It all began when my son started staying with a friend of mine a few days a week while I was at work. At the time, my friend had two children, a little girl who is a year and a half older than my big man, and a son who is 6 months younger. The little girl loved Thomas the Train, and soon my big man was hooked. Now my son was still very young, about a year and a half old at the time, so he wasn’t interested in building tracks. It was about the characters and the concept of trains. As he got older, it has become all about designing tracks and making the longest train ever.
Now let’s be honest, if you have purchased any Thomas, you know that it isn’t the cheapest toy on the block. As a matter a fact, we often joke saying that our Thomas collection is our children’s University fund. When I started looking at trains I was very surprised at all the different kinds, and brands there were out there. In the area of cost, Brio is top, then Thomas, followed by Melissa and Doug and most recently HAPE has come out with a train set. (Click on the brand names for links to their train pages.)
Most of the train brands say that they can be interchanged, and for the most part, through our experience it can be. The only time that we have had any issues has been when we bought a battery operated train. When it went around the track, the connection between different brand pieces sometimes did not go too smooth.
Most of our investment has been in Fisher Price Thomas the Train Wooden train. I love the variety of characters, destinations, that every train has its name painted on the bottom, and the various products outside of the trains themselves. When it came to purchasing our Thomas collection, we did not go brand new, full price. We looked for sales, Craigslist, Thrift Stores, anything that might have the items for a lower cost. We found that Toys R Us, Chapters, and Wal-Mart often had Thomas on sale.
Our favorite discovery has been a wonderful store in Burnaby, British Columbia called Totally Thomas Town (www.totallythomastown.com). This store carries new and used Thomas (as well as a few other train brands). You can shop online, but we highly recommend checking them out in person. Their selection is phenominal including those hard to find pieces and staff are extremely well educated in the Island of Sodor. It is also near Burnaby Central Railway which is a fabulous train ride experience for little train lovers, and let’s be honest, the parents too.
Here our just a few of our favorite Thomas the Train Items:
- Track Accessories:
Another favorite that is not Thomas brand, but that works with our Thomas track is Brio. The ferry is a hit with our boys as living in the Gulf Islands it is part of our daily life that feeds their imagination. Brio is a bit harder on the wallet than Thomas & Friends but is excellent quality, has tons of great selection, and is something that our boys will pass onto their kids one day.
What are some of your favorite Thomas or train pieces? What are some of your kids favorite toy collections?