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Little Man really loves all things Thomas, but at the moment he seems to be favouring his wooden track ( this week at least!) Due to all the different brands making wooden trains there is a huge variety of accessories available. One of the pieces we bought him for his birthday in the summer was the Thomas and Friends Sodor Oil Depot from Learning Curve. The box consists of the wooden oil unit, which stands about 15 cms high. There is a clear plastic section at the top where you can see the oil sloshing about in. There is a red plastic handle on the front which makes the oil level move up and down when you move it and a nozzle on a string on the side for 'putting' oil in the vehicles. It also comes with a piece of track which is actually separate not attached to the unit as it appears in the picture. It is also reversible track, which is railway track on one side and road track on the other. There is also a little red wooden oil wagon included with oil written on the side and magnets on each end so you can link it up to your trains. This toy has been a real winner with Little Man. We spend ages making huge wooden tracks on the floor and we have to have the Oil Depot out because otherwise 'the trains will run out of oil, silly!' Little man lines all his wooden trains up and fills them up with the little nozzle, making the oil level go up and down - It is such a simple thing, but keeps him and his friends amused for hours! The track links up well to all other brands of wooden track - our collection is a real mish mash! We only really use the track side of it though, as I don't see the point in paying out for the road track. We just use any floor that isn't covered in track as road. The oil station itself is really robust, and both depot and the wagon look almost as good as new. I think it would stand up to a lot of rough and tumble, although Little Man is very precious about his trains, so none of them seem to see the brunt of his tantrums! There is a small bit of wear on the plastic on the top which must be where it rubs against other toys in the toy box but it is hardly noticeable due to the oil inside. However the plastic here is quite thick so I have no worries about leaking. I was lucky enough to get the Oil Depot as a free gift from www.ToysDirect.Com as part of a promotion when you spent over a certain amount. So for a freebie it was a definite bargain! You can now buy it from them for £12.98 which is still a great price as the RRP is £19.99. The postage is £4.95 but that is a fixed price regardless of how much you spend and they dispatch really quickly. I would recommend this website if you have a Thomas monster like I do, as they do all different brands of wooden trains with little accessories from £1.99 and also do the Thomas Trackmaster and Take-n-play ranges too.
Ages 1 -8 This is yet another extra bit we bought to recreate a wooden train display at a local toy shop. Unlike the coal feeder and water tower in this range, the bit of track you can see in the picture is not attached to the oil drum. It is included in the package though, and has the etched in railroad ties which is a trademark characteristic of the Wooden Thomas range. The oil station itself consists of a a strong wooden base which has three wooden walls and one plastic one with a red lever to raise or lower the oil level. The plastic oil tank on the top really does empty and fill according to the position of this lever. There is also a hose with nozzel attached so children can pretend to oil the wheels when "servicing" the engines. The wooden sides are painted to look like a metal support frame with the words "Sodor Oil Depot" For some reason this was the one of the accesories my son was most interested in with the toy shop display, and the fact that it didnt really come with the set completely convinced us to build our own. To be honest, I dont quite see the fascination with pushing a lever up and down and watching the oil level rise or fall, but the boys seem to enjoy it. It is also a nice item for imaginative play as they have other bits and bobs and can stop the trains to pretend to be washed, oiled, filled with coal and water. Of course the main interest is in driving them but this does add alot of fun to the set. From my point of view, it just makes the set look much nicer, to have the small extra bits like this included rather than just plain track. I also like that it is extremely well made and nearly indestructable. I did have a neighbour child throw this quite forcefully against the floor with no damage done. I absolutely hate toys that fall apart easily. All in all this toy gets 5 stars for me, it looks nice, doesnt break easily, doesnt require batteries and has given my boys hours and hours of fun. The track is compatable with Wooden Thomas, ELC, Brio, Asda, Tesco, and Ikea. I imagine it would fit with almost all other wooden tracks as well. Because the bit of track is seperate, i could even be used with an electric or other type of train set. I have carefully researched any and every Wooden Thomas item we own, and this has never been included on any recalls for lead paint, so it is safe to buy used if you come across a bargain. The only downside to it is the current price of £19.48, I got a real deal on this and paid £7.50 new. I would have bought it anyway as it was my son's most wanted Christmas present, but if he hadnt specifically asked for this toy, I doubt I would pay almost £20 for it.