28 answers

Thoma Train Sets

I have 3 boys - ages 9 years, 2.5 years, & 1 year. While at a toy store recently they all had fun playing with a Thomas the train display. I think it was 2 or 3 sets together on a large table. The display did it's job since it put the idea in my head for getting a set up like that for the play room in our home. Thomas sets are sooo expensive. There are some for sale on craigslist but even they can be a little pricey. My question is how long would mom's who have invested in all the sets say their child's interest lasted? Is it something they enjoyed for years or after the first day or 2 did it become just another mess in the toy box?

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We got smy son a train table with tracks and some buildings at Costso when he was three years old. You can get Thomas stuff at AC Moore a little at a time using the 40% off coupon in the paper each week. He is now seven and still plays with it although not as often as when he first got it. And when kids come over, that is what they gravitate to. So, in other words, I think it is worth it.

We have a Melissa & Doug set (less expensive than Thomas -- $100 for a huge set of tracks and trains). We also had my father build a simple train table out of plywood. You can also look at garage sales for tables. Both my boys start and end their days at that train table - they love it.

My youngest daughter was actually a HUGE Thomas fan. I couldn't afford all the Thomas sets, I wanted to get her the train table and the whole set-up also. Around Christmas time, I found a generic train table with a huge set-up of tracks for $100 at BJ's. My husband and I got her that and all her Thomas trains fit on the track. She used it for a couple of months before she lost interest in it. But it was definately worth looking around for a cheaper version.

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We used our Thomas train table for YEARS! First we had all of the track and almost every Thomas train. They played with those for a LONG time. However, even after the Thomas phase was over, my kids used it for Pokemon battles and other phases! It was built to last and, even after years of play, it was in good enough condition for us to pass along to another family - who also loved it!

The trains are definitely pricey, but they are made well and are a wholesome and fun way for the kids to use their imagination. I have very fond memories of it all.

I'd say GO FOR IT! :)

My youngest daughter was actually a HUGE Thomas fan. I couldn't afford all the Thomas sets, I wanted to get her the train table and the whole set-up also. Around Christmas time, I found a generic train table with a huge set-up of tracks for $100 at BJ's. My husband and I got her that and all her Thomas trains fit on the track. She used it for a couple of months before she lost interest in it. But it was definately worth looking around for a cheaper version.

We have a Melissa & Doug set (less expensive than Thomas -- $100 for a huge set of tracks and trains). We also had my father build a simple train table out of plywood. You can also look at garage sales for tables. Both my boys start and end their days at that train table - they love it.

I got the Imaginarium brand train set for my son and he loved it! Very similar. If your boys are really into "Thomas" though you could get a few pieces and add to the other train set. They are interchangeable. I also know that AC Moore carry pieces to Thomas and when they got on sale it is usually 40% off and then you can get a coupon to put towards it as well and get it for more than half off. My girlfriend does this often for her two boys because they love Thomas.
Hope this helps! Good luck.

I purchased the set for my boys...we have had it for almost 3 yrs...they don't get sick of it!!!...the only issue is that we keep adding pieces (more tracks, bridges, buildings) to make the track even bigger and better and it no longer fits on the table...so it lives on the floor...also...just an FYI...the toys r us brand (imaginarium...is a little less expensive and works with the Thomas pieces so they are interchangable)
It truely is a great investment.
good luck.
T.

HI R., My daughter just turned 3 on Aug 5 and has loved Thomas for 2 years. We even bought her the bedding this year for her bedroom. She plays with her trains almost everyday. We have a hard time getting her a way. SO good luck on getting them started.
I guess my point is you have 2 younger boys so u should get your money's worth out of it.

PS We bought her a train set from Toys "R" Us for $160 if you don't get one off craigslist.

hi R.
my son is 3yo, he started watching & playing with just a couple of Thomas trains at about 10mo --- he absolutely loves his Thomas sets & train table. we got it on sale at Toys r us day after thanksgiving --- we got the "imaginarium set" fits ALL Thomas trains. He still loves it, plays there for about 1hr at the time, morning & nite! love it & well worth the investment! good luck

We got smy son a train table with tracks and some buildings at Costso when he was three years old. You can get Thomas stuff at AC Moore a little at a time using the 40% off coupon in the paper each week. He is now seven and still plays with it although not as often as when he first got it. And when kids come over, that is what they gravitate to. So, in other words, I think it is worth it.

R.
My son is 4 and he has been adicted to Thomas for 2 plus years....He plays with them all the time. It is sooo worth it! If you want to buy them cheaper, try AC Moore craft store. They sell them cheaper and look for coupons, so you can get up to 70% off sometimes. My son also loves the videos as well. I believe he will be playing with the trains for a long time, and even if not, it has been soooo worth the money already! Hope this helps!

My son started getting wooden train sets when he was 2. Over the next year he received enough pieces to never need another (I usually forbade anything with a face so that he would still use it after the "Thomas" age was over.) Depending on the friend, and if I move the wooden box we store it in around the house, the trains can still, 6 years later, be a major fascination. In fact, for years we had a stained wooden train table as our coffee table. If I had the trains in the box underneath, even adults would become fixated to see what type of maze of tracks they could create.

