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SInce, my last review on Gordon (see last review), I have been fishing through the wooden railway box to see what other delights I can find. What have we here? Why, it is the lovely Brio steam engine, which I bought last year, when my daughter was going through her "wooden railway" phase. Our wooden railway has been growing for the last 6 years, after starting with a basic set from Ikea and progressively adding more and more bits. The wooden railway box is really popular in our house, and the Brio Steam engine is one of the newer additions to the set.
For anyone who knows anything about wooden railway sets, Brio is the top name in the category. Their track, engines and extras are superb quality and designed to be compatible with any existing wooden track you may own. The old steam engine is a combination of wood and plastic. The main section that the wheels slot onto and the cab of the engine are made from wood, whereas the body of the engine, funnel, wheels and pistons are made from plastic, although it is very hard to tell without looking very closely at the engine.
The engine has three sets of wheels: two small and one larger set which is connected to moving yellow pistons which move as you roll the train along the track. The design of the train, especially the cow catcher at the front, give the train a really American feel, and this is what appealed to me, as we had loads of old fashioned English steam trains in our collection, but nothing that looked like this.
The old steam engine gets played with a lot, along with our other toy engines and has a magnetic connector at the back which enables it to be connected to other wooden engines. This train is a leader, though, with no magnet at the front, like many wooden engines.
The engine has no batteries, and moves by being pushed along the track. Our engine has worn well over the time we have had it, and though I thought the pistons may snap off easily, it has so far remained in one piece. My daughter loved it as it was her train, although everyone takes turns playing with it. The appearance of the train certainly makes it stand out as different from the other trains we own.
At just under £5 from Amazon, this train represents really good value from the brand leader. Considering that many of the Thomas trains retail at £15, this is a good additional train for your railway collection that will not disappoint, and it's lovely bright colours are really eye catching. A super little train, well worth the money.
Why this engine
This Brio Old Steam Engine was a toy we bought for our son to go alongside his Flying Scotsman train set by the same company. We decide to buy an extra engine as he at times had problems co-ordinating the Flying Scotsman engine and tender and we thought a one piece engine maybe easier for him to play with.
What is it?
This is a wooden steam engine to complement a wooden train and track manufactured by Brio the leader in wooden trains. The train itself is a mixture of bright red and black for the engines and wheels. The pistons and funnels on the top are a bright yellow colour. One of the funnels at the top is designed so the engine can be pushed by a finger in the in it as it is an open funnel. The yellow bars on the side move as the train is pushed around the track giving the engine a wonderful realistic movement to it.
In use and opinion
My son is an active toddler and loves nothing better than running, climbing and chasing our cats. However when the train set comes out he will sit down and play with this for about half and hour which I personally find great for his attention span.
We have the Flying Scotsman train set by the same company and this is the basis for his train set and play. As we had found he got frustrated by the engine and tender coming apart on the Scotsman set we had bought this engine so it would be easier for him to couple the train up to the carriages. The engine itself fits wonderfully into his toddler handles and is very tactile for him to hold and manipulate. It is very simple for him to place the engine onto the track and hook the carriages up to the engine via the magnet system at the back. As the engine is a straightforward design he can do this without any problems at all and by himself which makes him feel quite happy and doesn't result in any frustration on his behalf. He seems to really like the fact that the yellow part the pistons I think it is and the wheels move around and he often makes sure he is not holding that part so they can move freely. The magnets on the back of the engine hold their connection well to the carriages he has and stay connected as they go up and down bridges well.
The train is very sturdy and takes the knocks and bashes it get well and still looks very new a couple of months down the line.
Learning and education value
The main leaning from this toy is the fact that it encourages imaginative play in children. My son loves pushing this around his track making various choo choo noises. He adapts his play to include items such as farm animal's trees and cars for the train to go past or occasionally to crash into on the track. I think as he gets older this will just continue to develop and he will have a few trains going round together.
Overall and recommendation
I think this is a great add on to any wooden train set and would complement any set. The classic design of the train is beautifully made and very study for little hands to hold and play with. The colourful design appears to appeal to my son and he will often lift this out of the train draw first. The engine alongside his other train bits keep him entertained and amused for a good length of time as he uses his imagination to play with it all. I would definitely recommend this to any wooden train fan whether they are a child or a grown up who loves to play as well. As with all Brio train toys they can be used with other sets to such as John Crane as most manufactures make their trains and train sets to be compatible with Brio the market leader so if you fancy adding to a different set other than a Brio one this engine would still work.
Where from and how much
We bought ours on a trip to the Railway Museum in York for just under £5 you can buy it from Amazon and other retailers for about £4.99
Push-along engine with moving pistons. Length 86 mm/3.4.