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I don't know a great deal about babies (the closest I've come is a cat) but I'm being forced to learn in the present buying stakes at least by having gained a nephew and a niece as well as two god-daughters over the last couple of years.
The wife told me that our two-year old nephew had laughed at a picture of Thomas the Tank Engine so I decided to get him some form of train for Christmas. I usually go with Fisher Price as they're always big and colourful and the brand comes with a certain assumption of quality. This time around, though, I decided to go with a regular Thomas toy.
I chose Gordon predominantly because he was bigger than the rest and comes with a little coal trailer that attaches via a magnet. Plus, he looked friendly!
When It showed up I was a little disappointed with the size. I was expecting it to be about a foot long like most Fisher Price toys but its a little thing about 15cm long that fits into your hand. However, this actually proved to be beneficial as it fits neatly into my nephew's hand and it's light enough that he can wave it around. In addition, its a really well crafted toy, made of wood which makes it solid and therefore it should be able to handle a bit of rough treatment. It's nice and colourful and the wheels spin really easily meaning it should work fine on the track you can get (my nephew does't have this yet - I thought I'd see if he maintained his interest and then maybe get him the track for his birthday).
Overall, I'm pretty happy with this toy and would recommend it. It was so well crafted that I actually felt a bit sad giving it to a young child who will probably give it a bit of a beating.
I ordered mine through Amazon Japan, because I live there. It came the following day (Amazon JP is just wonderful) and I paid about 15 pounds for it. I see from Amazon UK that its 12.99, which seems a reasonable price.
I must admit that I was a bit of a cheat when we first bought our wooden railway six years ago. I used to buy cheap wooden trains and stick faces on the front to fool my kids into thinking they were "Thomas" characters, as I was not keen on spending big money on the official ones! After a while I was caught out, and my son was keen to get his hands on the the real thing, so when we had some cash of nan, we headed to ELC to buy the real deal.
The first engine we bought was Gordon, as he is one of our favourite characters from the Thomas books. Proud, boastful and arrogant, Gordon often accuses Thomas of not working hard enough, but usually ends up in some kind of trouble and is often the butt of pranks by the small engines.
The wooden Gordon is a thing of beauty, and much superior to the cheap wooden engines I was used to buying. Although I have had the toy for five years, it is still in excellent condition, despite having been played with a lot. Gordon is made almost entirely from wood, with the exception of his face, which is plastic, his wheels, which are also plastic, and the metallic connectors, which are magnetic and enable the train to be coupled to the tender or other wooden trains.
The train is a really good likeness to the Gordon in the Railway series books and you could not fail to recognise him. His face is quite cheerful though, which is unusual for gordon, who is usually depicted with a frown! The engine has 4 sets of wheels, and what impressed me about the wheels is the fact that these are seperated into two sets of four, which gives superior turning abiulity when on wooden tracks. this is quite important for such a long engine, as he can turn on tight bends, despite his length.
The train also has a tender, which is filled with fake coal. This attatches to the main engine by means of a magnetic connector. this also enables the whole toy to move freely around the track. I think it is quite sweet that if you turn the tender over, you find printed in white letters: "Gordon's Tender". I knew he had a soft side.
This toy is really well made and designed to withstand rough handling by young children. As I have mentioned, our wooden train set has had lots of play over the last 6 years, and Gordon has been one of the favourites in our engine collection. My sons and daughter all love playing with him, and range in age from 5 to 9 years old, so this is a good investment as it is a toy that will be played with for many years.
These wooden Thomas characters are lovely, and are equally at home as much loved toys or collectors items. They are faithful to the depictions in the original books, and a must for any Thomas fan, young or old. I know they seem expensive, but this really is a case of getting what you pay for, as I believe this toy is a "keeper", to be passed down to the next generation. Few toys have that honour.
Gordon the Big Express Engine is the senior member of the engine family, the fastest and most powerful engine on the rails. He's extremely proud and inclined to boast. He's good hearted, always willing to use his superior strenght to help smaller engines out of trouble.