The Lego Cargo Train Deluxe is an expensive addition to a child's Lego collection, but a brilliant buy for birthdays, Christmas or other present-giving occasions. It's very expensive with a retail price of around £100 depending on where you buy it from. I got it from Amazon for £94 which is the best price I've ever seen for this. Usually Amazon sell it for £98, and The Lego Shop sell it for £102.75. Beware of retailers selling it for £129.99 as I've seen quite a few do. You get no more for your money by paying £30 over the retail price.
Inside the giant box, I was greeted by quite an array of bags of Lego. There were ten plastic bags full of bricks, eight of which corresponded to the various Lego models included, one which included base plates and one which included the magnet parts used for linking the models up. There were also eight instruction leaflets, which were numbered so that you know which leaflet is for which bag and model; a cardboard slip holding the motor parts and a variety of train track held together by disposable plastic pins.
I'm really glad I thought to get this lot out in advance of the grandson's fifth birthday and sort through it, else he'd have been one frustrated little boy on the day. It takes about twenty minutes just to sort out the batteries for the train motor! Not because it's particularly difficult, but because you need to keep stopping and checking the instructions to be sure that you're right. You don't want to build the train up around the motor only to realise you've put the batteries in wrong do you?!
I built up the first train carriage ready to go as soon as the grandson opened up the box. He still had seven other models to build himself, and I knew he'd appreciate being able to play with the train set straight away. It took me about half an hour to build the main train carriage at a leisurely pace, and this included the time needed to stick all of the stickers neatly and make sure the various wires were in the right places. The wires involved (for the motor and the working lights) are all covered and safe for the recommended age range of 6-12yrs, but for the younger child it's probably best to do the first model for them or with them to make sure it's all going to work right when finished.
The train track was a bit of a nuisance to sort out, as it included plastic pins holding it all together quite firmly. I had to really wrench these track pieces apart to get them off the pins, and was rather nervous that I might break the track pieces as I went. But they were fine I'm glad to report. They went together to form a track really easily, and they stay together well once on the carpet too. They don't slip and slide around coming loose like some train tracks can do when used on carpet.
Getting the train going around the track is easy, and the design is such that young children will have no trouble working it out for themselves. One button on the wireless remote control makes the train start, and increases the speed too. The opposite direction on the same button slows the train down, and the other set of buttons is for sounding the horn (the sound comes from the remote control unit, not the train) and for stopping the train. This all works seamlessly with perfect response every button press. You don't need to point or aim the remote control or anything, and it works as soon as you put the batteries in - there's no linking up or programming required. My only gripe with this is that if you make the train go above about speed five (out of seven speeds) then the train falls of the track. Perhaps this is because there is a little give where our set is on carpet, and this might not happen on a flatter surface.
Once set up and whizzing round, kids will love this little train. It really is well worth having the Lego version over buying a regular Hornby train. This has got lights that flash up as it goes, and you can control the speed as you would do with any other train set, but of course the real bonus here is the role playing aspect. The train track that this comes with has a little siding at the read, so you can divert your train off to pull over and stop. There, you can open the doors up and let your little Lego minifig driver on or off. Maybe there's his wife to jump on board with him for a little run round the track too?
Also included in the set are a large number of functioning models including a cargo carriage with sliding doors, a moving crane mounted onto a lorry that can pick things up, a little forklift truck with bottles to move around the site, an opening wagon car and a goods lorry. These models are brilliant for youngsters to build up themselves, though some will require adult assistance of course. The models all come in individual bags with corresponding instruction booklets, so little Lego fans can build them up one at a time without getting overwhelmed. Along with this you get a variety of brilliant little extras and accessories like a couple of workmen minifigs, little tools for moving the cargo around with, and of course a variety of cargo itself including bottles and crates.
There are loads of opportunities to expand on this set and to incorporate them into your existing Lego collection too. You can position your various other Lego models all around the track, so the train stops off to deliver things or pick them up. Or as the grandson likes to do, line up all the little people so they can sit watching the train go past! You can add in a train station and use the cargo carrying train as a people wagon if you want to, and you can even build in the Passenger Train set if you want to as well. But don't feel you have to buy anything else to go with this set, as it really is a complete little Lego world all on it's own. There is loads to do in just this one box.