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For my twin boys’ first Christmas we were very keen on buying a train set. My boys were 11 months old for their first Christmas but in order to buy toys for them to “grow into” we decided to not just buy for the 12 months age group and looked for toys they would benefit from as they got older and felt looking at the 18 months + age group would be better investments. Because we had two children and refused to buy them a train set each we were keen to buy a train set that was large and suitable for two children to share and the Little Tikes Road and Rail Set seemed to fit this criteria.
***Little Tikes Road and Rail Set*** The Little Tikes Road n Rail Set is a plastic 4 piece train and road set. Little Tikes describe the toy to be “easy to assemble” and can be taken apart for “compact” storage.
The set consists of a green plastic mountain. This has two tunnels which lead into the mountain and the yellow plastic road track which consists of 11 pieces of road connects to the mountain. The mountain also has a tunnel underneath it which the grey plastic rail track which consists of 20 pieces fits into. The rail and road rack are connected by crossing bridge. The set also comes with 3 people figures, a train (with 3 carriages), a car and a helicopter.
When fully assembled and set up the set is about 130cm long and 100cm wide. The mountain is about 50cm high.
Little Tikes states the train set is suitable from 18 months old.
The Little Tikes Road and Rail Set is available from a number of toy retailers in store and online. This includes Toys R Us, Smyths, Argos, Tesco. The RRP for the toy is £34.99.
We purchased this in October 2010 for £29.99 from Argos. For a train set of this size this is an average to higher price in comparison to other products we looked at. We did look at more expensive train sets however these included more pieces of track and also more vehicles.
***Playing with it*** We purchased the Little Tikes Road and Rail Set for Christmas for our twin boys. This was our first Christmas as parents so on Christmas Eve, Mr Lools and I were very excited to get our boys to bed so we could start wrapping and assembling some of the bigger toys which included the Little Tikes Road and Rail Set. Our enthusiasm was short lived once we realised this toy was not as straightforward as we hoped or how the instructions showed. The set comes in a large box. Once you open this all of the pieces of track are in a cellophane bag, the figures and vehicles in another and the mountain comes in two pieces. For the first use
Pictures of Little Tikes Road and Rail Set
Little Tikes Road and Rail Set
you need to screw the top half of the mountain to the bottom half of the mountain. This sounds simple but it was not. This requires a screwdriver (not provided) to screw in four screws to secure this together. The top of the mountain is supposes to fit into grooves in the bottom of the mountain and the plastic slots together. We spent over 20 minutes battling (and swearing) to put this together and in the end came to the conclusion that the plastic was slightly warped and would not fit together neatly. We managed to screw the mountain together but it did sit wonky and if you looked at the tunnel entrances these looked like they were on a slant.
Using the instructions we put the yellow road track together and connected this to the mountain. The pieces did go together very easily however I did feel that the pieces of track did not grip together securely. I also felt because the mountain was on a very slight slant this had a knock on effect to the road track and it did not lie flat to the floor and some pieces seemed to be very slightly lifting up from the floor. The grey plastic rail track also fit together with the help of following instructions. I did
It is advisable to keep the instructions so you can refer back to it if you need to put the track back together as it only really has one way to assemble it and you need to set the track out correctly in order for the cross over bridge to be in the correct position to combine the road and rail track.
We did set this out for my boys when they were 11 months old even though Little Tikes state this is suitable for children from over 18 months old. There are no pieces which could present a choking hazard and all of the figures and pieces of tack are rounded. At 11 months old my boys were more interested in playing with the figures and vehicles but didn’t really take interest in pushing the vehciles on the track. In fact we found that within 5 minutes the track was completely in pieces as the two of them had crawled all over it which had caused it to come around. By simply knocking the track makes it come apart.
