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#1 of 18 Old 03-21-2012, 08:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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my daughter (who is about to turn five) has asked for a train set for her birthday.  a friend of hers has quite an elaborate train set up (complete with train table and hundreds of pieces).  that's not an option for us right now, but would like to maybe get her some kind of starter set. 

 

i love the plan toys/plan city stuff.  would love something i can add to, especially since she also has a younger brother (about to turn one) who will also be able to enjoy it for years to come.  would eventually like to get a table to put it all on as well.

 

just wondering what kinds of set ups people have or what piece i should start with.  don't want to spend more than $100.

 

also, if people have recommendations for other brands, i'd appreciate it.  i've seen a couple that give you a lot for your money, but they just look really cheap to me.

 

TIA  :)


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#2 of 18 Old 03-22-2012, 06:26 AM
 
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We have a wooden set that is a combination of Ikea, Sears and Thomas as pretty much all the wooden sets are interchangeable.  It has been well used over the years.  My twins are almost 4 and they like to use it a lot.  My dd though at age 5 was starting to outgrow it.  If you have a younger child though it may still be something worth getting.  Although expensive (I know you said $100 limit but I'm not sure how much it would be), my dd (almost 7 now) loves Playmobil and has for the past 2 years.  I'm pretty sure they have a train and accessories and it would maybe hold her interest longer.  It also keeps it's value and can easily be passed down to younger children.  I'm not familiar with the Plan Toys train.


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#3 of 18 Old 03-22-2012, 07:46 AM
 
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We have been adding to our plan city road and rail set for years.  Started with with the little Brio starter set, which might be a bit dull for a 5yo.

 

Plan city has several rail and road sets for under $100.  And a crazy cool roller-coaster-looking set for just shy of $200.  Yup, too expensive.  

 

Any wooden train set fits into another, and the plancity road sets fit into those.  As far as good quality, Brio is my favorite, though it's been awhile since I've bought that one.  But my 5yo loves all the plancity cars and trucks.  She just got the parking garage for her birthday from her grandma.


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#4 of 18 Old 03-22-2012, 09:36 AM
 
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Try Ikea and Target for a basic set. Also look at discount stores like Marshalls. I see Thomas the Tank Engine sets (and other Brio) there at reduced prices from time to time. As long as the Thomas stuff is the wood sets, it will be compatible with other Brio (I think wood Thomas is made by Brio), Plan, and other sets. Even if you don't like Thomas, some of the sets have cool pieces that are nice to have if the price is right. 

 

We have some cheap post office wood set that was compatible (from Marshall's) that the kids loved because it had a mail truck with a package, a mail box, and a little building with a conveyor belt. The only problem was the paint scratched off more easily. 

 

 


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#5 of 18 Old 03-22-2012, 12:27 PM
 
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I would look around at train tables. My parents, "Santa" got my ds a train table at Costco for christmas and it was about $120 - and it was a complete set. My ds loves it, and has gotten more trains from relatives to add to the set.

 

It's great because I can use it as a craft table too.

 

When you get tracks though, make sure they are compatible with "Brio" tracks. That seems to be the "standard" size, and are mostly very easy to find - if you end up with another size it will be harder to add to the collection! I know Ikea train tracks are compatible with Brio tracks, and most toy trains are too - just make sure before you buy because like I said most tracks are that size and other sizes are hard to find!

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#6 of 18 Old 03-22-2012, 02:47 PM
 
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I'm not sure if it's money or space that keeps you from getting a train table, but if it's money... be creative!  Our boys are big-time train kids, so the trains they were building needed more room than a standard train table.  We went and got a 4 x 8 piece of particle board and painted it green, then set it on top of 4 apple boxes from the grocery store.  If 4 x 8 is too big, just have the store cut it down for you.  I'm not sure why, but having the trains up off the ground makes it much more enjoyable, at least for my kids!  Another idea I had was to get a coffee table off of craigslist, usually you can find them for free. I would glue some dowel rods on the edges to keep the trains from slipping off the edge.

 

I agree that any wooden train set would be fine.  They all fit together.  We have a hodge podge or Thomas, Brio and misc. trains.  I am a huge fan of getting more for your money by buying from craigslist or ebay.


