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For those of you not familiar with the Chuggington series, Action Chugger is a super hero type train with the ability to fly. I believe he is inspired by bullet trains, which in a sense fly a couple of inches off the track through magnetic levitation, but this train soars trough the air with the grace of a bird, dipping, soaring and executing turns I doubt any of our fighter aircraft could match. All this with two little fold out flaps which serve as wings and a very healthy dose of imagination.
We have had Action Chugger for about 8 months now, far longer than any of our other interactive Chuggington trains. My son ( age 2 at the time) spotted him in Tesco and snapped him up, using his own holiday money. Action Chugger has since been carried all over, and had a number of train crashes once my son got his Chuggington track, but there are no signs of wear or damage. He has only had to have his AA batteries replaced once.
Action Chugger measures about 5" long by 2.5" tall. He is designed as part of the interactive Chuggington line which includes all manner of tracks and accessories as well as a wide assortment of trains that all talk to each other. I can't say I was delighted by our Interactive Chuggington track due to the ease with which it falls apart and very high battery consumption. Our track and accessories require 27 AA batteries, and you really do need Duracell, even then the battery lifespan may only be days. For this reason, the track has not had much use, but Action Chugger is still brought out to play with the other engines or die cast trains.
Action Chugger has a few phrases on his own, such as "I'm helpful, I'm strong, I get the job done" and "These rocks are heavy stand aside", and of course "I'm Action Chugger, I'm number one". He also recognises and greets other Interactive engines by name. Although this engine takes batteries, these are only for speech. It does not move on it's own, but must be pushed along. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It means less draw on the batteries and pushing trains along a track is meant to help develop motor skills in children.
Although I do not think this train has anywhere near the charm of our wooden collection, nor do I find it even as nice as the dies cast lines, my son loves it. My son also made an interesting discovery regarding this train. Although I told him this would not fit on his wooden track, he just had to try - and he was right. Although the train looks much too large, the wheel base is smaller and it does fit on Brio and Brio compatible wooden track. This actually is a far better fit for the wooden track than the smaller die cast trains, whose wheels don't quite match the tracks. The train is to high and wide to fit through many of his accessories, like his engine wash and tunnels. It doesn't look quite right on the track if you ask me, but it does work.
So do I recommend Action Chugger? If your child will be content with a collection of trains without tracks, a very simple loop of the actual Chuggington track, or just to drive these along on a wooden track, then yes. If you are planning to use the trains on wooden track, then I would choose the interactive trains. Although the speech was fun, it is a novelty that soon wears off, and I think the children have more fun making up their own conversations for the trains. But if you plan to buy track and accessories, I would certainly go for die cast instead. They cost less, do not require batteries and the tracks appear to be a far better build. In fact, the main reason we bought this train, was that we could not find the die cast Action Chugger at the time.
My son loves this and would certainly give it 5 stars. For the most part though, I feel the die cast model would have been a better purchase. Still this is a well loved toy, that has lasted well and given us no problems. I have compromised with 4 stars. Action Chugger currently sells for roughly £10 with Tesco, Toys R Us and Amazon ( Including postage on Amazon), but do shop around. Smyth's has had these on offer recently at only £5.00. Boots is currently charging £11.00 each, but has them on a 3 for the price of two offer. For comparison purposes, the die cast trains sell near the £5 mark.
Action Chugger is a super-hero engine and is always ready to help a citizen in distress. An excellent interactive train engine, Action Chugger features 'Smart Talk' technology which recognises and magically talks to any other engine or location it comes across. When used in conjunction with additional Chuggington Interactive products this engine has a maximum of 80 sounds and phrases. Action Chugger also features the real voice from the TV series and includes his catchphrases such as "I'm helpful, I'm strong, I get the job done". Encourage imaginative play with the Chuggington Interactive Action Chugger , a great toy for fans of the Chuggington TV series.