Thomas the Train - Motorized Trackmaster or Nice Wooden Set - which do you have?

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Posted 11/15/2010 by pharmscraps in NSBR Board


PeaNut 327,835
July 2007
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Posted: 11/15/2010 10:52:34 AM
This Thomas stuff is quite an investment, and I love the giant wooden Thomas set, but it is $$$$$!!
My dh thinks my son would have more fun with the plastic Trackmaster sets because they are motorized.
I guess I'm just wondering which sets your kids have and why before we make the big investment. If you have the wooden set do they actually make the train go around the set themselves or is it something that sits in the corner? I don't need anything else to gather dust

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PeaNut 341,472
October 2007
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Posted: 11/15/2010 11:18:43 AM
both. I saved my oldest sons and asked for pieces over the years. he plays with wooden, plastic, and Geotrax. can't go wrong with Thomas.


PeaNut 41,207
June 2002
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Posted: 11/15/2010 11:22:15 AM

I can't think of another toy that DS loved from the age of 2-8. Over the years we just kept getting more and more pieces. We had it all.

His favorite was the wooden trains. The others were loved as well but they were called "wrong trains" because he couldn't use them on the wooden tracks.

I have since had relatives ask if they could buy our collection (DS is almost 10 now) I can't part with it. Not only did we spend a small fortune there are so many memories tied up in those trains. We will be saving them for his children.

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PeaNut 161,211
August 2004
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Posted: 11/15/2010 11:58:36 AM
DH still talks about his BRIO track and this Christmas is Train Christmas for JJ.

Many of the wood train sets work together, so we purchased a BRIO battery operated engine and then a wooden set from IKEA and another one from ALDI.

We are not sure if we will make a table or buy one or skip it, but this Christmas will be all about the Wooden Choooo Choooooooos! *Grin*

When he gets older we decided that if he is still interested in trains then we will start buying one of the "real" train sets and see how that goes.

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PeaNut 110,613
October 2003
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Posted: 11/15/2010 12:04:16 PM
We have the wooden stuff.

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PeaNut 217,886
August 2005
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Posted: 11/15/2010 12:08:23 PM
my son had both, but preferred the plastic tracks. (Blue track, but now I think it is brown?)

He is almost 7 but has moved on to "O" gauge trains.

And I thought Thomas was expensive!


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PeaNut 2,874
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Posted: 11/15/2010 12:09:00 PM
Wooden, it lasts forever!

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PeaNut 471,001
June 2010
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Posted: 11/15/2010 12:15:01 PM
We have them all - trackmaster, take along, wooden, lego, megablocks, and early engineers.

I do NOT recommend the take along. It is virtually impossible to get the tracks to stay together and DS can't build it by himself (though he can easily build the wooden and trackmaster).

My favorite is the wooden. It is classic, lasts forever, and is easy for even young kids (DS could build them by himself by 2). The wood sets are on sale at Toys R Us now. For example, the table is only $150.

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PeaNut 86,755
May 2003
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Posted: 11/15/2010 12:34:02 PM
Wooden for sure. I have 3 boys, ages 18, 14 and 6 and those wooden tracks and trains have gotten hours and hours worth of use.

WIth the wooden ones they can build and re-build over and over. You can buy cheaper tracks and plain trains (Toys R Us Imaginarium and IKEA) and then add in cool Thomas sets.

The motorized sets are cool but the kids build them, turn on the engine and watch them go around the track. With the wooden ones my boys climbed around the floor and the table, made cool layouts and actually played with all of the pieces.

My youngest has just recently outgrown them. We packed them up for grand-children. Out of 18 years worth of buying them we have probably only had to throw out a handful of items that got broken. The rest has lasted through hours of play. All the plastic ones got broken over time.



PeaNut 327,835
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Posted: 11/15/2010 1:50:53 PM
Wow - this has been incredibly helpful - thank you. Anyone else??


PeaNut 481,372
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Posted: 11/15/2010 2:02:14 PM
We also have both. My kids (boy and girl) have always played with the motorized more than the wooden. They love to play with wooden train sets when we are out at stores, etc. but always want the motorized one at home. It has also been much easier to keep together (the track) and for them to put together on their own. Both work on the train table, but they love to spread the motorized one out on the floor.

