335 of 343 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2007
This train set is absolutely awesome -- right out of the box. You can tell it has quality craftsmanship and from the start is a way better deal than the overpriced Thomas Train sets and track. My husband is a hobby woodworker and the first thing he said was "wow, this is much better quality than I was expecting for the price!"
I could not find another set with as many "goodies" as this one has (bridges, supports, roundhouse, two trains, etc), all in one box and WITHOUT a bunch of "extras" that a young child won't play with. Most of the high piece count sets I saw online were 50% people, trees and signs -- but this one is mostly all track, bridges and usable accessories! It comes with 2 trains and a little semi with a 5th wheel trailer that runs on the track as well -- very cute!
The layout plans they send you (4 in the box) are super helpful to combine designs with a little time and effort or use their designs. We spent about $20 at Menards and bought a 4x4 sheet of pre-sanded plywood to anchor this set to. The hubby routed the corners and edges smooth, and trimmed it down to about 4x3' to fit the train set. Then he predrilled and counter sunk screws into the track and the supports so everything is secured down. This is absolutely PERFECT setup for a 2 year old boy being, well, a 2 YEAR OLD! He's rough and still learning fine motor skill control, so it's much more fun to play on a set that doesn't fall over with clumsy, rough play!
So my hubby made some extra risers out of 2x4's and he built a "high rise" section of track to make one big "roller coaster" leg that went from end to end, sending the trains down the hill at a pretty fast clip, and our son giggles when they derail on the other end from such high speed!
We also purchased the Mountain Tunnel Accessory Set that looks not only realistic (way better than Imaginarium from Toys R Us and others we looked at), but also seperates into two pieces: the top comes off to make another tunnel, the bottom piece has two tunnels that criss-cross. Our son LOVES THIS! He can take the top piece off and put it over other places of the track all by himself. It's pretty sturdy, thick and hard plastic, but not indestructible of course. It's stood up to his rough play so far, and we're VERY pleased with the quality and durability. Amazon was the best price and shipping (not free when I bought it) that I found online.
The two trains included with this set run perfectly around the track -- the wheels/axles are placed at the very ends of the cars, which is absolutely necessary in design for the cars to go smoothly over the up or downward curves of hills. Otherwise, the ends of the car will catch on the track and the train will separate. We found this out when we used the big diesel train (3 piece set from Imaginarium @ Toys R Us) on the hills. While the diesel engine and the 3 axle car work fine, the 2 axle car catches because the axles are set farther in from the end. Melissa & Doug sell a very similar set and it will likely have the better design with no problems catching on the hills -- so I recommend their set over the Toys R Us one I bought.
EXCELLENT BUY, EXCELLENT TOY -- ALL the bells and whistles of the more expensive sets but at an affordable price and still a high quality set! Plus it is compatible with the big name cars and track (Thomas, Brio, etc). There are multiple manufacturers for THomas, however, and some of them have different sizes than others, so you have to watch. But if it fits on the regular size Thomas track, the cars AND the Thomas track are compatible with this set -- so very handy. (We did a lot of research into this before buying!)
The roundhouse is VERY GOOD QUALITY, and every bit as good as the Thomas one we saw in Toys R Us. Our local store has a train set (secured to a table) set up at the store for the kids to play with -- so we got a lot of ideas on setup from that, and also could have a hands on quality comparison. ALL THE PARTS to this set are good quality for a wooden set and we are absolutely, completely satisfied with this purchase.
So we recommend for the youngest engineers, that you anchor this set to a big piece of plywood or something, but just use screws and counter sink them, so they're out of the way but you can take it apart later when the child is older and can handle rearranging it and putting together the track by himself. Our little guy can do this and we have other track that he can put together and play with, but the main set is MUCH MORE FUN for him with it secured, until he's bigger and more coordinated!
We already have a little play table for him, so we made a small frame on the bottom of the trainset board to fit snuggly over the table we had and keep it from sliding or moving around. We can move this set to the floor or on the table, and even me, THE WIFE, can pick it up and move it without too much effort!
We added our customer pictures to the product images.
119 of 123 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2006
I bought this set because my 5-year-old son has been begging for a Thomas the Train set and I cannot afford those prices! So I took a chance on this one, and I am THRILLED! The roundhouse is very high quality, almost identical to the Thomas the Train one which sells for $80. The set comes with lots of good quality wooden track (no splinters or sharp edges, and it all fits together fine), two bridges, a turntable, two cranes that are easy to operate, two trains, a truck, two people, trees, and signs.
Best of all, you can build the exact display shown on the box and still have leftover track! No disappointment!
My only complaint is that one of the little trains that came with it keeps losing a wheel. Not such a big deal for us, because we bought Thomas the Train engines to use instead (yes, they fit on the track just fine). This set is supposed to be compatible with Brio trains too, but we haven't tried those yet.
