It’s official: my 3-year-old has reached the playing with toy trains phase. To celebrate, he asked his visiting grandparents to buy him the Thomas & Friends Deluxe Dino Escape Set. And being grandparents, they said no. Just kidding. Obviously, they said yes.
Fast-forward a few hours, and we were jostling with the Christmas crowds in Smyths Watford. Add on another 60 minutes, and I was at home, taking several deep breaths and preparing to do battle with the track.
The good news? This wasn’t my first rodeo. The little man has two other Thomas & Friends Track Master train sets, so I know a) that they are pretty easy to put together, b) that the track sections are stamped with codes (e.g. CS, YRS, DB1), and c) that the best way of getting my son to “help” (while working on his phonics) is by asking him to read these codes and find the next bit of track for me.
As a result, apart from a momentary blip when I put the three Pterodactyls the wrong way round, the build went well and was complete in no more than 10 minutes.
Now, only three questions remained.
- Did we have any AAA batteries? (FYI: You need four – two for the motorised Thomas engine and two for the motorised Nia engine)
- What were the big arrows on the box all about?
- What is the point of the metal Percy and James engines that are also included in the set?
We did have AAA batteries, and the big arrows signified the fact that two sections of the track twist, turn and knock down the Pterodactyls when Thomas or Nia chugs down that segment. It’s a really impressive feature that my son declared “his favourite bit of the track”, and you can witness in action in the below video.
All of which just leaves the final question – what is the point of the metal Percy and James engines that are also included in the set? I’m not sure, to be honest. If anything they detract from this track, as the carriages in the twist and turn section aren’t big enough to cope with a train that has something hitched on the back (cue trains hanging in mid-air, preschoolers trying to fix this and making things worse etc. etc. etc. ). That said, they will work nicely on the other Thomas & Friends Track Master sets my son has, and an extra train is an extra train, so I’m not complaining too much.
The bottom line
A small, fun and clever Track Master set that contains one fantastic feature and is simple to put together.
Price: £39.99 from Smyths; £50.54 on Amazon*
Trains included: Motorised Thomas and Nia, Metal James and Percy
Batteries: Requires 4x AAAs
Headline features: Twist and turn section; stop/go lever; saloon-style doors; big T-Rex
Age: recommended for 3-7
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