Thomas and Friends

Updated on November 10, 2010
L.C. asks from Palmerton, PA
18 answers

My daughter wants a Thomas train set for Christmas. There are so many different types. Take along, wooden, etc. Is there a type yo'd recommend?

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So What Happened?

I think I'm more confused than ever. There's also the Trackmaster -- the motorized version. Looks like plastic rather than wooden though. Any experience with this?

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answers from Detroit on

The wooden ones are a pain if she'll want to have it travel. The wooden ones are also easily taken apart... If you don't want HER to take it apart, I wouldn't recommend it.

My son LOVES Thomas. We have a couple train sets for him... One is a wooden one and the other is a plastic one. The plastic one clicks together better. We plan on getting the take along one this year for Christmas.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

My daughter also loves trains, and I'm looking at getting her the Circo (Target's brand I believe) train set, as my friend warned me that the Thomas train set system gets very very expensive...(just one train engine can cost like $22!). I haven't priced the Circo out yet but maybe that's an option you could consider?

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answers from Harrisburg on

I have the wooden, the "Take-Along Thomas" and the Trackmaster sets. I like the wooden ones the best.

The "Take-Along Thomas" set is nice for traveling. But, the small plastic tracks can be difficult for little kids to put together without breaking the tabs that fit the tracks together.

The Trackmaster sets are nice too. These plastic tracks are bigger than the "Take-Along Thomas" tracks and easier to put together. However, the trains are battery powered. If your daughter isn't old enough to know that the trains need to be turned off when not in use, then you risk going through lots of batteries fairly quickly. Plus, you can't push these trains around the track manually like you can with the other sets. The wheels don't move unless the trains are turned on.

I like the wooden sets the best. They are easy for little kids to put together and they are durable too. Your daughter can put the tracks together herself however she wants to and in different ways each time. If you buy genuine Thomas the Tank engine tracks and trains, it can get expensive over time. However, any Brio track sets are compatible with each other and can be less expensive. Another nice thing about the wooden sets is that some of the tracks can be flipped over to be used as roads for the small matchbox cars. For your daughter's first train set, I would recommend the wooden "figure 8" set.

I never bothered to get the train table. I think the table is too expensive and limiting. My kids put the tracks together directly on the living room carpet. Sometimes, they come up with very elaborate track designs that would never fit on one of those train tables.

Good luck with your decision. I hope my experience with all three of these different sets have helped you with deciding which to get your daughter.

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answers from Harrisburg on

I always bought one of our sons the Take Along! They're metal, so more durable. The wooden ones will rub paint off and I'm always concerned about painted items these days anyway. But the Take Along and a bit smaller and better for storage. The plastic tracks I like better than the wooden. They're durable for one. And also, you can just dump the plastic tracks in the sink and clean if something spills. The wooden ones are more porous and things will begin to soak into the wood. It seems like the stores are going back to more wooden than metal but any wooden ones my son has look trashed with use where the metal ones still look like new after 4 years! Love the metal Take Alongs!

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets
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answers from Chicago on

I highly recommend the wooden one :) My kids (DD is 3 yrs 3 mos) and son (turning two on Friday) LOVE IT! The stations and stuff are kind of expensive so I try to buy them on sale at amazon or Marshall's....just make sure you get the Thomas Wooden Railway stuff because the Take Along are smaller and do not run on the wooden track.



answers from Wichita on

If she is not at the point that she only wants to play with thomas then I would get a large wooden set so she can learn different ways to put them together (depending on her age). The remote control ones are a lot of fun too. If she only wants to play with thomas then I would suggest a small set of wooden & a take along so she can bring it with her.
Sorry I'm not sure what is all out there. My boys are 9 & 5 & they don't play with thomas any more.

God bless!



answers from Atlanta on

Wooden! They're great!



answers from Honolulu on

Does it have to be Thomas? That is so pricey.... then the lose interest in it, once they have it.
SO many of my friends, who got their kids that, that is what happened.