138 of 146 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2008
After reading other reviews for this product, I had high expectations for the quality of this train set. While it is acceptable for the price paid, it is not up to par with the Thomas train sets. My son already had a Thomas starter set and a few of the Thomas trains and the quality difference between the two sets is obvious.
--> Wheels are wobbly on all of the trains and do not stay on the track well. This is not an issue with the Thomas trains.
--> Paint is not particularly durable. These trains show more wear after a week of use than the Thomas trains do being several months older.
--> Detail is lacking, there is no comparison to the Thomas pieces. Roundhouse, crane, and other structures are very plain, no texture to the tracks and straight track pieces are flat on the underside whereas the Thomas track reverses to be road.
--> Crane/cargo lift doesn't lower with the crank, you have to grab the string and pull it out. It is also assembled and glued crooked so it barely slides on the dowels.
--> Suspension bridge is also not straight and acts like a teeter totter as you try to pass trains over it.
--> At least half of the provided layout ideas don't transfer from the paper to the real wooden track so well. Fit and function isn't quite right with all the pieces.
This set is still a very good value at the price Amazon is offering it at - similar Thomas sets I've seen were at least 5 times the price. I would still buy this set again, just be realistic about what you are buying, especially if you are already familiar with the Thomas trains/sets.
30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2007
I chose this railway set over Learning Curve because I believe their prices are inflated, and I was not disappointed with it. The set is well made overall, with smooth, well-fitting track and sturdy accessories. My son (3) and daughter (6) have played with the set for hours every day since we got it, both with equal fascination. It fits perfectly with Thomas accessories we already own. I have only three small caveats: 1) Buy some "sure track" clips to use on elevated portions of the track. We use it on a smooth, level surface (hardwood floor), but the clips really enhance the stability for active play. 2) The round turntable did not spin freely when we got it, because the blue center piece was not perfectly round. We drilled out the rivet and removed the blue center piece, sanded down the edges, and replaced it. Now it's very easy for my kids to operate. 3) The trains included have slightly wobbly wheels, compared to Thomas trains. But they are functional, and my kids use the trains interchangeably. It's a great set, and a real bargain.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2012
Ok I just paid my $1,600 dollar after holiday train bill and here are my thoughts:
1. You need a train table, Melissa and Doug make one.
2. Shop, Shop, Shop around; there are other table/train sets out there that you might prefer for the same price or cheaper.
3. This set is entirely compatable with the other major train brands, including Chuggington [unless you make a low overpass]
4. Even though I own 3 Thomas sets, this set fills in pieces that I need.
5. The track is great: Double sided except the strait pieces, fits togther well [some reports of defects in other posts] You can use a railway tie stamp if desired.
6. This track gives lots that I am missing and thus saves me money including:
a. A great round house, yes there are others better, but much more expensive. This one is solid, wood, and looks great, fits inside my Thomas round about set.
b. V-shaped connector track for my round house to go into one train track
c. Lots of male-male and female-female connectors.
d. A Golden Gate suspension bridge with two male sides [no biggie with the adapters] and allows Chuggington sized trains.
e. Many switch tracks, both male and female.
f. A huge bag of bridge supports. Did I mention huge? I like making double tall overpasses for my Chuggers.
g. A double switch track.
h. A Large magnetic crane. Yes many products are better, all are more expensive and this one gets the job done.
i. A crane that runs on risers. Again very nice.
j. A Garden bridge.
k More track than I can use considering my Thomas sets. Plenty to fill a train table.
l. A turn table. Good quality.
7. Ok folks, I get it; You need Sure clips. I police up my table daily but yeah they would be useful.
8. Two great well detailed trains a nice bonus.
91 of 111 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2007
As I child (in the 1960s) my neighbors had a wooden train set. My favorite thing in the world was going over to their house to play with it. Later I got a cheap imitation plastic one, but still spent hours and hours playing with it. So when I saw this in a local toy store I snagged it for my children last Christmas.
I was very pleased that the track seems to be made of solid oak that will last forever. I like the two trains that came in the set, and how the cars work with the loading and unloading facilities. I like the diversity and quantity of pieces.
I am disappointed with the quality of the turntable. It is hard for a child to turn and jams regularly.
I am really disappointed in the geometry of the pieces. It is supposed to take 8 curved pieces to make a circle so each curved piece should be exactly 45 degrees in curvature. This is not true. Even in the simple circles the short curves require the slop in the connections to make it fit. It really takes 9 pieces to make a nice circle with them. Then there is the turnouts. The curved section of the turnout should match a big curve track exactly. They are short by over 1/8". The straights come in 6", 2", and an odd ball 4.25"? At first I thought this was intentional to make up the difference for a reverse curve coming off a switch track. Unfortunately this is not true with either the short or long curves. The only way to make a nice siding is to use enough pieces that the slack can force the configuration. Properly designed track pieces would make it easy to build standard configurations without the joints straining to make it work right.
