Looking for Advice on Toy Train Set

Updated on November 17, 2008
J.K. asks from Chicago, IL
18 answers

We're considering investing in a toy train set for the kids and a lot of the reviews we've read favor the Melissa and Doug set. I've never seen it and I'm wondering how it compares to the Thomas and Brio sets (or others). Also, are the pieces interchangeable?

1 mom found this helpful

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H.Y.

answers from Chicago on

Hi, I have a little boy who will be 5 next month. I consider myself lucky he never got into Thomas. I have a friend who's little boy was into Thomas and they said it cost them a fortune. I have invested in the Fisher Price Geo Trax sets. They are totally indestructable as well as greatly priced. All the pieces interchange and you can add small things as you go. They just came out with the airport ones as well with tracks for planes. I love them because they have remote control trains that my son can easily control. If we have friends over, each one can operate their own train, so no fighting over them either. I think this train set is fantastic. The new ones out this year have remote control airplanes as well.

1 mom found this helpful
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B.B.

answers from Champaign on

Hi,
My son is 12 this year and has had the Thomas train set since he was about 2. I must say it has been played with a lot! He still brings it out sometimes just to build with. An Arcitech(sp) in the making???

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C.P.

answers from Chicago on

my kids and my husband LOVED the GEO TRACKS. Where do you live? I am going to check with my husband one more time but I believe we are selling all of our GEO TRACKS stuff. If you are interested at all I can figure out a price, you can come look at the stuff. We have a ton of stuff.

C. Petras
AVON REP

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L.K.

answers from Chicago on

My twins (2 1/2) like the Thomas ones that are battery operated. They aren't into the wooden ones yet because they don't do anything. They have some on sale in Target's big toy book for 30-40 dollars. i would try them before investing in the big $100 wooden ones to see if your son likes them.

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A.S.

answers from Peoria on

We have some of both sets and yes, they're interchangable. Melissa and Doug have a more unfinished look than Thomas, but are much cheaper. The kids will never know the difference.

A.

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A.V.

answers from Chicago on

My son got GeoTrax last year for christmas and loves it. It seems to span a large age group too, (my husband loves it as well). In fact my mother has already picked up more parts for it this year. They just came out with this airplane attachment that is really cool. And It's easy enough for the kids to put together themselves, but not so chitzy that it doesn't stay together well enough to play with. I think it is a fantastic train set.

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M.M.

answers from Chicago on

We have Thomas for our 4 year old - it was a hand me down set from his bigger brother who didn't really care so much about it. So my advice is, don't put too much money into whatever you purchase in case your child doesn't care about it. You can always build on it, which is what we've been doing - 4 years later - for our youngest.

C.N.

answers from Chicago on

We to LOVE or Imaginarium train table and like the other ladies have said, its compatible with brio and Thomas! My son loves the Thomas Take Along trains and although they are not made for the wooded tracks they still fit on the tracks, which I love because the take alongs are MUCH cheaper than the wooden railway ones. Wehave had the table for 2 years now and it is still my sons favotie toy and still gets at least an hour of play every single day and shows no wear.

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H.L.

answers from Chicago on

We have a huge thomas collection! My 5yr old no longer plays with it and I am looking to sell it if you are interested. You can email me [email protected]____.com

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L.G.

answers from Chicago on

We got a few pieces of the wooden sets, some Thomas, some Brio, some Melissa & Doug, but the set that he really loves, and plays with endlessly is his FISHER PRICE GEOTRAX, and (as others have mentioned) the GeoAir pieces. My 4 yr old LOVES them, my husband and I do too. There are trains that push (require no batteries), there are "lights and sounds" trains that the kids push (and do as the name implies), and then there are the remote control trains that go forward and backward. There's room for multilevel tracks (double and triple decker), and some amazingly fun components/buildings that you can purchase to build towns and cities.

