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This neat little garden toy costs around the £25-£30 mark, is easily assembled and comes with several accessories. As well as having seperate compartments for sand and water for your small child to play with, it also comes complete with two plastic trains, a working Cranky The Crane with a bucket you can wind up and down and a Windmill that spins when you pour water through it. It also has a lid that goes over the top of the table to save the sand from geting wet in bad weather and sits nicely in the corner of most reasonably sized gardens.
The Thomas theme is a real winner (who doesn't like Thomas?) and as soon as we bought this last year, my daughter couldn't wait to play with it. She didn't quite grasp the concept of sand staying in one half and water the other so we kind of ended up with a kind of slurry or quicksand in both halves of the table but it helped keep her quiet for half an hour or more and that was the main thing. Her favourite bit is playing with Cranky though, as she tells me repeatedly, "it's not the real Cranky, Daddy...it's just pretend!" A track runs around the outside of the table and this is essentially so that you can run the two trains you get with it around in pretend play.
My problem is that I don't think it is paticulary well designed. It has two plugs in either side to stop leakage and these don't always fit as well after they have been removed a few times. The two trains are just plastic shells and neither look that great or really do a lot and the lid doesn't fit as tight or snugly as I might have liked. I found, in some of the bad winds we have had, that I needed to weigh it down with something to prevent all the sand getting blown away or ruined more than my daughter has already tried to do.
It is good, but it is not brilliant and I do think it is a little bit pricey for what it is but understand the price leaps up a bit for the Thomas design. My daughter likes it, especially as she has now got to the stage where she is obsessed with playing with water and you can buy sand for it really cheaply in Tesco!
Overall, this is an okay product and your young child will have lots of fun with it but, from an adults perspective, this really isn't the greatest. I am sure there are probably better water tables out there that are slightly better designed and look a bit better but if your child likes everything Thomas then they are going to be made up with this!
Last year my fiancé finally finished the garden he had wrecked and promised to make into great things. It took him three years and my nagging to get it done but he did. Once my son started toddling I put more pressure on him to get it done and it worked! Once it was done and made safe for my little guy I began looking for things for him to have outside in the garden. I wanted to get him the usually things a bike, a slide, a seesaw, a sand pit etc. So I began looking on the trusty website of Toys R Us and came across the Thomas and friends sand and water table. We do have plans to build a sandpit within our garden but I guess I will have to wait a while longer for that one so I thought for the time being it would be quite fun and after we could use it just as a water table.
On immediately coming across this product I liked the look of it. It looked good fun and I liked the fact it would be as much fun used as a water table then as a sand table. As my son was just two at the time and I had another son who was six months old I thought it being a table would eventually encourage my youngest to join his brother standing at the table. I liked it came with some fun bits to use rather than just your usually spade and bucket. I could see my son would have plenty of fun playing with this.
The sand and water table is on the smallish size but there is plenty of room for two small boys to get round it. It measures about 75cms by 53cms and the main section is split into two allowing you to have water in one side and sand in the other. It stands about 77cms in height so is perfect for a young child to stand at. My eldest son is now three years old and it is a perfect height for him.
On arrival the table came with its legs unattached and the accessories to put together. Putting the legs in was fairly easy with a little force needed and the accessories were fairly straight forward. It did come with instructions but I don't think you would really need them. There are numerous stickers to attach to the accessories and table to make it more fun looking.
As I have mentioned this table came with more than you're usually bucket and spade. There is a large crane, if you're a Thomas the tank engine fan you would recognise it as Cranky the crane from Thomas. The crane works with a small bucket on the end. This has to be my son's favourite he loves filling the bucket with sand and winding it back in. This crane sits in a round hole in the middle part of the table separating each section. It is removable for storage.
There is also a windmill to pour water through to set the sails going round. This is the one accessory I found difficult to put together. Lining the pin with the sail up to the hole and wheel inside was a little tricky and tuck time. This sits in the same type of hole as the crane but at one side of the table. A little problem we have had with the windmill is my son insists in filling it with sand instead of water blocking the sails from going round. This also can be removed for storage
At the opposite side to the windmill is meant to be some funnels. I am afraid to say this is the only part of the table that didn't make it past the first day. I will admit I didn't listen to the recommended age range on the product and my two year old was a little heavy handed on it and snapped it off. Yet again this can be removed.
