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One of two year old David's favourite toys at the moment is this Ticket To Go Station from Mattel's Thomas and Friends range - I personally don't see the attraction (it being a very boring toy!) but then I suppose that's what the thirty four year age gap does! For £15 you get exactly the toy pictured above, it's all very 'plastic' but well made and so brightly coloured that I think any little kiddie would love it regardless of whether they were Thomas fans or not.
The toy comprises the shed itself, which stands around 7 inches tall, a small Thomas and three red plastic 'tickets'. It's designed to be played with by children from eighteen months old and has been styled perfectly in my opinion for this age range, with chunky components for kiddies to easily grasp and basic but 'fun' actions which they can control themselves. It only really does two things; you slide each ticket into a slot on the front, push a small lever down and watch them pop out again and when you place Thomas into the shed and push down on the chimney he'll roll back out. David loves the toy basically because he can work it all by himself without any help at all, as soon as he was shown what to do he grasped the concept and has never had any problems making the shed function.
The Thomas is great, cute due to his small size and with loosely attached wheels to ensure he can travel a reasonable distance with the lightest of pushes. He looks just as he does on the TV programmes David enjoys watching (repeatedly!) and has a lovely cheery face, the colours are spot on and Thomas' markings are just right as far as I can tell. The tickets are simply shaped pieces of plastic which fit beautifully into the slot, these can be used one at a time or you can load all three in (separately) ready to be popped out whenever you're ready - this is also the ideal storage solution as when David has finished playing I just pop the tickets into their slot and they stay there until he's ready to get the shed out again. Roughly five minutes later, usually...
Thomas fits beautifulIy in his small space inside the shed, my only complaint really is that there's no lip or edge to stop him sliding out when the shed is moved. This I suppose wouldn't work too well due to the fact that Thomas needs to be able to roll unhindered, but this doesn't make storage easy and several times we've had to go on a Thomas hunt when he's fallen out of the shed as one of us has transferred it from one (in the way) area of the living room to another. The shed itself is the perfect size to be popped on a shelf when not in use, but I tend to not put it in David's toy box as it's ridiculously irritating for him when shed and Thomas become separated.
I've found the flimsy feeling shed to be surprisingly well made and despite daily play it's still in pretty much 'as new' condition. For a brief period the chimney became a little sticky, but I suspect David may had dripped juice (or something!) into it as it loosened up by itself and from then on has been fine. The actual construction of the toy is excellent - David has thrown it in temper, kicked it (he really is a naughty little... boy) and even bitten the chimney a couple of times (when he realised he wasn't going to get away with biting one of us) yet all components are in one piece and the toy is free from rattles or 'loose bits'. This has surprised me slightly as the shed in particular feels like it's made of quite thin plastic, but the fact that it seems to be so durable is fantastic as it allows the toy to remain lightweight enough for even the littlest of little people to handle.
It's fun watching David play with the Thomas Ticket To Go Station as the point at which Thomas rolls out never fails to make him guffaw with laughter, leaving the rest of us pretty bemused as he doesn't roll very far and we simply can't see what there is to make him laugh like this! I think the repetitiveness of the toy is great as it teaches very young kiddies about control and effect, while the action of sliding the tickets into their slot is good for hand to eye coordination and also gives me the opportunity to count with David (albeit only up to three) while we are putting the tickets into the shed. Incidentally, the tickets can shoot out sharply if the shed is in the correct position so try to teach your child not to stand with their face (or more importantly, their eyes) too close to the shed as they activate it.
At first I definitely didn't think this toy was worth the money as for £15 you can buy toys which have far more for the little ones to do than the Ticket To Go Station, but seeing how much David loves it I'm really glad I bought it. Mine came from a local toy shop, but I've seen it in Wilkinson since and also at the very reasonable price of £10 in B&M for a short time before Christmas.