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 471,001
June 2010
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Posted: 11/15/2010 3:03:02 PM
I've already commented, but a few more details... just to think about:

As I mentioned, we have ALL the sets. Wooden is my fave, followed by Trackmaster. I don't dislike Trackmaster, or think they are bad, but here are a few things to think about re TM:
I find the trains to be loud and annoying when they are turned on.
You have to have quite a large set of tracks to let more than one engine run on them at the same time.
The trains take C and D batteries and go through them quickly.
There are some trains (James and Mollie come to mind) that are the engine and a coal car coupled together with wire and the battery goes in the coal car. This style seems to get broken VERY quickly. The wire covers come off and I worry about my child playing with the exposed wires.
The trains and playsets available in TM are more limited and (at least in my area) harder to find in person than the wooden trains, so I spend a lot on S&H with the TMs.
If the trains come off the rails or run into the wall or obstacles, the resistance can burn the motor out quickly.
If dropped the trains fall apart (cover comes off, battery pops out) - they can be put back together easily, but it depends on the age of your kids if this bothers you or not.
The trains are forever turning themselves on if they get jostled in the toy box...then I have to sort through and find the one that is on. Argh.

Anyway, I know this sounds like a long list of complaints. I don't hate the trains and I do continue to buy them for my kids, I just find them much more annoying than the wooden ones.

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PeaNut 211,494
June 2005
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Posted: 11/15/2010 3:50:46 PM
We have all the track. Wooden and both types of plastic. My ds loves trains and he plays with all of them. There are battery operated cars that work with the wooden track. I like the wooden track best and we have the more of that then anything else. My ds can fill a room with the wooden track. He likes to take the plastic track outside and play with that with his friends. He is four. This Christmas he wants an HO scale model train. We got him some used track and engine this summer. He loves it and does pretty well with that. I thought Thomas was spendy but it is nothing compared to the actual model trains. He asked for one engine that was $300 and that was on sale. Needless to say he isn't getting that one.


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PeaNut 501,224
March 2011
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Posted: 3/5/2011 7:40:07 PM
As a mother of two boys who are two years apart, I first started out with the wooden Thomas the Train engine and friends but I switched to the battery operated trains called Trackmaster. I did this for two reasons, for one my son Adam likes to chew on his toys and I became worried about the painted wooden trains so I decided to go with the Trackmaster Thomas trains instead. I'm keeping the wooden trains for my grandchildren, hopefully they won't chew them! Anyway the battery trains have been a big hit as we have nearly 45 engines in total so far. I primarily buy them new but on occasion I will by a used lot of these trains on eBay. Don't forget that A Day Out with Thomas 2011 is here, I am in the process of ordering tickets for this Spring.


Charles and Adam with their Trackmaster Trains


PeaNut 247,320
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Posted: 3/5/2011 8:20:51 PM
We bought a nonThomas table and set up. That's for the wooden trains. He got this for his 3rd birthday. He had a few wooden tracks before that.

He slowly started collecting the motorized larger plastic trains that take the plastic track. DH bought that track. He loves to just race the large plastic trains on the floor. That is mostly how he plays with them.

I don't even want to know what we've spent on trains. He has the metal die cast trains, too. He has the pullback trains as well.

He lives and breathes trains. The nice thing is that we take trains when he misbehaves. Glad to have something he responds to.

We also have 3 Chuggington trains... I love that show!


PeaNut 174,798
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Posted: 3/5/2011 9:10:05 PM
we got the wooden set. although to save money, we bought a large square coffee table and the non thomas brand mixed with the thomas brand. then my dh screwed all of the pieces down on the table because they always were knocking it to pieces. it saved me and them loads of aggravation. and it was great because it was up off of the floor and easier to play around (and easier to clean around too!) that way, our only investment was trains. as we made the track use up as much table space as possible, therefore having a track that didn't become boring because it had a lot of track!



PeaNut 253,768
March 2006
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Posted: 3/5/2011 9:14:45 PM
We have both- the wooden ones on a Target brand train table at home and the motorized one at the cabin. My DS has had them for awhile now- he gets easily frustrated with the motorized ones since they can fall off the track. We buy the cheap train tracks (whatever Target's brand is) and then hit up the used children's stuff store for used wooden trains and I have used my Barnes and Noble coupons for some of the trains, too.

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PeaNut 246,034
January 2006
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Posted: 3/5/2011 9:37:40 PM
I think it depends on the kid. If your son would like taking the tracks apart, putting them together, pushing the train through tunnels, etc. then he would like the wooden set. If he would rather watch it go by itself, the trackmaster is better. Our son LIVES for trains. He has a big train table that has a Geotrax, wooden set and the trackmaster. He plays with all 3 daily.


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PeaNut 155,670
July 2004
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Posted: 3/5/2011 10:53:30 PM
The wooden set. Kids were much more involved and engaged than with the motorized one, which their cousins had.