We decided after Christmas Day 2010 to put the trainset away until my boys were closer to 18 months. We got this out again at 16 months old when my boys were showing more of an interest in trains and they were able to sit down and play with toys rather than getting bored of them within 5 minutes. At 16 months old they were able to push the vehicles around the track and did seem to get enjoyment from this, especially from pushing the car into the mountain and watching it zoom down the downhill slope. Although the tracks are large enough for two children to play with as there is enough space, the set would benefit from more vehicles in order to encourage children to share as there is only really a train, car or helicopter to play with. I did find that after 10 minutes or so the main game was for my boys to pull the track apart. Lots of grunt and shouts to me would alert me that they needed some help putting it back together which I would do only to find them shrieking and pulling the track apart again and wanting to rebuilt with 2 minutes or so.
My friends little boy is 3 and he regularly plays with the rail and road set when he comes to visit. In his opinion “its not as good as his Thomas the Tank trainset at home” which is a much larger track and has more trains (with more detail and functions to them). Watching him play is very interesting and he really uses his imagination when playing. He pushes the cars on the road track and always giggles as they whizz fast out of the mountain and down this slope. He also lifts the rail bridge for the train to cross safely and explains that he doesn’t want the car and train to crash. I feel my boys once they get to two and a half years old will play more carefully and with the same level of imagination. Although older children play more imaginatively with this train set I do still think it is better for the 2-3 age group as the basic vehicles and track make it slightly young for over 3’s and as my friends little boy has shown he prefers a larger track and more realistic trains and vehicles.
Currently when I watch my boys at 20 months old they do push the vehicles around the track for short periods and make babbling sounds so I feel they are being imaginative, but I do think they still have more interest in pulling the pieces of track apart and throwing it around the room. Strangely they have a wooden train set from ELC and my mum’s house and they do not do this with this train set only the Little Tikes set. I feel that this is partially due to the Little Tikes set track coming apart very easily; their ELC track actually stay together if they lift it up.
I do feel the quality of the Little Tikes Road and Rail set is satisfactory but not to the same high quality that the majority Little Tikes toys are made to. The plastic is extremely strong and durable and not at all flimsy but I feel firstly the warped plastic mountain was disappointing as was the fact the pieces of the track come apart a little too easy. Young toddler especially knock the track with their feet as they play which makes it come apart and as a mum you find yourself constantly trying to fix this. The plastic track is very easy to keep clean and the tough durable plastic both the track figures and vehicles are made from are very easy to wipe clean.
My other criticism of the toy is that it is very bulky to store so not a toy I would recommend for those lacking storage space. The mountain once assembled acts as a corner piece and can’t be dissembled unless every time you want to use the toy you want to screw it back together (which took us 20 minutes to do). This is about 50cm high by about 50cm wide and 40cm long. You then have to store all of the pieces of track and figures to keep them all together in order to not lose pieces. The original box is far too big and bulky to do so however you will need a large carrier bag at least to keep all of the track together. With so many pieces you do need to take care it is packed away together and as all parents of young children and toddlers will know this is not always an easy task. You could keep the train set assembled all of the time but would need a sizeable piece of floor space to do so as it is about 150cm wide by about 130cm long when set out.
***Overall*** This is not a terrible toy but as a parent I am slightly disappointed with it as a purchase especially as it was £29.99 so not the cheapest rail set on the market. As a parent if you’re considering purchasing this for your child be aware it is bulky to store and you have to option of having it set up all of the time or stored away. With the stored away option the mountain section cannot be dissembled and the track when broken up takes up the space of at least 1 large carrier bag or 1 large box!
My experience with Little Tikes toys over the last 19 months has been extremely positive except for this toy. Little Tikes usually make their toys with strong very durable plastic and all parts of the toy fits together well. The Road and Rail Set is made from thick durable plastic; much thicker than many similar train sets but I do think the main mountain part of the set does not fit together. Even with both Mr Lools and I trying to put it together correctly the plastic looks like it has warped slightly therefore does not easy click together and therefore is not properly aligned and looks wonky to the eye and also means the road track does not lie completely flat.
The set is bright and colourful, and great for little hands to play with. It is also large enough for two children to play with so minimises fighting and squabbles for track space. However for those with young toddlers be warned that your track maintenance skills will be needed regularly as your child plays with this.
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