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#7 of 18 Old 03-22-2012, 04:38 PM
 
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My kids didn't like the train tables. They were too confining. They preferred to build all over the house. eyesroll.gif So, I'd invest $100 in some good trains (try Craigslist) over a table. You should be able to get a lot for that money, especially if you're willing to buy used.

 

We were lucky that dh's godmother was majorly into collecting and decided our kids 'needed' a Thomas set. The good news is that it's compatible with lots of other sets. I think it's compatible with the Plan toys -- they've sort of standardized things.

 

I'd start with some straight track, some curvy track and a bridge or two (bridges are really fun), and then go from there.


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#8 of 18 Old 03-22-2012, 05:37 PM
 
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We like building our trains on the ground, too.  Yoga mats help keep the tracks and roads from shifting.

 

If you invest in wooden railroads, find a store that stock bulk pieces and buy 2 double-male and 2 double-female pieces.  I also like the stretch of track that is bendy.  Otherwise you'll often have trouble getting your track just so.


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#9 of 18 Old 03-23-2012, 02:20 AM
 
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http://www.amazon.com/Piece-Wooden-Train-Track-Pack/dp/B005AW0RNS/ref=sr_1_2?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1332494211&sr=1-2

 

http://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Doug-Wooden-Train-Cars/dp/B000NV7N2Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1332494251&sr=1-1

 

http://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Doug-Mountain-Bridge-Tunnel/dp/B0037UV06S/ref=sr_1_6?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1332494307&sr=1-6

 

http://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Doug-Deluxe-Wooden-53-Piece/dp/B0006NGVPY/ref=sr_1_5?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1332494338&sr=1-5

 

We've been able to use all of these at one point or another and I can say they all work well.  I don't have issue with M&D stuff and its much less expensive then other comparable items.


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#10 of 18 Old 03-23-2012, 03:53 AM
 
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I started off with a Thomas set, when my 16-year-old twins were toddlers.  Over the years - right up through this Christmas, when my youngest was 3 - I have added to it with Brio (my favorite), cheapie sets from Target and Wal-Mart home brands and sets I've found at 2nd-hand shops and garage sales (usually Thomas or Brio).  The point is, they all fit together, so there's no need to limit yourself.  

 

The bridges, cranes, train stations, etc. from the name-brand sets tend to be nicer, but the essential need is as many basic track pieces as possible ("straights", "curves" and the branched pieces). I don't see any reason to worry about those being cheap.  The more you have, the more you can build.

 

As a former preschool teacher, I'd emphasize that train tables are great for classrooms, where you need to define the space where train tracks can be used without bothering the other kids who are assembling floor puzzles, playing board games, etc.  But they really limit how kids can lay out a track.  I wouldn't have one at home.  Then again, I don't mind stepping over a huge, meandering track in my living room, that weaves through the furniture legs and uses the sofa as a tunnel...as long as my little one's being creative and cleans it up before bed.


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#11 of 18 Old 03-23-2012, 06:08 PM
 
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If she has a younger sibling lego could be a great option as well

 

http://shop.lego.com/en-US/Deluxe-Train-Set-5609

 

http://shop.lego.com/en-US/Flexible-Train-Tracks-8867

 

http://shop.lego.com/en-US/Passenger-Train-7938


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#12 of 18 Old 03-23-2012, 07:16 PM
 
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We have this and love it.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Doug-Deluxe-Wooden-Railway/dp/B000FIN2E8/ref=sr_1_1?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1332555201&sr=1-1

 

We've also added some Thomas stuff to it too. It's all compatible. It's a great set though, and comes with tons of pieces and trains. We've never had a problem with quality. The set also has great reviews on Amazon (which is why we got it in the first place).

 

We also have a train table, but it now never gets used. DS always builds on the floor.

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#13 of 18 Old 03-24-2012, 06:15 AM
 
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Like others we've always built the track on the floor and most of out layouts would be far to big to fit on a table.

 

Track wise we have quite a selection, I've found the toys are us own brand is reasonably priced and seems to have held up as well as the brio. I do prefer the brio engines though. Bridges are great, when they a little I prefer a solid bridge which doesn;t get knocked over so easily. Now they are older they prefer the ramp pieces of track and supports (or wooden blocks) to build raised sections of track. Also if you can find them the little pieces of track, an inch and a half or so long are great for making a layout whcih joins up. We've also got some with the same connector on each end which come in quite handy.

