“ Collect this great new Thomas & Friends magazine series. Each issue provides your child with hours of happy and absorbing play, encouraging imagination and creativity. „
For those of you who aren't too sure who Deagostini are, let me explain. They are the company who are behind many of the collection sets available either online or from your newagents every 2 weeks. The first issue is usually at a special price and then it's a set price for the remaining parts in the series. This can be a great way of building up a special collection for a reasonable amount every month.
Of course people would have to have lived on a remote island not to have heard of Thomas the Tank Engine who was created by the Rev. Wilbert Awdry over 60 years ago as he recovered from illness and it is 60 years ago this year that his first book was published. Many books were written and from there the short stories were televised with Ringo Starr narrating and whose voice fitted the role perfectly. Thomas toys are plentiful now as well as dvds and videos and its easy to forget that these original stories were mainly written for the pleasure of Awdry's son who ended up writing some of the later stories himself when he grew up.
***Where to get It***
We saw the Thomas set advertised on tv and because our son loves the Thomas program on ITV and already has a few of the DVDs we decided to start a subscription for it to give him as a present at a later date - he was only 2 when we started it. We looked into prices for separate pieces of track and engines and found that this was quite reasonable as Thomas sets can be very expensive especially for the more unusual pieces.
We had a look on deagostini.co.uk and decided to do it this way setting up a credit card payment for every 2 issues that was sent to us costing us £9.98 per month - there are no postal charges and you can also pay by direct debit if you prefer. The reasons we did it this way as opposed to going through our local newsagent was simple - you got more free gifts if you did it online plus it got delivered to our door.
***What You Get***
Each pack comes with a nine page magazine which features a story with pictures replacing some of the words, puzzles which encourage your child to examine the pictures to look for items and feature counting, colours etc., bits about the engine featured in that magazine and a story with pictures and words underneath so that your child can talk about what is happening with you. There are stickers too for your child to either use in the puzzle pages or separately if they want. The final part is a figure and piece of track which are made with sturdy plastic. The figures have working wheels and the track fits together jigsaw style with straight, curved and even a turntable.
The 1st issue comes with the magazine called Thomas at the Station and we get our first 2 pieces of track along with Thomas himself as well as the sticker sheet.
Issue 2 comes with Edward and track and the magazine is Thomas on the Farm and again has stickers included.
Issue 3 has Henry and track and the magazine is Thomas and his friends visit the Harbour. There is again the sticker sheet.
As this series goes on you get lots of other figures, not only engines such as Percy and Gordon but also Harold the Helicopter and Bertie the Bus as well as Mr Topham Hat himself - otherwise known as the Fat Controller. Other items you receive are tunnels, the station and water towers.
***The Free Gifts***
These are all great and you can get binders to keep the magazines in for a additional price of £5.99 if you so wish. The first binder is one of the free gifts and they are very good quality with pictures of the engines on inside and out, but you will need 3 more as the series goes on as each only holds 13 magazines. The other free gifts we got were a Thomas backpack, a special badge with a plastic pin - so no one gets stabbed - a large bright and colourful playmat for your track and figures to go on and a fabulous sturdy cardboard storage box which comes to you flatpack and is very easy to make up. I think the box is a great idea for encouraging your kids to put all the Thomas things away together. The backpack is just an ideal size for a child starting school and the playmat looks great for placing everything on. The picture above shows the mat complete with track and engines.
In this case the first issue was £1.99 followed by £4.99 for each part after that so for the whole set it's just over £255 as there are 52 issues. Seems a lot when you say it like that but we don't miss it so much when it's paid monthly and this set is produced in conjuction with Hit Entertainment who make the Thomas series.
There is a helpline number if you have any problems with any of your deliveries. We have only had to use this once as we received two of the same magazines in one go. They duly sent us a replacement and a returns label to send back the copy we didn't require without any problems.
We have only 2 more magazines to go now and we've been very impressed by the quality of both the magazines and the toy trains. We have learned about more engines than we realised existed and after taking our son to the Thomas Day Out last summer where we rode on train pulled by Thomas and Percy we have decided to give it to him for his 4th birthday.
We have decided to split this gift into 2 parts as it is a lot for someone so young so we are going to start with the box, mat, track and engines and keep the magazines and stickers for Christmas the following year. We know that he's going to love these and will get a lot of enjoyment playing with them as he already loves toy cars and has a road track which he loves to build. He also loves magazines and stickers so this should keep him amused too.
The only thing that may cause a problem is my son being pushed aside as my bloke tries to get in on the action of this set.