Finally the track layouts they provide in the few instruction sheets are difficult to build (especially for young children) and worse to run. It is like the person designing them threw them together because they looked good and consumed most of the pieces in the set. Many of them (including the one on the cover) don't even have the same distance of straight on the opposite sides of the oval. The errors in the usage of curved tracks is even worse. It is impossible to teach a child good geometric concepts using the plans provided with the set.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2010
I am shocked at all the glowing reviews for this train set. I bought this to supplement my son's Thomas sets, since Thomas is so expensive.
The tracks with this set are very shoddy. They don't stay together well at all. My son would get constantly frustrated with how the tracks fell apart. I bought the Suretrack clips and even with them on every single join, the tracks are still wobbly. The Thomas tracks stay together much better.
I was willing to accept this, because Thomas tracks are so much more expensive until I bought Kidkraft Limited Edition Waterfall Mountain Train Table and Train Set W/drawers. This is a full-size train table and train set for $150. The tracks that came with this set are just as good as the Thomas tracks for staying together. They aren't as pretty or detailed as the Thomas tracks, but they are equally functional. If this cheap set can work as well as Thomas tracks there is no excuse for this M&D set not to.
I unfortunately bought this set ahead of time by a few months so am unable to return it, which is what I really want to do. Sometimes a cheap item isn't worth what you pay for it. If you're looking for a cheaper alternative to Thomas trains I'd go with on of the Kidcraft sets before this one. I'm using a couple of the connector/splitter pieces of this set in our train set-up but almost the whole set just sits unused in our garage because the quality just isn't there. It isn't worth it to have my son whining every minute because Thomas keeps derailing off the M&D tracks.
I found this toy's low price tag was totally offset by the need to purchase Sureclips at $30+shipping. Go with a more expensive set that actually holds together. It doesn't have to be the super-expensive Thomas set.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2007
This is a fabulous train set, suitable for children as young as my grandson, who is not quite two years old. It has a wonderful variety of tracks and cars, as well as lovely trees, street signs and other accessories. It is very, very durable, yet is simple to put together, especially the cars, which simply click together via magnets. Personally, I think it's one of the best toys I've seen for interactive play! You can make a simple circle line or an elaborate railway system, or you can just play with the engines and cars, alone. Such versatility and allowance for imagiative play is refreshing. The wood is smooth (so no splinters) and the colors are very nice. I highly recommend this set, which is moderately priced, for anyone who wants to have years of fun with his/her child(ren).
40 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2006
This set is wonderful and wonderfully priced too. We were going to buy the Thomas expansion set for $40 and when we saw this we bought it instead and got so much more! We use it with our Thomas and Brio trains and tracks and for a fraction of the price of the Thomas train sets you get a ton of tracks, trains and accessories. Great deal! We are going to get the Melissa and Doug train table also. It's so much more reasonably priced than most other tables and even has a storage drawer that does not cost extra.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2011
I have never taken the time to write a review for anything I've purchased, yet I use reviews all the time to determine items that I want or don't want to purchase. I was so extremely pleased with this purchase I felt I needed to share.
We bought the M&D train set, table and Suretracks for my son's 2nd birthday. I was fairly certain i was going to be pleased with these items based on the reviews, but I was more than pleased! As other mention, the train set doesn't have a lot of fillers and it takes up almost every inch of the M&D trainset table. I cannot imagine we will use the table for anything other than a train table because the train set isn't something you want to take apart and put together a bunch of times. I would HIGHLY recommend purchasing the Suretracks with the train set. One box of Suretracks will secure about half of the trainset (that is suspended), so we had to purchase another box to secure the whole thing. The suretracks really help as little hands and bodies can easily tip over the suspended sections leading to major meltdowns. Another poster commented on the height of the table. My son is 2 and is extremely tall for his age and i think the height is perfect, simply because the table is long and wide, therefore he has to lean over to reach the middle of the tracks. If it was much higher he wouldn't be able to reach the center. The tracks are also compatiable with Circo (target brand wooden tracks and trains) and Thomas (wooden).
I did a lot of research and in my opinion this is without a doubt the best deal for your money. My son LOVES playing with his train set. As far as the table is concerned scratching easy, etc... we haven't had any problem with that yet, but i am not too worried if it does. I don't expect any children's toy to remain in mint condition, that is just me. I also think the drawer is a nice feature. Is it huge? No... but you can definitely store several items in there and it is a nice perk in comparision to other tables.