 

At 5 & 7 mine now prefer the battery powered engines to the push along ones we had when they were smaller. The brio smart track one is especially cool if you can find it. It reads sensors in special sections of track and reacts to them. You can make it stop, slow down, speed up, sound it's horn and so on. DS got one for his birthday and has really enjoyed it. It's added a new lease of life to the set for a while.

 

 

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#14 of 18 Old 03-29-2012, 03:29 PM
 
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I'd divide your search into a couple of parts: actual train tracks, trains, and buildings.

 

I can recommend the Plan Toys sets. They are terrific quality and all of the parts wear super well. Plus, I really like their style. My kids particularly love the cars that can take people inside and the drawbridge is cool.

 

Melissa and Doug makes mediocore train stuff (design is terrible, horrible aesthetic, quality is poor) but their tracks aren't bad. Maple Landmark has really, really cool track pieces and excellent bridges. 

 

Cool tracks and bridges, Made in USA: http://www.maplelandmark.com/nametrains/track.lasso

 http://www.maplelandmark.com/nametrains/bridges.lasso

 

One of our favorite trains: http://www.cowandlizard.com/product/plancity-eco-train-station

 

Open stock from Plan Toys, the only place I've every seen it http://www.cowandlizard.com/product/plancity-wooden-train-tracks

 

We always build on the floor, because train tables are too small and confining.

 

You could easily pick up some pieces on CL and then supplement the bells and whistles.

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#15 of 18 Old 03-30-2012, 05:08 AM
 
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Our kids have the Melissa and Doug set. It was like 80 bucks for a large starter set and we add pieces and trains to it occasionally. It has held up really well and they have had it for two years.


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#16 of 18 Old 04-09-2012, 11:16 AM
 
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Goodness it seems so odd to be the only one n this thread that is a GeoTrax fan. We love geotrax


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#17 of 18 Old 04-09-2012, 12:12 PM
 
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Our wooden Thomas pieces were added to our set over many years.  I was sad to speak with a train shop owner who said that they are no longer making the wooden Thomas pieces, and what they have in their shop is "it."  You can get plastic stuff at TRU, but I would opt for wooden stuff whenever possible.  You can even repaint it when the trains get dinged up (they will).  Our 13 year old LOVED trains from age 2 and so we started very small.  I think the last trains we added were when our son was around 3, so our daughter was about 9 by that time.  We have not added anymore.  We have a train table; it was a late addition.  I would echo others; if you have space for it and want it, you can get it, but trains work great on the floor.  If you have high pile carpet, it will be hard there, but we had train tracks all over the LR when dd1 was in preschool and kg, especially.  When we moved the house was smaller and not so much, then all over the family room when we moved again.  We have "Plan" stuff, Thomas stuff, generic stuff, Ikea stuff, and it is all compatible.

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#18 of 18 Old 04-09-2012, 04:14 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekka View Post

Our wooden Thomas pieces were added to our set over many years.  I was sad to speak with a train shop owner who said that they are no longer making the wooden Thomas pieces, and what they have in their shop is "it."  You can get plastic stuff at TRU, but I would opt for wooden stuff whenever possible.  You can even repaint it when the trains get dinged up (they will).  Our 13 year old LOVED trains from age 2 and so we started very small.  I think the last trains we added were when our son was around 3, so our daughter was about 9 by that time.  We have not added anymore.  We have a train table; it was a late addition.  I would echo others; if you have space for it and want it, you can get it, but trains work great on the floor.  If you have high pile carpet, it will be hard there, but we had train tracks all over the LR when dd1 was in preschool and kg, especially.  When we moved the house was smaller and not so much, then all over the family room when we moved again.  We have "Plan" stuff, Thomas stuff, generic stuff, Ikea stuff, and it is all compatible.

We don't have Thomas pieces because I don't like licensed products but I have to agree with you. The Thomas stuff my sister has (wooden, lifetime warrenty, pre-multiple recalls) is good quality. The newer pieces are just junk. And expensive! You can pick up the older pieces on CL or at garage sales.

 

I forgot to add that I have a real soft spot for lego duplo tracks. They are very easy to build for a younger child and you can pickup lots on ebay.

 

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