You can buy some really wonderful things on eBay, some brand new and some used but in excellent condition. Be sure to read the descriptions carefully, and be aware of shipping costs when you bid.

Write if you'd like to see how we set up our system. It's tons of fun!

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M.G.

answers from Chicago on

I'll weigh in for BRIO train sets. I have 3 kids: 14, 12 and 5. We started with BRIO for my oldest and it is still going strong 15 years later! I especially like that there are no batteries to fool with. The product quality is great! It's really fun to combine the BRIO stuff with any set of wooden blocks or wooden house/school/fire station sets (from any manufacturer) and build complex towns etc. My kids imaginations went wild! I'm keeping my BRIO stuff for the next generation!

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S.D.

answers from Chicago on

Huge train fans over here!

We purchased the Imaginarium brand (see below link) from Toys R us. They are interchangeable with BRIO & Thomas for a lot less of a price. They have all the Thomas rip offs for a fraction of the price. We've had this table for 4 years now and it's held up nicely. Still like new. You can store all your pieces inside and if you're limited on space, the middle pieces are removable and it slides closed to a square rather than the longer rectangle.

We do however buy Thomas train characters.

We have the Geotrax set too. Equally awesome. Better for the older child who would rather use a controller and operate the system rather than push the trains like a younger child would.

http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3140254

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K.Z.

answers from Chicago on

We have GeoTrax and the kids and daddy really like them. They are much cheaper than the other sets too so you can get much more. :)

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A.K.

answers from Chicago on

We are HUGE train fans at our house. We have the Thomas the train sets and the melissa/doug tracks as well as the Brio are interchangable with the THomas ones. We have got alot of our track as well as our train table on craigslist. We have over 40 trains and over 30 feet of track, so we are aware of the "investment". My son started getting interested in trains when he was around 2 and I think the wooden ones are safe and very durable.

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E.B.

answers from Cincinnati on

We have a KidCraft train table, train and tracks that we got from Costco and it's working well. We got it because it's compatible with Thomas and Brio trains, as well as just about any other little wooden train that's entered our house. I'd recommend against the Thomas set, or getting your son into Thomas, because of the cost. Each train can be nearly $20! Yikes. Just make sure that whatever set you get is compatible with trains you like, and then you can mix and match.

We also have the GeoTrax set and although it's a completely different train experience, our son loves it just as much as the traditional, battery-free kind. I like it, too. The remote control is a lot of fun ;)

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M.E.

answers from Chicago on

Hi J.! I bought the Imaginarium train table and tracks from Toys R Us about 4 years ago. They are still in excellent shape. Imaginarium is inexpensive and is compatible with Thomas & Brio. Let friends and family buy the expensive stuff for holiday & birthday gifts. We did buy his favorite Thomas, Percy & James b/c he was in love with the Thomas cartoon. I've never been disappointed. One note though... the cheap tracks you can buy at Target's dollar spot do NOT fit any of the other train sets. They're just not sized properly. I don't see them at Target very often, just wanted to warn you not to waste your money.

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S.M.

answers from Chicago on

While the Thomas and Brio wooden sets are very nice, my boys (5 and 4) actually prefer the Thomas and Friends Tomy/Tomica sets. The trains can run off of batteries or be pushed, which the boys love because sometimes they will build an elaborate track w/daddy and just watch them go, and other times they will build and play. The trains are also able to work on the floor. The track also seems to stay together better during play. Some of the engine sets also come with a remote control that the kids can use to make them go forward or backward and make music.

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K.

answers from Chicago on

I haven't used the Melissa and Doug set, though we have many of their other toys. We have a large set of Brio trains. I like them much better than the Thomas ones (I'm not a big fan of "character" toys in general). The brio trains are very high quality, and the tracks are well made and fit together beautifully. We started out with a basic set - a few cars and a circle track, and we add tracks, bridges, tunnels etc every birthday and Christmas. So the set grows and grows. It's great fun for all of us!

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