* Prices may differ from that shown
My son has a nice collection of die cast Chuggington Engines, as well as a large interactive Chuggington Train track set. He also ended up with this Chuggington Training Yard Loop set for Christmas. This set is for the die cast trains, not the interactive trains, and the two are not compatible. I have to say though, I wish I had just stuck to the die cast from the start - although both sets have their faults. I will be comparing both sets as I believe many parents are unsure which set to start out with as I was, but first I will focus on this set.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX?
This set includes:
Die cast Wilson: This is a very high quality little train. He looks just like the cartoon character, the wheels move freely and they are very sturdy. Although we have only had this set since Christmas, we already had an identical Wilson which was purchased separately. It is impossible to tell the new Wilson from the one that is nearly we bought last year. Wilson will link up easily with cars or other engines in this set by pushing the plastic couplers together.
Motorised Launcher: If you are familiar with Hot Wheels sets, this operates on the same principles. There are two rubber wheels which grip the train on either side and then shoot it forward. This is powered by 2 size D batteries.
Chuggington Tower platform: This is just a stand for the ramp, and the starting point for the ramp. You are meant to put the train at the top, and then push a large green button to release the train. This has never worked on our set ( which was bought new from Amazon) and I just had so many other things going on after Christmas I forgot to write the manufacturer for a new one, but my sons don't really mind. They just set the train at the top and let it race down. It does go down quite fast until it reaches the launcher which grips the engine and shoots it forward again.
Track: Eight pieces are included, they are fairly easy for an adult to connect - not so easy for children. This includes one Y shaped switch track to add other sets in. This does not make a complete circle, it simply ends after the loop.
Risers: Two risers are included - just small plastic stands to support the suspended track. This is one of my complaints with this set. They do not snap on very well, or stay on very well. Had these supports been a little bit better designed, this would be a far better set, as it would stay together much better.
Signal: This is just blue plastic speaker system known as Vee.
Mail bags: I only mention these because the Amazon description does. I do not remember seeing them. I am not certain if they were left out of our set, or perhaps being small might have been left behind when the packaging was thrown out on Christmas morning.
WHAT IS NOT IN THE BOX: Two sized D batteries are required for operation. Also, while this can be used with only one engine, it is more fun if you can add a couple of engines or cars to the set.
BATTERY LIFE: This does use batteries very quickly . You can expect only about an hours play from non alkaline batteries. You may get a couple of weeks with a good set of Duracell. Thankfully, only 2 batteries are required.
SET UP: I did not set this up the first time, my husband did. He had a few words to say about the instructions which are not suitable to repeat here, but the set was up in about 15 minutes. Reassembly is much quicker. I can have the whole set up in 5 minutes.
PLAY: My sons are ages 3 and 6 and both boys have really enjoyed this. My oldest is well past Chuggington, but he likes anything with wheels that goes fast, and this does go fast. The engines never fall of the ramp on this, as they sometimes do with the interactive set. Most of the time the engines do make the loop, but good batteries are required. If the batteries do not have enough power, the engine will get half way up the loop and fall out. If you are having problems with this, buy Duracell and the set should work just fine. Almost all of our trains worked on this, but we did have some trouble with Emory, who is longer and Zephyr who tends to be top heavy.
FAULTS: As mentioned the battery life is poor, and the risers are not the greatest design. This does fall apart fairly easily, but is not to difficult to set up again.
OVERALL: Both of my sons says this is the best of the Chuggington sets. They do enjoy it, and it does work well. I would expect this to be a hit with any Chuggington fan. Unfortunately even my youngest is not quite as keen on Chuggington as he once was, preferring real trains now like the Mallard and Flying Scotsman. Even so, he still really enjoys this set, and he does still like his die cast trains. I have taken 1 star off because of the risers falling off so much, leading to the track falling apart and the faulty switch at the top, but overall this is still a very nice toy.
I paid £22 for this on special. It currently sells for £29.94 on Amazon, which is the best price I can find, but so check other sources as this is often on sale for less.
DIE CAST VS INTERACTIVE: As mentioned, I do own the interactive set as well, which I have reviewed separately here as well. Personally, I wish I had never bought the interactive. It is significantly more expensive, but it is the price of batteries that really puts a sting in your pocket book. To run our whole set, including engines, requires 27 AA batteries. The ones in the engines last for quite some time, but the ones in track and building may last only a few days even with Duracell. Additionally, this set is easier to set up and not as bad for falling apart as the die cast set. The ramp works better as well. I suppose what really counts though is the children's opinion. My son no longer wants the interactive set up, but will ask for "the good set instead". This set is far more fun and less frustrating.
The interactive set does have the advantage of everything talking and making sounds, but I often think this restricts play rather than enhancing it. My own child is quite happy to make up conversations for his toys himself - and of course this does not require batteries. If only I had realised this before buying the interactive set. I would certainly prefer to have only bought die cast now.
I do recommend this for Chuggington fans. Its a decent enough set, with a few flaws. If you are not look for Chuggington in particular though, and just want any type of train, I still maintain that nothing can beat a good wooden train set like Brio.