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My son is Thomas mad as you will know from a lot of my reviews so he has a lot of Thomas merchandise. While shopping for his birthday we were looking for something a little different to what he already has and we came across this set and I knew he would love it straight away so we purchased it for him.
This set is widely available from most toy shops and I have also seen it in Tesco and other large supermarkets although the price tag is very high for a train track if you shop around you can often find it on offer which makes it a lot more appealing.
With this set you get a huge track made up of track master track when fully completed the track is easily 3ft wide and of course as with all track master sets it can be swapped and changed to design the track to whichever shape and size you want. You can use less of the track if you want a smaller set out and as it is compatible with all other track master track pieces you can add to it to make the track bigger although on its own the amount of track you receive in this set is easily enough.
Also you receive a Thomas track master engine with this set which unlike trains that you receive separately already had the battery included. You do need 1 AA battery to start him off which you lift the case of Thomas and place the battery in and then re add the case it is easy enough to do but you do need the battery before the train will work.
Attached to this is the special feature that makes this set so good it has a coal truck that magically changes when Thomas goes to pick up a delivery from the coal cave and this is really the whole point of the set. This carriage is removable too so you can add it to other engines it just clips on and off the back of Thomas very easily meaning other engines can be part of the fun too.
With this set you also receive a station that has a switch on the track that connects to this meaning little one can stop the train at the station to pick up passengers if they like and then flip the switch for Thomas to continue. There is a free standing water tower made of plastic which my son thinks is a great addition.
Also there is a bridge for Thomas to pass over again a simple piece of plastic but my son loves it all the same and always likes to tell mummy when Thomas is passing over the bridge. There are blocks to place the track on so part of it can be raised but the set works with or without them so it is up to little one how they wish to set the track out and if they wish to use them.
This is very easy to do as it is the same as all track master sets the pieces click together at each end of the piece very easily and once clicked in to place they stay well do not move and do not come apart this is easy enough for little one to do themselves and it begins to fun for them if they build the track themselves as they can design it as they like.
As I said before the pieces slot together easily and because the pieces of track are all different sizes and shapes this means that the set can be made up in any design and all the pieces can go where ever little one wants to put them they are not restricted to one design shape which really highlights the fun as it can be made into a different track each time.
Once in place the track is very sturdy and well made so it can handle rough play although as it only has the trains running over it and is not moved in play this really does not matter although it is good to know if it did receive any bangs and scrapes it would survive them easily.
There are a few accessories like signal lights and buffer ends which again can be used wherever little one wants and they are not restricted to this set meaning little one can use them with their other track master sets if they like.
Well just like any other track master set you put Thomas on the rails set his switch to on and he moves around the set freely by himself the markings in the track guide him in the right direction and he will continue to move until you turn him off.
There are lots of simple pieces to this set which make it a little more interesting yet are not over complicated providing simple fun for little one. The bridge this is simply another piece of track with raised sides but my son loves it all the same. The station does nothing there is no interaction with the station itself and it is modelled on the station from the TV programme of course making it recognisable to little one but again my son loves when Thomas stops at the station and it really helps fuel his imagination.
The interactive part of this set is the coal truck that is attached to Thomas and the cave. The idea is when Thomas passes through the cave his coal truck magically fills with coal and when he passes through again it disappears again as he is making a delivery. This happens because there is a panel in the coach that turns itself around each time that the truck hits a switch on the tracks as it passes through the cave. This can be activated without going past the switch by turning the coach upside down there is a small slider that you turn and it changes from empty to full again.
This works really well we have never had problems with it not happening and although a couple of times my son has caught the engine in the middle of the panel flipping he still thinks this is magical and each and every time squeals in delight when Thomas suddenly has a full trailer of coal.
Other track master trains can be used on this set meaning it is not just limited to the Thomas you receive with the set and they all work perfectly on this set too. They can have the coal attached to them too which means Thomas and all his friends can make deliveries and makes this set a little more interesting.
My eldest son loves this set he received it for his fourth birthday and it really has received a lot of play since then. Although the interactive feature is a bit samey for me it seems to delight my little boy each and every time Thomas has a refill of coal and although now he has worked out how this happens it has not spoilt his fun if anything it has enhanced it as now he knows what needs to be done to make Thomas change.
My youngest son still has no idea what happens to make the appearance of Thomas change but he loves sitting with his big brother and always gasps when Thomas moves through the cave and really does find it amazing. He plays with this set as much as his big brother but he at 23 months is unable to set a full track himself so he relies on mummy or his big brother setting it up for him then he is independently able to play with the whole set and will do so for hours at a time.
One of the greatest things about this set is you can mix and match it with other track master accessories and it is not limited to one shape size or engine it can be made up however little one wants and can be made into a larger set or smaller set depending on how the child is feeling.
Although the whole set is similar to other sets we own the coal truck and cave, bridge and station really add a little something extra for little one and make their imagination run wild while using this set.
We have had this set for coming up to a year now we have never had any problems with other track master train sets or engines and there is no exception here. All the pieces of this set are made from durable plastic and are long lasting. They are the perfect size for small hands and although it does not receive rough play from my boys the trains still get bashed about little as they can be used on and off the track. It can all be wiped down with a damp cloth if they become a little grubby and then they look as good as new.
I would recommend this set but it is not worth the £80 retail price that it is given so do shop around we managed to pick this up for £30 at B&M and with the amount of track you receive and small extras it is definitely worth this price. I just do not feel that the coal truck itself is worth paying the huge price difference on the set when you can buy similar sets for half this price with similar accessories.
It has received a lot of play and is one of my son's favourite sets out of all his track master and take and play and he does own a lot of them. It is recommended from 3 years plus but my youngest son who is 23 months old also loves playing with this set and as there are no small parts it makes great time for me and him while his elder brother is at school.
I bought the Thomas at Echo Cave Set for my little boy's birthday last month and have just built it today for the first time. It wasn't too tricky to put together as I followed both the instructions contained within the box, which have a clear alphabetically labelled map layout of the track that is easy to follow and the large colour picture on the box. Using both these it took about five minutes to assemble the first time. Once assembled the track occupies an approximate area of 2 foot x 3 foot space on the floor.
The Thomas the tank engine requires 1 AA battery to operate, the battery is fitted easily without using a screw-driver by simply squeezing and lifting the top off Thomas and inserting said battery. The engine pulls the coal truck around the track at ease at a speed which is adequate for a small child. The engine seems to stick to the track well as it has not left the track yet except when my son has lifted it off.
After 30 minutes the set is still holding up well. The only problem I can see with the track is the plastic blue bridge sides come off really easily with the slightest touch, but as you don't need them for the set to work this is not a huge problem.
The set can cost around £40, but i manged to buy it in a sale for £20 and at this price it is proveing to be a very good buy as my little boy hasn't stopped playing with it for the past 30 minutes. You can also purchase add on sets to make the track both bigger and more exciting as your child gets older.
This large rail track set offers interesting layout options plus a clever action feature on Thomas. Thomas goes around the track, through the station, past the tower and over the bridge to Echo Cave coal station. When Thomas' empty car passes through the coal station it magically fills with coal.