We have, from Toys R Us, the "Imagninarium" brand trains and train table. It is BETTER than Thomas... and according to my friends who got their kids Thomas sets. AND much cheaper.
The trains are tracks are wooden. AND it comes with everything, you see in the picture!
Here is the link for it:

My one friend, she comes over with her son who has the whole Thomas set up and train table. Her son, likes my son's trains/table more... and asks her if he can come over to play with it.

My Son, LOVES his train table set by Imaginarium.

Just an idea.

All the best,



answers from Philadelphia on

How much do you want to spend? My son is a Thomas the Train fanatic. It also depends on how room you have. The wooden ones are most expensive. Does she really like him or is it a phase? I would say the Duplo set is nice for about $44-$49. They have them at Target



answers from Pittsburgh on

But the track sets from IKEA. They are significantly cheaper. Then you can purchase the Thomas wooden trains from a site like Amazon where they are pretty inexpensive. The track is compatible with the trains in the "Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway" series.



answers from Philadelphia on

Trackmaster is horrible IMO. We have wooden, taken and play and trackmaster. The trackmaster ones are the newest and had broken parts almost immediately. I love the wooden ones and the take and play hold up well too. I know Target has a coupon for $5 off certain sets right now. My boys have a huge collection, but honestly started with one here and one there for birthdays and Christmas. My boys have been playing with them almost nonstop for 2 1/2 years so for us it has been an investment but they truly spend most of their days playing with the sets when they are playing so I figure it is worth it. You can always check on Craigslist for people selling their collections. Good luck!


answers from New York on

Well we bought our grandsons the thomas wooden trains and rails. They have gotten so much use. The kids learned colors, letter, and numbers from playing with the trains. They are pricey however they also stand up well to little ones.

Steer clear to the motorized ones. Not worth the money and the little ones tend to love taking the batteries out all the time.



answers from Lancaster on

my kids have a thomas that has a plastic track and battery opperated trains they love it



answers from Raleigh on

It depends on how much you want to spend. The wooden sets are sturdy, durable, and easy for kids to put together, but are expensive. You can also buy knock off track that works with the stations and trains just fine. I know with my son's wooden set, I will store it away for grandkids. Not so much with the plastic. The plastic varieties are less expensive, but less durable and harder to keep put together. For some reason, the track always snaps apart easily, and my son gets frustrated when he has trouble keeping it together or if the trains get stuck on two pieces that are not exactly snapped together. Hope this helps!



answers from Minneapolis on

This is what we did when my first was two.

Buy the Melissa and Doug big set (we paid about $75 for it after the holidays). It has enough wooden track to keep both my boys (now 5 and 4) totally happy building different layouts. It comes with a couple of engines and enough cars for two trains.

Supplement with the name brand Thomas engines. We only have Thomas and Harvey. We plan to get a couple more for the holidays this year.

As far as a train table, we used a table I had from IKEA that I'd had since I was single. It's a big coffee table and it is exactly the right size for kids to stand and play at. I painted my own river, lake and green for grass on it. My kids play cars, trains, dinosaurs, and everything else on it. I doesn't have an edge to keep the trains on, but at this point, that is a bonus, not a problem. We never really had problems containing the track.

My son (turning 4) wants an "electric" thomas for his birthday, so my Mom got him a set from Target that has a battery powered wooden Thomas, a nice amount of track and a bridge and tunnel - right now the set is on sale for $39 with a coupon.

Good luck!



answers from Pittsburgh on

We had all of them and the wooden was by far the best.



answers from New York on

We did a lot of research into this last year and I would strongly suggest getting a "basic" table (not the travel ones) and lots of track sets. If you look online at the "official site", you can view different layouts and it will tell you exactly which pieces to purchase.

We went with the wooden sets- more durable, but harder to locate and more expensive.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Beware! She is entering a cult! LOL
By the time my son was "done" with Thomas he had a complete wooden set, all of the take alongs, AND the battery operated ones!
Personally, I'd start with the wooden.

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