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Yesterday we went to railway museum, as they offer a ride on a real steam train to see Santa, and this is part of our yearly Christmas tradition. Another part of the tradition is choosing a small toy at the gift shop on the way out. Well this was £11, so a bit more than I usually spend, but it's a lovely toy and will be a brilliant addition to our wooden train set.
Brio's Flying Scotsman is not wooden like most of their items. I Was surprised to find it is mostly plastic, with the exception of the metal bases, magnets and part of the wheels. It does feel like a very strong plastic and has already had one major crash from the train table with no harm. Although I love wooden toys, I do not feel that the use of plastic has detracted from the overall quality of this toy, and can see it was likely necessary to achieve the realistic appearance of this train.
I have to admit I spotted this train first as it was hidden away behind many cheaper trains. Just a glimpse of it sticking out caught my attention, and this is instantly recognisable as The Flying Scotsman. Unfortunately it does not have the coupling rods on the wheels, nor are the large driving wheels spoked as those on the real train would be, but it does have the correct number of wheels on the engine itself. there are 3 large wheels and two small wheels. The small wheels are called the leading truck, and while they do carry some of the weight on a real train, their main purpose is to guide the train around curves and bends. On this toy however, they are purely decorative and do not actually touch the track, being suspended just above the ground. They do add to the appearance though, and this really does maintain the appearance of a real steam engine. The tender, being forced to use a standard wheel size to roll properly on brio track unfortunately has less wheels than on the real train, with only 4, or half that of the actual train, but it still looks quite nice. It bears the familiar LNER initials of the London and North Eastern Railway. The tender and engine can separate and be easily re attached just by sliding the engine over a peg on the tender.
It was my 5 year old who chose this train, and he did recognise it instantly as The Flying Scotsman. I am sure he enjoys the realistic appearance of this as he has really taken to it, and greatly prefers it over the Thomas trains already. He says he likes it because it looks real and it is fast, although in truth it is no faster than Thoma the tank.
The real Flying Scotsman was a different matter though. It was the first train to reach a confirmed 100 mph. The real 4472 engine took its name from its route, the non stop London to Edinburgh route, and it clocked in over 2,000,000 miles during it's 40 years of service before being sold for restoration in 1963. In 2004 it finally became part of the national collection, a well earned place in my opinion.
I have to admit, I love this toy. I've always loved trains. growing up I was always told toy trains were only meant for boys (rubbish I say), so having sons has given me a chance to play with the toys I never could as a child. I especially love this train because it does look like the real Flying Scotsman, and I can not look at this without thinking about railway museums. It just looks genuine. But of course what the children think is what really matters. As mentioned, my 5 year old adores this, and you could see the admiration in his eyes and he stared at this before opening the box, and then carefully removed it. My two year old has quite taken to it as well. Although he will not know what the train is meant to be, I am sure it looks familiar to him after all visits to the local transport museum, where several similar engines are on display.
I felt I should update this review after reading on the box that the train is lovingly crafted in wood. Both myself and my husband have searched all over the train for any wood, and the best we can come up with is that possibly the tender could be made of wood, with a plastic like enamel paint. There is no way anything else could be wood as you can even see the plastic edges if you look into the hole on the engine that the tender slots into. As I said, I still love this train, it has a wonderful feel and appears very authentic, but I really do not think it is made of wood, whatever the box may say.