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Thomas the Tank engine is a firm favourite in our house and this is one of the cool Thomas presents my son got for Christmas. My husband picked it out and in actual fact I think he wanted it as a present for himself, he just disguised the fact by saying it was for our little boy!!
Thomas is a train and this toy is a train with a difference, as he chugs along he puffs out real steam making him look very realistic and of course, lots of fun. I think this is what makes him a bit different from other Thomas trains on the market and its the part we all enjoy the most. Thomas is made of plastic and of course, is blue with the number 1 painted on his side. He's a remote controlled train and moves when you press the buttons on the hand held remote. Its when you do this that the steam comes out of hi chimney on the top of his head. Don't worry though, the steam does not come out hot, its cold to the touch and completely safe for kids. There is a little hole on the side at the top of the train into which you put a little bit of water to make the steam work. What's handy is that there is a little plastic water bottle that you can slot into the train on the underneath so you cant see it but this is what you use to fill up the water resevoir. It's under here that you will also find the battery section which takes 4 AA batteries and its handy to note that the remote control will also take 3 AAA batteries.
In order to start Thomas working you switch the on/off switch on his back and then I find you need to wait for a few minutes and need to press the buttons a few times on the little hand held remote in order to start the train moving. The remote is red and curved so it fits into your hands nicely. There are only three buttons so its nice and simple for young kids to do. There is a blue button on the top which is the one you press when you want Thomas to spin around. Then there is a green arrow which is facing forward which is what you press when you want him to go forward and then there is a yellow curved arrow pointing the other way that you press when you want Thomas to back up and turn slightly. When you press Thomas forward his steam comes out of the top and he makes a beep beep noise. There is also a blue light that comes chimney too so it lights up the steam a little bit as well. I'm really impressed with the way this remote controlled engine moves. SOmetimes with remote controlled toys they don't always go the way you want them to go but this one seems to move forward in a pretty straight light and when you need to turn around and go back again it turns nicely and then is placed in a good position to move forward again.
At 17 months my son can use this remote quite easily. The buttons are easy for him to press and although he might not be able to master it and move Thomas where he wants it to go, it will still move around the floor and do all the things it is supposed to do. There is a 18+ months age recommendation but I think before that is fine if you know your child is able to understand toys like this.
Thomas has a number of different phrases he says when he moves too. For example, he will say:
Number 1 blue engine
I need a bath
full steam ahead
My favourite phrase comes out every so often it you haven't played with him for a few minutes, and he will say, "bust my buffers, that was fun!"
I must stress that this is a different engine to the Thomas steam and sounds engine, by the look of it this Thomas is a bit smaller and is called a Thomas Steam and Speed engine. All in all a really fun toy that we all enjoy.