As well as the three big pieces it comes with there are also two trains with a small part on the back that can hold some sand. There is a blue and a red train and these fit on the small track that runs around the edge of the table. They don't actually have wheels on them but can be easily slid round the edge. There are two small signals that hang over the track that can be moved up and down. I did remove these for a while as I didn't trust my son with them. But now he enjoys using them as his trains filled with sand move round the edge of the table. It does also come with a nice sized rack and spade to use with sand.
As much as I like many features of this product there are also like many other plastic toys these days problems with it too. As I have already mentioned my son broke the funnels on the first day of playing with it. I would say it isn't overly strong. I do put that down to me allowing my young son to use when I knew he was a little rough.
The other problem which does become annoying is the plugs in both sides of the table aren't great. The idea is good as having a plug means it should be easy to empty the table but on one side I find the plug doesn't fit properly and when I used to have water in it, it would leak and needed a bucket underneath to catch it. The other side the plug is really tight and I struggle to remove it.
Once you eventually get the plug out it does all pack up nicely. All the accessories fit nicely in the table with a nice red lid that goes on the top. The lid doesn't fit great and needs a stone to sit on top to stop it blowing off but I guess you get that with must sandpits.
The main opinion though is my sons and he loves it. He spends hours outside playing with it. He has certainly grown into it since we brought it for him. He has learnt to use the crane on his own and is learning slowly not to pour all the sand out onto the patio! The crane is by far my son's favourite as he has a similar crane indoors with his Thomas mega blok sets. I am hoping my youngest gets as much enjoyment out of it this year. Now the weather is getting warming I think it calls for a good clean and then to get it back out for them to play with.
It cost us about £30 and although there are a few problems I still think it is worth the pennies. My eldest son has had many hours of fun with it as just a water table and then just a sand table. I think it is ideal for toddlers. As for the fact it is Thomas the tank engine, I don't think you need to be a fan as any child will like the fun aspect of this product. It does recommend for three years old and above but I am glad I brought it for my son earlier as he has had so much fun from it. I think it would make a perfect accessory for your patio this spring.
We often visit W-5, a local science museum, and my youngest son (age 2) is absolutely fascinated with a simple sand table they have there, so I decided to buy this for him. I am in the process of fixing up the back garden a bit so he can get out more, even on the days I am not up to much, and this really looked the perfect addition to our outdoor toys. So last week this arrived and both boys were overjoyed.
The main part of this toy is obviously the table. This came in five pieces which snapped together in about 2 minutes. You just slide the legs into the base and you are finished. The table is divided into two sections, which each have a plug for drainage at the bottom. You can use this with water, sand, or both. As it is still sitting in our combination computer / school/ play room it only has sand - which is certainly messy enough. The outer rim of this table is a train track, and two plastic trains (Thomas and James) are included. These trains are very simple, all one piece, and the wheels do not move, but the boys have still had a good bit of fun with them. Of course the track also works for Hotwheels and other vehicles.
This set also has Cranky the Crane with a wind up bucket and a "sand and water depot". These are just two large bins which can swing over the track to pour sand or water into trains underneath. A shovel and rake are also included. My favourite bit though is the lid. This is all one piece and snugly covers this, making this into a small table the children can use for colouring or painting, or even lunches in the summer. I like this because it really should keep the neighbours cats out, as well as keeping the sand dry when not in use.
We had intended this to go right outside, but the boys were so excited when this came, and the weather was awful, so we have temporarily set this up indoors. Although they are behaving well with it, some mes is a cert, and I have had quite a bit of extra sweeping up to do. Still, the children have had such a great time, I can't really complain. Once this goes outside though, we can add water as well and this set promises to be a wonderful outdoor toy.
This sand and water table sells for about £40 on Amazon or ebay. Asda had them for £34.97, but are currently out of stock. This does put these up a bit higher then most other sand and water tables, but considering the fact that it is Thomas the Tank, and very well made, I don't think this is too unreasonable. I really do think the train track and the crane add a lot of play value, compared with other tables, but the lid being one piece was the final selling point for me as I was afraid water would leak in and fill up some of the other tables we looked at where the two parts of the lid met.
My sons are ages 2 and 6 and both of them have really had a lot of fun with this, although obviously the youngest will get the most use from it. I think both sand and water are wonderful for children to explore and have fun with, and I am very happy with this purchase. My youngest really loves Thomas the Tank and spends ages happily driving the trains around the tracks, while my oldest creates jumps for his hotwheels over the sand, and I'm sure will have his colour change cars in the water as soon as this goes outdoors. I will leave him a bucket of warm water to ladle into the water depot for warm water changes, and the cars can go into the pool section for cold water.