My son is a big Thomas the tank engine fan so when it came to picking a track to collect (no way we could afford more than one!) I chose the wooden railway. Once we collected a few sets and 'destinations' I started to look for extras to fill in the gaps, more junctions, straight stacks etc. This is when i found about the amazing BigJigs range! These buffers are great for a large track set up, regardless of how hard I try I always end up with dead ends! In the box you get three of each joining piece, I don't think I've had more than 3 of the same dead ends and we had a large collection!! I prefer the height of these buffers to any others I've seen, plenty big enough to stop any naughty trains on the loose! The red and white stripes are also a great educational feature while looking the part. We have track pieces from all wooden railway manufacturers and these easy join on to any of them. One of the big advantages of us collecting these is our local toy shop sells this range so we can easily pick up bits and pieces without breaking the bank. We paid about £3/4 for this pack. I find the whole range inexpensive.
This set of 6 buffers is a good accompaniment to your train track set. Our eldest, when he was more into making tracks, found that he'd end up with multiple routes and couldn't always get them to join up to each other, so he needed to end them where they were. Sure, he could have just left them open ended, but it's much better to use an end point like these buffers to indicate the track finishes deliberately there and not because there's no way of joining it to another! As with all Brio track pieces, the design here is intricate. In the pack, you get 6 buffer pieces, 3 of each of the 2 connections to allow pieces of track with either end (nobble or hole) to join on. This is important and well thought out, as you wouldn't want to worry about which piece of track you're finishing with, and it allows you to tail off wherever you are or whenever you want. The pieces with the bobble on the end may look shorter, but really they're all the same length it's just that the pieces with the hole have more track widthwise so this reflects visually on how long it looks. There's just enough room at the end of them too. Most compatible train sizes don't have an excessive amount of overhang at the end, nor do the wheels finish right at the edges very often. This means that you're unlikely to start noticing the trains coming to a stop at an awkward position on the end of the track, and in reality it doesn't really make that much difference. The designers have made sure that there's enough track without making it look like the train is short of where it ideally should be. The vertical part of the track is also a good height. In reality, train buffers are curved and designed to take impact and absorb contact if necessary, but there is obviously no such need here unless you manage to make your train go at Scalextric speed in which case it won't stay on the track anyway! Here, the vertical part is just right, firm design ensuring seamless link between it and the flat part. There's a striped red and white warning symbol on the front that is there to give some sort of indication to the theoretical driver, and this is quite a good educational point as well, teaching kids to be on the lookout for something when they see these colours together. It provides a good talking point, and shows that sometimes the simplest designs are the best. The treated wood shows in the durability of the products, and this is where I was surprised to find that this is not quite the same as the other pieces in the set we have. The vast majority is Brio, yet this is not, and I have spent a long time thinking it is, mainly due to the hardwearing nature of it. Bigjigs train track pieces are compatible with Brio, which is something certainly worth knowing. As a train buffer, you'd imagine that this buffer certainly gets more bashing than many of the other pieces, and the buffers have held together well under some intense and devastating train crashes. The red and white symbols have stayed surprisingly intact, showing only the occasional slightest bit of wear and tear, but other than this, you wouldn't notice much difference between old and new. The educational benefits of having quality toys to play with are so important. There's nothing worse than seeing a disillusioned child giving up on an inferior toy that doesn't do what it possibly should, and there's no danger of it happening with this. The design and finish are top notch, and although this is usually reflected in the price, I genuinely think that some things are worth paying for. These Bigjigs pieces come in at a cheaper price than Brio, the leaders in quality design for wooden train tracks, but the tracks are compatible and I was actually surprised to find that these are not Brio, such is the quality. We were lucky enough to acquire the vast majority of our track pieces at a car boot sale for a real bargain, but anything we have bought subsequently or any money others have spent on adding to the set has been worth it in terms of value for the track pieces. Highly recommended.
As you have probably gathered by now, Little Man is a trainaholic! As he gets older he has become quite interested in how trains work, and especially how they run on tracks. He loves signals, points, buffers and turntables as much as he likes trains, however these are not as easy to buy for him in toy form as actual trains! When he started at big school he came out all excited because the wooden train set had buffers and apparently we had to get some for his set at home.... After looking on ebay I found that the brio buffers were going for silly money, which I would have paid had I not found any. Luckily near Little Man's school there is an independent department store which I didn't even know existed which had a huge toy department which included a range of wooden trains called Bigjigs. I had never even heard of them, but they had a fantastic range of Brio compatible wooden trains, tracks and accessories for about half the price. Among them was a set of 6 wooden buffers for a Bargain £2.99! In the pack you get 6 wooden buffers which are just over 4 centimetres long, and are painted with red and white warning stripes so you trains know they need to stop. You get 3 each of male and female attachments - that is 3 with a hole and three with the rounded attachment that fit into the hole, so that you can put buffers at either end of your track. They are chunky L shaped buffers, and are well put together. They have survived 6 months of rough handling from Little Man, including being thrown and having various trains rammed into them at speed without suffering so much as a scratch to the paintwork. He absolutely loves these, often having several branches of track ending in a buffer as he cannot bear to see an unended piece of track - this means we can move on from circles and ovals! I am really pleased with these buffers - I was a bit concerned that for £2.99 they would not be as good quality as some of the named brands, but this is definitely not the case. We have since added several Bigjigs train accessories to our collection and I honestly couldn't tell you which piece is from which brand. Wooden trains can be so expensive, and I would really recommend this range to extend your collection without blowing the budget - Santa has a few bits from Bigjigs in his sleigh this year! They are fully compatible with all other brands of wooden tracks and trains including Brio, Thomas, Universe of Imagination and ELC. We got ours from Johns Sanders of Ruislip but you can find them at various online retailers including Amazon Marketplace
BigJigs buffers - pack of 6.