Most helpful critical review
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Great when it worked properly
on January 22, 2014
I purchased this train set as a surprise for my son, intending to set it up around the base of the tree on Christmas Eve so that it's ready for him to play with when he woke up Christmas morning. The package came very well protected by a cardboard box that I believe is the shipping box direct from Lionel as it fit the actual item box perfectly. Despite the good packaging, I found that two of the plastic bumpers on Clarabel, the passenger car, had broken off. I was able to glue one back on, but the other did not want to cooperate as easily. This was a minor detail, but I feel it needs to be mentioned as the cars are very well protected by the styrofoam, yet these pieces still broke. The biggest problem I had, though, was that after I set up everything, I could only get the train to go in reverse. When I tried to make it go forward, it would make all the chuffing sounds as if it were moving, but it would not. Needless to say, my son was quite disappointed, but he made the best of the reverse-traveling train. At some point, it did decide to work going forward, but after sitting powered off, it would go back to reverse-only. For the amount of money we paid for it, this just wasn't acceptable. I hope that this is a one-off non-representative sample as it is otherwise a pretty nice train. If it worked properly, I would probably give it 5-stars despite the cons listed below. My son loved it despite its obvious drawback and was extremely disappointed to have to send it back, especially since it was the one thing he really wanted for Christmas.
Generally speaking, here are the pros and cons aside from the above problem.
- Thomas makes cool chuffing sounds as he moves along the track, and this can be toggled.
- The size of the train is great for Christmas Tree duty and young hands to maneuver.
- The AC power is provided by an included adapter that plugs into the power supplier track via a standard barrel connector. Plug and Play easy. It would be nice if there were an inline power switch instead of having to unplug the AC adapter, but this is minor and not really worthy of putting it in the Cons list.
- The tracks snap together easily and hold together very well. This is a far cry easier to assemble than the HO scale tracks I had as a kid, where you had to slide little connectors on each end of the rails and rely on those to hold the tracks together. The tracks also have plastic raised beds, which get the tracks up off of carpet and away from loose strands, pet hair, dust bunnies, etc.
- Remote control for controlling forward/reverse, speed, and activating the three sounds.
- Thomas comes with a Santa hat as well as three latex alternate faces that slide over his default face. When the alternate faces are on, you can't tell they're not the standard face.
- Thomas's eyes look back and forth when he moves.
- The tops of Annie and Clarabel are removable, so you can actually put little figures or tiny presents in there. The tops are painted white as if they have snow on them. It would be nice if they included regular tops so that you could run it in non-Christmas mode.
- It comes with 8 curved pieces, which is enough to make a complete circle of approx. 36", and 2 straight pieces.
- Thomas still makes certain sounds even if you turn off the chuffing, so there is no "silent" or "quiet" mode.
- The couplers on the cars did not always want to connect. You really need to have both cars on straight track for the couplers to connect. If either one is even slightly on a curve, they will not activate the button that closes the couplers.
- Thomas's smoke stack came off pretty easily when picking up the engine. This came in handy, though, as the eyes stopped moving for some reason, and I had to reinsert the plastic tab that controlled the eye motion.