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At two and a bit years old my son has a reasonably large train collection, some of these have been bought for him and others he inherited from his five year old sister who had a very short-lived fascination with all things 'choo-choo' - obviously, being a pink train, this was one which was bought for Hollie but has since found its way into David's box.
Rosie is somewhat of a lesser character in the Thomas and Friends programme, she can often be seen in the background giving friendly advice but is rarely at the forefront of any stories. She has what we humans would call a 'crush' on Thomas, rarely disagreeing with him and generally following him around like a little pink wheeled stalker. I'm not quite sure why we bought this particular engine, I can only assume the colour appealed to me in the shop - I know I must have bought it as my partner is highly critical of the pinkness of this train, to the point where he has an actual dislike for this cute little toy.
This Learning Curve depiction of Rosie is fabulous. She's roughly five inches long and made of a tough wood (North American Hard Maple), the wheels are plastic and are beautifully attached to ensure they spin properly when David is wheeling Rosie along. I think the wheels are great actually as compared to other, non-Learning Curve, trains in his collection I've noticed how well he can steer this one - when he gives it a little shove along our wooden floor Rosie will travel a reasonable distance but the wheels aren't so loose that she'll career out of control and end up toppling over. I love the size and shape of Rosie as she's perfect for small hands to hold, when David was poorly just before Christmas he was sleeping on the sofa - I popped my head in at one point expecting him to be cuddled up to a teddy bear, only to find him cuddling this hard angular train instead. He wouldn't loose go so had to suffer the indignity of an engine imprint on his cheek when he woke up, which amused us all greatly (and cruelly) as it was so bizarrely detailed!
As with other trains in the Thomas range, Rosie features magnetic couplings on the front and back - this means she can be attached to other engines and carriages from both this collection and others which have the same magnets. This is great not only from a play point of view but also educational as already David is learning about magnets (thanks only to these trains) and understands about the reaction of putting together two magnets, when he makes an error and tries to connect the magnets which are going to repel one another he makes an odd little sighing noise and simply switches one of the trains round so the magnets can attract properly. This is pretty impressive at his young age in my opinion and I'm quite certain he wouldn't have known this if not for the hours spent playing with Rosie, Thomas and friends.
Rosie is so beautifully made, let me just say here that I'm no lover of trains - I was an incredibly girly child and am pretty sure I didn't own a train until my own children came along, and then in the late 1990s the selection was a poor choice of flimsy plastic trains unless you wanted to spend a fortune on the wooden or metal options. This isn't the case now, however, and it's not simply because I now have a son after three daughters - that you can buy such a perfectly rendered wooden train for the measly sum of £10.99 is staggering; admittedly if your child decides he or she wants the entire set of Learning Curve trains then you're going to spend a bomb on them as a whole, but really that's a tiny price considering how much your average electronic toy or even bog standard dolls cost these days. To my mind I'm spending my tenner wisely in purchasing these relatively traditional toys and see them as an investment to a point due to the re-sale value (second hand wooden Thomas engines aren't much cheaper than brand new) and also, more importantly, the play value while David is so interested in trains.
Rosie seems to be unbreakable. Bearing in mind she's four years old now and has been through the turbulent toddler times of two children I'm shocked at the lack of scratches and dents in the wood, testament to the quality of the materials and also the workmanship involved in creating the engine in my opinion. In David's hands (and to a lesser extent, Hollie's) she has been thrown from a height, left in the garden overnight, dropped into the sink (along with Mark's phone... oooops...) and suffered untold other abuses that this little pink engine really doesn't deserve. I'm looking carefully over her now and can see she's in the same condition as the day I bought her; the magnets are still shiny without a hint of rust, Rosie's paintwork is vibrant and there's absolutely no sign of any damage anywhere.
I love watching David play with Rosie and the rest of his Learning Curve collection. His eyes light up when I pull his 'train box' out and, after Thomas himself, Rosie is usually one of the first engines he pulls out which I assume is down to the unusual colour considering the majority of the rest of his trains are blue and green. He has a very small track (again, inherited from Hollie) but takes the greatest pleasure in simply wheeling Rosie around the floor, or more usually along the edge of the TV cabinet or coffee table. He's just now learning his letters and I'm finding these trains super for this bit of education-in-play as the names of all the engines and carriages are printed in large block capitals on the chassis, he's finding the letters which make up the name 'Rosie' very easy to work out and I'm positive it's helping him to learn as he plays due to increasing his confidence as he gets each letter right. 'Thomas' is a trickier one as he hasn't sussed out the 'M' and 'N' difference yet, but I still think it's pretty damned impressive for a two year old who can barely even speak yet!
Now, Rosie is suitable for children of three years old according to the manufacturer and I have no reason to doubt this despite the fact that David is playing with her a full year early. I can't see that there are any 'small parts' which could become unattached and pose a choking hazard - in fact the only small parts are the magnets and they're incredibly well fitted and highly unlikely to pop out of their casings. This is a moot point for us however as David is incredibly well supervised at all times by either myself, his dad or one of his three older sisters - I know accidents can happen regardless of the level of supervision, but as his mum I'm more than happy to allow him to play with this range of trains. I wonder if the minimum age is more to do with the ability required to play with the trains to the best of their advantage, this actually seems the more likely scenario to me as I honestly cannot see how a younger child could possibly harm themselves with such a cute and well made little toy.