instilling a sense of fun, adapting to the real world, increasing a sense of fair play and letting the imagination soar. My daughter is very intelligent, so is her husband, but sometimes Jack's leaps of logic startle them.
To me this is down to parental involvement, but also providing the means for a child to create his or her own world.
Thomas toys, books and DVD's can be found on a number of different sites. The official site
Can be found on any good search engine, but Amazon and Ebay also sell these at competitive prices. I have kept my review to general toys as the range is suitable for a variety of different ages and skill levels.
Thanks for Reading.
©Lisa Fuller January 2008.
I have a little boy and from the age of one he used to go crazy when seeing thomas on tv and then he started going crazy when he saw trains .I thought he was a bit to young for a train set and then after his second birthday at christmas we bought him a thomas train set and he loved it.we bought it from the proper modil shop near were we live and we paid about £70 for the set which i thought was a bit expensive but i thought what the hell my son will love it and thats the main thing.
When setting up it was quite fiddly because you have to be careful incase you snap the pins on the track its just asweel as his dad put it together because im quite heavy handed once it was all together it was great ive never seen my son so excited the train can go around very fast but when the train comes flying off the track it is quite hard to put it back on but after wards i thought it was worth the £70 that i paid for it.You can buy lots of add ons for these train sets but they are quite expensive i normally buy them second hand of e-bay and you can get them quite cheap.My son has now got 2 thomas train sets and i have got 3 put away for christmas.This is what i got in my train set.
thomas the tank engine
r965 train controller
c912 wall plug transformer
r602 power connecting clip
r9080 track mat