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PeaNut 388,123
August 2008
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Posted: 3/5/2011 11:10:03 PM
DGS has the wood, but we were happy to find motorized Thomas engines for the wood tracks for him for Christmas. It was so fun to watch him, watch the trains drive themselves for hours- he loved them! And I agree with so many others who posted, the wood trains and tracks will last forever-


PeaNut 113,672
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Posted: 3/5/2011 11:24:36 PM
Another vote for wooden tracks!!! We started DS with the BRIO trains and added Thomas trains. To say that DS LOVED his trains would be an understatement! He played with those tracks incessantly from ages 2-10. I've saved them all for future grandchildren but it's also been handy to pull out when nieces and nephews visit. Kids of all ages love creating different tracks and running the trains. (We have a motorized engine that pulls several car behind it.)

My DS was fascinated by bridges so we probably have 6 or 8 bridges so creating a track that included all the bridges was quite an undertaking and kept them busy for hours. I was sad when we packed them up.


PeaNut 220,749
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Posted: 3/6/2011 2:29:13 AM
Both plus "Take along" sets too. He mostly plays with wood. He is rough on his toys and broke most of the Trackmaster.

He likes the IKEA train tracks (just the tracks) because the connecting end is changeable. and it is less expensive but connects any other brands.

Peaing From Podunk

PeaNut 45,443
August 2002
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Posted: 3/6/2011 7:14:14 AM
My grandsons have the wooden Thomas train table and the wooden trains and tracks. All three of them have spent hours upon hours playing with them. Getting all the pieces was expensive but they were well worth the money and they've held up beautifully.


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PeaNut 67,643
February 2003
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Posted: 3/6/2011 8:19:56 AM

Kids of all ages love creating different tracks and running the trains.

Raising my had as being one of those "kids."

My nephews have the wooden track and motorized trains that go on it. When I visit, I have found it to be lots of fun to plan out the track. Trying to figure out how to make it all connect, how big of a hill can you make, etc... that alone takes awhile, and is the most enjoyable part (for me).

I have a grandson due in July (my first). Maybe I should start scouting for the train stuff now?



PeaNut 310,694
April 2007
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Posted: 3/6/2011 8:32:57 AM
My two year old nephew adores Thomas. Anybody outgrown theirs and want to sell some?


PeaNut 428,650
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Posted: 3/6/2011 8:40:45 AM
The wooden set. I ended up buying them a lot of pieces over a couple of years. The boys enjoyed building different track designs as much as they enjoyed playing with the trains. It got a lot of love for a few years. Now the baby (18 months) has started playing with the set.


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PeaNut 255,961
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Posted: 3/6/2011 8:49:03 AM
We have both, but if I had to choose my DS's favorite, it would be the wooden and they are a LOT more durable than the plastic. We have several of the plastic ones that have broken, but none of the wooden ones have. They are worth the $$. Sometimes Toys R Us has specials on them. I was always looking for deals on them and stocking up for Cmas/bdays when they were on sale.

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PeaNut 90,289
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Posted: 3/6/2011 1:55:25 PM
Although our son has sadly outgrown Thomas, we only purchased the wooden track/trains. It's one of the few kid-powered (vs battery-powered) toys still available. Receiving his first Figure 8 set for his first birthday, Thomas & Friends brought him years of imaginative & creative fun. The trains/tracks/table (along with Legos sets/minifigs) will be saved & passed on to his children!


PeaNut 124,557
January 2004
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Posted: 3/6/2011 1:59:19 PM
We have the wooden pieces. There are a couple of motorized die cast engines that fit that track. I think we have two of those. My oldest began the collection, and lots of our family members would get him track pieces or train sets for holidays and birthday. We saved everything, and now my 2 1/2 year old has fallen in love with them.



PeaNut 409,397
January 2009
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Posted: 3/6/2011 4:23:49 PM
We have both. He didn't get the Trackmaster until he was 3, but he still plays with both. Right now I'm looking at a sea of Thomas on his train table and the wooden and Trackmaster are both on the table.
The downside of the Trackmaster is the batteries...we go through a ton because some of the trains get left on and the ones with the remote control are really loud-like can't hear the tv loud~lol.

We bought a few boxes of the Trackmaster tracks and he can make a loop around our family room-excellent rainy day toy.

We bought a wooden set for my oldest son and he just never played with them. Packed them up and brought them out when my littlest was 1 1/2 and it was instant love. Even though they are expensive I don't mind because I know it will be a well loved toy that will last indefinitely.
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