Also, because the kids have so loved trains, we have also gone to many model train shows. By going to the show, he sees VERY complicated ideas, people of all ages using trains as their own past time, and other to ask questions of. This semi-annual trek always sparks a new, passionate interest in the train set.

I have NEVER regretted letting trains come into our life.

We had an "auntie" get our son a starter Thomas train set for christmas when he was 21 months. He played with it constantly for over a year, until Matchbox and Disney cars became more appealing. We invested a lot of money (all the different trains!) but the joy it brought was worth it. We got some track from generic train sets that were the same size.

Although it's not a fixture on the table anymore, he will still pull it out occasionally. (he's 4.5 now) I'm hoping when he gets a little older and more proficient in building things he regain interest in the trains to create cool track configurations.

If your children are "about" the trains and not "about" Thomas get a generic set.

We have one boy that will be 8 in Dec. and one boy who is 2.5 years and our oldest was a thomas addict and even though he no longer enjoys watching thomas he does enjoy building tracks and using them with his little brother. Ours have gotten almost 7 years of use one set was a cheap one from walmart and one is a thomas one and we got a nice sturdy train table from christmas tree shops. Its always together on the train table because everyone that comes to visit has little boys that can't wait to go in there and play w/ the trains.

Hi R.,

My son has been a Thomas fanatic since he was about 2 or 3. He's 6 now. We bought him the Deluxe Sights and Sounds set with the table and storage bench about 2 years ago ($700). He goes through phases where he'll play with it a lot and times when he won't play with it for a while. There is a specific way to set up the tracks (save the directions) and most of the time it's not together. He likes to take the tracks apart and put them together in different ways using his imagination - mostly on the floor. It's good I guess for his creativity but I do step over the tracks a lot. It is an investment, but the Thomas set isn't something you sell at a yard sale or take to the dump. When they're too old for it, you store it away for grandchildren or keep it in the family in some way. You need to be careful of what trains you buy though. The metal ones have smaller wheels than the wooden trains with the plastic wheels and they don't fit on the wooden tracks. So overall I'd say it's a good investment. The train show comes to the Shriners Auditorium every 6 months or so (Nov and Mar I think). They sell all of the model trains but have a lot of Thomas trains too. we've bought several trains there and it's a fun to see all of the model train sets. There's also "A Day Out With Thomas" that comes around too. It's a lot of fun. He comes every summer to Edaville (Carver, MA) and North Conway, NH. We've gone a few times. The 20 minute train ride is a rip-off but they also have other fun things and Thomas products, games, etc. If you google A Day Out With Thomas you can find out more about it. Have fun!

Jen

Hi R.,
My son is only 2, and we got a Circo train set from Target at Christmas that cost a lot less. I haven't been able to find them there since though. But it is totally Thomas compatible so a good find.
He still plays with it regularly, but of course costs keep rising b/c sometimes it takes buying a new train to re-generate interest! Good luck!
T.

Hi R., My son(6) started getting into Thomas around 2 and still loves to make tracks with his little brother who also loves them. You can find some really inexpensive sets at places like Christmas tree shop that fit with the wodden Thomas set. I also was able to get some great deals on the Thomas sets at AC Moore. They often have 50% off coupons that you can use or by one get one free deals on sets and trains. The Imaginarium sets also fit with the Thomas sets and are less expensive. I looked for tables for a while but ended up getting one at Target for what people wanted for used ones on craigslist.
My thoughts on Thomas are that I'd rather have him into something like Thomas than things like Bakugan, Power Rangers or Star Wars that involve weapons and fighting. Aside from the trains themselves, there are tons of books and we have also gone down to Edaville Railroad in Carver for Day Out with Thomas which both boys loved.

Hi. My kids, both a boy(3) and girl(4) love their thomas set and trains. We have bought some generic tracks to add to them and buy them on sale at ac moore lots with the 40% off coupon... we have had ours for 2 years and they are still going strong. they play with it daily. we have bought pieces at yard sales, and random places, but the big pieces came from stores with sales.. good luck. my kids create tracks even on the floor and we have the extra large train table...

My son (9) has loved train sets since 2 or 3. He played with the tracks over and over building amazing tracks. He never truely used the table cuz he much more preferred the floor for building his tracks he was able to be more creative. He does not play with them much anymore sadly ;( but on occasion will still pull them out. So for us although the table is great it wasn't that useful. We simply picked up sets at a time to build on it great Santa gifts :) well good luck and enjoy!

Hi R.,
My son is 7 now and he outgrew Thomas when he hit kindergarten. I bought the plain wooden train set that you can add sets to and he still will get that out and play with it. I found also that the thomas trains will run on those tracks too. That maybe a bit less expensive to go with the "plain" tracks and add some Thomas trains which can be taken out when they no longer enjoy Thomas and swapped for "real" trains. Hope that helps :)

I'd say it's a good investment. My girls have the plastic sets, but I wish they had the wooden ones. The plastic is durable, but wood is even more so. They got them at Christmas, and still love them. I plan to add to their collection again this Christmas (the first sets were gifts).

