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Despite being a huge Brio fan, there are some things that even their seemingly perfect design quality doesn't get spot on each time, even if it's only in comparing the levels of design quality from one part of a product to the next. Simple train track parts are never in question for me, the company clearly has the edge when it comes to this sort of thing, and has done since its creation in 1958 as the first wooden train set makers.
Looking at the track element of this product of Brio, there's nothing wrong, as you'd expect. It's a train shed designed to house two trains, and to this purpose it has a connector to lead onto a single piece of track, but itself it splits into two tracks to accommodate a train going either to the left shed or the right. The parts where the tracks cross over are expertly finished, and the quality of wood design here is unquestionable. It's treated so that if it gets damp or a bit battered it'll hold its shape perfectly, and this is a godsend when you have small children who seem to think that train tracks should grow wings or be subjected to giants trampling the tracks from time to time; similarly, creating underwater tracks is an option that has been pursued, followed by quick dissuasion. Each time the tracks have held up.
No, I can't question the quality of design of the track element. It's where the housing shed comes into play that I must confess to being a little picky. The sides and back of the shed seem rather light and flimsy compared with the sturdy track, prompting me to warn about taking extra care. This hasn't always been done, and although the shed hasn't broken I feel like it could at any time. The roof is on securely enough, but the whole thing seems substantially less stable than some other construction and building parts that Brio have produced. I'm sure it probably still ranks up there highly with quality of design when compared to other producers of train tracks and accessories, but this is something that does niggle somewhat with this particular product.
Worse than this though is the design on the side - a few grey brick shapes and a couple of windows are all the decoration that has been used, other than the treated wood element as with the tracks. It just looks out of place as if someone has half finished and it was taken away as a completed design by error and now it's made they can't backtrack and recall it for a simple decorative reason. I'm sure this isn't the case, but it does make me wonder sometimes. The roof is a vibrant red, again very simple and stark in colour contrast to the base and walls, and it seems a bit lesser in quality because of it. There are other Brio products with more intricacy in their design and I like this. I think that they've gone to the trouble of making the best quality of wooden track, and then placed something that looks cheaper and tackier on top of it, and charged a lot more for it.
Essentially, this is a single long piece of two split track, with a below par shed placed on top of it. However, the price can rocket with Brio products when compared to other brands, and this is certainly no exception. It seems hard to find at the moment, although some sites seem to be suggesting paying in the region of £15 for it, a price I can't honestly say I'd be willing to pay for what seems like an inferior product when you look at some of the high quality the brand has produced. Brio prices are high in general, but there is usually justification for it. Here, we have a top quality piece of track with a poor shed on top and an over inflated price for it. I'd still recommend ay Brio piece, but only at the right price, and this just doesn't seem to be the case here. You'll still get Brio quality on the track, but overall this was disappointing in terms of value.
Let your train recover in the engine shed after a day of hard work on the tracks.Warning - not suitable for children under 3 years. Age range: From 3 years.