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My son absolutely adores Thomas the Tank. In the run up to Christmas, there was only really one thing he wanted Santa to deliver - Daring Drop! He spotted this set on an advert and fell in love with it. My sister likes to buy him something quite big for Christmas so she decided to buy this set and also bought one for her son who is 4 months younger than Boo. He was absolutely delighted to unwrap this on Christmas morning.
Age recommendation : 3 years +
This particular Trackmaster set is from the Blue Mountain Mystery series and is is full named 'Mountain Quarry - Thomas' Daring Drop!'. For those unfamiliar with Thomas merchandise, there are lots of Trackmaster sets on offer. Basically it is a train set which works with motorized engines which are bought as part of sets or as stand alone products.
Daring Drop is one of the bigger Trackmaster sets available. It is made by Fisher Price and the complete set arrives in a large, colourful box. This set requires adult assembly but doesn't require any tools to build. This particular set is said to encourage fun, creativity and to improve gross motor skills. Thomas needs to collect his rock cargo with the help of Merrick but must watch out for the drop!
This Trackmaster set has over 1.2m of blue track and has some accessories which include Merrick the Crane, a yellow alert sign and also a battery operated Thomas train complete with cargo truck. Thomas needs an AA battery to operate. The complete track measures 51 x 38.5 x 14cm.
~Price and Availability~
Daring Drop retails at £39.99. It is available online from stores including Amazon and Smyths Toys. Other online stores do have it in their catalogue but it is currently out of stock.
On Christmas morning, Daddy, Uncle Craig, Papa and Boo decided that they would build up the three new Trackmaster sets that Santa delivered. My son was particularly excited about getting this set built as he had waited so long for it. We had watched the video on Amazon for this set and it looked really cool. I think everyone wanted a try to be fair! I was pleased to see that Thomas was included in this set as the seperate trains are quite expensive.
I believe that this set came with an instruction leaflet which I would have used myself but the men decided they were going to build it without any help. This was quite funny to be honest as it is a very difficult set to put together. I believe there are around 19 pieces of track which are different lengths and a mix of curved and straight pieces. Also included are plastic rock supports for raising the track up off the floor and a few higher supports to raise the highest parts of the set up. It is important to ensure all the pieces are secured together in the right positions otherwise the set doesn't sit right at all. The boys couldn't figure out why one piece of track wouldn't attatch on anywhere but this was actually the drop track - men!
Once built up, the set does take up quite a bit of floor space. We have a toy room and keep the Trackmaster sets in there but if you are short on floor space then this set isn't for you. It is huge! The complete set looks good and different from the other Trackmaster sets as it has blue track. The rock features add something different to the set and Boo thinks it looks really cool and special. A little screwdriver is needed to insert a battery into Thomas and then the set is ready to be played with.
~Quality and Build~
I would say this set is fairly well made and features smooth pieces. The track pieces are made of durable plastic. Our set remains built all the time and I would recommend doing this if possible as rebuilding it all the time is a nightmare. I would also recommend ensuring there is enough play space round about the set as the slightest bump is enough to knock the supports out from underneath. When this happens, the tracks start to bend and eventually fall. Parts of our set have collapsed several times now and I do feel heavier based supports would make this a more sturdy set. Thomas himself is well made and looks the part. He is operated by flicking a little switch.
~Watch Out Thomas!~
Daring Drop is a fun set to play with but my 4.5yr old son has started to get a little bored of it which I didn't think would happen. As with the other Trackmaster trains, Thomas speeds quickly with a full tank (new batteries) but his tank runs low quickly and this makes it near on impossible for him to pull his cargo up the hill. It is much easier for him to run on the low built sets but he needs more power to speed around this Trackmaster set especially if he is pulling a cargo truck. My son (and myself) find it quite difficult to position some of the Trackmaster trains on this track and they seem to get stuck at certain parts of the track and need a bit of help to move on.
Thomas has different route options on this track which my son likes. He can control which way Thomas travels by flicking a little lever on the track. The shortest route takes Thomas past Merrick the Crane who is build into one of the large supports. Boo needs to flick the off switch on Thomas here to ensure he stops here. Thomas already has the cargo in his cargo truck so my son simply uses his imagination and pretends to unload/load the cargo with the help of the dangling crane. Thomas can then go on his way.
My son prefers the other route on this Trackmaster set. Thomas travels to a great height but we have noticed him getting stuck or falling off the track at the top so it is important to ensure no fingers or toes are in the vicinity as Thomas isn't exactly light! My son declares that this part of the set is like a rollercoaster and takes great pleasure in watching Thomas (or the other trains) speeding down the drop. The drop track falls with the weight of the moving train and providing that the track is in the correct position, Thomas will land safely on the blue bridge. On the occasion where our set has been moved, the drop track is sometimes out of position and this causes a major crash at the blue bridge which isn't nice and the Fat Controller (aka Boo) isn't best pleased when this happens. There isn't anything else to the set really except repeating the track process.
I feel this set is quite expensive at £39.99. Before Christmas it was reduced to £28.00 on Amazon which is a fairer price. It is a good set but not without annoying niggles. Trackmaster is an expensive way to play with trains as the trains run low on battery power very quickly. The regular Thomas trains can be used but will need to be moved manually around the track. Boo would recommend this Trackmaster set as he enjoys playing with it but it doesn't get as much love as we thought it may have given how much he asked for it before Christmas! The 'weeeeeeeeeee' from Boo as Thomas comes speeding down the drop isn't as enthusiastic as it was the week after Christmas.
Thanks for reading :)