We entered the world of Thomas about 4 months ago - my grandparents got my son a beginner's set for Easter. He LOVES trains! Barnes & Noble is his favorite store to go to, due to the Thomas table in the children's section. He is receiving a train table for his 2nd birthday next month. Great deal on a Melissa and Doug table. I stalk deals at Target, AC Moore, and on line (Learning Curve). I have been able to snag some awesome Thomas pieces for a fraction of the cost. Some good Thomas alternatives, that you can add to, are the set sold at Ikea and Brio.

I am the mother of 2 little girls. I love trains and wanted them to enjoy them too. The Thomas stuff is so expensive. If you can afford to buy the trains, you could buy the accessories elsewhere at a much reduced price. For example- Ikea sells wooden track that is much much cheaper than the thomas track. There are other places you can buy the houses bridges etc that work with the thomas trains. We converted the top of old kitchen cabinets into a stand and put the trains on that (with drawers underneath to store parts that are not in use).
Good luck.
K.

17 years ago, my then 18 month old fell in love with Thomas. Through the years we accumulated a mass of Thomas brand things from the original metal trains to bedding... when he was around 3 or 4 the wooden trains began appearing. We started off with the basic wooden track set for Christmas. Then little by little we added. We would have loved a table set up but they were just not in the budget. When I look back now, I am so glad I didn't buy into that.
My boys and daughter played with those train sets and trains until around age 7 and then lost interest in those and fell into legos...now thats a whole other story! LOL!

I still have those sets boxed up in the basement and someday grandchildren may play with toys their parents played with.

They do last though, my students have had fun with them during parts of the school year!

L.

Hi R.:

My son is 2.7 years old and loves his Thomas the Train toys. We don't have a whole set, but we have quite a few of the trains and some of the tracks. He has a lot of other toys, but plays with his trains frequently!

My children all enjoy the train sets in stores, dr's offices, and sometimes even at friends houses, but when we purchased a set with a table they almost never played with it in our house. I does depend on the child since I did have friends who's children played with their sets non stop.

Depends on the child of course. I found that children will play with wooden train sets for much longer if you don't regulate them to a set track layout or focus on Thomas. Fore go the table - when child is younger you will need to build the train track, but as they grow older they will have fun designing and building their own track. If you move away from Thomas (considered childish by some children) and get Brio, Melissa and Doug, or other brands that are interchangeable you will also get longer use. My nephews played with theirs until 5 and 7, my son still has fun at 4. He is at the point where he builds a little track but still focuses on the trains.

With used toys and stuff from discount places (TX MAXX included) you need to be VERY careful about lead paint recalls.

I used to get my Thomas stuff from Micheal's and A.C. Moore, using the 40% off coupon (newspaper or e-mail for A.C.Moore). Micheal's is discontinuing Thomas products and I haven't been to A.C.Moore to check them. Another way to get cars at a good price - Marshall's and T.K. Maxx often sell the movies with a car (GREAT price if you can find a VHS tape with a car). I found going to model train shows is another way to find train sets at a decent price (still expensive) - and it's fun to look at the electric train displays. You don't need to buy than a few sets - then supplement the track with individual Melissa and Doug track. IKEA track almost fits - but not quite, so avoid that. There are web sites with great track layouts too.

I think it's totally worth the investment. Especially since you have young boys. My son never tires of the trains, he's almost 5 and got into them when he was almost 2. You could go to consignmen shops to save on some pieces or get the generic version of the tracks(about half price) that will accomodate the Thomas trains. I've also seen big boards with the tacks and scenery painted on them whih is cheaper than whole set up and you can put it on an old coffee table or just the floor.
Good luck in your decision but my loves the trains and my daughter who is 19 months loves them too.

The kids like them because they only see them at the stores - that is my experience. Ours became a piece of furniture - a messy one at that. If I had it to do over I would have bought a set that can be set up on the floor with just a few trains, etc. The really expensive pieces were given to us for birthday/christmas, etc... Your $ would be better spent on something else.

My now almost 3 yo boy really likes trains too. We looked at the prices of Thomas as well....they are expensive. We also looked at the construction of them and we were not impressed. They tend to come apart too easily. So my husband did some research as he usually does before spending any kind of major money. He found a set called "GeoTrax". They have cartoons online as well. The sets have not only trains, but they have cars, work vehicles, planes, and more. All of the vehicles work on the tracks together and some are hand powered and some are remote/battery powered. They are easy to use, our son started using it when he was 18 months. It's a very interactive set and a lot of fun. Even my 9 yo daughter and her friends like to play with it. My friends' kids play with it too! They can set it up and reset it over and over again. Daddy and son really enjoy it together.

The tracks stay together when you want them to and yet they can be taken apart when you need them to be. GeoTrax are made by Fisher-Price. You can find them at Toy's R Us, Wal-Mart at Christmas time, and on E-bay sometimes fairly cheaper, and on Fisher-Price.com you can even order just an individual piece of track if needed really inexpensively.

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