Recently The Boy has become obsessed with train sets. He knows all the characters in Thomas the Tank Engine, has a vast selection of wooden train track and makes me set them out in a variety of different styles. He honestly makes me. Ok, you've forced it out of me, I enjoy seeing if I can get as many different combinations down as possible. He stands there looking at me bemused.
However, when we opened our last box from Toys R Us to discover that there was a Chuggington train set inside, I'm not sure who was more excited! He adores Wilson and Koko, and Chuggington is his 'poison' of choice at the moment, watching it religiously every morning. I was ecstatic because there was a funky tunnel and hill set included in the 22-piece set.
The set is designed to be put together in a figure of eight-ish layout with a bridge section which also creates a tunnel for the track to go back through. The bridge is actually a clocktower and the top of this can be taken off and placed elsewhere to become another tunnel (this is best because it falls off anyway). Each of the wooden track pieces is made of good quality wood, finished well with no rough edges and are also embossed with joins and bolts to make them look more authentic. A rarity with these sets, but in the Chuggington set even the straight pieces have the grooves for the trains to travel along. The clocktower is made of tough plastic and is good quality. Sensibly the piece of track that uses this bridge is glued firmly into position.
In the set comes two carriages (Wilson and Koko) and Vee, the tannoy system. While Vee is cute, it really is just for decoration and doesn't have a function. Wilson and Koko are very good quality carriages and of a standard size: a bit longer than a crayon. They also have their names printed on the bottom of their quality wooden carriage, the finish is excellent.
This is a brilliant set, but I have one issue with it: the carriages fall off the track when they come down the bridge.
Trust me, we did extensive scientific research into this:
Our conclusion was that based on the size and weight of the carriages they're too big and top-heavy to stay on the track to be able to go around the curve on the suggested layout. In addition the angle of the incline is steeper than in the standard Brio set which means that the carriages are travelling slightly faster. It's a minor thing, but this basic flaw in the engineering has really irritated me. For the price, it should be perfect.
This is a good starter set which is made of high quality materials with an excellent finish. The carriages are chunky and robust, the track pieces realistic. The fact that it is branded with Chuggington has inflated the price to £39.99 and in all honesty I'm not sure I'd pay that much.
Chuggington Wooden Over and Under Starter Set is available for £39.99 from Toys R Us.
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We received this set for the purpose of this review. My opinion is honest and unbiased.