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I'm sticking with the theme of my previous two toy train reviews for this review on the Leaning Curve Wooden Duck Engine. This is another one of the engines that is part of our wooden railway set that has been expanding for the last 6 years. Apart from Gordon (see my other review), this is the only other official Thomas engine we own, all of the others are Brio or ELC trains with faces stuck on to them!
Duck is a rather smart Great Western Engine, who features quite frequently in the Railway stories. Several years ago, we went to the steam railway at Bridgnorth where they were holding a special "Thomas Day", and Duck was one of the full sized engines featured. I thought that this wooden version would be a nice reminder of that day. The toy is made almost entirely from wood, with the exception of his plastic face and wheels, and the magnetised metal couplings at the front and rear of the engine that enable him to connect to other trains on the wooden railway.
This train is compatible with most wooden railway sets, including ELC, Brio, Ikea and Tesco, as they are a prety standard size. The engine has a happy smiling face, typical of the Thomas characters, and is a lovely bright green colour. He is a more square shape than most engines, due to the fact that he is a Great Western, which adds good variety to our train collection, and I often look out for trains that are more unusual shapes. The paint is prety chip resistant, as i have had this particular train for about 4 or 5 years and it is still in excellent condition. The train is solid and able to withstand bumps and drops quite easily without breaking.
The toy gets played with quite regularly, along with the other engines in our collection. You can run the wheels over a hard floor, carpet or wooden track. The toy is push along rather than battery powered. A slight flaw in the design is that the wheels can get caught up with hairs and fibres that can stop them turning effectively, but this isn't a big problem.
The train would be a lovely display item for fans of Thomas memorabilia, or equally at home as a much played with toy. I would say that this toy is aimed primarily at boys, although my daughter really enjoys playing with it too. I think the fact that the engine has a smiley face makes it appealing to young children, and this is quite a suitable toy for young children as it has no bits to break off or swallow or any sharp pieces.
At about £9, Duck is quite expensive, but you certainly get what you pay for. I would not buy the whole Thomas collection, as I am not rich enough, but one or two of these engines really make the wooden railway come to life, and have the added element of imagination and dialogue in addition to the creativity that it takes to construct the railway itself. That is why it is such a classic toy, and I have kids aged 5-9 that really enjoy playing with it, so it is a toy that will serve for many years enjoyment.